Peter van der Schans is the Executive Director & Vice President IAAPA EMEA, which represents IAAPA member interests in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Peter will be the first to tell you that these areas are not only diverse culturally, but are also wide ranging in terms of industry maturity and development. Peter’s background in operations helps him relate to the members and provide support in navigating their most difficult challenges. In this episode, we get to hear Peter’s thoughts on selling emotions, up and coming markets and supporting young professionals.
“It’s young, it’s old, it’s laughs, it’s fear. In the end, it comes back to that emotion.”
Many people will say that our real “product” in the attractions industry is fun or memories or experiences. Peter distills this down to its core by saying we sell emotions. An emotion will drive our behavior and our willingness to come back and tell our friends. Our emotions, if expectations aren’t met, can also prevent us from returning.
Peter also shares that those emotions can come from many different places, such as riding a roller coaster or sitting on a bench to enjoy the view. No matter the size or scope of the operation, it’s critical to look at all of the opportunities a guest has to feel something, because those are decision points and will determine if we have done our jobs or not.
Up and Coming Markets
“You can see that there is a gray zone that is not the obvious theme park that is our member.”
Peter talks about the diversity of the markets he and his team support, stating that on the whole, Europe would be considered mature, the Middle East is developing and Africa is up and coming. He is sure that in the coming years Africa will gain ground and develop as a great spot for attraction development.
What Peter acknowledges that what he doesn’t know is what the timeframe or the attraction mix will look like in that region. Currently, you have safaris, cave tours, and other nature-based attractions and experiences. Will we see full blown theme parks in Africa? Tough to say, but the desire to expand the tourism base is there, and where there is a will, there is a way!
Supporting Young Professionals
“We try to touch their hearts to see if we can persuade them to pursue a career in our industry.”
In sharing his own journey, you can tell that Peter is passionate about developing his own skills as well as the skills of others, particularly Young Professionals in, or interested in, the attractions industry.
Peter outlined some of the initiatives and strategies to engage the future leaders of our industry. At the Europe Expo in Vienna in 2023, a job fair is being held to attract students and young professionals who may be interested in pursuing a career in the industry, but may not realize their area of study has a place. For example, those focusing on tech, as well as operations, F&B, and hospitality are all needed as the industry continues to grow. In addition, Peter talked about his desire to have Young Professionals represented across the board in committees and strategic planning to get their perspectives and provide exposure to the inner workings of the industry.
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