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Interview: Mr. Ferrari World

Interview: Mr. Ferrari World

Andy Keeling has the job we all want: managing the world’s first Ferrari theme park. He tells Kipp what’s in store, what goes into it, and why he loves it so much.

October 7, 2010 3:44 by

Where will your customers come from?

It’s very difficult to speculate on that. We have a policy not to release forecasts. At some point we will release actual information, but for now what I can say is we have done thorough studies that show we will be well visited by the local population as well as tourists. More so as tourism develops in and around Abu Dhabi. It’s going to be a mix of local residents (and by that we mean the GCC), Emiratis, and the huge expat community here in the UAE, as well as tourists. We’ve catered for a mixed guest base. Everything we have is in Arabic and English. English is the preferred but we have given that mix.

So you won’t talk numbers. But how many people can the park accommodate at capacity?

The park opens at noon, Tuesday through Sunday. Tuesday, Wednesday, Sunday it’s open until 10 pm, and for the other days – the weekend – we’re open until midnight. The beauty of that it is that, in my experience, the expat community likes to come out in the morning and lunch and have a day out, but the GCC community likes to come out later and stay out late and eat late. So we’re staying open late enough to fill both those needs. We have a physical capacity of 9,000 people, but on a busy weekend day we’ll probably have those kinds of numbers but split in two shifts. So it’ll always be a comfortable experience.

What’s your marketing strategy?

There is a campaign about to launch, but I can’t say more until it does. It’s very, very specific, but I need to keep it under wraps just now. I can say we have so far used a lot of viral marketing, Facebook site, blogs. And we’re using traditional PR. The media campaign is coming in the next two weeks.

Outside of the gate, what are the revenue streams for the park?

Not only do we operate our own rides, we operate our own eateries, and we operate our own stores. We’ve even got a bakery, and we produce our own gelato (ice cream). We’ve got seven food and beverage outlets. It won’t surprise anybody that we’ve got two Italian food speciality restaurants. We have restaurant inspired by the restaurant opposite the Ferrari plant in Maranello where Enzo Ferrari had his own dining table. We import our own food from Italy, it’s very authentic. Then we have a self-service food court, where we do a whole range of Italian food. We cook our own food, we have our own chefs… We have one outlet inspired by the canteen inside the Maranello factory, and there we will have international cuisine. We also have a grill based restaurant, which is food based very much on the GCC. Plus we have a fast food outlet called Pit Stop, where we produce items like the California Burger. Again, everything prepared on site. There are kids menus, 100 percent organic. There’s an Italian café too, no surprises there, and we have Italian coffee. Pastries are big in Italy, so the bakery is a big part of it. I’ve had the most onerous task of testing it, and we won’t disappoint anybody.

What’s the price point?

It varies, but I think you’ll find that our price point matches any high street dining experience. If you went to the Walk at JBR (in Dubai), there’s a bunch of restaurants there and if you compared their prices to ours you would find no great difference. We want to be value for money, we want to serve good food at good prices. That’s our philosophy. Yes, we have a captive audience, but it’s not in our interest to over inflate prices. We want to provide value for money and fairness.

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