Latest
issue
GET ATTRACTIONS MANAGEMENT
magazine
Yes! Send me the FREE digital edition of Attractions Management and the FREE weekly Attractions Management ezines and breaking news alerts!
Not right now, thanksclose this window
Get Attractions Management digital magazine FREE
Sign up here ▸
Jobs   News   Features   Products   Company profilesProfiles   Magazine   Handbook   Advertise    Subscribe  
NEWS
New Merlin CEO, Scott O'Neil, reveals his plans for the post-Varney era
POSTED 07 Jun 2023 . BY Tom Walker
O’Neil was appointed Merlin CEO in November 2022 Credit: Merlin Entertainments
Scott O'Neil has revealed that data will play a major role in attractions giant Merlin's future plans
The American took over from Nick Varney as Merlin CEO in November 2022
O'Neil said what got the company to where it was now was "probably not going to get it to where it ultimately wants to go"
O'Neil was speaking exclusively to Attractions Management
Scott O'Neil has revealed that data will play a major role in attractions giant Merlin's plans to upgrade its existing attractions and further grow its business across global markets.

Speaking exclusively to Magali Robathan, editor of Attractions Management, the American – who took over as Merlin's CEO from industry legend, Nick Varney, in November 2022 – outlined his priorities after five months in the job.

He revealed there's likely to be a change in approach as the company moves into the "post-Varney" era.

“What got Merlin to where we are now is probably not going to get us to where we ultimately want to go," he said.

"A lot of my focus is on our strategy – how do we reset that? What’s it going to look like?

Describing himself as a “bit of a data junkie,” O’Neil said a major focus will now be to understand more about Merlin’s customers and their preferences – rather than simply "building new rollercoasters".

“Data will help us understand what experiences we should be acquiring, enable us to custom-tailor our experiences for our visitors and encourage them to come back more often,” he said.

“A lot of our emphasis will be on pricing, data, F&B and retail to make sure those are four things we do at a world-class level.

“It may not be as interesting as building a rollercoaster or doing the next deal with Sony Entertainment or Ferrari, but these things are at the core of the business.”

In terms of pricing, O’Neil is keen to implement new practices, such as “a more sophisticated dynamic pricing model".

"The guest experience is hugely impacted by how many people are side by side with you," he said.

"If you’ve been to an overcrowded theme park, you’d be hard-pressed to say that it was as good an experience as if the numbers were regulated – and one way to regulate that is with dynamic pricing.”

O’Neil added, however, that the new, data-driven direction of travel doesn't mean Merlin won't be investing in new attractions.

This has been reflected the number of new projects announced since his arrival.

These include North America’s second Peppa Pig Theme Park, which is due to open in north Texas in 2024; the construction of a £35m 150-lodge Legoland Holiday Village at Legoland Windsor; and a global partnership with Ferrari to develop immersive themed brand experiences at three Legoland theme parks.

“We’re in a growth phase right now and we’re very bullish about our future,” O'Neil told Attractions Management.

“When we last updated the market, we said trading is good, the US and the UK have been particularly strong. Asia’s still got some recovery left, but Europe’s been good, Australia is doing well. We’re doing great."

* To read the full interview in Issue 2/2023 of Attractions Management, click here.
RELATED STORIES
  FEATURE: Interview: Scott O'Neil


US sports and entertainment veteran O’Neil is now CEO of Merlin Entertainments and he has big plans for the company. Magali Robathan sat down with him
  Merlin plans to make London Eye a permanent fixture


Created as part of the millennium celebrations more than 20 years ago, the 135m-tall observation wheel opened to passengers in 2000 and has since become one of the UK's most popular paid-for visitor attractions.
  Merlin promotes Fiona Eastwood to chief operating officer


Merlin Entertainments has named Fiona Eastwood as chief operating officer for its midway attractions and resort theme parks divisions.
  Scott O’Neil takes the reins from Nick Varney at Merlin Entertainment


Merlin Entertainments, the UK-based global attractions operator which is second only to Disney in size, has chosen its new CEO, following the retirement of its founder, Nick Varney.
MORE NEWS
Excurio and The Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle create evolutionary VR experience
Virtual reality creators Excurio has teamed up with experts from The Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle to create Life Chronicles London, a free-roaming VR experience.
The Park Playground opens first immersive VR franchise in Porto
The Park Playground, has opened its first Immersive VR franchise in Porto, Portugal.
Bridgerton Season three – most Instagrammed locations
Following the release of season three Of Bridgerton, a study reveals its ten most Instagrammable filming locations.
Getty Museum refuses to surrender prized Greek bronze to Italy
The European Court of Human Rights has recognised Italy’s claim to a prized Greek antiquity.
+ More news   
LATEST JOBS
General Manager - Snowdon Mountain Railway
Heritage Great Britain
Salary: c£70,000 + benefits + relocation support
Job location: Snowdonia, North Wales , United Kingdom
+ More jobs  

