Critical Success Factors of Theme Parks: Case study of Qing Ming River Park

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Critical Success Factors of Theme Parks: Case study of Qing Ming River Park

 

 

 

 

Abstract

 

 

To be omitted deliberately.

 

 

List of contents

 

 

 

Critical Success Factors of Theme Parks: Case study of Qing Ming River Park……….. 1

 

Abstract………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 1

 

List of contents……………………………………………………………………………………………….. 2

 

List of figures………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 5

 

List of tables…………………………………………………………………………………………………… 6

 

List of charts…………………………………………………………………………………………………… 7

 

List of appendices……………………………………………………………………………………………. 8

 

1.     Chapter 1: Introduction……………………………………………………………………………… 9

 

1.1           Definition of critical success factors………………………………………………… 9

 

1.2           Concept of them park……………………………………………………………………. 9

 

1.3           Failure of theme parks in China………………………………………………………. 9

 

1.4           A painted scroll of “The Qingming Festival by the Riverside”………….. 10

 

1.5           Background of the Qing Ming River Park………………………………………. 11

 

1.5.1     Theming………………………………………………………………………………. 12

 

1.5.2     Brand management……………………………………………………………….. 14

 

1.5.3     Marketing strategy………………………………………………………………… 18

 

1.5.4     Location of the park………………………………………………………………. 18

 

1.6           Research significance…………………………………………………………………… 19

 

2.     Chapter 2: Research Objectives and Aims…………………………………………………… 19

 

2.1           Aims………………………………………………………………………………………….. 19

 

2.2           Objectives………………………………………………………………………………….. 19

 

3.     Literature review……………………………………………………………………………………… 20

 

3.1           Development of theme park industry…………………………………………….. 20

 

3.2           Deficiency of existing them park studies………………………………………… 20

 

3.3           Studies on success factors of theme parks………………………………………. 21

 

3.3.1     Some lists of success factors…………………………………………………… 21

 

3.3.2     Studies on theming of theme parks………………………………………….. 22

 

3.3.3     Studies on theme originality…………………………………………………… 23

 

3.3.4     Studies on brand management (product) of them parks……………… 23

 

3.3.5     Studies on marketing strategy of theme parks…………………………… 24

 

3.3.6     Studies on location choice of theme parks………………………………… 24

 

4.     Theoretical framework (Proposed model in this study)…………………………………. 25

 

5.     Chapter 5: Research Methodology…………………………………………………………….. 26

 

5.1           Choice of research design…………………………………………………………….. 26

 

5.2           Construction of the chosen method and data collection method……….. 27

 

5.3           Sampling……………………………………………………………………………………. 27

 

5.4           Procedure of implementation………………………………………………………… 27

 

5.5           Data analysis………………………………………………………………………………. 28

 

6.     Finding, analysis and evaluation………………………………………………………………… 28

 

6.1           The Macro Strategic Environment…………………………………………………. 28

 

6.1.1     Political factors…………………………………………………………………….. 29

 

6.1.2     Economic factors………………………………………………………………….. 30

 

6.1.3     Social and cultural factors………………………………………………………. 33

 

6.1.3.1 Power/Distance (PD)………………………………………………………. 34

 

6.1.3.2 Individualism (IDV)……………………………………………………….. 34

 

6.1.3.3 Masculinity (MAS)…………………………………………………………. 35

 

6.1.3.4 Uncertainty/Avoidance Index (UAI)………………………………… 35

 

6.1.3.5 Long Term Orientation (LTO)………………………………………….. 35

 

6.1.4     Technological factors…………………………………………………………….. 36

 

6.1.5     Ecological factors………………………………………………………………….. 37

 

6.1.6     Legal factors………………………………………………………………………… 38

 

6.1.7     Summary of the macro environmental analysis………………………….. 38

 

6.2           The Micro Strategic Environment………………………………………………….. 39

 

6.2.1     Competitive analysis……………………………………………………………… 39

 

6.2.1.1 Rivalry among the competitors: low to medium level………….. 40

 

6.2.1.2 Bargaining power of the customers…………………………………… 41

 

6.2.1.3 Threat of new entrants…………………………………………………….. 41

 

6.2.1.4 Bargaining power of suppliers………………………………………….. 42

 

6.2.1.5 Threat of substitutes……………………………………………………….. 42

 

6.2.1.6 Summary of the analysis using Michael Porter’s Five Forces.. 43

 

6.2.2     Stakeholder Analysis……………………………………………………………… 43

 

6.3           Analysis of the survey using the critical success factors (CSF) model… 45

 

6.3.1     Competitive theming……………………………………………………………… 45

 

6.3.1.1 Theme originality……………………………………………………………. 45

 

6.3.1.2 Cultural implication………………………………………………………… 46

 

6.3.2     Development of Products………………………………………………………. 47

 

6.3.2.1 Design…………………………………………………………………………… 47

 

6.3.2.2 Update………………………………………………………………………….. 49

 

6.3.3     Flexible Marketing strategy……………………………………………………. 50

 

6.3.3.1 Segmentation…………………………………………………………………. 50

 

6.3.3.2 Target……………………………………………………………………………. 50

 

6.3.4     Advantages of Location………………………………………………………… 51

 

6.3.4.1 Cultural background of Kaifeng City……………………………….. 51

 

6.3.4.2 Transportation………………………………………………………………… 51

 

6.3.4.3 Population……………………………………………………………………… 51

 

7.     Conclusion……………………………………………………………………………………………… 52

 

8.     Recommendations……………………………………………………………………………………. 52

 

8.1           Foster technological innovation and product updating…………………….. 52

 

8.2           Develop more short term visit plans……………………………………………….. 53

 

8.3           Repetition of the survey in a larger scale………………………………………… 54

 


 

 

List of figures

 

 

 

Figure 1 Part of the “Along the River During the Ching Ming Festival”………… 13

 

Figure 2 Zhang Zeduan hoding his famous drawing of “The Qing Ming Festival by the Riverside”    13

 

Figure 3 The Rainbow bridge in the painting (left) and in the Qingming river park (right)     14

 

Figure 4 The “Home of Landlord Wang” in the painting (left) and in the Qingming river park (right) 15

 

Figure 5 Logo of Qingming River Park……………………………………………………… 16

 

Figure 6 The location of Qingming River Park (marked with A)…………………… 19

 

Figure 7 Model of building brand equity……………………………………………………. 24

 

Figure 8 Critical success factors of theme parks (Develop by author, 2011)……. 26

 

Figure 9 The PESTEL Framework…………………………………………………………….. 29

 

Figure 10 Hofstede’s Cultural Dimensions  analysis of China and United Kingdom      34

 

Figure 11 Industry Competitiveness Analysis Using Michael Porter’s Five Forces 41

 

Figure 12 Power / Interest Grid for Stakeholder Prioritization……………………… 45

 

 

 

 

 

List of tables

 

 

 

Table 1 2010 brand promotion Gantt chart in million CNY………………………….. 17

 

Table 2 Brand promotion cost compared to annual revenue (in million CNY)…. 18

 

Table 3 Key factors influencing the future of theme parks in the USA………….. 23

 

Table 4 Summary of the macro environmental analysis………………………………… 40

 

Table 5 Summary of the analysis using Michael Porter’s Five Forces…………….. 44

 

 

 

 

 

List of charts

 

Chart 1 Annual number of visitors…………………………………………………………….. 17

 

Chart 2 China Gross Domestic Product value…………………………………………….. 30

 

Chart 3 The China inflation rate……………………………………………………………….. 31

 

Chart 4 The China consumer confidence index…………………………………………… 32

 

Chart 5 Pie chart summarizing the results of the cultural implications of the theme park 46

 

Chart 6 Product design: Similarity to the painting Qingming Festival by the Riverside  48

 

Chart 7 Scores of some of the product features (sees appendix for detailed numbers of people of each category)……………………………………………………………………………………………………… 49

 

Chart 8 Pie chart summarizing the results of the product update of the theme park 49

 

Chart 9 Pie chart surveyed customer age groups…………………………………………. 51

 

 

 

 

 

List of appendices

 

Appendix 1 Sample of survey on Qing Ming River Park……………………………… 60

 

Appendix 2 Some implications of the scores in the five cultural dimensions…… 75

 

Appendix 3 Main tourist related accidents in 2010……………………………………… 77

 

Appendix 4 Detailed answers answering the product features questions……….. 78

 


 

 

1.        Chapter 1: Introduction

 

 

 

1.1    Definition of critical success factors

 

 

 

D. Ronald Daniel of McKinsey & Company developed the concept of “success factors” in 1961. The process was refined by John F. Rockart in 1981. In 1995, James A. Johnson and Michael Friesen applied it to many sector settings. Critical success factor (CSF) is the term for an element that is necessary for an organization or project to achieve its mission. It is regarding critical factors or activities required for ensuring the success of a company or an organization (Rockart 1979). In this paper, critical success factors are the key factors which can serious influence on the effectiveness, efficiency, and viability of theme parks.

