Something strange is going on at Universal Hollywood.
The theme park has managed to attract a kind of customer not normally associated with the attraction: millennials.
Jeff Glueck, CEO of Foursquare, published a post on Medium discussing the company’s analysis of amusement parks and theme parks, an $18 billion industry.
They found that the category overall has a pretty slow growth rate of just over 3% this year from Foursquare’s US Data.
Universal Parks & Resorts, the Comcast-owned company that operates Universal Hollywood, is growing much faster than its competitors, thanks to new attractions and innovations targeted to the millennial generation.
Foursquare found that in the last two years, millennials made up almost half of Universal Studio Hollywood’s entire attendance.
When the theme park opened a Wizarding World of Harry Potter three months ago, millennial visit growth for the opening week was 63%, levelling off the following week to 58% higher than a baseline week before the attraction opened. When the Walking Dead attraction launched just two weeks ago on July 4, the zombies drove a 35% surge in millennials compared to the week before.
“We can predict at least a 10% growth for the SoCal park this year,” Glueck said.
As millennials are now the world’s largest demographic, building relevant products to get them”off the couch and into theme parks” is key, according to Glueck.
“More broadly, Universal represents a case study for companies hoping to reach this critical demographic,” said Glueck.
Foursquare, the company behind social-media check-in app Swarm, has had success with predictive insight in the past with its own unique set of data. The tech company used foot traffic data, which includes both explicit “check ins” and passive location trails to accurately predict footfall, and therefore sales, at McDonalds, Chipotle and Apple.
Interestingly, not only can Foursquare use location intelligence to predict a rise in visit share and ticket sales, but the company can look at the theme park’s dynamic pricing structure aligned with visit data to pinpoint the best days of the years to visit various parks.
In the case of Universal Hollywood, the company found the fewest crowds and cheapest pricing through the remainder of 2016 to be in early December. If that wasn’t precise enough, they pinpoint the single best date to be December 8, 2016.
For summertime visitors, weekdays during the second half of August are predicted to be the best days to visit.
The service offered by Foursquare is evidence of the growing use of “alternative data” on Wall Street. This world of alternative data is comprised of obscure data sets that can be turned into tradable information. The data sets range from weather reports to web traffic to satellite imagery to social media data.
Alternative data is increasingly being used by traditional long-short, quantitative, hedge, pension, and mutual funds to track industries ranging from construction and retail to tech and real estate.