Theme park’s physical environment
Hygiene factors have the role of providing information on service quality or product configuration to customers while improving their trust on the corresponding service at the same time (Wilson et al. 2012). As theme parks are defined, in addition to the definition provided by Kyriazi (1976) above, as attractions emphasizing a specific theme by creating a new atmosphere (Milman 1988), the visitor-attraction industry encompassing cultural and non-profit facilities altogether (Cameron et al. 1996), and facilities that adds a certain theme to existing enjoyment and recreational facilities (Milman 1988), it can be said that the hygiene factors at theme parks are its physical environment, which is where the providers’ service is delivered to customers and their interaction takes place (Baker et al. 1994).
Physical environment consists of many components, which are categorized using various methods in previous literature. Wakefield and Blodgett (1996) classified physical environment according to consumption purpose and facility use duration, while Robson (1999) grouped the physical environment at restaurants into ambient, design, and social factors in analyzing how the various components, such as music, lighting, table arrangement, furniture, materials, and so on, affected customer satisfaction. Related to theme parks, Dong and Siu (2013)’s study on two theme parks in Hong Kong used the term “servicescape,” which is an idea suggested by Bitner (1992) to express the environmental aspect in the field of service provision, and analyzed which essential aspects of servicescape affected visitors’ evaluation of the theme parks.
It has been reported that simulation inside physical environment affected both consumer cognitive and emotional reactions (Robert and John 1982). Specifically to theme parks, Kawamura et al. (2004) emphasized the role of attractions within the theme park’s physical environment, as attractions are the main factor determining visitor’s individual preferences of theme parks. Milman (2001) also highlights the importance of managing visitors’ perspectives through attraction management to meet their expectations of interactive adventure, fantasy, and mystery at theme parks. In this study, customer satisfaction survey results for individual attractions at Samsung Everland will be used in conjunction with the operational efficiency of the attractions to analyze how each attraction contribute to customer satisfaction in relation to its efficiency.
Theme park’s operational efficiency
Customer satisfaction comes from the pleasant fulfillment of consumption experience and a evaluation process on the degree of consistency between pre-experience expectation and post-experience performance (Norvell 2012; Oliver 2014), which may affect the customer’s intention to revisit. Customers’ perception of risk can be a factor in this evaluation process, and in this sense, if uncertain or unsettling factors for customers are identified and well controlled, greater customer satisfaction be delivered to positively affect revisit intention. (Day 2003).
Because they are recreational facilities that depend on an extremely volatile visitor attendance, delivering high customer satisfaction is vital for theme parks and consequently, risk—in particular, functional risk—control also becomes crucial. In the case of theme parks, one of the functional risks that is most exposed to the customers’ perception is waiting time. Waiting time works as an important factor in the customer’s decision making process, along with cost, especially in service facilities such as theme parks (Greenleaf and Lehmann 1995), and previous studies show that waiting time is one of the factors that promotes a negative relationship (Bielen and Demoulin 2007) and conflict (Houston et al. 1998) between the service provider and the customers. However, the volatile visitor attendance makes it difficult for theme parks to properly predict the demand for individual attractions, which often lead to longer waiting time in theme parks (Luo et al. 2004).
There have been studies on efficiency of theme parks, such as Liu (2008) which conducted profitability measurement on theme parks in the United Kingdom, however, few to none can be found when the topic is narrowed down to the efficiency of theme park attractions. As this study was unable to benefit from previous studies in deciding the input and output variables, their selection referred to logical reasoning based on approaches used for traditional DEA models. In terms of input factors, Li et al. (2009) mentioned that traditional DEA approach sets the DMUs’ fixed costs as input factors, and Sueyoshi and Sekitani (2005) included variable inputs and fixed inputs as the two types of input variables in their DEA model. Based on such traditional approaches, this study uses installation area and installation cost (fixed costs) and annual repair cost (variable cost) as the input variable. In terms of output variables, Azadeh et al. (2008)’s use of quantitative and qualitative outputs was reflected in this study to use the number of annual users and customer satisfaction. The input and output variables used in this study are illustrated in Table 2.
Theme park in Korea: Samsung Everland
Samsung Everland was established in 1976 in Yongin-si, South Korea by Samsung Corporation and is currently the largest theme park in the country, offering various attractions, seasonal parades, and festivals which are continuously updated with new contents based on the theme park’s long-accumulated knowhow. Not only is Samsung Everland the top theme park in Korea but it has also gained global recognition, with its being selected as the worlds’ top 4 theme park by Forbes in 2004 and ranked 8th among the top 100 Korean brand names by Brandstock.
A long list of accolades show the high customer satisfaction achieved by Samsung Everland, including number on ranking in the Korea Management Innovation Contest for Customer Satisfaction for 5 years in a row (1996–2000) as well as being number one in the Korea Service Quality Indication’s theme park segment for 14 years (2013), the Korean Net Promotoer Score’s Most Recommended Enterprise Award for the theme park segment for 7 years (2013), and the Korean Customer Satisfaction Index (KCSI) for the leisure segment for 20 years (2014). It also won the Presidents’ Prize at Korea Brand Awards (2003) and the Big E Awards for Parade (2005).
However, while customer satisfaction of the theme park is high, there still exist areas for improvement, especially in terms of attraction waiting time which scored the lowest for customer satisfaction among the various service elements at Everland in the Korea Consumer Agency (KCA)’s survey conducted on 1000 randomly-selected consumers at the theme park in 2012. In this context, this study investigates 15 attractions—T Express, Double Rock Spin, Amazon Express, Let’s Twist, Rolling X-Train, Championship Rodeo, Flying Rescue, Lily Dance, Global Village, Sky Dancing, Flying Elephant, Peter Pan, Top Jet, Flash Bang Bang, and Royal Jubilee Carousel—operated as of 2013 at Samsung Everland, as a case study in analyzing the efficiency of individual attractions at theme parks.