 

 

 

1.2    Concept of them park

 

 

 

Middleton (1989) has described a theme park as a ‘designated permanent resource which is controlled and managed for the enjoyment, amusement, entertainment, and education of the visiting public’ (Middleton, 1989, p. 229). Compared with the description of that a theme park can be defined as being an outdoor attraction which combines rides, attractions and shows; as being designed around a central theme or group of themes; and as being charging a pay-one-price admission fee to visitors’(Brigit & Markus 2007). IAAPA (International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions) gives the description of theme park as, ‘an amusement park that has themed attractions, be it food, costumes, entertainment, retail stores and/or rides’ (Wong & Cheung, 1999, p. 320).

 

 

 

1.3    Failure of theme parks in China

 

 

 

An estimated 80 to 95 percent of the theme parks in China have been losing money (Wang 2000) including most of the over 200 Journey to the West theme park (Qian 1999). Qing Ming River Park is one of the most successful historical and cultural theme parks in China. New theme parks can take examples from the successful theme parks by analyzing these critical success factors of theme parks.

 

 

 

1.4    A painted scroll of “The Qingming Festival by the Riverside”

 

 

 

Qing Ming river park, a famous historical and cultural theme park, located on the west bank of Dragon Pavilion Lake in Kaifeng, Henan province, which is in the middle of china; qingming river park covers an area of 600mu(about 98 acres) , including water area of 120mu;  the construction area of this theme park is more than 30,000 square meters(about 98 acres); The built area of this theme park consists of several architectural complexes which are re-creations based on the famous twelfth century painting by Zhang Zeduan of ‘The Qingming Festival by the Riverside’.

 

 

 

“The Qingming Festival by the Riverside” is a painted scroll which is 525 cm (about 17 feet) in length and 25.5 cm (9.5 inches) in width; This picture represents the scenes of bustling sight and natural landscape along Bian River during the Qingming Festival in the capital of Song Dynastic; these scenes in this painting are highly detailed and the spectacle is magnificent.

 

 

 

There are 3 main parts are showed on this painting, first part is the scene of busy shipside of Bian river, which is the main transportation terminal station and major traffic hub of the capital in song dynastic; grain ships gather with crowded people, some ships upstream with full goods, other ships are busy unloading goods by the riverside; at the time, on the other side of the riverside, some people are having rests with teas and talking cheerfully and humorously with friends, other people are eating in a restaurant by the riverside of Bian; there is a famous wood arch bridge stretches over the river with coming and going people, it is named Rainbow Bridge because of its ingenious structure and graceful style with rainbow-shaped configuration, visitors can image the scenes of busy capital. Second part of this picture shows the spring scenery of countryside in this capital, little and low grass shacks, water flowing beneath a little bridge, old tree, small boats, working farmers in farms; this part illustrates the specific period and custom among the people through the vivid description of character and environment in song dynastic. The last part of this painting shows the bustling city centre with noise and excitement scenes; a gate tower locates in the middle of this part which is magnificent and well arranged, exclusive shops and franchised stores seated on both sides of the street with silks and brocades, jewelry and spices, candles burning at a temple and horses make of paper on sales, in addition, carriages repairs store, barbershop and fortunetelling can be found on this picture, visitors almost can hear the peddling of the sellers; this part shows the booming status in capital of song dynastic.

 

 

 

The people are shown in a variety of contemporary clothes that indicate their social standing and occupations. The lively throng includes many animals and it is not difficult to imagine the sounds in the street scenes where the people are crowded and noisy. Visitors can almost hear someone bargaining with a shop owner while others are cheering entertainers. The picture is like a live symphony of life during the Song Dynasty (960-1279).

 

 

 

The competitive theming of Qingming River Park are based on the description of this painting and the background of culture and history of song dynastic.

 

 

 

1.5    Background of the Qing Ming River Park

 

 

 


Figure 1 Part of the “Along the River During the Ching Ming Festival”

 

Source: Thechinatourism.com 2011

 

 

 

1.5.1           
Theming

 

Figure 2 Zhang Zeduan hoding his famous drawing of “The Qing Ming Festival by the Riverside”

 

Source: Tupian99.com 2010

 

 

 

Based on the famous twelfth century painting by Zhang Zeduan of ‘The Qingming Festival by the Riverside’, according to the layout of this picture, choosing song dynastic construction style, incorporating with modern construction technology, Qingming river park represents the shopping landscape and the folk custom during song dynastic period; Qingming river park is consist of five main tourist attractions: historical and cultural attractions, folk custom attractions, leisure and vocation attractions, entertainments attractions and ecotourism attractions.

 

 

 


With grand scale and tremendous momentum, architectural complexes are the first attractions, the construction area of this theme park is more than 30,000 square meters(about 98 acres), including more than 400 buildings, which means these complexes are the largest ancient buildings in the central plains of china. Other buildings also can attract tourist to visit this place, for example, a statue which is 16 meters (about 52 feet) tall located in the south of this theme park, the figure above is the artist Zhang Zeduan, who holds his famous drawing of ‘The Qing Ming Festival by the Riverside’. There are many scenic spots such as City Gate Tower, Imperial garden, Rainbow bridge, Distinctive shops and others which are re-created in the park according to the scenes in the painting.

 

Figure 3 The Rainbow bridge in the painting (left) and in the Qingming river park (right)

 

Source: China.com.cn 2009

 

 

 


Experiences from products can be the second attractions, there are more than 20 programs shows every day in this park, the most interesting characters of these shows is that visitors can join in these programs to experience the culture in song dynastic; for example, visitors can get the opportunity to be a husband of a rich daughter of a rich merchant, if they can catch the special red ball which made of strips of silk, after that, the visitor who has caught the ball must marry with the daughter according to the traditional of song dynastic in this program; products like this program shows in different time to make sure visitors can catch and experience all the product in this park; these attractions make the life of visitors back to song dynastic, experience can be special and memorable;

 

Figure 4 The “Home of Landlord Wang” in the painting (left) and in the Qingming river park (right)

 

Source: ipeen.com.tw 2009

 

 

 

At the same time, other attractions including folk custom and wonderful landscapes also can be an attraction to tourists; all the scenes of this theme come from the culture and the history of song dynastic.

 

 

 

1.5.2            Brand management

 

 

 

Qingming river park focus on brand construction from the first opening day, brand design is the first step, it designs the product lines and services along with the “The Qingming Festival by the Riverside” which is known to the majority of the Chinese people, the establishment of such link is the one of the key principles in the brand management of the company. For example, the logo of the park as shown in the figure below is has adopted the Rainbow Bridge which is a famous bridge in appeared in the
painting“The Qingming Festival by the Riverside”.

 

 

 

Figure 5 Logo of Qingming River Park

 

Source: qingmings.com 2011

 

 

 

The brand management objectives include:

 

u  Being recognized by receiving specific awards in the tourism the theme park industry

 

u  Being acknowledged as the authenticate theme park for the famous painting “The Qingming Festival by the Riverside”

 

u  Sustaining a 20% to 30% percent growth in visitor numbers

 

u  Positioning and maintain the company as an industry leader

 

 

 

 

 

The park increased the intensity of brand promotion year by year through the application of the marketing techniques. Below is the 2010 brand promotion Gantt chart:

 

Table 1 2010 brand promotion Gantt chart in million CNY

 

MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDecCost
Marketing activities             
Marketing research××××    ××× 1
New product development   ×××  ××  2
Advertising××××××××××××7
Media Relations××     ×××  0.2
Social Media ××××××     1
Sales force management×××   ××× ××0.5
Lucky draw   × ××     0.5
National holiday, Labor day & Chinese new year (Gold holiday series promotion activities)××  ×    ×  2.5
Telephone sale××××××××  ××0.3
Total            15

 

Table 2 Brand promotion cost compared to annual revenue (in million CNY)

 

 200820092010
Brand promotion cost7.511.515
Annual revenue506284

 

 

 


Chart 1 Annual number of visitors

 

Source: uhenan.com 2009 & tianxiahotel.com 2011

 

 

 

With the intense brand promotion and also the engagement in other brand management practices, the annual visitor number has increase continually since the park’s first offering of its service in the market. As shown in the line chart above, in the past six year, the number of visitors grows from only 20,000 to approximately 160,000 in the end of 2010 indicating the park has achieved a great success which close link with the company’s brand management effort which could be seen from the table of brand promotion cost compared to annual revenue as the revenue increases dramatically when the investment in the brand promotion increases.

