The following report is
devised to describe the marketing communications plan that is to be developed, in
order to increase visitor numbers to Alton Towers, and creative positive
attitudes towards the park. The report will pay particular attention to
segmentation and describes in depth the marketing tools that can be used
together, and the analysis of these tools in order to create a successful
campaign. The SOSTAC structure provides an outline for a comprehensive plan,
which can be applied to both business and consumer markets (Zook and Smith,

Situational Analysis

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1.    Over 50 rides and attractions, with continued investment
in facilities (Alton Towers Student Pack, 2017).

2.    The
park employees over 2000 trained employees who
are aware of how to deal with customer complaints and ride breakdowns (Alton
Towers Student Pack, 2017).

3.    Online flexible booking system which has reduced telephone
costs, allowing the park to exploit digital opportunities (M2 Presswire, 2005).

4.    Lastly,
the marketing team regularly creates TV adverts in
order to persuade consumers to purchase (Alton Towers Student Pack, 2017).


1.    Alton
Towers can be perceived as poor value for money due
to the expensive ticket entry prices (Appendix 1).

2.    Website can be hard to navigate and there is confusing
information regarding the thrill rides. This can have a damaging effect on brand
image, especially as research shows that you have as little as 7 seconds to
grab a reader’s attention (Bowshier, 2017).

3.    Lastly
Alton Towers has very seasonalised opening times,
which means their peak visitor times are the school holiday’s and weekends. During
term time, the park itself is open only Thursday through til Sunday (Alton
Towers, 2017).





1.    The
implications of Brexit have meant that more people are now engaging in ‘staycations’ and straying from holiday’s abroad
(Mintel, 2016).

2.    According
to (Working Families, 2017) a high proportion of families within the UK are keen to mitigate the effects of working on family
life, with the rate of families currently at 18.9 million, set to
rapidly grow in the next few years (Statista, 2017).

3.    Families with 3 or more children are becoming increasingly
more popular in the UK, creating a growing segment (Holehouse, 2015).

4.    Teens increasingly have their own spending power
from birthday’s, student loans etc (Marketing Week, 2009).

5.    Cinema
admissions hovering around the 170 million mark
(Springham, 2017)

6.    43% of internet
users aged 10+ say they would be more likely to attend a theme park if they could print tickets at home and were given
self-entry (Mintel, 2016) *See Appendix 2*

7.    36% of
a group of consumers’ source of happiness comes from their relationship – chance to
target the young adult segment and position brand as a chance to spend time
together (Mintel, 2016).

8.    82% of
smartphone owners check their phone within minutes of waking up – See Appendix 6 (Gee,



1.    High number of substitutes, including free
entertainment (Netflix), eating out etc

2.    High bargaining power of buyers– consumers can easily
switch from attending Alton Towers to another theme park, due to lack of
product differentiation (Mariotti and Glackin, 2016).

3.    High bargaining power of suppliers due to the lack of
expertise and equipment present within the industry (Mariotti and Glackin, 2016).

4.    High competitive rivalry from Drayton Manor, Thorpe
Park, Disneyland Paris etc. All have similar pricing strategies and a range of
rides and attractions; thus, all are looking for a
competitive advantage in a highly saturated industry (Mariotti and Glackin,

5.    Med/High barriers to entry – requires large capital
investment to create and maintain a theme park (Mariotti and Glackin, 2016).


Marketing communication
objectives make the management task of control much easier and give direction
to subsequent creative efforts (Zook and Smith, 2016).
















Justification for chosen objectives

Increase trial purchases – This stimulates demand of
new customers through an attractive discount and persuades them to purchase a ticket, encouraging positive purchased related behaviour.

Creating prompted
awareness – The cinema ad will stimulate interest among the new
target market and differentiate the
service from other theme parks through effective positioning leading to a
trustworthy relationship between customer and service

Create positive
attitudes – remind consumers
of Alton Towers through SMS messages which increase conversion rate through
effective customer touchpoints.  



Segmentation is described as
‘the identification of individuals or organizations with similar characters
that have significant implications for the implementation of marketing
strategy’ (Fahy and Jobber, 2015). It allows companies to examine particular
growth opportunities and enables them to enhance profit.

‘THE MILLENIAL FAMILY’ – behavioural segmentation




Families with an
average of 3 teens aged 13-19, an average income of 20,000 – 25,000, living
within a 50 mile radius of Alton Towers, looking to spend more time









Families – 18.9
million in the UK





Families, 2017)



‘WISECRACKS’ – demographic segmentation





Teenagers, aged 13-19, living at home with
parents, attend school or university, have their own spending power and
keen to spend time with friends


Teenagers, aged
13-19, living at home with parents, attend school or university and have
their own spending power







– 30 million in the UK (Market research, 2017)




‘THE ADRENALINE JUNKIE’ – psychographic segmentation




The Adrenaline Junkie, aged
18-25,situated within a 50 mile radius, looks for novelty and adventure to aid stimulation, high usage
of theme parks, want to take a break from working life


