One of the most significant challenges attractions currently face is how to restore their guests' confidence as they reopen. Pent up demand immediately after lockdown may see many attractions having no issue meeting reduced visitor capacities. However, long-term growth depends on bringing back guests who have lost their sense of comfort in visiting attractions. For European attractions, with only a few short weeks remaining before the summer high season ends, making guests feel comfortable enough to return is vital for securing a sustainable recovery. How can they do that?
Recent research tells us that consumers are more likely to reward brands that maintain clear communication with customers. People are especially interested in hearing how brands are working to keep their customers, staff, and communities safe. For attractions, this means maintaining and restoring their guests' confidence through consistent communication with their guests. As we enter the next stage of "the new normal," attractions need to be poised to respond to rapidly changing landscapes and quickly reassure guests that they’re in control. Guests will appreciate attractions that are ahead rather than behind the curve in adopting and promoting safety regulations and control measures.
On a personal level, guests are increasingly expecting a heightened level of communication, as well. This is due to the growing demand for personalisation across all other parts of their lives. When they return to attractions, guests will want something that matches the personalised experience they get when streaming box sets or shopping online. Guests crave individually orientated experiences that fit their needs first.
Faced with a daunting task list, many attractions will need to do more with less in the near future. Whether it's fewer visitor numbers, fewer opening days in a season, or fewer staff, attractions need to make every effort count double. By pinpointing their efforts in a few areas, attractions can make communication a tool for growth.
Consumer sentiment research shows that many guests may not be confident enough to return to attractions just yet. Many potential guests are concerned about their health. They’re uncertain whether it’s safe to visit attractions and unsure about what visiting attractions will look like post-lockdown.
In addition to ensuring that your attraction is as safe as possible, the best way to respond to these guest concerns is through clear and coherent communication during the before, on-site, and post-visit stages of guests’ attraction experience.
Communication also needs to be personalised to who and where your guests are. Personalisation can help cut through standard barriers of communication and advertising noise and is something that can benefit both guests and attractions. Consistent consumer feedback suggests that the vast majority of guests are more likely to engage with personalised messages than generic ones.
There’s no point in sending guests the right message at the wrong time. The kind of messages guests receive should change depending on whether they’re on-site or off-site. This is known as location-based messaging or contextual targeting and it can help attractions keep on-site guests informed about safety measures and real-time updates.
With properly targeted on-site communication, attractions can turn on-site messaging into a powerful tool for streamlining the guest experience. Behavioural segmentation, based on where within your attraction guests are and what they’re doing, can be used to manage crowds or reassure guests who find themselves stuck in longer than expected queues.
Alone, location and behavioural targeting aren’t enough. It’s also worth keeping in mind that different guest profiles will naturally have different questions, concerns, and aspirations when it comes to visiting attractions. To get to the heart of what guests want to hear, use demographic segmentation to make your on-site communication relevant.
Getting to know your guests using guest profiles is especially important in the "new normal.'' Consumer sentiment research has shown that families, a vital guest type for many attractions, may be more reluctant to visit attractions than other guest types like young couples or individuals. By curating communication efforts to address core demographics' concerns, attractions can maximise the impact that on-site messaging has and reassure nervous guests.
Demographic targeting can also be used to promote different types of tickets to different kinds of guests. For example, regionally-based attractions might want to target seasonal tickets to locally-based families likely to return regularly throughout the season.
By giving guests unique, personalised opportunities based on who they are, where they are in your attraction, and what they’re doing while on-site, location, behaviour, and demographic-based communication can turn average visits into special ones and bring guests back again. In turn, this can boost guest retention and average spend — a vital requirement for many attractions right now.
The only way to truly understand how guests feel about attractions in "the new normal" is to listen to what they say before, during, and after their visit. In this respect, two-way communication is vital.
Central to getting this right is being proactive in capturing guest feedback in both a quantitative and qualitative way. While guest surveys allow attractions to capture a broad spectrum picture of how guests feel, individual feedback is key to obtaining accurate and actionable information.
The kind of feedback that comes from guest reviews and social media conversations can be used to create guest FAQs and positive solutions-based marketing stories. For example, talking about how you have solved the issue of crowds in your attraction can reassure guests and promote your efforts to keep them safe. To get this kind of feedback, encourage honest reviews and social media conversations. For uncertain guests, seeing real people say they had a safe and fun visit is the best proof that they should visit your attraction.
To get actionable off-site guest feedback, attractions should focus on how their social media encourages guest discussions.
Attractions should also use their website and other marketing material such as email newsletters to promote two-way communication with prospective guests.
The goal here is for attractions to get soundbites that capture how particular guests feel about visiting.
All types of visitor attraction are increasingly integrating smart mobile app technology to make garnering this kind of guest data a contactless process, as seen at Disney. This kind of technology also allows guests to immediately flag any concerns or issues they have directly with Guest Services through two-way messaging.
On-site, feedback can be quantitative. Mobile apps, as well as beacons and wearables that track guest movement throughout attractions, can paint an accurate picture of where guests spend their time and how long they spend at a specific attraction, exhibit, or coffee kiosk. This can help identify problem areas to rectify.
Combining an increased need for communication with consumer desires for personalisation allows attraction operators to duplicate their efforts to attract & retain new generations of guests and bring back wavering guest demographics.
Communication is key to restoring attraction viability and making the recovery process a smooth experience for reopening attractions.
However, the kind of contextually relevant communication that guests want is just one of the ways guests’ expectations are changing. The COVID-19 pandemic has altered guests' demographics and behaviours at an accelerated rate. Staying relevant in this new landscape will need to be a primary goal for attractions everywhere.
To find out more about how changing trends are going to alter your guest demographics, behaviour, and expectations, download our new guest experience trends report.