It can be said that purpose is a company’s reason for being. Best-in-class CEO’s and CMO’s know that purpose lives at the intersection of Venn diagram that includes company belief, meeting societal and stakeholder needs and operational capabilities.
Purpose has become an increasingly important “X Factor” in consumer decisions. Why? Perhaps consumers have more visibility to corporate behavior than ever before. Perhaps when price, quality, speed and the key drivers in your category start to converge values becomes a way for consumers – and your employees – to separate one brand from another. In a recent study, 28% of consumers said they had stopped buying a particular product based on ethical or environmental concerns. Consumer demand is driving the corporate dialogue on transformative purpose and, of course, sustainability.
I had the privilege of speaking with industry leaders in the tourism and attractions space, Pia Adlivankin, CEO at Linnanmäki Amusement Park, and Jakob Wahl, President, and Chief Executive Officer at International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA) where they examined the undeniable shift in focus that embraces both purpose and sustainability that’s happening at the speed of consumer culture.
To start, I wanted to hear about the global association’s perspective on the importance of sustainability in the attractions industry and how different regions prioritize the various aspects of sustainability.
Jakob elaborated, “I think sustainability means something very different to different people across the world. We as a global association see that there are differences in the different regions. While some more care about economical sustainability, others do care about ecological or about social and that is something which we see. But all in all, we are convinced that sustainability will probably have the same importance as safety has today in some years to come. You don’t go to an attraction because of safety or because of sustainability, but you expect this as a basic requirement from the operations of a park that it’s run that way. So I don’t think that we see sustainability as an economical threat. Rather, we see this as something which we all need to consider running our operations and to really prepare ourselves for the future. And it can be quite honestly beneficial for many of our leaders and that is something which we see across the industry. We have seen huge interest from the big players, but also regional players who want to get more involved in this subject.”
By prioritizing sustainability, companies can contribute to a more sustainable future and appeal to visitors who prioritize sustainability in their travel decisions. The question then becomes: How can brands in the attractions industry effectively implement sustainability initiatives and educate their visitors about the importance of sustainability?
Pia said, “At Linnanmäki Amusement Park, we believe that long-term success will be gained by ensuring our operations’ sustainability on all levels: Financially, socially and environmentally. Especially in the labour-intensive travel and hospitality industry, we believe that it is essential to invest in the well-being of our staff to retain and attract talent in the long run. In order for us to operate our amusement park long term, and to fulfil our mission, we have to be conscious of our financial sustainability. Environmental choices we make will also have an impact on future generations.”
In an effort to discover more on this subject, I asked Pia how exactly Linnanmäki Amusement Park is implementing these sustainability initiatives.
“Linnanmäki Amusement Park was founded in 1950. Social responsibility is at the core of Linnanmäki’s existence, as the mission is to operate our amusement park to raise funds for child welfare. During the last 73 years, we have donated over 120 million euros to child welfare.
“We believe our success is based on providing exceptionally good job-well-(fun)-being for the + 700 young seasonal staff members, our funmasters. We strongly believe, that by investing in the well-being of our staff, they will want to do their best to exceed our guests’ expectations each day, at every encounter. When satisfied guests return again and again, it will lead to financial success. Emphasizing job well-being will also help us attract our funmasters to return to us season after season. This year over 60% returned.
“In order to operate our amusement park sustainably long term, and to fulfil our mission, we have to be conscious of our financial sustainability. We are also developing all aspects of our environmental sustainability,” said Pia.
To come full circle, I asked: How can “edutainment” be used to raise awareness about sustainability and environmental conservation, and how can the attractions industry further incorporate it into their offerings?
Jakob had this to say, “Zoos and aquariums have done some outstanding work there because they really mix that together. I think when people want to go to an attraction, they want to be entertained, but they don’t want to be educated. But there’s a way how you can combine the two. We call it edutainment. I think that is something which you see at many different occasions. For example, the Monterey Bay Aquarium in California, they have a fantastic Seafood Watch program where they highlight the fish you see and the fish you should eat and how you can change your nutrition to do it right. I think we also should highlight here the rescue efforts of SeaWorld. They have rescued over 40,000 times. And I think that is an amazing example for how our industry is stepping up in sustainability efforts, in educating their guests, what they should do, and allow them to also help.”
“Sustainability is important to all our constituents. We have learned, though, that our guests trust us to be sustainable and may not want to be troubled with too many sustainability messages during their fun day at the amusement park. They do not necessarily want the obligation to make sustainability-focused choices during their one special day with their friends and families but may want to read about our sustainability efforts pre- or post-visit.
“We need to constantly listen to the needs and expectations of our guests when developing our services, always keeping sustainability at its core,” concluded Pia.
In a world where small differences separate healthy brands from world-class brands, purpose allows leaders to act on not just talk about their brand values.