 

1.5.3            Marketing strategy

 

 

 

Because of the immobility of the theme parks, marketing efforts to attract the visitors would play an important role in helping to increase the revenue and also the provide funding for the future development of the theme park. In order to achieve this goal, the organization has set up a dedicated marketing department consist of more than 20 marketing professionals and work together with the local government to market the Qingming Rivier theme park as well as the city, Kaifeng, as a must visit destination among the various theme parks and tourist cities. Tourist magazine, domestic mainstream TV channels, radio and other media channels have been identified as the main channels to advertise the theme park.

 

 

 

1.5.4            Location of the park

 

Figure 6
 The location of Qingming River Park (marked with A)

 

Source: maps.google.com 2011

 

 

 

Location of this park makes it more success: first of all, strategic location of theme park in Kaifeng city has a historic implication because Kaifeng city used to be the capital city of the North Dynasty which was the background period of the painting The Qingming Festival by the Riverside; secondly, the location of the park is proximate to Zhengzhou city (83 km from Kaifeng city), which is the capital of Henan province and it is also the largest rail marshalling yard in Asia, the largest carload goods transfer station in China, and one of the largest passenger stations in China (zzicec.com 2010). In addition there are various public transports connecting the center of the city and the theme park, therefore the convenient transportation has added value to the location advantage of the Qingming River Park.

 

 

 

1.6    Research significance

 

 

 

u  Propose and testify a Critical success factors (CSF) model for the theme parks in China

 

 

 

u  The results and suggestions on marketing and branding may apply for other tourism (theme park) industry in China

 

 

 

u  Provide recommendations on brand and marketing profiles for future improvement of the theme part industry in China

 

 

 

2.        Chapter 2: Research Objectives and Aims

 

 

 

2.1    Aims

 

 

 

u  To critical analyze the current status of qingming River Park for future improvement

 

 

 

2.2    Objectives

 

 

 

u  To provide a Model of critical success factors of theme parks to offer theoretical supports

 

 

 

u  Summarize Critical success factors of theme parks in China

 

 

 

u  Analysis of Interactions between critical success factors of theme parks

 

 

 

u  Propose theoretical model of critical success factors of theme parks in China

 

 

 

3.        Literature review

 

 

 

3.1    Development of theme park industry

 

 

 

The global theme park industry has grown considerably in the past several decades (Clave 2007). Ady Milman (2010) mentioned the theme park industry has developed into a global phenomenon since the 1980s, and summarized that the continuous growth of the theme park industry will be influenced by the quality and amount of marketing and advertising campaigns, development of new products, and guest experiences, as well as the other uncontrolled factors.

 

 

 

3.2    Deficiency of existing them park studies

 

 

 

Kevin K. F. Wong and Phoebe W. Y. Cheung (1999) indicated that the past studies focused primarily on theme park selection, visitor behaviors, visitor segmentation etc, but never focus on the intrinsic value of the theme park itself, they also summarized that, a person visit theme parks by a complex motivation, and often with more than one motive, they mentioned impact on motivations from price, the location factors to a theme park; obviously, the motivations of visiting theme parks are also a important factors; Brigit & Markus (2007) found most research focused on visitors’ profiles and market segmentation (Moutinho, 1988), but forgot the theming of theme park itself; And Penz and Rosch (2004) proposed a list of factors for failure of theme parks: not appropriate theming, unspectacular attractions, insufficient gastronomy, poorly capacity management, contrary, target markets, bad services and qualities, false pricing, not appropriate public relations and marketing strategies. But these factors are only descriptions of some of the surface problems without fundamental analysis of the critical success factors of the successful theme parks.

 

 

 

3.3    Studies on success factors of theme parks

 

 

 

3.3.1            Some lists of success factors

 

 

 

Brigit & Markus (2007) summarized 15 success factors of theme parks according to the literature: multifarious range of options and attractions, uniqueness, innovation, continuity/theming, environmental integration, capacity and queue management, functionality and infrastructure, weather independency, escape/imagination, emotions, involvement/interactivity, branding, quality, safety and security, design, the most important factors influencing the success of theme parks are summarized in theirs literature review; they emphasized a comprehensive analysis should be necessary: to investigate the critical success factors of theme parks management in terms of its management, its product bundle, its price, its place and its customers. Milman (2001) proposes several key factors that are would have an impact on the future of theme parks in the USA according to the opinions of their operators in the USA as shown in the table below.

 


Table 3 Key factors influencing the future of theme parks in the USA

 

 

 

And in the context of the changing industrial environment and customer behaviors, Formica and Olsen (1998) proposed that the business of theme parks is subject to two challenging key factors: demography and technology. With regard to demography, they consider that parks cannot limit themselves to specific age and interest groups but must consider broadening their scope of attraction to all potential segments. And regarding technology, parks are in the dilemma, expressed by Robinett (1998), of directing the development of entertainment in such a way that the application of technological utilities does not lead to a progressive anesthesia of people’s senses in particularly the young people.

 

 

 

3.3.2            Studies on theming of theme parks

 

 

 

In term of theming of the theme parks, Walt Disney gave one of the best explanations as he put it: “the older generation can recapture the nostalgia of days gone by, and the younger generation can savor the challenge of the future” (Mosley 1985, p. 221). And based on the view of Cameron Lynne Macdonald (2009, p. 58), there are two important things to be accomplished in building up the theming as a mechanism to achieve the goals of appealing to adults as much as children. First, the theme park should establish coherence between the various attractions with the local environments. Second, the design of the attractions, activities and entertainments should be placed on the theming rather than on the thrill factor which is the emphasis in the traditional amusement park.

 

 

 

3.3.3            Studies on theme originality

 

 

 

In term of the factor of theme originality, as proposed by Tim Oakes and Louisa Schein (2006, p. 168), although theme park model carries with it strong associations of the fake and inauthentic tourist attractions, one should not evaluate theme parks in term of an unreflexive loss of authenticity. Rather, the theme park model should be viewed as an authentic replica, in which the yardstick of authenticity is consciously wielded to both mark the originality of tradition and the reliability of modernity. Therefore, according to this point of view, the theme originality should be considered as important and in order to maintain and strength the this feature, the theme parks should pay attention not only to the old tradition and cultural background of the theming but also should integrate the ideas and technologies in the modern world.

 

 

 

3.3.4            Studies on brand management (product) of them parks

 

Figure 7
 Model of building brand equity

 

Source: adapted from Berry & Seltman 2007

 

 

 

According to Salvador Anton Clavé (2007, p. 413), theme parks are special in the entertaining industry as it is within the so called “experience” business, and it offering include: service, the image, the brand, positioning, material characteristics, the brand, quality of the management system and the guarantees and after-sale services. And giving the importance of branding in the theme park industry which is self-evident and considering the brand equity building model as illustrated above, brand management should be focusing on the offering of products and attractions as well as communicating the theme park under a consistent brand meaning to increase the brand equity perceived by the visitors.

 

 

 

3.3.5            Studies on marketing strategy of theme parks

 

 

 

The marketing strategy of theme parks is import to promote the branding as brand management is about the application of the marketing techniques to a specific product, product line or brand (Butterick 2011). According to Salvador Anton Clavé (2007, p. 315), the management excellence paves the way for the success of a theme park and the areas to be focused by the management include operations, personnel and marketing which are all critical to contribute to an overall engagement of service quality and enhance the customer experience.

 

 

 

3.3.6            Studies on location choice of theme parks

 

 

 

According to Jim Futrell (2004, p. 14) what the early theme parks had in common was a location close to interstate highways on the outskirts of town, high standards of design and operations. And the geography of theme parks can be summarized by considering the three kinds of places where these have been developed: city fringes, holiday areas and historic estates (Urry 1995). When a number of theme parks are sited on the fringes of cities and their urban motorway peripheries, other theme parks have been located in traditional holiday areas while another type of parks is attached to a historic landed estate, which is the case of Alton Tower in Staffordshire (Gardiner & Hugh 2000, p. 262).

