The school holidays have arrived, and in many parts of the world, it finally feels like things are starting to get back to normal. Universal Studios Orlando, for example, has already exceeded 2019’s guest levels, despite there being virtually no international visitation this year!
While this is excellent news for operators, the flip side is that successfully managing your attraction at capacity requires serious planning in the post-COVID era. And it’s throwing up a whole host of new challenges! On top of the usual peak-season rush, attraction managers now have to manage the so-called ‘Pingdemic’, help guests feel comfortable with increased levels of contact and come up with creative ways to reduce crowding at popular rides and attractions.
Luckily, tech has the answers! We’ve pulled together the five most valuable stories to grace the web this month, so you can see how other attractions are approaching these issues head-on during the summer season.
Earlier this month, Disneyland Paris announced that it would be saying goodbye to its fast pass system permanently, following an initial suspension during the pandemic. Instead, the theme park is adopting what it calls ‘standby’ lines. AKA virtual queuing to the rest of us!
Unlike the fast pass system, Standby lines don’t operate alongside physical queues. Instead, they replace them entirely, meaning guests can join the line and explore other attractions while waiting. There’s no charge for the service, and for the user, it couldn’t be simpler. They just use the official Disneyland Paris app to request a pass for the attraction of their choice and automatically receive a 30-minute ride slot.
The new system has the added benefit of encouraging app adoption for Disney, given that guests will now require the app to access several of the most popular rides. What does higher app adoption mean? Well put simply, the higher the number of users adopting the app, the more accurate the app is at generating insights regarding the park and the more opportunities you have to increase on-site revenues. For queuing alone, adopting a virtual queuing solution makes monitoring and updating queue times effortless. Operators can easily track peak times and ride throughput for each ride without faffing around with complex calculations.
Then there’s the social distancing element – as attractions open for the first summer season following the pandemic, there’s added pressure to maintain social distancing measures for guests who are tentatively making their first trips out as a family. By switching to virtual queues, over traditional physical lines, Disney can minimise crowding and reduce the risk of the virus transmitting through close contact in crowded areas.
Don't want to wait for a Standby Pass? Then Disneyland Paris is introducing Disney Premier Access, a pay-per-use option. For €8-15 per guest per attraction, guests can skip the line for several major attractions at the resort.
Regular readers will know that we’re huge advocates of virtual queuing, not only for its effectiveness at enabling social distancing but also for its ability to eliminate the number 1 source of friction from a guests experience – waiting in line. Guest satisfaction has been directly linked to the number of rides made during a visit, so by freeing visitors to explore while they wait, attractions like Disney can help guests squeeze even more out of their day.
What's more, we loved Disney’s implementation of their new solution. Rather than adding virtual queues to all their big attractions, they’ve been pragmatic about their approach. Standby Pass will be activated only on large attractions when wait times exceed certain thresholds, and physical queues will be open otherwise. Meanwhile, the premier access option creates a new revenue stream that can be promoted via the app for an easy upsell opportunity. It’s a perfect example of technology being used to enhance the physical experience rather than superseding it.
Want to learn more? Check out the full post on Theme Park Insider.
Boy, were we excited when we saw the latest findings from Ominco’s consumer research. Earlier this month, the firm revealed that over 40% of operators are currently investing in their current on-site systems, with an incredible 30% implementing contactless solutions like mobile food ordering.
The report highlights how contactless technology is now an expectation of guests at attractions instead of being optional. Omnico found that 25% of consumers will ONLY visit a venue if it offers contactless experiences in 2021, proving once and for all that the shift away from face-to-face service during the pandemic is here to stay.
The report also unveiled another huge opportunity for attractions; it found that 35% of survey respondents said they would spend more per order if using a mobile app. That’s even higher than those who said order size would increase if using a self-service kiosk.
Alongside virtual queuing, mobile food ordering has seen a massive surge in interest over the past 18 months. Nowadays, whether you’re at an attraction or just nipping down to the local pub after work, it’s pretty much a given that there will be an online ordering option.
