The parent company of Six Flags Fiesta Texas will double down on chasing a more affluent demographic with a more upscale experience, the theme park chain’s CEO and president Selim Bassoul said in an earnings call last week.
Heavy discounting on single-day tickets and annual passes in past decades had turned the parks into “a day care center for teenagers,” Bassoul told investors, or only attracted “discounters” who didn’t spend much.
In their place, Bassoul said he wants more families and high-spenders from “affluent neighborhoods” — or as he put it, “migrating a little bit from what I call the Kmart, Walmart [customers] to maybe the Target customers.” He also said the heavy discounting had led to long lines for rides, food and restrooms.
Since taking the helm as CEO in November 2021, Bassoul has focused on a “premium-ization strategy” involving raised prices, cutting discounts and upscaling restaurants and amenities.
He maintained that Six Flags would always be “part of the middle class and even lower middle class,” though customers hit particularly hard by inflation would be slow to come back.
Six Flags is headquartered in Arlington and operates 27 parks across the U.S., Mexico and Canada.
Day tickets for San Antonio’s Six Flags Fiesta Texas, which the company has managed since 1996 and owned since 1998, currently are listed for $60 on its website. Annual passes are $117 after an initially discounted year.
According to an archived version of the webpage from just over one year ago, prices for a one-day ticket were advertised as having discounts making it as low as $30. Annual passes were sold for $60.
So far, the price hikes and cuts on discounting have succeeded in shortening lines.
The second quarter of 2022 saw guest attendance across its parks drop to 6.7 million, down 22% from the second quarter last year, the company reported. The company also lost around 2 million season ticket holders who did not renew their membership.
“Our attendance decrease was related to the elimination of free tickets and low-margin product offerings, coupled with increased pricing into a market that had become accustomed to discounts,” Six Flags CFO Gary Mick said on the call.
The CEO said since the changes have been implemented, security incidents in the park are down, and guest spending per capita has increased more than 50% compared to pre-pandemic levels.
Revenue in the second quarter also shrank 5% over the year before, which the company attributed to lower attendance as well as a “significant” drop in sponsorship revenue, some of which came out of Six Flags turning away from previous partners, Bassoul said.
Bassoul called 2022 a transition year in the company’s business model.
“Our aggressive strategic shift is still a work in progress, but my first nine months at Six Flags as Six Flags CEO has only reinforced my initial belief in Six Flags’ potential,” he said.