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SeaWorld doesn’t really need to wait. It’s record numbers last year are testament to its power to draw visitors even in the middle of terrible press.
During a conference call last week to discuss SeaWorld Entertainment Inc.’s fourth-quarter earnings, company executives twice suggested that they were likely to wait to raise prices at their flagship park until around June, the same point at which SeaWorld Orlando prices went up last year.
“With respect to the recent price increases that we’ve seen at Disney and Universal, we certainly take note of them,” SeaWorld President and Chief Executive Officer Jim Atchison told analysts.
But he added that SeaWorld is more likely to make “additional price increases” closer to when it opens new attractions in its parks, which typically happens right before the start of the summer.
In addition, SeaWorld also told analysts that it did a little less discounting in the fourth quarter of 2013 than it did a year earlier. That was significant because the company drew attention in December for beginning to use online discounter Groupon Inc., prompting some questions about whether it was ramping up promotions to prop up attendance.
The amount of ticket revenue SeaWorld earns per visitor rose in the quarter, though not as much as it did earlier in the year. Per-visitor ticket revenue was up 4.3 percent for the quarter (to $38.84) but 8.6 percent for the year (to $39.37).
Still, SeaWorld Chief Financial Officer Jim Heaney said the company’s promotional activity was “a little lighter” during the final three months of 2013 than it was during the fourth quarter of 2012.