 

 

 

4.        Theoretical framework (Proposed model in this study)

 

Development of Products:DesignUpdate

 

Development of theme parks

 

Advantages of LocationTransportationPopulation

 

Competitive theming:Theme originalityCultural implication

 

Flexible Marketing strategy:TargetSegmentation

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Figure 8 Critical success factors of theme parks (Develop by author, 2011)

 

 

 

In our proposed model of critical success factors of theme parks, success of a theme park is determined by the below four factors: Competitive theming, Development of products, Flexible marketing strategy and Advantages of location. These four factors are interrelated: In term of the critical success factor of strategic theming which involves the theme originality and cultural implication, both these factors would directly influence the development of the products and services provided by the theme parks and also the marketing strategies that are used to market the theme park. The strategic theming could also influence the choice of location of for the parks in some scenarios, take the Geyser Falls Water Theme Park (US) as an example, the park is located in the south United States’ Peral River closed to Philadelphia which has a relatively shorter ice period in a year. Hence we can see that the location does matter when it comes to some strategic themings that have some requirement of the location features in term of climate, history background and other traits. In term of the development of products, besides the influence brought by the strategic theming (theme originality and cultural implication), it is also affected by the location decisions because as mentioned above one of the two important things to be accomplished in building up the theming as a mechanism to achieve the goals of appealing to adults as much as children is that the theme park should establish coherence between the various attractions with the local environments and the location choices will large determine the local environment that the park is operating in and based on which the products and service should be developed in order to keep the strategic theming. And in term of flexible marketing strategy, it is evident that all the three other critical factors would influence how the product, price, placing and promotion mix would be shaped and carried out. For example, the economy development level in the region where the theme park is located would affect the pricing strategy because of the park has to price the products and services according to the income level of the customers that it targets. And lastly the location choices has to be made based on the analysis of the various location factors that should include as many determinants as possible such as the needs of the product decide and strategic theming requirements. In a word, these four components in the proposed model of critical success factors of theme parks are interrelated and should be treat in a correlated model and together they determinate the overall development potential of a theme park.

 

 

 

5.        Chapter 5: Research Methodology

 

 

 

5.1    Choice of research design

 

 

 

Qualitative research based on the evaluation of the theme park (including the services and products within the park) would be used to evaluate the performance of the theme park in term of the critical factors. Also descriptive and casual research would be adopted at the same time to find out the factors that drive the consumers to visit and revisit the Qingming River theme park in the future.

 

 

 

5.2    Construction of the chosen method and data collection method

 

 

 

Observation would be adopted in the throughout the research especially in the beginning stage to identify the major contents and topics that could be probed into in the later study in term of adding more contents into the structured survey which is the major method of primary data collection. And self report questionnaire will be used to collect the first hand data from the theme park visitors regarding their evaluations about the park and also offering channels to understand the consumers’ behaviors and thinking. The questionnaire will be handed over to the visitors and their filling the questionnaires will be under monitoring of the research persons in case they would need any assistance and clarifications. The questionnaire papers would be collected immediately after the finishing of the answering.

 

 

 

5.3    Sampling

 

 

 

The simple random sampling would be applied in the survey to ensure that all visitors are given an equal probability to receive the survey. A sample of 50 will be done in this study to ensure that the implementation is efficient and also effective to reflect the target group of people’s true ideas of the theme park.

 

 

 

5.4    Procedure of implementation

 

 

 

After the preliminary observation and pre-testing of questionnaire in a small number of target customer (10 persons), we have obtained the authorization from the theme park management to perform an onsite questionnaire. Though we have set the sampling of 50, we actually survey more than 60 customers to make sure the sample is large enough even when some collected questionnaires are found to be failed answers. Three days have been planned to implement the whole questionnaire.

 

 

 

5.5    Data analysis

 

 

 

Data collected through various channels would be analyzed through a comprehensive data analysis process which includes data cleaning, initial data analysis, main data analysis and final data analysis in order to inspecting, cleaning, transforming and modeling data with the goal of obtaining useful information, drawing conclusions and making recommendations.

 

 

 

6.        Finding, analysis and evaluation

 

 

 

6.1    The Macro Strategic Environment

 

 

 

Figure 9 The PESTEL Framework

 

Source: adapted from Johnson, Scholes and Whittington 2006

 

 

 

The PESTEL analysis is frequently applied in the macro environment analysis. The PESTEL framework can be used to identify how future trends in the political, economic, social, technological, ecological and legal environments that might influence the organizations. These six types of environmental factors need to be monitored closely by the organizations operating in China especially those in the new industries such as in the theme park industry which are subject to more uncertainties from the macro environment as there are few experiences and past cases to be referred to. In following we will perform a PESTEL analysis to evaluate the macro environmental factors that affects the future development of the theme part industry and especially the Qing Ming River Park.

 

 

 

6.1.1            Political factors

 

 

 

Political factors refer to regulations and policies set by local and national governments, such as trade barriers, tax rates and political stability (Lockström 2007, p. 101). Currently, China is still a socialist nation upholding the Marxism though with some Chinese characteristics as self claimed by the Chinese government. According to Ron Huisken (2009, p. 29), as an Asian country attaching relatively greater weight to communal than to individual interests, China is less willing than the West counterparts in protecting the individual rights and interests. And as a developing country undergoing rapid economic and social transformations, China gives priority to economic development and political stability over political liberalization and democratization. But the underdeveloped political liberalization has already brought problems to the country’s normal economic activities and even damage the image of the country in term of having strong political stability. There had been several serious conflicts in the remote provinces and Xinjiang province is one of the most frequent named provinces. For example at least 140 people were killed and hundreds wounded when police cracked down on a protest by Uighur Muslims in Urumqi on July 6 2009 whilehousands of Uighurs went to the streets, burning and smashing vehicles in protest at China’s discrimination as well as cultural and religious controls on Uighurs in Xinjiang (Onislam.net 2009).

On the other hand, the Chinese central government and local governments tend to have high involvement in the business activities, in particular among the projects of large scale. Two major reasons are given by Doug Guthrie (2009) explaining the strong role of the local governments in the business practices: local governments are given the authority to relax the rules on electricity and water fees, land prices for factory building, restrictions on foreign workers and other policies related to projects of large investments; also local governments could usually interpret the Central government’s policies flexibly and have frequently implemented them strategically for their own good. As to any theme park projects, land cost  will always be considered as a major cost to the projects, in this point, strong support from the local government in term of lowering the land price and also providing other assistance will be critical to the  success of the theme park projects.

 

 

 

6.1.2            Economic factors

 

 

 

Chart 2
 China Gross Domestic Product value

 

Source: tradingeconomics.com 2011

 

 

 

Marked by Deng Xiaoping’s pragmatic policies of market-oriented reform and opening up to the outside work which was first introduced at the end of the 1980s, China Soviet-Style heavy industrialization finally come to an end in the 1980s and become to arise (Ash & Greene, p. 110). Since then, the Chinese economy development has surprised the world by keeping a double-digit growth in term of GDP increase since the since the early 1990s though with some slowing down in the recent few years. As shown in the figure above, in term of GDP value, in 1998 the GDP value of China was only 1019 billion US dollar but this digit was updated as 4991 in 2010 which means that the economy scale was increase by four times within only 12 years. In 2010 China’s GDP growth jumped 10.3 per cent year-on-year, boosted by a faster-than-expected 9.8 per cent expansion in the fourth quarter according to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) (Asianewsnet.net 2010).

 

Chart 3
 The China inflation rate

 

Source: tradingeconomics.com 2011

 

 

 

Though it is believed that a mild inflation rate is good for economy development when it is growing or recovering, China’s continual high inflation seems to be causing a number of social and political risks though the chronically high inflation rate fell to a lower than expected 4.2 percent in November. One of the most concerning problems caused by the high inflation ratio is the high living cost for the majority of people such as the food price, a major component of the consumer price index and especially sensitive in a society where poor families spend up to half their incomes on food, and it rose 8.8 percent according to the National Bureau of Statistics in beginning of December (Npr.org 2011). One most obvious and direct consequence of the high inflation rate is the low customer confidence and willingness to spend. According to a survey released in August 2011, in the second quarter of 2011 China’s consumer confidence index is 105, down 3 points sequentially, and also reducing non-essential spending is a response to the current economic environment initiatives, including transportation and dining out. There are more than 60% (62%) of consumers surveyed said they would give up driving a taxi and private car, and use public transport; over half (55%) said that will increase the frequency of meals at home. In addition, more than half of consumers are willing to stay home (Zoneic.com 2011). As the figure below shows, the China consumer confidence declines since the happening of the United States led global financial crisis and was running in an average low level while the inflation rate was increasing steadily during the same period. The high inflation rate and the low consumer confidence could have significant impact on the theme part industry. First of all, paying to visit a theme park is considered as a non-essential spending which means that if such macroeconomic trend continues the number of customers who are willing to visit theme parks could be reduced obviously; secondly, the pricing of the tickets and the supplementary services could be very sensitive to the customers as they are more focus on how the money is spent and whether the spending is worthy; thirdly, the location and transportation convenience of a theme park would become more important in time of economy difficulty.

