How do mobile apps grow guest loyalty?

Convert day guests into loyal brand advocates with a mobile app that drives meaningful connections.
Ellen Wilkinson
October 2021

Loyalty is arguably one of the most powerful forces in modern marketing. It has the power to turn a single experience into a long-lasting relationship for both the customer and the operator, and importantly, grow attendance via your owned channels (which is great for your margins!). Even better – effective loyalty marketing creates brand advocates; proud promoters of your attraction that encourage new visits and spread positive word of mouth. So why don’t we focus on it more?

Until recently, the on-site experience has been somewhat of a blind spot for many attraction operators. With few ways to accurately monitor guest behaviour on-site, identifying the experiences, actions or behaviours that created loyal visitors was exceptionally difficult. As a result, attraction marketers focused on areas that can be more easily measured, such as visitation and admissions.

Thanks to personal technology, that’s changed. Using a mobile app, you can finally fill in the blanks and use app-driven insights to design a guest experience that has customers wanting to revisit again and again, all the while ensuring that your brand stays top of mind. Read on to discover how a guest-facing mobile app can drive loyalty at your attraction.

Traditional advertising methods are declining

Guests are increasingly aware of digital advertising methods and sales tactics. Research by Kantar Millward Brown found around half of adult US internet users said that when brands use their data in advertising, it helps them discover (50%) and find (49%) products and services that interest them. However, 44% also said this often feels invasive, whilst 71% of users agreed that ads were more intrusive now than they were three years ago. 

Today’s guests don’t have patience for these one-way relationships. They want exceptional service in the form of helpful content, easy experiences and meaningful interactions with attractions they love. And that’s what you get when you make loyalty a core component of your marketing strategy. If you want to drive revisitation, you have to consciously focus on delivering an outstanding experience rather than merely driving the quantity of visits.

Focus on quality not quantity experiences 

When you focus on optimising the entire guest experience rather than just getting guests through the gates, you’ll more than likely discover that admissions increase as a result. 

Guests that have a positive experience are not only more likely to return to your attraction and purchase season passes; they’re also more likely to tell friends about their positive experience. Given that word of mouth is one of the most powerful marketing tools around and that investing in new customers is approximately 5 to 25 times more expensive than retaining your existing ones; operators need to take advantage of every opportunity they have to deepen relationships with guests and encourage revisitation.

Whatsmore, when customers revisit, they’re more likely to do so via your owned channels meaning you can retain 100% of the admission rather than losing margin to OTA’s and booking platforms. OTA influence has grown in recent years, with a constant stream of big-tech players, like Revolut and even Google, entering the market. And attractions need to be cautious. OTA margins are high and usually increase in line with the percentage of bookings being made via the platform. Whatsmore, many OTA’s require ‘best price guarantees’ from experiences, to ensure their site continuously offers the lowest entry prices. Over time, this can leave you trapped in a catch-22 – unable to compete on your own ticket prices. By retaining your own booking solution and actively encourage guests to revisit via owned channels, you can avoid this increasingly common ticketing trap.    

What makes a guest loyal?


So how do we go about converting excited day-trippers into loyal brand advocates? We’ve  identified three areas that drive consumer loyalty:

  1. Understanding consumer needs: Wunderman’s survey of 2,000 people in the US and the UK found that today’s consumers are increasingly loyal to brands that understand their uniqueness, adapt to their needs, and align with their values. More specifically, 56% of people surveyed say that they were more loyal to brands they felt understood them, and an incredible 89% said they stay loyal to brands who share their values. 
  1. Incentives & rewards: Nowadays, everyone from Starbucks to Tesco has a rewards programme, and it’s no surprise – given that  75% of consumers are more loyal to businesses that offer them incentives in the form of offers, points or discounts for future purchases. 
  1. Customer experience: Nearly three out of five consumers report that good customer service is key to feeling loyal toward a brand. 93% of customers are also more likely to make repeat purchases with companies who offer excellent customer service.

How do mobile apps drive loyalty?

Attraction operators need to prioritise understanding and responding to these three areas to drive brand advocacy. And that’s where mobile technology comes in. Using a mobile app, you can connect your entire guest experience to better understand the guest journey and adapt your experience accordingly. Here are the top 4 ways using a mobile app helps attractions drive loyalty:

1. They allow you to understand guest needs

Attractions.io’s mobile app platform allows you to collect valuable insights about guests while they are on-site to provide them with the best experience possible. Using data from heatmaps, food and beverage reports and activity plans, you can build up a full picture of how particular guests experience your attraction and tailor your content to their exact needs. 

For example, you may discover that families with young children typically add a lunch break to their activity schedule at midday, so you can prompt them with a mobile food ordering notification at 11 am, reminding them to order ahead to beat the queues. Not only will you increase your secondary spending by doing so, but your anticipation of your guests' individual needs shows you understand them, thus building their affinity with your brand. 

2. They make every experience personal

Mobile devices are one of the most personal channels a brand can use, and providing personalised information and messaging can make all the difference to guests.

The more personalised the experience, the more connected the customer will feel to your attraction. Whether it’s a matter of sending targeted offers based on a customer’s location or demographic or keeping track of their habits and personalising the experience based on those, the relationship between your attraction and your customers will be deepened with each interaction.

3. They add value

The more valuable your mobile app is to customers, the more often they will use it, and that ongoing interaction will nurture the relationship. Attractions.io’s mobile apps are loaded with features designed to reduce friction from your guests' day, like interactive wayfinding, activity planning and live ride updates. Guests love the features so much that app influence is over 95% at many of our customers’ attractions! Influence is calculated by comparing app adoption rates and the average group size to the total number of visitors on-site.

4. You can incentivise guests at the perfect moment

Above, we explored how loyalty is affected by incentives and rewards. Using a mobile app, you can offer both! By sending returner offers to guests at the end of their visit or prompting them to buy a season pass upgrade, you can entice them to return at the optimum moment in the guest journey – when they’re still on a high from their day out. You could also encourage happy guests to spread positive vibes, with incentives for reviews and referrals. 

Delight guests before, during and after their visit with a mobile app.

When you connect your entire guest journey, suddenly everything falls into place. Guests experience a friction-free day, and you’re able to access insights that help you tailor the on-site experience to your guests needs and encourage revisitation with targeted offers and incentives. 

If you’d like to learn more about how mobile apps can be used to enhance guest loyalty, request a free consultation with our team. 

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Ellen Wilkinson

Content specialist, zoo enthusiast and french bulldog [s]mother
October 2021

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