COMPANY PROFILES
Polin Waterparks

Polin was founded in Istanbul in 1976. Polin has since grown into a leading company in the waterpa [more...]
Clip 'n Climb

Clip ‘n Climb currently offers facility owners and investors more than 40 colourful and unique Cha [more...]
QubicaAMF UK

QubicaAMF is the largest and most innovative bowling equipment provider with 600 employees worldwi [more...]
RMA Ltd

RMA Ltd is a one-stop global company that can design, build and produce from a greenfield site upw [more...]
+ More profiles  
CATALOGUE GALLERY
 

+ More catalogues  
DIRECTORY
+ More directory  
DIARY

 

03-05 Sep 2024

ASEAN Patio Pool Spa Expo

IMPACT Exhibition Center, Bangkok, Thailand
03-08 Sep 2024

Spa Peeps International Corporate Cruise

Cruise London, Amsterdam, Zeebrugge, United States
+ More diary  
LATEST ISSUES
+ View Magazine Archive

Attractions Management

2024 issue 2


View issue contents
View on turning pages
Download PDF
FREE digital subscription
Print subscription

Attractions Management

2024 issue 1


View issue contents
View on turning pages
Download PDF
FREE digital subscription
Print subscription

Attractions Management

2023 issue 4


View issue contents
View on turning pages
Download PDF
FREE digital subscription
Print subscription

Attractions Management

2023 issue 3


View issue contents
View on turning pages
Download PDF
FREE digital subscription
Print subscription

Attractions Management News

06 Apr 2020 issue 153


View on turning pages
Download PDF
View archive
FREE digital subscription
Print subscription

Attractions Handbook

2019


View issue contents
View on turning pages
Download PDF
FREE digital subscription
Print subscription
 
ABOUT LEISURE MEDIA
LEISURE MEDIA MAGAZINES
LEISURE MEDIA HANDBOOKS
LEISURE MEDIA WEBSITES
LEISURE MEDIA PRODUCT SEARCH
 
ATTRACTIONS MANAGEMENT
ATTRACTIONS MANAGEMENT NEWS
ATTRACTIONS HANDBOOK
PRINT SUBSCRIPTIONS
FREE DIGITAL SUBSCRIPTIONS
ADVERTISE . CONTACT US

Leisure Media
Tel: +44 (0)1462 431385

©Cybertrek 2024
Get Attractions Management digital magazine FREE
Sign up here ▸
Jobs    News   Products   Magazine   Subscribe
NEWS
New Merlin CEO, Scott O'Neil, reveals his plans for the post-Varney era
POSTED 07 Jun 2023 . BY Tom Walker
O’Neil was appointed Merlin CEO in November 2022 Credit: Merlin Entertainments
Scott O'Neil has revealed that data will play a major role in attractions giant Merlin's future plans
The American took over from Nick Varney as Merlin CEO in November 2022
O'Neil said what got the company to where it was now was "probably not going to get it to where it ultimately wants to go"
O'Neil was speaking exclusively to Attractions Management
Scott O'Neil has revealed that data will play a major role in attractions giant Merlin's plans to upgrade its existing attractions and further grow its business across global markets.

Speaking exclusively to Magali Robathan, editor of Attractions Management, the American – who took over as Merlin's CEO from industry legend, Nick Varney, in November 2022 – outlined his priorities after five months in the job.

He revealed there's likely to be a change in approach as the company moves into the "post-Varney" era.

“What got Merlin to where we are now is probably not going to get us to where we ultimately want to go," he said.

"A lot of my focus is on our strategy – how do we reset that? What’s it going to look like?

Describing himself as a “bit of a data junkie,” O’Neil said a major focus will now be to understand more about Merlin’s customers and their preferences – rather than simply "building new rollercoasters".

“Data will help us understand what experiences we should be acquiring, enable us to custom-tailor our experiences for our visitors and encourage them to come back more often,” he said.

“A lot of our emphasis will be on pricing, data, F&B and retail to make sure those are four things we do at a world-class level.

“It may not be as interesting as building a rollercoaster or doing the next deal with Sony Entertainment or Ferrari, but these things are at the core of the business.”

