How to accelerate secondary spend revenue with mobile food ordering

With an average increase in transaction size of over 40%, here's why mobile food ordering should be on every attraction's radar:
Jacob Thompson, ICAP
July 2021

Mobile food ordering is a fast-growing trend, but it’s not a new one. Nation’s Restaurant News, a major U.S. trade publication, reported that between 2014 and 2016, digital ordering grew 300% faster than dine-in. And in 2020, QSR Magazine revealed that mobile represented more than half of all digital orders. 

Since enhancing the My Disney Experience app’s existing capabilities, Disney saw food and beverage mobile order use rise from 9% to 84%. Moreover, 90% of payments on-site are now contactless. Attractions, which often rely on food and beverage sales to increase their revenue, need to pay attention to this trend as well.

mobile food ordering trend on the rise

Done right, mobile food ordering enables attractions to grow revenue without relying on footfall. Even before the pandemic, many attractions found it difficult to grow visitor numbers. Business models shifted to focus less on getting numbers through the door, and more on metrics like loyalty and secondary spend. The latter is responsible for 20% to 30% of attractions’ revenue, with food and beverage making up the majority of guests’ secondary spending. 

So how can mobile food ordering help attractions increase revenue with shrinking visitor numbers? Keep on reading to find out.

Food and beverage presents a wealth of untapped opportunities

For attractions, offering guests more food and beverage buying opportunities are some of the easiest ways to increase secondary spend. Yet few fully leverage this potential. Why? Well, on-site at many attractions, food and beverage operations often get in the way of their guests’ experiences rather than enriching them. 

For guests, getting something to eat can be stressful

Food and Beverage

For most guests at the majority of attractions, the process of ordering food and drinks on-site is frustrating, full of friction points, and disruptive to their overall experience. 

If a visitor wants to grab a bite to eat while on-site, they have to stop what they’re doing at that moment for a prolonged period of time. This might mean missing that show they really wanted to see or having to forego getting on as many rides. 

Once they get to an on-site cafe or restaurant, guests often have to queue to place an order or wait to be seated. Worst case scenario, the cafe might be full, in which case guests might have to put up with an even longer wait time or be forced to try the next place (provided there is one). Both options annoy guests and make them less likely to return. 

But let’s say there are no queues and your guests are happily seated. They still might end up unsatisfied and underserved. That’s because it’s not always clear what the food and beverage options are or what’s available to order. For example, guests that come after peak lunch hour might be disappointed to find that the dish they were looking forward to is sold out. 

Plus, guests can never be quite sure how long they’ll have to wait after placing an order, something which can make getting food a regrettable delay rather than something to look forward to. The process of paying is often clunky, too, and more often than not, also involves waiting. The last thing your guests want is to have to wait 40 minutes for their sandwiches and then 15 more minutes for their bill when they could be exploring everything you have to offer.

As if all of the above wasn’t bad enough, the opportunity to tailor and personalise what guests order is also limited. Guests have to content themselves with generic meal deals and offers—that is if they even see these offers in the first place. As a result of all this, uptake of food and beverage at attractions is often far lower than it could be. 

The solution: Mobile food ordering

mobile food ordering - theme park

As evidenced by the statistics we shared earlier, mobile food ordering has grown in popularity.

For guests, mobile food ordering means that they can browse menus on their phones and order food instantly at any time, anywhere without having to wait. Because mobile food ordering enables contactless payments (whether via credit card or Google Pay or Apple Pay), it also means that visitors can pay for food and beverages without needing to handle cash or physically swipe their card.

For attractions, mobile food ordering means the ability to offer targeted upsell and cross-sell opportunities, based on what a user has added to their basket. This can improve overall revenue exponentially. Mobile food ordering can also improve efficiency as staff spend less time taking orders and can be redeployed to other areas (for example, fulfilling orders or routine cleaning and disinfecting).

The importance of creating a seamless user experience:

mobile food ordering app
The solution

Ideally, mobile food ordering should be interwoven within your attractions’ guest experience so that guests can easily access it. For example, our mobile food ordering offering is integrated into our branded guest-facing apps, which allows food ordering to be intuitive for guests regardless of their level of technological familiarity. This integration also allows extra benefits for attractions, including:

Push notifications and targeted offerings 

  • Trigger relevant offers and reminders to your guests based on demographic, location based and behavioural information, for instance, promoting family-friendly meal deals to parents when it’s approaching lunchtime 

Abandoned order recovery 

  • Store partial orders on the home screen of the app, gently prompting guests to complete their order. Since guests are going to use the app for other reasons throughout the day, the order will stay front of mind.

Order now, collect later

  • When they are ready to order, guests can specify a collection time and location. This means that they can order their lunch while queuing for a ride and collect it later when it’s convenient. 


  • Since mobile food ordering offers valuable guest insights, attractions can build a better picture of their guests and their preferences, which can help inform more targeted offers in the future.

The results speak for themselves

Here are some of the results our customers have seen since implementing mobile food ordering: 

  • 42% increase in average transaction size compared to walk-up sales.
  • 1 in every 6 abandoned orders recovered, resulting in an additional 10% revenue.
  • 96% of guests who used food and beverage pre-order and gave feedback said that their experience was positive.
  • The majority of food & beverage revenue generated through mobile channels 

Even better news is that we’re seeing these fantastic results across all attraction sizes, with some particularly great results at smaller parks, so this is not an exclusive benefit to larger attractions.

We’d love to talk to you about how you could leverage mobile food ordering to unlock more secondary spend, so please get in touch to discuss your project. 

You can also find out more about our mobile food ordering app solution here:


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Jacob Thompson, ICAP

Helping attractions to thrive in a digital age
July 2021
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