 

Chart 4
 The China consumer confidence index

 

Source: Tradingeconomics.com 2011

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

6.1.3            Social and cultural factors

 

 

 


Professor Geert Hofstede conducted one of the most comprehensive studies of how values in the workplace are influenced by culture and proposed the famous model of hofstede cultural dimensions. He analyzed a large data base of employee values scores collected by IBM between 1967 and 1973 covering more than 70 countries, from which he first used the 40 largest only and afterwards extended the analysis to 50 countries and 3 regions. Subsequent studies validating the earlier results have included commercial airline pilots and students in 23 countries, civil service managers in 14 counties, ‘up-market’ consumers in 15 countries and ‘elites’ in 19 countries. In the 2010 edition of the book “Cultures and Organizations: Software of the Mind”, scores on the dimensions are listed for 76 countries, partly based on replications and extensions of the IBM study on different international populations (geert-hofstede.com 2011). The proposed Geert Hofstede’s Cultural Dimensions National Cultures model which looks into the five dimensions: Power/Distance (PD), Individualism (IDV), Masculinity (MAS), Uncertainty/Avoidance Index (UAI) and Long Term Orientation (LTO) adequately encompasses the major component of the national cultures and has been extensively utilized in a variety of marketing and management contexts (Tian 2004, p. 18).

 

Figure 10 Hofstede’s Cultural Dimensions  analysis of China and United Kingdom

 

Source: geert-hofstede.com 2011

 

 

 

The figure above is the comparing results between China and United Kingdom using the Geert Hofstede’s Cultural Dimensions National Cultures model, below we will further discuss the above results to better understanding the meaning of the Chinese cultural and its implications (refers to appendix 2.0 for some implications of the scores in the five dimensions).

 

 

 

6.1.3.1      Power/Distance (PD)

 

 

 

Power distance refers to the extent to which the centralization of power in organizations and society is regarded as legitimate (Erez, Kleinbeck & Thierry 2001, p. 439). In the history of China, dispute and battle based on the ideology has dominated the political life and even influenced the economic side of the society from the establishment of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) until the late 1970s after the death of the famous Chairman Mao ZeDone. Even after the adoption of the economy reform and openness policy through which the theme of the country has been changed from political struggling to economy construction, the power of the government is still overwhelming and people who had experienced the history have great respect for the power. The high Power/Distance (PD) shows that the society believes that inequalities amongst people are widely acceptable; it implies that the theme parks could use formal authority and sanctions to manage the employees and also the customers which tend to be at low costs.

 

 

 

6.1.3.2      Individualism (IDV)

 

 

 

Individualism versus collectivism refers to the degree to which individuals are integrated into primary groups (Hofstede 2001). Accordingly in term of Individualism versus Collectivism (IDV), individualism is less obvious in China which has a long history of suppressing the individualism and upholds the collectivism in the socialist ideology. While there are primary groups people would like to put themselves into, the much lower Individualism (IDV) compared to that of UK actually implies that the theme park should focus meeting the special needs of the specific groups that people would like to describe themselves.

 

 

 

6.1.3.3      Masculinity (MAS)

 

 

 

Masculinity (MAS) versus femininity refers to the distribution of emotional roles between the genders, which is another fundamental issue for any society to which a number of solutions are found (Falkenreck 2009, p. 59). In China, the score of Masculinity (MAS) versus femininity is the same as that of UK suggesting there are balanced roles between men and women in the Chinese society and customers in both genders are to some extent equal to each other.

 

 

 

6.1.3.4      Uncertainty/Avoidance Index (UAI)

 

 

 

Uncertainty/Avoidance Index (UAI) is the extent to which the members of culture feel threatened by uncertain or unknown situations (Hofstede 1997, p. 113). According to Lawrence A. Tomei (2007), uncertainty avoidance is not the risk avoidance but rather it refers to a pattern of reducing ambiguity. While there is a medium level of Uncertainty/Avoidance Index (UAI), it implies that the theme park should to some extent reduce the ambiguity felt by the customers. For example, to the first time customers and visitors, clear explanations and instruction found everything would be helpful to make them feel more rest assured. 

 

 

 

6.1.3.5      Long Term Orientation (LTO)

 

 

 

A fit cultural dimension is the Long Term Orientation (LTO) which he subsequently added after carrying out a study of the Chinese managers and workers during his time in Hong Kong which refers to the different time frames used by different people and organizations. Those with a short term view are more inclined towards consumption and to maintaining face by keeping up with the neighbors while with a long term attitude the focus would be on preserving status-based relationships and thrift (Hindle 2008, p. 252). Research also finds out that in long term oriented cultures, parents are more lenient toward children than in short term oriented cultures according to Marieke de Mooij (2011, p. 50). As shown in the figure above, the high score in the dimension of Long Term Orientation (LTO) suggests that in the development of the theme park products and attractions, those that could provide long term benefits such as in term of education purpose would be more preferable and also fathers and mother are usually those who make the decisions for their children even when it comes to the entertaining activities for the children.

 

 

 

6.1.4            Technological factors

 

 

 

As proposed by Garrett Nagle (1998, p. 94) that improvements in travel safety, decreased travel time and increase in communications and information have aided the spread of tourism. Technological changes in three major fields influence the volume of tourism (including theme parks): transport, computing and information technology and medical service. Below we focus on the transport which is usually considered as the most important technological factor to the theme park industry. In term of transportation, the recurrence of the transportation safety problems and the underdevelopment of low cost airline service have marked down the scores of the performance of technological factors in China’s transportation service. On one hand, though the year 2010 saw a prosperous development of China’s tourism, the continuous sad tourism accidents were a source of big paints and continuous sorrow to tourism which should be about leisure and relaxation.  For example, on September 16 2010, a traffic accident happened to a Beijing tourist group in Aletai, Xinjiang, and caused eleven casualties and six heavily injured. On September 18 2010, a road accident happened to a tourist group in Dingzhou, Hebei and caused seven casualties and eight heavily injured (see also appendix for more information of the 2010 travel safety events in China) (Zhang, Song & Liu 2011, p. 56). On the other hand, the underdevelopment of the low cost airlines also increases the cost of visiting of the travelers outside of the He Nan province where the theme park is located. Though by 2009, 11 low cost airlines had been established (Yang & Yu 2011, p. 233), their development is still lagged behind because of the fact that China’s airline industry is an improbable blend of state control and regulation. It takes time for the reform of the airline industry and introduces enough of competition to make the low cost airline more common.

 

 

 

6.1.5            Ecological factors

 

 

 

With the growing policy and public concern and awareness on the cities’ deteriorating environments, there are more demand from both the public and the governments to have more ecotourism which is  intended as a low impact and often small scale alternative to standard commercial tourism (Goodale 2003). Firstly, the governments initiate relative campaigns to increase the environmental protection awareness. For example in a 2005 survey conducted by the State Environmental Protection Administration, less than 20% of the population was actively engaged in any environmental initiative. Levels of environmental awareness on the harmful consequences of environmental degradation to health, livelihood and sustainability remain low. In response in June 2006, the State Environmental Protection Administration initiated China Environmental Awareness Programme (CEAP) which consists of public service announcements, films, TV shows, documentaries, events/performances as well as goodwill ambassadors to help disseminate information through TV, print, radio, internet and mobile telephones to raise the public’s awareness of the environmental challenges facing China and to convert the knowledge into a change in behavior, attitude and practice towards environmental protection (undp.org.cn 2011). Secondly, though public awareness in environment in rising, but it is not net quite fully reflected in term of the promotion of ecotourism. As admitted by the government in the Xinhua News that Ecotourism has been part of household vocabularies in China for years. However, experts believe that the concept still has a long way to go in China, as most domestic tourists are more interested in sightseeing than promoting environmental awareness (xinhuanet.com 2011).

 

 

 

6.1.6            Legal factors

 

 

 

Many themes parks in China like many other Chinese firms are low in having awareness of the legal boundary and intellectual rights protection. For example, a theme park in Changsha in south China’s Hunan province provides tourists with a real-life version of Angry Birds adapted from the popular mobile game, though such similar activities are increasingly popular in many other Chinese theme parks, Angry Birds developer Rovio is not informed about such activities (cnet.com 2011). And these behaviors could be illegal as they damage the relative copyrights. Another risk belongs to the complex Chinese legal system. In China, legal drafting is characterized by the following: principle-like pronouncements, vagueness and ambiguity, undefined terms, broadly worded discretions, omissions and general catch-all clauses (Corne 1997, p. 95). Till today, the legal ambiguity is still a major challenge especially in the new industries such as the theme park industry.