Adrenaline Junkie, aged 18-25, situated within a 50 mile radius, looks for
novelty and adventure to aid stimulation, high usage of theme parks


























living within a 20 mile radius of Alton Towers, incorporating Staffordshire
and Stoke on Trent, described as ‘Comfortable Communities’ and ‘Affluent
Achievers’, have a high proportion of savings and may still have children
living at home


living within a 20 mile radius of Alton Towers, incorporating
Staffordshire, Stoke on Trent and Derby, described as ‘Comfortable
Communities’ and ‘Affluent Achievers’ on Acorn















(Alton Towers Student Pack,



A pull strategy is used for the basis
of this campaign and involves ‘encouraging customers to pull products through
the channel network’ (Fill, 2013). The idea is that the customer will see value
in attending Alton Towers and views it as superior to competitors.
Predominantly ‘above the line marketing’ is used here, through the use of
cinema advertisement. This allows us to achieve one of our objectives of
‘creating prompted awareness’ and helps with brand recall. The only
dis-advantage with using a pull strategy is that it can be costly to implement
due to the high costs of tools such as advertising (Bhasin, 2017).


the basis of this campaign, the most attractive segment to target is ‘The
Millennial Family’. This is because:

parents are looking to mitigate the effects of working on family life, as seen from the Situational

The analysis shows that family sizes with 3 or more children are becoming increasingly more
popular in the UK, thus creating a chance to target a growing segment.

A large
percentage of families feel that they do not spend enough time together,
which creates an opportunity for Alton Towers to create a campaign that solves
this problem.

Below is a profile of the chosen
segment, to outline their spending behaviour and lifestyle characteristics:









Based on research findings from (Houser, 2016)




Positioning involves the
‘act of designing the company’s offering so that it occupies a meaningful and
distinct position in the target customer’s mind (Fahy and Jobber, 2016). When
thinking about positioning we need to ensure we have given thought to all 3 C’s
– the customer, the
competitors and the company itself.























As a
result, Alton Towers needs to be positioned as a family resort destination that provides a thrill seeking, adventurous
day out whilst offering a chance to improve family relationships. It is
currently a relatively expensive day out – By looking at Appendix 1 we can see
that Alton Towers can be perceived as poor value for money. Consequently, Alton
Towers would want to move within the positioning map.








The Overall Message

As a
result, the overall message to be created along with the campaign is:

‘Where Everyday is a Family Day’

Depending on budget
available, it may be possible to engage in ‘user
generated content’ where consumers play an active role in the creation of a
message, through competitions.



touch point


Overview of the Big Idea – see Appendix



Justification of Tools


Advertising is defined as “Any
paid-for communication designed to inform and/or persuade” (Copley, 2014, p195).



Aim is to engage in persuasive advertising in order to build a brand preference and
encourage consumers to switch to Alton Towers

Around 30-35% of cinema visits made by people
are in the key 15 to 24 brackets (Statista, 2017).

Traditional advertisements are no longer
relevant for todays teenagers as many are playing on their phones whilst
adverts are playing (Stanley, 2009).

The audience is captive and recall rates are
4 times higher for cinema adverts compared to TV adverts (Digital Cinema Media,

allows cinemas to break through noise – cinema provides a full sight and motion
experience, with high definition and 50-foot screens. See diagram above – Alton
Towers can break through the clutter of advertising messages through an
engaging cinema ad (Awan Media, 2017).













promotion is defined as “A range of
tactical marketing techniques, designed within a strategic marketing framework,
to add value to a product to achieve a specific sales or marketing objective”
(Institute of Sales Promotion).







Appeals to the parents within the market,
influenced by price with a lack of time on their hands

43% of a group of consumers were likely to
look for discounts when shopping (Mintel, 2016).

Sales promotion naturally integrates with
advertising – the ad can help get the promotions up and running (Zook and
Smith, 2016)

Aim of sales promotion is to stimulate trial
purchases which is the main objective for the campaign

The promotion can deseasonalize Alton Towers’
narrow opening times and encourage them to increase visitor rates at other times
of year.

Operant conditioning –
discounts offer a reward for purchasing and therefore encourage the likelihood
of repurchase due to positive reinforcement (Copley, 2014).













Mobile marketing can be defined as ‘the use
of short messaging, multi media messaging services and mobile display
advertising’ (Fahy and Jobber, 2015, p335).




Able to reinforce the brand within target
markets mind through reminder text messages before and after visit to the park

Interactive –
encourages two-way communication, creating an opportunity for relationship
development (Fahy and Jobber, 2016)

Can be
tailored specifically for each customer (Zook and Smith, 2016)

usage among the teenage market is increasing (Mintel, 2016)

95 to 98% of
SMS text messages are read within minutes of receipt (Desai, 2014)

Recent study
shows 22% of consumers are happy for brands to collect data about them (Mintel,





Detailed Explanation of the Cinema Advertisement





30 second slot

Time of Year

during the Easter holidays – likely to be a large, captive audience


Needs to be played within the gold slot – this occurs when all customers are sat
down in their seat ready to watch the film (Digital Cinema Media, 2017)

Content –

begins with children rushing out to see their friends, leaving parents
feeling upset and lonely. The parents decide to go online and book a family
ticket as a treat after exams, in order to create an opportunity to spend
more time together. It is important to portray ease at using the website and
ensure there is clear visual representation of the discount.

