10 common myths about mobile apps for visitor attractions, debunked

To help you sort fact from fiction when considering a mobile guest app, here's a list of the most common misconceptions we hear about.
August 2020

Technology is an integral part of visiting an attraction for guests, and an undeniable part of the new normal for attractions. Given the need to get ahead of guest experience trends and changing demographics, technology has become increasingly vital in helping attractions prepare for future growth. 

You might already be thinking about whether a mobile app would be a good fit for your business. Alternatively, you might be looking for the perfect digital solution to solve a specific problem, with an app being just one option to consider.

Either way, even once your direction of travel is clear, committing to new technology can still feel like a leap into the unknown.

Understanding how technological transformation should work in your attraction can seem mind-boggling, regardless of your level of technical proficiency. It also gives rise to a whole host of questions about whether investing in technology like a mobile guest app would be the best solution for your guests, your team, and, ultimately, your bottom line. Answering these kinds of questions can also mean overcoming an equally long list of misconceptions.  

To help you sort fact from fiction when it comes to mobile guest apps, we've compiled a list of the most common questions and concerns about mobile guest apps.

1. Apps are expensive

Apps can be expensive. However, they don't have to be. While the costs of a bespoke app, with customised features, will inevitably add up rapidly, a platform-based approach offers best-in-class functionality without the traditional cost barriers. 

A platform-based app, which you can purchase on a subscription model, builds on a tried-and-tested framework to provide out of the box functionality. You can even leverage the value of your existing infrastructure by integrating systems such as ticketing and queue monitoring to create an end-to-end solution that’s greater than the sum of its parts.

While app scope and budget can be tailored for attractions of all sizes, whether an app is expensive or not doesn't just depend on its price. Irrespective of its cost, an app should be judged on the value it provides an attraction to support key objectives, such as increased revenue, better data insights, marketing capability, or increased guest satisfaction.

2. Apps take a long time to develop

Bespoke development, whether outsourced or done by an in-house team, can create long lead times for app rollouts. The reason for this is simple: For bespoke apps, development teams need to build functional software from the ground up.

Conversely, because platform-based apps build on already proven technology, they can be ready far more quickly. With plug and play functionality available, an attraction can get up and running with a platform-based mobile app in days and weeks rather than months. 

3. Guests don't use apps

In our experience, guests do use apps and find them useful. Millions of people across the globe use our apps at attractions of all types and sizes. App usage is increasing, too. In 2019, our customers reported that their guests used apps 31% more often than 12 months previously.

Moreover, for every guest that downloads an app, many more are influenced by it. Often, only one person in a group will download an app, but based on average group size, we know that for every download an app has, it influences the experience of three, four (or more) times as many people.

4. "We don't have WiFi, so an app wouldn't work for us."

For many attractions, internet connectivity is one of the main concerns when it comes to considering a guest app. However, this isn't necessarily a reason to press pause on a mobile app project. While many attractions might be concerned about the quality of their WiFi coverage or their international guests' access to mobile data, a mobile guest app doesn't need constant WiFi connectivity to enhance guests' experience. 

After a guest downloads a mobile guest app onto their device, functionality like maps, day planning, wayfinding, and more can work even when the user's device is completely offline. 

Some live features such as virtual queuing, ride wait  times, and mobile food ordering do need connectivity, so if your attraction does have limited connectivity, a mobile guest app might be a great catalyst to change that. 

While apps do not need internet connectivity to work, having it available as an option enables a more extensive range of features, including cashless payments, to be available to guests. Connectivity also allows the kind of personalised end-to-end experiences that your guests increasingly want.

5. Apps are only for big attractions.

Visitor apps are often associated with industry heavyweights like Disney. However, attractions of any size can benefit from a mobile app. While in the past, apps often had a high-cost barrier to entry, this is no longer the case. 

Subscription-based platforms, (like ours) dramatically lower the barrier to entry for attractions looking to benefit from mobile apps. Today, venues of all sizes can leverage mobile apps' benefits without compromising functionality or user experience. 

6. Apps need lots of in-house resources to make them a success

With apps, as with many other things in life, you get back what you put in. For a guest app to perform its best, attractions need to update app content regularly. More than just another feature, an app needs to be treated as a key channel in your marketing strategy. After all, apps are the only tool that enables you to communicate with guests on a personalised level while they're on-site. 

However, this doesn't mean that you need to invest a tremendous amount of time and effort into making your app work. An effective visitor app solution should be supported by an intuitive management system that makes inputting content and information effortless.

7. App content will get outdated if users don't update their apps via the App Store

A relevant mobile app is an updated app. For attractions, this means ensuring that the app is updated not just for you but also for your guests. After all, what good is updating your app if your users won't see the updates until they upgrade their app, too? 

A professional app solution should support over-the-air updates which push any changes directly to your app, in real-time. With over-the-air updates, guests will always have the most up-to-date version of your app.

8. "We already have a website"

The idea that an app serves up the same information as your website is a common misconception. Rather than a static source of information, apps provide a personalised digital experience for guests visiting your attraction.

With an app, guests can benefit from dynamic features such as location-based messaging, push notifications, and mobile food ordering. This gives them a personalised experience and can create a new layer to their visit. 

Apps also give attractions a whole new stream of information. As guests use your app to go about their visit, you can map where, how, and when they interact with your attraction itself. Apps allow attractions to gain valuable behavioural data, which would otherwise be almost impossible to collect. 

9. Apps don't provide any insights, so you can't tell if they're performing

Far from opaque, apps are one of the most transparent investments an attraction can make. With a professionally developed mobile app, performance stats should be accessible on a self-serve basis to the attractions that use them. 

As well as insights into app performance, apps can also give you a unique picture of how your attraction itself is doing. The ability of apps to capture insights on guest behaviour is an often-overlooked reason as to why attractions should use apps in the first place. By being a primary point of interaction for your attraction’s guests, apps provide a huge amount of data that attractions can use to optimise their operations. 

A specialist attraction mobile app solution should be supported by a management platform that serves up these insights in an easily understandable way. This should enable you to make data-driven decisions without being bogged down by the data itself.

10. Apps are heavy on data, storage, and battery life

An oft-repeated "fact" about apps is that they place too much strain on their users’ devices. This idea comes from people's experiences with poorly optimised, overdeveloped apps when loaded onto already strained devices.

Fortunately, using a provider with years of experience in developing apps can reduce, if not completely eliminate, the problem of overworked phones. The increasing power of smartphones has further made the idea that apps make your phone significantly slower an artifact of the early days of mobile app technology. 

At the same time, it's still true that the more powerful an app's capabilities, the more processing power it requires. That being said, the average user's mobile device is still more than capable of running a high functionality guest app. 

Why Choose a Mobile App? 

In summary, While many app-related myths still persist, as more attractions start using mobile guest apps to enhance their guest's experience and their operational capability, the actual benefits of a mobile guest app are becoming increasingly apparent. 

For organisations within the visitor attraction industry, mobile guest apps remain the only tool to span the entire guest journey. This gives them a unique ability to engage and influence guests before, after, and crucially, during their visit to their attraction.

The reason mobile apps are so effective for attractions is that they leverage the technological capability that guests have already. By exploiting the ubiquity of smartphones, apps add value to our everyday experiences in multiple situations, industries, and circumstances. For attractions, this enables a digital guest experience to be familiar, personalised, and frictionless.

To find out more about how a digital guest app might work in your attraction, download our eBook on what a good guest app looks like, or request a demo.


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August 2020

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