 

 

 

6.1.7            Summary of the macro environmental analysis

 

 

 

 OpportunitiesThreats
Political factorsPriority on political stability; Strong local government support;Low level of political liberalization; Low democratization; Regional instability;
Economic vRapid GDP growth;High inflation rate; high living cost (high food price);
Social and cultural factorsManagement using formal authority and sanctions; Mather and mothers are decision makers for children;High uncertainty avoidance;
Technological factors Transportation safety problems; Underdevelopment of low cost airline service
Ecological factorsRelative public campaigns by the government to increase environmental awareness;Slow development of ecotourism;
Legal environmental factors Illegal theming activities;

 

Table 4 Summary of the macro environmental analysis

 

 

 

6.2    The Micro Strategic Environment

 

 

 

6.2.1            Competitive analysis

 

 

 

Figure 11 Industry Competitiveness Analysis Using Michael Porter’s Five Forces

 

Source: (Lewis, Goodman, Fandt & Michlitsch 2007)

 

 

 

One of the best-known and widely used tools in assessing the competitiveness of a specific industry is the industry competitiveness analysis using Michael Porter’s Five Forces Model, and according to this model, the interaction among the five main competitive factors (The threat of the entry of new competitors, the threat of substitute products or services, the bargaining power of customers or buyers, the bargaining power of suppliers and the intensity of competitive rivalry) will together determine the nature and degree of the competition as illustrated in the figure above in the selected industry (theme park industry in this study).

 

 

 

6.2.1.1      Rivalry among the competitors: low to medium level

 

 

 

The rivalry among the competitors in the theme park industry is in a low to medium level. Firstly, the theme parks are usually scattered in different cities or even provinces. And they all tend to be the famous scenes in their respective zones which means that visitors who visit a particular city would usually visit the theme park as well which means there would be less intense competition among the existing theme parks; secondly, because China is a large country with different provinces and races with varied cultures and the local theme parks would integrate the local cultures to provide products and services which would then be differentiated between a particular theme park and other theme parks. And with much differentiated product offerings, it should be safe to say that there would be less direct competition between the themes park in China.

 

 

 

6.2.1.2      Bargaining power of the customers

 

 

 

Based on Ciby Joseph (2006, p. 90), buyer come from an extremely broad range and the ultimate buyers extend from individuals to large corporate customers engaged in an assortment of business activities. The customer of a theme park could cover almost every working class, occupations and individual or group visitors. The bargaining power of customers in the theme parks is low in China for two major reasons. Firstly, customers are in small size for each purchasing. Even a large group of tourists is in relatively small scale compared to number of visitors of a theme park. Therefore, their bargaining power would relatively in a low level. Secondly, as mentioned above, the rivalry among the competitors in the theme park industry is in a low to medium level, this means that customers would be difficulties to visitor another theme park with much lower price compared to the quality of services provided because the rivalry among the competitors is not high.

 

 

 

6.2.1.3      Threat of new entrants

 

 

 

The seriousness of the threat of entry depends on the barriers present and on the reaction from existing competitors that entrants can expect. If barriers to entry are high and newcomers can expect sharp retaliation from the entrenched competitors, obviously the newcomers will not pose a serious threat of entering. Michael E. Porter (1998, p.24) in his famous book, On competition, listed out six major sources of barriers to entry which include: economies of scale, product differentiation, capital requirement, cost disadvantages independent of size, access to distribution channel, government policy. The threat of new entrants is medium in the theme park industry in China for three major reasons: firstly, product differentiation is high in the theme park industry and there are many more possible themes of China or from oversea based on which new theme parks could be built; secondly, the capital requirement is large to start up a new theme park; thirdly, government policies tend to prefer the building of a new theme park because local governments’ great love of such projects in China which would show their financial power as well as their political achievements.

 

 

 

6.2.1.4      Bargaining power of suppliers

 

 

 

A supplier’s power is critical when they provide a special input that the firm cannot get elsewhere (Analoui & Karami 2003, p. 84). Bargaining power of suppliers is low in the theme park industry in China for two major reasons: firstly, China is known as the world’s factory and many supplied goods and equipments needed by the theme parks could be found in the various Chinese manufacturers; secondly, there is no one activity and service that is not indispensable by another one, hence, the bargaining power of suppliers would be reduced.

 

 

 

6.2.1.5      Threat of substitutes

 

 

 

The threat of substitutes is medium in the theme park industry in China. Firstly, there are few substitute products could provide as comprehensive and specially featured entertaining services and functions as many theme parks can give on a special theme. Secondly, because ultimately, the threat from substitutes is directed by (a) relative price (b) relative performance or the satisfying ability and (c) customers’ willingness to pay for the substitute (Joseph 2006, p. 83), the theme parks in China could to some extent be substituted by other entertaining services such as and museums and KTV since the theme park tickets are usually high to the customers.

 

 

 

6.2.1.6      Summary of the analysis using Michael Porter’s Five Forces

 

 

 

ForcesLevel of competition
The rivalry among the competitorsLow to medium level
Bargaining power of the customersLow
Threat of new entrantsMedium
Bargaining power of suppliersLow
Threat of substitutesMedium

 

Table 5 Summary of the analysis using Michael Porter’s Five Forces

 

 

 

6.2.2            Stakeholder Analysis

 

 

 

A stakeholder is someone who can block the implementation of program of change or who will be significantly affected by the recommendations; stakeholders could both be individuals or groups of individuals (Justice & Jamieson 2006, p.53). Below we will perform a stakeholder analysis to list out the key stakeholders that are involved in running the theme parks. The key stakeholders are: the government, the customers, the investors, the local communities, the employees and suppliers and other business partners.

 


Figure 12 Power / Interest Grid for Stakeholder Prioritization

 

Source: mindtools.com 2011

 

 

 

In term of the position of the local government in the theme park industry in China, the local government would fall in the High interest / High power position which is the same as the investors because as mentioned above, local governments in China have strong power in directing the economy development and in the large projects such as the theme parks, the local governments tend to participate directly in the projects by providing resources such as land, therefore considering the fact that the governments would have absolute power, they alike the investors, should be managed closely. The customers have high power over the theme park as they are the source of revenue but they have low interest in the operation of the park hence they should be kept satisfied. The local communities would fall in the category of Low power / High interest as their life would be influenced largely by the operations of the theme park but they would not able to influence too much of the decision of the theme park because as mentioned above, there is high power distance in China, when the government has agreed with the theme park projects, the people would tend to respect such decision as unquestionable decision. Hence according to the Power / Interest Grid for Stakeholder Prioritization, they need to be informed about the news of the theme park that has the relationship with them. The employees group falls in the High power / High interest because of the fact that they are influenced by the operations of the park and also their work is part of the park’s services and products, they performance is influential to the quality of service perceived by the customers. Therefore, the employees should also be managed closely. And suppliers and other business partners, their lack of power and interest decides that they should be monitored but minimum efforts should be spent on them.

 

 

 

6.3    Analysis of the survey using the critical success factors (CSF) model

 

 

 

6.3.1            Competitive theming

 

 

 

6.3.1.1      Theme originality

 

 

 

The theming originality could be seen from the originality of both the main sightseeing and the main show (historic feature shows or opera) activities perceived by the customers. In answering the relevant two questions to evaluate the originality of the shows and historical building sightseeing, the sightseeing activities are highly valued for their originality because in term of the average score 7 out of the total 10 buildings are considered as excellent, and 2 are very good and only one is considered as good and no historical buildings are categorized as fair or poor. But the situation is not so good in term of the main shows. Among the 19 surveyed shows which make up the major theming activities that are provided to the customers to better understand the park and its cultural implications, though none of them is classified as poor in average according to the surveyed results, only 3 of them are “excellent”, 4 of them are “very good”, the majority (9) of them are only considered as good while 3 of them are even considered only as “fair”. Such differentiated results review that the buildings which are constructed to reflect some buildings recorded in the painting are very much different from that of the similar theme parks. But its shows with Song Dynasty features are common and could be found in many other theme parks and non-theme parks. But in sum general level of the park’s originality could be considered as good to very good or 3.5 out of the full score of 5.

 

 

 

6.3.1.2      Cultural implication

 

 

 

In answering the question “How do you rate the cultural implications of the theme park in general, or how well the experience of the ancient Chinese culture that you have in theme park?”, 20 of the surveyed customers consider the theme park have excellent expression of the cultural implications, and also 20 of them view the general performance of the park in restating the ancient Chinese culture which is mainly the Song Dynastic style culture as “very good” and 13 customers’ evaluations are categorized as good as the below pie chart summary of the results shows. And when we probe into the reasons by randomly asking some of the customer why they would feel strongly the cultural implications the majority of them have linked the buildings and shows to the great painting ““Along the River During the Ching Ming Festival” indicating the core of the cultural implications surrounds the painting. In sum, based on the results, we score the performance of the Qing Ming River Park in the strategic theming dimension of cultural implications as Very good, or 4 points out of the full mark of 5.

