Pricing Lessons from Sea World

An interesting pricing article appeared in Skift, SeaWorld’s Price Cutting Strategy is Fueling a Comeback. The title says a lot, but the details in the article are even more fascinating.

They lowered ticket prices and attendance jumped. First, that deserves a big duh! But wait a minute—isn’t Disney raising prices? Why would Sea World be lowering them? In my opinion, Disney is a “Will I” decision. Families don’t decide “Will I go to Disney or SeaWorld?” Families are going to Disney—period! But, once that visit is done, they make a “Which One” decision to decide which of the other parks to visit.

SeaWorld competes with Universal Studios, Six Flags, and every other theme park in the vicinity. Buyers making a “Which One” decision are much more price sensitive than when making a “Will I” decision.

Lesson #1: Know if you’re a “Will I” decision, or a “Which One” decision.

The second detail in the article that I found fascinating: Revenue from ticket prices is down, but overall revenue is up. They’re selling more complementary products. The article doesn’t say why that’s happening. It could be visitors have more discretionary income. Maybe they feel better because they didn’t spend a huge bundle at the gate. Maybe SeaWorld stepped up their marketing efforts for in-park purchases. Regardless, selling complements is a fantastic strategy to grow revenue. Many companies overlook the idea of selling more to their current customers.

Lesson #2: Explore complements. If you have them, market them.

If you read the article, what interesting tidbits did you pull from it?
We don’t often see pricing articles like this one.   

Mark Stiving

Mark Stiving

Mark Stiving is an instructor at Pragmatic Institute with more than 20 years of experience in business startup, development, management, turnaround and sales and design engineering. He has helped companies create and implement new pricing strategies to capture more from the value they create, and has consulted with Cisco, Procter & Gamble, Grimes Aerospace, Rogers Corporation and many small businesses and entrepreneurial ventures. He has led pricing initiatives as director of pricing at Maxim Integrated and as a member of technical staff at National Semiconductor. Mark also has served as president of both Home Director Inc. and Destiny Networks Inc. and as an assistant professor of marketing at The Ohio State University. Mark also is the author of “Impact Pricing: Your Blueprint to Driving Profits” (Entrepreneur Press, 2011). He can be reached at

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