User segmentation for attractions: A guide to better understanding your guests.

Monitoring the likes, dislikes, behaviours, and characteristics of key visitor groups provides valuable insights into what they want from their experience. Learn more about user segmentation for attractions here.
Ellen Wilkinson
November 2021

User segmentation is the process of dividing your audiences into distinct groups (A.K.A segments) based on clearly defined characteristics that are shared between group members. For example, you may choose to segment guests based on their language preferences, location or the visitor persona they most closely align with. 

Well defined user segments enhance your marketing, commercial and operations teams’ understanding of guest behaviour. Meaning that instead of relying on a one-size-fits-all guest experience, they can design personalised experiences for each segment and create campaigns that speak directly to their guests’ unique needs. The result? Increased guest satisfaction, loyalty and on-site spending are just some of the benefits attractions experience from segmenting their user base.

For the remainder of this article, we’re diving into the ins and out’s of user segmentation. Covering how you can segment your users, options for real-world segmentation (you got it – segmentation doesn’t just apply to your online audiences!), and the benefits for operators and guests alike. 

Why segment your audience?

Simply put, segmenting your audience helps you as an operator to better understand the needs of your guests. While no two guests will ever be precisely alike, cohorting groups with similar attributes can reveal the trends and characteristics of your most satisfied visitors. And knowing what makes guests tick makes it easier to influence things like their on-site spending.

For example, if one were to create a user segment for guests visiting with young children and another for guests visiting with just their partner, the guest-experience team could learn how each of these segments plans their day differently using itinerary data. They might then discover that families with young children tend to visit an on-site fast food restaurant for an early lunch at midday, while the couples eat later and are more likely to visit your on-site restaurant for an a la carte experience. 

Armed with this new understanding, the marketing team can tailor their approach. They may, for example, decide to introduce two separate promotional offers tailored to each group and sent at different times during the day to account for the varying times each group chooses to grab a bite to eat. Thanks to segmentation, they now understand that targeting couples with a quick fast food offer won’t perform as well as a discount for dining at the on-site restaurant. In other words, when attractions learn from their segments, they can start to personalise their guest experience. 

What are the main benefits of segmentation?

From operations to marketing, guest experience to sales, segmentation helps cross-functional teams adopt a guest-centric approach that drives revenue and revisitation while guests experience more action and less friction in their day. 

Enhanced understanding of guest behaviour: Delivering a world-class experience for every guest that walks through your gates relies on a rich understanding of their needs, wants and frustrations. Segmentation helps you to understand guests as individuals so you can design exceptional experiences for everyone.

Improved communication: When operators understand their guests, they can perfect their messaging so that every interaction resonates. Continuously add value to your guests' visit with optimised messages that help them make the most out of their day.

Increased spending per capita: Instead of applying a one-size-fits-all approach to your promotional strategy, segmenting your audience can reveal insights that allow you to personalise your offers to the needs of each guest. 

What methods of segmentation are there?

Based on the traits or data most commonly available to attraction operators, user segmentation can be divided into the following broad categories:

  1. Demographic data: Such as gender, age, language or location.
  1. Psychographic data: Information relating to a guest's interests, beliefs or socio-economic status. 
  1. Behavioural data: In other words, data referring to user actions, like app login frequency, time spent browsing your site, and levels of engagement.
  1. Technographic data: What technologies your guests use or their digital proficiency.

There are a multitude of options available when it comes to deciding how you segment your guests. We recommend choosing how you segment based on your marketing or commercial objectives.

For example, suppose you have a goal to increase app adoption over the next two years. In that case, it makes sense to segment your audience based on their current app behaviour, as you’ll want to demonstrate the benefits of adoption for new users whilst promoting continued use for existing users. 

You may then want to consider further segmentation, according to their perceived technical ability or age, given that younger generations are typically quicker to adopt digital solutions.

Below, we’ve shared two examples of how organisations can use segmentation to generate insights that enhance their offerings: 

Time on website/app: 

Users spending their time on your website or app is usually a good indicator that they’re interested in visiting your attraction. Segmenting users by the time they spend browsing your online channels allows teams to learn which ads, pages, and content are correlated with higher engagement, so that they can increase the number of users that convert to purchasing a ticket.

Negative behaviours

Unfortunately, not all guest behaviours are positive — for instance, sometimes guests leave bad reviews about their experience. By segmenting guests that complete negative actions and then analysing the events that preceded these actions, such as weather factors, ride wait times that day or guest volume (recent research from Visit Britain suggests that guest satisfaction can decrease as guest numbers increase), teams can identify causes of friction and improve the overall guest experience.

Can you segment on-site audiences?

Traditionally, segmentation has been a tool used by digital marketers and product owners to target online users. For example, popular fashion brands like ASOS segment users based on their browsing history, demographic information and previous orders. They then use this information to create targeted email marketing campaigns for key segments and a promotional strategy that’s closely aligned with buyers’ needs. 

For physical experiences, however, segmentation has always been a challenge. After all, to segment users based on their on-site behaviour, you first need a reliable way of monitoring their activity during their visit. 

That’s where a mobile app comes into play. A guest-facing mobile app bridges the gap between your physical experience and the digital world. It makes it possible to ‘think like an online business’ and increase your understanding of users based on their real-world behaviours, which can be anonymously tracked and monitored using the app. As users explore your attraction, the app collates valuable insights, such as how guests flow around your site, the activities they add to their day planner, and their time using the app itself. This data can then be used to optimise your guest experience. 

For instance, if you use the heatmaps tool in Attractions.io’s App Management Console, you’ll be able to see which areas of the site get the most traffic during certain times of the day. If you notice a trend whereby certain areas get quieter in the afternoon, you can send a push notification to guests letting them know and drive traffic to low footfall areas of your site.

In a previous article, we discussed how guests feel about personalisation and their attitudes towards sharing information in exchange for a more tailored experience (spoiler alert: most guests are happy to share their information in exchange for a more personalised experience). Click here to check it out for yourself.

Key Takeaways

Segmentation is one of the best tools marketers, guest experience staff and operations teams have at their disposal today. By understanding who your audience is, what they want and how you can address their unique needs, you can start to personalise your experience and build meaningful connections with guests that positively influence spend, satisfaction and loyalty.

Later this year, Attractions.io is introducing a new User Segmentation Toolkit to our core App package. Subscribe to our newsletter to stay posted on the launch dates, or visit us at the Family Attractions Expo and IAAPA Expo for a sneak preview! 

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Ellen Wilkinson

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

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