 

 

 

Chart 5 Pie chart summarizing the results of the cultural implications of the theme park

 

 

 

6.3.2            Development of Products

 

 

 

6.3.2.1      Design

 

 

 

As analyzed previously, giving the importance of branding in the theme park industry which is self-evident and considering the brand equity building elements, brand management should be focusing on the offering of products and attractions as well as communicating the theme park under a consistent brand meaning to increase the brand equity perceived by the visitors. When asked “In general, how similar to Zhang Zeduan’s famous painting ‘The Qingming Festival by the Riverside’ will you score the Qing Ming River Park giving the various products and services offered?”, the majority of the surveyed customers have agree with the view that the Qing Ming River Part has been vividly reflecting the scenes shown in the Zhang Zeduan’s famous painting ‘The Qingming Festival by the Riverside’ as 15 out of 60 of them believe the park has 70 to 80 per cent similarity with the painting and 22 others hold a 80 to 90 percents while even 15 of them hold a more than 90 per cent similarity of the products to the painting.

 

Chart 6
 Product design: Similarity to the painting Qingming Festival by the Riverside

 

 

 

And in term of other product design features which include safety, creativity, minority care (e.g. sufficient assistance given to the disabled), high quality, technology, entertaining and educational functioning, in general the average scores is satisfactory as the majority of the people consider performance of the Qing Ming River Park in all these dimensions as generally good. For example, in term of safety, 46 out of the 60 surveyed customers consider the safety performance of the activities and the other theme park services as more than 60 points out of the full mark of 100. Also interestingly we have identified a phenomenon that people are scoring higher for the educational purpose of the theme park rather than an entertaining function.

 

Chart 7
 Scores of some of the product features (sees appendix for detailed numbers of people of each category)

 

 

 

6.3.2.2      Update

 

 

 

The update speed and quality of the updating of the products and services would be essential to the successful business operations of a theme park. When asked the question “If you have visited the theme park several times, how well do you think the innovation and updating speed of the services and products which make the theme park the worth revisiting?”, 23 out of 60 and 10 out of 60 surveyed customers agree that they consider the product update and innovation speed is “excellent” and “very good” respectively. And also taking into consideration that only 6 of them and two of them consider the updating speed as fair and poor respectively, it shows that the performance of the product update in the Qing Ming River park in the recent years could be ranked as somewhere between very good and excellent or 4.5 out of the full mark of 5.

 

 

 

Chart 8 Pie chart summarizing the results of the product update of the theme park

 

 

 

6.3.3            Flexible Marketing strategy

 

 

 

6.3.3.1      Segmentation

 

 

 

As stated in the survey sample which is attached in the appendix, the surveyed customer and candidates, the customers are segmented not only by sex but also by highest education level, monthly income and ages.

 

 

 

6.3.3.2      Target

 

 

 

The fact that there are 29 male customers compared to 31 female customers suggesting that gender differences are not like an obvious issues that need to be considered, and in term of age groups of the customers, as the pie chart stated below, the two large age groups of the surveyed customers are young people who are between 21 to 25 and another group are the old customers. This maybe because the fact that the middle aged customers are busy with the work and could not spend a long enough of holiday (more than 2 days) in the theme park after taking into the consideration of the additional time consumed in the taking of the transportation. This is in accordance with the current economy conditions under which the young generations are under great pressure to strive for survival. Therefore those who have not yet begun to work or those retired who also do not need to work occupy a large proportion of the visitors while people of working ages occupy a smaller proportion than they should have made based on their large populations.

 

Chart 9
 Pie chart summarizing the age groups of the surveyed customers

 

 

 

Though a certain proportion of the customers are not working, the average education level among the surveyed 60 customers is not low. With 36.67 per cent of the (22 out of 60) total surveyed candidates coming from a higher education background who occupy at least adult education background, it could be concluded that customers of the Qing Ming River Park are better educated than those found out in other common theme parks. And the historical and educational shows and sightseeing activities and attractions provided the theme park have been designed well in satisfying the needs of these well educated customers. This configuration of the education background of the surveyed customers is also in consistence with the finding that “Experience the history of painting by Zhang Zeduan of ‘The Qing Ming Festival by the Riverside’” is the top selection when the customers are asked the question that “What are the main purposes of your tour (multiple choices)?” as it is generally believed that customers with higher education background tend to focus more on the cultural implications of the attractions.

 

 

 

Chart 10
 Pie chart summarizing the education background of the surveyed customers

 

 

 

6.3.4            Advantages of Location

 

 

 

As mentioned above, location of the theme park makes it more success. Its strategic location of theme park in Kaifeng city has a historic implication because Kaifeng city used to be the capital city of the North Dynasty which was the background period of the painting “The Qingming Festival by the Riverside”, below we will further the study on the strategic importance of the location of the theme park.

 

 

 

6.3.4.1      Transportation

 

 

 

 

 

Chart 11
 Line chart summarizing the evaluations of the transportation convenience 

 

 

 

Though the average transportation time from the last destination is more than 2 and a half hours, as shown in the figure line chart above, still the majority of the 60 surveyed customers rank the transportation convenience as very good or good for two major reasons: firstly, China is super large country, several hours’ travels are common even for a tour within a province; secondly, what makes that people feel that the transportation is convenient is to a large extent due to there is direct bus travelling from the airport and the city center of Kaifeng which is already very closed to the theme park, and because of this, people feel the convenience.

 

 

 

6.3.4.2      Population

 

 

 

The population factors also play an important role here. The simple facts reflect the advantage enjoyed by the theme park: Firstly, Henan is China’s third most populous province with a population of over 94 million. If it were a country by itself, Henan would be the 12th most populous country in the world, behind Mexico and ahead of the Philippines (Pemsl & Bose 2008). Secondly,

 

 

 

Critical success factorsEvaluations (1 – 5)Descriptions
Competitive theming3.75Theme originality (3.5); Cultural implication (4)
Development of Products4.25Design (4); Product update (4.5);
Flexible Marketing strategy4Market segment (4); Target (4);
Advantages of Location3.75Transportation convenience (3.5); Population (4.0)

 

 

 

 

 

7.        Conclusion

 

 

 

To be omitted deliberately.

 

 

8.        Recommendations

 

 

 

8.1    Foster technological innovation and product updating

 

As we had mentioned at the literature review part, it is suggested by Walt Disney that an excellently successful theme park would not only cheer and entertain the children or adults, but the whole family, therefore to a theme park like Qing Ming River Park which is designed based on a painting with the aim to re-estate the prosperity of the Song Dynasty in the ancient China, keeping the children entertained and happy would be of strategic importance to reinforce the base of the theme park as a good destination for families to spend their holiday with some happy hours. But based on our survey results, we have identified a phenomenon that people are scoring higher for the educational purpose of the theme park rather than an entertaining function which means that there are improvements that could be made in this field. To achieve this target, I will recommend four major methods to foster technological innovation and product updating: firstly, market survey regarding customer demand should be done regularly to collect the most interesting and most expecting attractions and activities from the customers who could probably perceive the deficiency of the existing attractions in term of lack of updating of some products and services; the second method is to send out a management team to monitor competitors’ similar updates especially those successful ones, but the introduction of some of these seemingly successful attractions should be based on a good compatibility with the current strategic theming; thirdly, innovation and upgrading of the attractions, shows and other products could be further enhance through the research on the painting of “Along the River During the Qingming Festival” which provides the core competitiveness to the theme park in the future development; lastly, the local features and inputs in the modem Kaifeng city could also be integrated into the theme park the the park not only should review the scenes in the history as recorded in the painting but it also should reflect the urbanization and current status in term of economy, cultural and social development in the most recent times which would also be a part of the ancient city.

