As lockdowns lift across the globe, attractions opening their gates to the public is a welcome sign of normality. However, getting here hasn’t been straightforward. Attractions that are now reopening successfully have been proactive in planning how they’ll adapt to challenges like social distancing ever since they closed. In many cases, attractions also have had to change their business models to adapt to a far less prosperous new normal.
Unfortunately, a shared experience for most attractions globally is likely to be a reduction in revenue in the near term, and potentially more temporary closures, as we’ve seen recently with Hong Kong’s Disneyland and Ocean Park. Whether due to capacity reductions, drastically shortened seasons, or minimised revenue opportunities, there is still a long way to go before many attractions can return to growth.
For reopening attractions, prioritisation is key to maximising revenue in this challenging time. With that in mind, here are some of the key areas where attractions need to prioritise their efforts in the coming weeks to help make the best of what’s left of 2020.
Even though some attractions are selling out of tickets as they reopen bookings, capacity is still significantly restricted, so sustaining visitor numbers in the long term will require regaining consumer confidence in attractions as fun, safe places to go.
Many guests are reluctant to re-enter attractions, whether due to health concerns or the physiological effects of lockdowns (or both). Between 45% and 60% of guests told a recent survey that they need to “wait and see” before they feel comfortable re-entering most types of attractions.
Faced with this change in guest behaviour, regaining guest confidence and increasing visitor numbers will require clear, coherent messaging to show your guests what visiting your attraction looks like, how they need to behave on-site, and what you’re doing to keep them safe while they’re there. Keeping your communication on a level with guests' concerns is vital to inspiring them to return.
Read our blog for more about rebuilding guest confidence through communication.
Stay ahead of government regulations, industry guidance and international trends by leading on safety issues and following international best practices. Recent guidance by IAAPA, the global association for the attractions industry, recommends leveraging technology to facilitate cashless payments and calls out solutions such as digital ticketing, virtual queuing and mobile food ordering to reduce queuing and contact.
Placing value on customer feedback has always been important for businesses. However, understanding and responding to changing guest priorities and concerns will be even more crucial post lockdown.
As the reopening of DisneyWorld in Florida has shown, guest responses to attractions reopening may not always be positive. Staying proactive in capturing and dealing with guest feedback is key to understanding sentiment and mitigating concerns.
As long as regulations limit attraction capacity, visitor numbers will stay down and revenue from ticket sales will be severely curtailed. To mitigate this, investigate how you can shore up secondary revenue streams.
Here are three examples of how attractions can diversify and maximise revenue in the new normal:
A recent VisitBritain survey of consumer travel intentions shows that most holidaymakers intend to stay relatively local this year. Attractions that reward these regionally located customers with loyalty bonuses such as discounts for multiple visits can encourage repeat business. By promoting this kind of guest loyalty, you can, in turn, benefit from these guests' promoting your attraction within their own networks.
As subscription-based services become prevalent across people's lives, consumers are more likely than ever to pay a monthly fee for services they feel attached to or dependent on. For historical, environmental and culturally-based attractions, regular guests may want to support the attraction’s mission by joining a membership scheme.
While visitor numbers and admissions revenue are reduced, maximising on-site spend-per head is vital. Secondary spend on things like food, drink, and merchandise typically makes up around 20% to 30% of many attractions’ revenue.
With ticket sales down, consider how you can refresh secondary spend to increase margins.
Taking proactive measures, such as introducing virtual queuing and mobile payments, can reduce friction within your attraction and increase guests’ comfort. These kinds of digital upgrades can also present new revenue opportunities by allowing guests to buy in-line upgrades and meal deals with ease.
Due to the capacity restrictions necessitated for many attractions, some attractions may only open a portion of their full offering at any given time.
As such, promoting alternative guest experiences makes more financial sense than previously. A personalised VIP guest experience set at a higher price point than a standard entrance ticket may be a viable experience offering your attraction could adopt. For a higher price, guests could avail of a unique, customised visit to your attraction where they get priority access to rides or exhibits along with other perks such as bespoke food offers.
As the recent spate of attraction re-openings shows, the remainder of the 2020 season will still give attractions the potential to regain some of the ground lost during the lockdown period. Getting this stage of the reopening journey right is vital. However, it’s not the end of the recovery process for attractions just yet.
The true post lockdown recovery period for attractions will be during the 2021 season and beyond. As most countries begin to emerge from the physiological, economic, and health impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, consumer confidence and revenue opportunities for attractions will also rebound slowly but surely.
To increase your recovery velocity, prepare for this period now. If planned well, reactive initiatives made to counteract post lockdown deficits can become long term investments that will deliver future growth. From how they order food to how they watch their favourite TV shows, guests are increasingly relying on technology in most parts of their lives. Attractions should be no exception.
Our experience with developing guest apps for attractions of various types is that guests are not only remarkably quick to get on board with features like virtual queuing, but that they genuinely appreciate the potential this kind of technology brings.
Speaking of future growth, don’t forget that longer-term trends and shifts in consumer behaviours will continue to advance and change guest demographics, habits, and desires. Getting ahead of a changing world is vital to keeping your attraction relevant and profitable.
To find out more about how guests experience trends are changing in the new normal, and how you can maximise the opportunities, download our new report: