June's monthly tech round up

Your monthly digest of the best tech and digital developments for the attractions industry, all in one place.
Ellen Wilkinson
June 2021

We’re kicking off a new series on the blog this June, so before we get into the juicy stuff, allow us to explain:

Each month our team reads hundreds of articles from around the world discussing the latest technology and digital services for the experience economy. After all, as digital enthusiasts, we believe technology has the power to enhance the physical guest experience, and that isn’t just limited to our mobile app platform! 

So we thought, why not share our highlights with you! In our monthly round-up, you’ll get a concise summary of the biggest trends hitting the industry, so it’s easier than ever to keep up with the latest innovations and see what attractions like yours are doing in the digital space. 

As an industry, we’re in a period of transformation. The pandemic accelerated the adoption of digital tools like online food ordering and mobile apps, as attractions sought to minimise contact and friction on-site. Now, attention is turning to the long term benefits of these technologies, such as their ability to influence guest spend and enable direct communication with guests during their visit.  We’re excited to share the industry's most innovative headlines with you so we can all benefit from new ideas, shared learnings and best practices?

What’s new in June? Our top 5 tech stories from around the world.

Disney using mobile technology to enhance post-pandemic visits.

Disney Genie character


Leading the pack as ever, Disney is using mobile technology to add an extra personal touch when guests head to their US parks this summer. We love the new Disney Genie, which recommends a personalised itinerary for each guest based on their preferences. So whether you fancy a princess themed day or a world food crawl, there’s something on offer for everyone. 

Gary Daniels, VP of Disney’s Digital experiences, said, “We don’t want the technology to be in the forefront of the guests’ minds. Technology must instead be an enabler for providing the guest with the experiences that they want, with more flexibility, more convenience, and more magic.”

Why this story made the list:

We’ve been championing the power of personalisation for a while now, and Disney’s Genie tool highlights the role it can play a part in elevating the guest experience. A mobile app that designs your dream day in just a few clicks? Music to our ears!

For operators, too, investing in personalisation has vast benefits. For example, 91% of customers are willing to share personal information in exchange for tailored promotional content, and incredibly, people are 40% more likely to spend more than planned when they identify an experience to be highly personalised, according to research from Google. 

Get the full story here. 

LEGOLAND Windsor unveils new AR experience 

LEGOLAND Mythica with AR experience

This month, LEGOLAND Windsor officially opened Lego Mythica Land, the first immersive land in the park. Featuring rides, attractions and experiences, the land is a playground for the imagination, but we’re most excited about the new AR experience, which is now available in their Attractions.io app!

By working with Zappar to integrate their augmented reality features into the Attractions.io platform, LEGOLAND has provided a shining example of how digital technology can enhance, rather than take away from, the physical guest experience. With the updated app, LEGOLAND guests can scan Lego models around the land and watch them come to life right before their eyes. And the fun doesn’t stop there; once guests leave for the day, they can open the Lego Mythica portal at home and continue their experience.

Why this story made the list: 

Maybe we’re a tiny bit biased, but we’re incredibly excited about the potential mobile tech has to enhance our real-world experiences. In our post earlier this week, we discussed how Joseph Pine, author of the experience economy, no longer views smartphone usage on-site as a form of distraction. Where once having guests pull out their smartphone rather than focus on the physical experience was a sign of boredom, in today’s social media culture, it’s a sign of engagement. 

By leaning into this movement and actively connecting the physical and virtual worlds, attractions can continue to promote their venue and connect with guests on a personal level after they’ve left the site. This gives savvy brands like LEGOLAND the opportunity to drive repeat visitation and spread positive word of mouth through social sharing, making it a win for guests and operators alike.  

Get the full story here

These smart US towns are using tech to promote tourism.

US towns using interactive digital wayfinding

One of the more unusual stories that fell into our laps this month was that of Apple Valley in Minnesota. The midwestern town in the suburbs of Minneapolis has recently adopted interactive wayfinding to make local tourist attractions more accessible for digitally savvy demographics.

It all started with an online, interactive city map that launched last year. Site guests can search for a given category, such as ‘coffee shops’ and receive directions to the exact location they choose. The project has been so successful that the town is now introducing a “virtual concierge” to give viewers a 360-degree perspective of local attractions. Prospective guests can use it to explore the town’s restaurants and, eventually, the zoo and golf course – the aim being to entice more guests to the area.

“We’re trying to be smart with technology, so no one has to wait for us to answer an email,” a spokesperson said.

Why this story made the list:

Thinking of the city as an attraction in itself is a relatively new phenomenon, but it is set to continue as our town centres become increasingly experience-led. It’s great to see how entire area’s like Apple Valley have seen the potential of mobile technology to drive visitor numbers, influence tourist spend and increase their overall satisfaction levels. 

Another exciting element to this story is how the town includes local attractions in the overall digital transformation strategy. So instead of competing with established tourist hotspots, like the Zoo, they’re elevating the entire area, a trend we could all jump on board with.

Get the full story here.

“Super-connected” foodies spend 26% more on food orders.

Mobile food ordering choosing pizza

Digital guest experience platform Paytronix Systems has released the latest report in its ongoing series “Delivering on Restaurant Rewards.” The report found that “super connected customers”, defined as those with at least six devices, spend 26% more on their food orders. Think six sounds like a lot? Include your phone, laptop, smartwatch, tablet, Alexa and car, and you’re already there! 

The survey highlights the benefits of adapting your food ordering offer to each device so that guests can order according to their preference. The emphasis here lies in making the ordering experience as effortless as possible. New technology presents personalised recommendations, complimentary menu items and reduces contact, making it perfect for social distancing. 

Why this story made the list:

Mobile food ordering has been the subject of contention this month as some commentators suggested Disney’s mobile ordering capabilities were causing more harm than good, given the increased wait for food at some on-site facilities.  

This research presents the flip-side beautifully, highlighting the financial benefits available to operators who get food ordering right. From our own research, we know that introducing mobile food ordering via a mobile app increases guests ATV (average transaction value) by up to 42% compared to walk up sales, so who is to say that 26% isn’t a little conservative after all!

Get the full story here.

What do guests remember most from visiting attractions?

Guests frustrated waiting in line at theme park

The final story to make the cut this month comes from Katapult, who has examined what makes visits to our favourite attractions so memorable. Describing a phenomenon known as the ‘Serial Position Effect’, their lead insight analyst explains how guests are more likely to remember the first and last parts of an experience rather than activities in between. This comes unbeknownst to many operators, who view the ‘intermediate’ experience as the primary reason for visiting.

The team then went on to qualify the theory using recent Trip Advisor reviews and found that 45% of studies focused on experiences at the start of their day, despite most reviews being written after they’d completed their visit. 

Why this story made this list: 

As purveyors of exceptional guest experiences ourselves, we found this research incredibly interesting. Being able to influence the guest experience is a common goal for attractions. Yet, without considering the serial positioning effect, many will incorrectly assume that it’s mid-visit experiences that carry the most weight.

Katapult has highlighted the need for attractions to connect their entire guest journey, including any ‘rough spots’ around the edge. Every interaction needs to be considered, whether it’s finding directions to the car park, watching a live show or engaging with a staff member as you pick up a bottle of water on the way out.

We’ve seen this concept illustrated before in Disney’s on and off stage mentality – a single crack is enough to break the mirage and distract guests from their otherwise incredible surroundings. However, by creating a flawless experience for guests before, during and after their visit, attractions can ensure that guests enduring memories are positive ones.

Get the full story here.

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Ellen Wilkinson

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

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