 

8.2    Develop more short term visit plans

 

Based on the finding we have above during the analysis of the customer segments, we have found out that there are relatively fewer customers aged from 26 to 50 who are usually considered as in their working age, the average 2.31 (according to our survey) days long holiday could be quite long for them to make as working tend to be busy in the main cities in China. Therefore, the theme park could broaden its customer base by developing more short term visit plans by focusing on the following advises: firstly, the most popular scenes and shows could be marked out in the theme park guiding map provided to customers to focus on the key attractions when they do not have too much time to visit all the sites; secondly, for the group visitors, the theme park could provide suggestions and cooperation for the tourist agencies to design a short term visit plan such as one day trip or two days one night trip; thirdly, advertising and promotion mix could help introduce the short term visit package into the market. For example, the company could advertise the theme park’s one day trip by paying to make a tourist related TV program and use the media influence to increase the brand awareness as well as the awareness of its one day package tour; fouthly, the Qing Ming River could discount the theme park tickets for those visit the park under a short term package but by adopting this discount strategy the company also need to monitor whether it will drive down significantly the customer’s desire to buy the longer term package which is not good for the company; lastly, since the first time visitors may also want to visit the other place of interests in the city besides the Qing Ming River Park even during a short term visit, the theme park could work together with other sightseeing or entertaining services providers to make the short term tour to the ancient Kaifeng city more complete.

 

 

 

8.3    Repetition of the survey in a larger scale

 

 To be omitted deliberately.

 

 

 

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Appendix 1 Sample of survey on Qing Ming River Park

 

 

 

Thank you for participating our questionnaire, please take note only Qing Ming River Park visitors are invited to take this survey. Your participation and information collection in this survey will be strictly used for research purpose. This questionnaire is designed to analyze the critical success factors of Qing Ming River Park. Your kindly participation is much appreciated.

 

 

 

Please answer the following questions and refer to the research persons if you need any assistance.

 

 

 

What is your gender?

 

 Male                                  Female

 

 

 

How old are you?

 

 20 or less                    21 to 25

 

 26 to 30                               31 to 35

 

 36 to 40                               41 to 45

 

 46 to 50                               51 and above

 

 

 

Is this your first time visiting Qing Ming River Park?

 

 Yes                                 NO

 

 

 

What is family’s salary level (every month income)?

 

 0 to 4000                    4001 to 6000

 

 6001 to 8000                8001 to 12000

 

 1201 to 15000                1501 and above

 

 

 

What is your highest educational background (level)?

 

 Primary school education  Secondary school

 

 Middle school education   Adult education

 

Bachelor degree          Master

 

 Master                       PHD and above

 

 

 

If the answer to the previous question is NO, how often do you visit Qing Ming River Park in a year?

 

 

 

 Less than twice                 2 to 4 times

 

 5 to 7 times                    8 times and above

 

 Not sure

 

 

 

If you have visited the theme park several times, how well do you think the innovation and updating speed of the services and products which make the theme park the worth revisiting?

 

                           Excellent   Very good   Good   Fair    Poor    

 

 

 

      

 

 

 

How did you get to know about Qing Ming River Park (select the main channel from which you get to know about the park)?

 

 

 

 Tour guidebook or leaflet  Advertising

 

 Previous visit                 Friends’ and families’ recommendations

 

 Internet                   Travel agency

 

 Others___________________________

 

 

 

How did you go to the Qing Ming River Park (multiple choices: select all the transportation tools that you had used during the tour)?

 

 

 

 By bus                       By car

 

 By train                  By air

 

 Others___________________________

 

 

 

How long does it cost you to travel here from the last destination?

 

 

 

 Less than half an hour    Half an hour to 1 hour

 

 1 to 1.5 hours            1.5 hours to 2 hours

 

 2 to 3 hours               3 hours to 5 hours

 

 5 to 12 hours             12 hours to 24 hours

 

 24 hours and above 

 

 

 

How well do you agree that the transportation is convenient?

 

 

 

                           Excellent   Very good   Good   Fair    Poor    

 

 

 

      

 

 

 

Are you traveling individually or in a group?

 

 

 

 Individual

 

 Group (self-organized)

 

 Group (organized by the tour agency)

 

 

 

What are the main purposes of your tour (multiple choices)?

 

 

 

 Experience the history of painting by Zhang Zeduan of ‘The Qing Ming Festival by the Riverside’

 

 Hold or take part in a wedding with features of the Song Dynasty

 

 Shopping

 

 Enjoy the special entertaining activities

 

 Having a happy time with families

 

 Others___________________________

 

 

 

How long do you planned for the whole tour in Qing Ming River Park?

 

 One day only            Two days

 

 Three days              Four days to one week

 

 More than one week     Not sure

 

 

 

How do you rate the cultural implications of the theme park in general, or how do you think you can experience of the ancient Chinese culture in theme park?

 

                           Excellent   Very good   Good   Fair    Poor    

 

 

 

      

 

 

 

 

 

How do you rate the prices of the following items?

 

                     Very expensive Expensive  Fair  Low  Extremely Low

 

Accommodation                                     

 

Weeding service (if any)                               

 

Shopping                                           

 

Catering                                            

 

Theme park ticket                                     

 

 

 

How to you rate the following main sightseeing (historical building) activities of the theme park?

 

                           Excellent   Very good   Good   Fair    Poor    

 

 

 


虹桥
     

拂云阁
     
上善门     

临水大殿
     
水心榭     

双亭桥
     
丹台宫     

铭春坊
     

九龙桥
     
四方院     

 

How to you rate the originality of the following main sightseeing (historical building) activities of the theme park?

 

                           Excellent   Very good   Good   Fair    Poor    

 

 

 

虹桥     
拂云阁     

上善门
     
临水大殿     

水心榭
     
双亭桥     

丹台宫
     
铭春坊     
九龙桥     

四方院
     

 

How to you rate the following main show (historic feature shows or opera) activities of the theme park?

 

                           Excellent   Very good   Good   Fair    Poor    

 

 

 


包公迎宾
     

盘鼓
     

高跷
     

汴河漕运
     

民俗绝活
     

气功喷火
     

斗鸡
     

王员外招婿
     

布袋木偶
     

女子马毬
     
皇家皮影     
编钟乐舞     
水傀儡     
蹴鞠     
大宋科举     
梁山好汉劫囚车     
古代幻术     
杨志卖刀     
汴河大战     

 

 

 

How to you rate the originality of the following main show (historic feature shows or opera) activities of the theme park?

 

                           Excellent   Very good   Good   Fair    Poor    

 

 

 


包公迎宾
     

盘鼓
     

高跷
     

汴河漕运
     

民俗绝活
     

气功喷火
     

斗鸡
     

王员外招婿
     

布袋木偶
     

女子马毬
     
皇家皮影     
编钟乐舞     
水傀儡     
蹴鞠     
大宋科举     
梁山好汉劫囚车     
古代幻术     
杨志卖刀     
汴河大战     

 

 

 

How do you rate the safety, creativity, minority care (e.g. sufficient assistance given to the disabled), high quality, technology, entertaining facors, educational functioning of the major shows and building sightseeing activities?

 

 

 

 0 to 20 points          21 to 40 points

 

 41 to 60 points       61 to 80 points

 

 81 to 90 points             more than 90 points

 

 Not sure

 

 

 

How to you rate the following supplementary product and services?

 

                           Excellent   Very good   Good   Fair    Poor    

 

Accommodation                                          

 

Weeding service (if any)                                    

 

Shopping                                                

 

Dinning                                                 

 

Operating hours                                           

 

Transportation                                            

 

Safety                                                   

 

Customer service                                          

 

Official website (if used)                                    

 

 

 

The built area of this theme park consists of several architectural complexes which are re-creations based on the famous twelfth century painting by Zhang Zeduan of ‘The Qingming Festival by the Riverside’. In general, how similar to the painting will you score the Qing Ming River Park giving the various products and services offered?

 

 

 

 0 to 30   per cent         30 to 50 per cent

 

 50 to 70  per cent       70 to 80 per cent

 

 80 to 90  per cent         more than 90 per cent

 

 Not sure

 

 

 

In general, how will you score the Qing Ming River Park?

 

 

 

 0 to 30           30 to 50

 

 50 to 70        70 to 80

 

 80 to 90           more than 90

 

 Not sure

 

 

 

Will you recommend your families and friends to come to Qing Ming River Park?

 

 

 

 Definitely      I will recommend if they ask

 

 No             Not sure

 

 

 

How possible you will visit Qing Ming River Park in the near future (within two years from now)?

 

 

 

 0 to 30 percent             30 to 50 percent

 

 50 to 70 percent     70 to 80 percent

 

 80 to 90 percent            more than 90 percent

 

 Not sure

 

 

 

To be continued.

 

 

 


Appendix 2 Some implications of the scores in the five cultural dimensions

 


 

 

 

 


Source: Hofstede (2009)

 

Appendix 3 Main tourist related accidents in 2010

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Appendix 4 Detailed answers answering the product features questions

 

 safetycreativityminority carehigh qualitytechnologyentertaining factorseducational functioning
0 to 20 points1252332
21 to 40 points3396784
41 to 60 points1091092094
61 to 80 points1625202625157
81 to 90 points2511101061926
0 more than 90510674%0

 

The end.