Anshul Jain, GM and Director, Merlin Entertainment shared that locals, from the entire NCR region, have taken a liking to the Madame Tussauds wax museum. It has become an immersive experience, offering something for people from all age groups. He also stressed that the govt. needed to do more to push such attractions in the mainstream of public outreach which would eventually boost tourism in the long run. Excerpts from the interview:
We saw people here of all ages. There are families and children. Is the footfall majorly being driven by the domestic segment? I ask this because the experience of Madame Tussauds is a unique one for Indians, being the first such entertainment experience?
It is kind of a universal attraction. We get visitors from all areas. Primarily, the major chunk of visitors are coming from Delhi-NCR, basically two hours distance from the attraction – north, south, east and west. These people then bring their friends and relatives. The second biggest chunk is the domestic tourist segment. We are getting people from Kolkata, Bengaluru, Mumbai, and others. We have a mechanism where we are checking on the number of tourist arrival from each state.
In terms of international visitations, the numbers form a very low percentage. We still do not see too many foreigners visiting the venue. I would say that it is less than five percent of the overall numbers.
Are you eyeing growth in foreign footfalls or quite satisfied with the buzz created in the domestic segment?
We would certainly want more numbers. Madame Tussauds can attract tourists from all visitor profiles. But I think we need some more efforts, push from the government in promoting an attraction like ours. Wherever a Madame Tussauds attraction is based, whether it Singapore, London or anywhere else, it has tremendously helped in boosting local tourism. Governments too generally partner with such attractions because it generates footfalls for the country. Unfortunately, we have not been able to garner that kind of support from the tourism ministry at this point in time. We tried our luck. If we want to see growth in tourism numbers then we will need a pro-active participation from the government.
Merlin entertainment is a huge business group. We have more formats, so if we get support for this attraction we might open other formats as well. After seeing us there are so many international operators such as the Universal Studio, Disney or Ripley’s which can also come in the Indian market. That is if they see us doing well.
What sort of government support are you looking at? Are you looking at co-branding opportunities? Could you share some more on what your expectations are?
You go to any other country like Dubai and Singapore, the moment you step out into the airport there is complete information on places to visit and things to do. The government support starts at the airport itself and it is promoting the country and different regions via its multifaceted tourist channels. All these efforts are kind of missing here in India.
Talk to us about the distribution strategy? We understand that the ‘word of mouth’ publicity plays a crucial role. What are the mediums that are being employed to amplify outreach? Have you roped in OTAs?
We are catering to all channels. First, we have our walk-up ticketing system where people can just come to the attraction and book their tickets. Then we have our online web portal: www.madametussauds.com/delhi. We are currently running an offer of buy one and get one ticket free. These are our own two channels. Apart from this, we have tied-up with all the top OTAs of the country, whether it is bookmyshow, nearby, Paytm, Cleartrip, goevents and new OTAs like Kyzoonga, among others. All these OTAs are selling and promoting our brand. This takes care of our online outreach.
We have also tied up with major tour operators like we have a local consolidator agent named 24*7 which is collecting orders from ADTOI and AITOA members. We also have several agents such as Veena World and Kesari. Every day we have around 100-120 people from Mumbai visiting the attraction. We want to have such agents in Kolkata, Bengaluru and in other states.
We get a lot of school children visiting the attraction and have also roped in school agents who reach out to school authorities. We have catered to over 7,500 students to date. We have a very attractive offer of INR 375 rupees ticket for school going children.
Then there are tourist groups who are another channel. There are several groups like clubs and ladies’ groups.
We never call ourselves a museum. In a museum, you are only restricted to watching a thing from a distance and are not allowed to touch it. We call ourselves an entertainment attraction. We have props and visitors can use the props – people can use those props, dress up with those props and have selfies clicked in different poses. It is an immersive and attractive experience. We have several interactives in segments like sports and films, and others.
We have a wax-hand experience where you can get a replica of your handmade in wax. We have a retail store where all imported and wonderful quality stuff is on sale. So it is a complete family entertainment experience.