And why not! Mobile food ordering benefits users who can enjoy the convenience of having their drinks and food organised ahead of time and operators who can take advantage of the predictability of pre-ordering to increase forecasting accuracy and adjust staff rotas to reflect demand.
We know from our own research that guest spend increases by up to 42% when our customers adopt mobile food ordering in addition to their core app platform, and we’re thrilled to see that Omnico’s latest research validates this finding. As over 50% of revenue for most attractions arises from secondary spending, having an opportunity to influence spending on this scale is incredible and crucial for the 2021 season, where many attractions are operating at a reduced capacity.
Read the full story on Blooloop.
Time to get imaginative as we turn to Bristol Zoo’s newly unveiled plan to become the world’s first augmented reality zoo. The zoo announced its plans for "a fully immersive" zoo experience in the city with technology like digital headsets and "an enriched, accessible city garden" filled with bugs, bees, birds and butterflies.
OurWorld Bristol has said that the project would see guests "travel in space, time and scale to experience animals in their natural habitat, enter the world of insects or go back millions of years to when dinosaurs roamed the adjacent Downs". It is hoped that the development will enable the city to retain and enrich the 185-year-old zoological gardens and create a new experience that will use digital technology to immerse the guest in global natural world experiences.
We love how OurWorld Bristol has combined old and new in the proposal to rejuvenate Bristol’s zoological gardens. By combining the existing environment with new, immersive technologies, they’re highlighting technology’s power to reinvigorate some of our best-loved and occasionally forgotten attractions. We’ve seen similar success stories at Nottingham Castle and Rufford Abbey recently, as they’ve adopted guest-facing mobile apps to make their heritage attractions more accessible to a broader audience.
In a similar vein, a few months ago, we wrote about Zoo Tampa’s success with their new mobile app. Like Bristol Zoo, the team at Zoo Tampa wanted to find new, interactive ways to connect with the guests during their day and improve the educational experience on offer. They did so by utilising Bluetooth beacons to trigger location-specific notifications on guests’ smartphones, enabling them to bring their exhibits to life through story-telling and video content. And the results have been phenomenal! Not only is their app’s rating through the roof, but they’re having great success with their education programmes, which are teaching residents how to care for Tampa’s native wildlife during their visits.
We’re excited to see how Bristol Zoo progresses these plans in the run-up to 2023 and if the success of other immersive experiences like Zoo Tampa is anything to go by, it’s going to be incredible.
Read the full story here.
For this month’s wildcard, we present to you Tik Tok’s new pop-up at the London Westfield shopping centre. The world’s #5 largest social media site is once again blurring the boundaries between the on and offline worlds. The pop-up site will play host to content creation workshops with influencers who found fame on TikTok, who will be based in a house-shaped installation based on Tiktok’s app homepage.
Guests can create their own mini-films in one of the house's featured rooms, which offer various backdrops, including a Kitchen and a dressing room. Parents can also attend talks on safeguarding their children online.
A spokesperson from London Westfield said: “Having a physical space at Westfield London gives TikTok the chance to immerse shoppers and new creators in full 360 experience where the best of the online platform merges with a real-life experience.
At Attractions.io, we often discuss how attractions can use technology to enhance our physical experiences, and Tik Tok's latest pop-up proves that the antithesis is also true! The Tik Tok house brings a crucial element to the brand that cannot be created online – meaningful face-to-face connection. And what we’re seeing is physical and virtual experiences being used to complement each other, rather than being something to fear, which we hope will encourage attractions currently considering their technological capabilities.
In addition to this, the Tik Tok house concept highlights the role of so-called ‘retailtainment’ in reinvigorating our commercial spaces. Shopping centres and high streets are looking for ways to entice consumers away from digital entertainment and back towards real-life experiences following the pandemic. We know this is a challenge many attractions are also wary of, so if you’re interested in learning more about the digital vs physical entertainment competition, we recommend checking out this blog post that dives into just that.
Read the full story here.