In terms of pricing, O’Neil is keen to implement new practices, such as “a more sophisticated dynamic pricing model".

"The guest experience is hugely impacted by how many people are side by side with you," he said.

"If you’ve been to an overcrowded theme park, you’d be hard-pressed to say that it was as good an experience as if the numbers were regulated – and one way to regulate that is with dynamic pricing.”

O’Neil added, however, that the new, data-driven direction of travel doesn't mean Merlin won't be investing in new attractions.

This has been reflected the number of new projects announced since his arrival.

These include North America’s second Peppa Pig Theme Park, which is due to open in north Texas in 2024; the construction of a £35m 150-lodge Legoland Holiday Village at Legoland Windsor; and a global partnership with Ferrari to develop immersive themed brand experiences at three Legoland theme parks.

“We’re in a growth phase right now and we’re very bullish about our future,” O'Neil told Attractions Management.

“When we last updated the market, we said trading is good, the US and the UK have been particularly strong. Asia’s still got some recovery left, but Europe’s been good, Australia is doing well. We’re doing great."

* To read the full interview in Issue 2/2023 of Attractions Management, click here.
RELATED STORIES
FEATURE: Interview: Scott O'Neil


US sports and entertainment veteran O’Neil is now CEO of Merlin Entertainments and he has big plans for the company. Magali Robathan sat down with him
Merlin plans to make London Eye a permanent fixture


Created as part of the millennium celebrations more than 20 years ago, the 135m-tall observation wheel opened to passengers in 2000 and has since become one of the UK's most popular paid-for visitor attractions.
Merlin promotes Fiona Eastwood to chief operating officer


Merlin Entertainments has named Fiona Eastwood as chief operating officer for its midway attractions and resort theme parks divisions.
Scott O’Neil takes the reins from Nick Varney at Merlin Entertainment


Merlin Entertainments, the UK-based global attractions operator which is second only to Disney in size, has chosen its new CEO, following the retirement of its founder, Nick Varney.
MORE NEWS
Excurio and The Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle create evolutionary VR experience
Virtual reality creators Excurio has teamed up with experts from The Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle to create Life Chronicles London, a free-roaming VR experience.
The Park Playground opens first immersive VR franchise in Porto
The Park Playground, has opened its first Immersive VR franchise in Porto, Portugal.
Bridgerton Season three – most Instagrammed locations
Following the release of season three Of Bridgerton, a study reveals its ten most Instagrammable filming locations.
Getty Museum refuses to surrender prized Greek bronze to Italy
The European Court of Human Rights has recognised Italy’s claim to a prized Greek antiquity.
Merlin unveils record-breaking Hyperia coaster at Thorpe Park
Merlin Entertainments has launched its new Hyperia rollercoaster at Thorpe Park to celebrate its 45th year.
Second Chaos Karts launches in Dubai
Live action video game experience Chaos Karts has launched in a 15,000sq ft arena in Al Quoz, Dubai.
+ More news   
 
COMPANY PROFILES
Polin Waterparks

Polin was founded in Istanbul in 1976. Polin has since grown into a leading company in the waterpa [more...]
Clip 'n Climb

Clip ‘n Climb currently offers facility owners and investors more than 40 colourful and unique Cha [more...]
QubicaAMF UK

QubicaAMF is the largest and most innovative bowling equipment provider with 600 employees worldwi [more...]
RMA Ltd

RMA Ltd is a one-stop global company that can design, build and produce from a greenfield site upw [more...]
+ More profiles  
CATALOGUE GALLERY
+ More catalogues  
DIRECTORY
+ More directory  
DIARY

 

03-05 Sep 2024

ASEAN Patio Pool Spa Expo

IMPACT Exhibition Center, Bangkok, Thailand
03-08 Sep 2024

Spa Peeps International Corporate Cruise

Cruise London, Amsterdam, Zeebrugge, United States
+ More diary  
 


ADVERTISE . CONTACT US

Leisure Media
Tel: +44 (0)1462 431385

©Cybertrek 2024

ABOUT LEISURE MEDIA
LEISURE MEDIA MAGAZINES
LEISURE MEDIA HANDBOOKS
LEISURE MEDIA WEBSITES
LEISURE MEDIA PRODUCT SEARCH
ATTRACTIONS MANAGEMENT NEWS
ATTRACTIONS HANDBOOK
PRINT SUBSCRIPTIONS
FREE DIGITAL SUBSCRIPTIONS