New Prez for Six Flags Discovery Kingdom
Six Flags Discovery Kingdom welcomes Dale Kaetzel to the executive team as its new president, replacing former leader Eric Gilbert, according to the Contra Costa Times
With previous experience as manager of Paramount Parks properties, Kaetzel joins the Vallejo, Calif.-based Six Flags Discovery Kingdom park as it embarks on its 25th anniversary, and as its corporate entity Six Flags Entertainment Corp. celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2011.
Prior to his work at Paramount Parks, Kaetzel spent 13 years as marketing and retail vice president for Centre Management-MCI Center in Washington, D.C., a sports and entertainment venue now called the Verizon Center.
He also formerly served as marketing director for the San Francisco Giants, and in this new role, he’ll be responsible for all park operations, strategic direction and general management duties for the 135-acre combination wildlife, oceanarium and theme park.
“With his background in management, marketing and communications, Dale brings keen business acumen as well as brand understanding to Discovery Kingdom,” Chief Operating Officer Al Weber said in a statement.
Six Flags Discovery Kingdom is an animal theme park that includes a variety of roller coasters and other amusement rides, along with a collection of animal exhibits and shows. It has been part of the Six Flags chain of amusement parks since 1999.
Marketing Director Kirk Smith told WinmoEdge that for this particular property, Six Flags Discovery Kingdom
, Kaetzel will have the role of leadership for the entire park, and will utilize his marketing expertise wherever necessary.
“You could say that ramping up our efforts is one of the things we’re looking at and obviously looking at all areas of advertising, not necessarily one in particular, to drive our business,” he said.
Though Kaetzel will lend his marketing expertise in various related areas, our source does not anticipate broadening its consumer scope for audience outreach.
“I don’t think we’ll see a shift in our basic core demographic of families,” Smith said. “Our product speaks to families with the diversity of animals, land animals, marine mammals, the shows as well as the extensive kids' areas that we have and our compliment of thrill rides.”
Even outside of Vallejo’s 150-mile radius, Six Flags Discovery Kingdom still maintains strong brand and product awareness, our source said. He added that the theme park sees annual visitors from other states and even international visitors.
“There’s not necessarily an international skew with our marketing, it’s just the uniqueness of the product – having a killer whale and dolphins and tigers – that lends itself to be a unique experience within itself,” Smith said. “It’s more than a traditional theme park.”
As travel and hospitality businesses are still suffering from the backlash of the 2009 recession, Six Flags Discovery Kingdom has done very well over the last few years, according to our source.
“Being a destination location close to home has certainly played to our benefit, if you will,” he added.
All external agency relationships are handled on a case-by-case basis right now, Smith said, proclaiming that the park does rely on its very strong internal marketing department, as well as the corporate entity and its years of direct experience in marketing theme parks.
“We have a very strong corporate alliance partnership program where we do have nationally branded corporate alliance partners within the park,” Smith said. “For the park here, we do have a corporate alliance director that takes care of basic negotiating and formatting of the deals and so forth.”
According to The Nielsen Company, Six Flags Discovery Kingdom spent about $54.5 million on advertising in 2009. About $38.7 million was spent on spot television ads, about $12.4 million was spent on spot radio ads and about $1 million was spent on cable television ads.