Peripheral Route – low involvement customers

Peripheral route –
the advert plays on feelings and emotions, mainly to do with a lack of family connection and bonding. This keeps
the message consistent.


Playing the advert before any teenage orientated films. Therefore,
likely to engage with the right audience. Some examples for 2018,
March-April include:
Solo: A Star Wars Story (IMDB, 2017)

Consistency with current brand

Use the same music that is used
currently – In the Hall of the Mountain King, Grieg.

points to consider:

84% of consumers feel that brands do not accurately
represent their family lifestyle. It is therefore important to ensure the advert accurately depicts a typically evening in a
family home. For example, Domino’s have created a successful campaign
where they were able to film authentically in people’s homes (See Appendix 6).







explanation of discounted ticket




Explanation of SMS Marketing

Once the family have
purchased the ticket, several SMS messages will be distributed throughout the
campaign. This closes the customer journey and encourages positive word of
mouth (See Appendix 7).




Important things to remember:

A good SMS message requires preparation and thought as usually a company is given 160
characters to get across the message that they want (Desai, 2014)

The personal nature of this channel can often
encourage SMS messaging to be seen as invasive – we need to use it in an ethical way, so as to respect consumer
privacy (Vigar-Ellis, 2007)

in layout – need to ensure that the text message is readable on
all smart phones (Derrick, 2004)

See below for a visual























The action section of
a plan ensures that the ‘tactics are executed to the highest possible standard’
(Zook and Smith, 2016). The aim of a well thought through action plan is to
ensure each employee knows of information regarding budgeting, deadlines etc. Below
is a Gantt chart detailing the milestones of the campaign:

The key milestones of the
campaign are as follows (Jan-August):

key departments – including sales, marketing and finance (Feb)

in pre-testing of cinema ad and discounted ticket –
ensure money is being allocated to a successful investment (6th

If it is a success – recruit actors and book production slot (mid Feb)

web developing agency to tidy up website and improve SEO, download
times of link’s and booking page to ensure consumers can book tickets easily and
are made aware quickly of restaurant
vouchers and other point of sale add on’s

cinema advertisement week commencing 26th march,
ensures we are reaching a large audience

mobile marketing campaign with a successful agency and
discuss layout and timing of messages

in post testing of tools




Communication plans need a
control system because management need to know at an early stage how a campaign
is running. If it is not working, it needs to be stopped so that investment and
resources can be directed towards other efforts (Zook and Smith, 2016).

setting method

The role of the
communications budget is to decide how much money is allocated to the elements
of the communications mix. Costs will depend on which media slots are used and
how much is spent on production, administration and research (Copley, 2014).

Generally, around 7-9% of
the firm’s overall budget is dedicated to marketing activities (Olenski, 2015).
More money is being allocated to digital marketing, including SMS and social
media as opposed to the traditional forms.

For the purpose of this
campaign, objective and task budgeting will
be used to control and monitor the campaign. This is essentially based on the cost of meeting communications objectives.
This is the only bottom-up approach and is the most desirable. (Copley, 2014)

It needs to be noted that a
part of the budget should be left over for improving the websites landing page,
through ‘customer experience management’ (Chaffey and Ellis-Chadwick, 2016).













Cost of
Communications Tools










                  (Digital Cinema
Media, 2017)                                                          






Summary of Budget






Digital Cinema Media

Mobile Marketing


Marketing Agency

Discounted Tickets

Assume a 50% decrease in sales, with 10%% of
cinemagoers purchasing the Alton Towers ticket

Marketing Agency

Website Page
Development – creating an effective landing page through content development
(Chadwick and Ellis-Chadwick, 2016

(Pozin, 2013)

Digital Marketing

Public Relations –
particularly internet relations management

£10,000 (Axia Public Relations, 2013)

Public Relations Agency





Evaluation of Tools













the advert on focus groups in
order to mitigate the effects of marketing myopia which occurs when marketers
develop a short-sighted approach in only thinking of the businesses needs and
not customer (Baird, 2017).
to cost around £12,000 to test (Kuhn, 2016).

sales pre and post advertisement.
Use LINK –
a tool for creative development that identifies what is working and what is
not (Copley, 2014).

at the movement of the brand within a perceptual
in recall, triple association and
brand recognition tests (Nielsen, 2017)


Conduct consumer panels to
determine perceptions of discount.
ask the sales and marketing team to
review promotions and point out weak spots.

Quantitative evaluation of sales
throughout campaign.

track the scanning of bar codes
among ticket sales and measure gate entry numbers for the period.


the message before roll out and engage in ‘continued customer profiling’
(Zook and Smith, 2016)

Analyse read rates.
Carried out through purchase of ‘Google Analytics’ and ‘Web Trends’.  

at ‘click through rate’ and
incoming traffic on website.