Why Having a Seamless, On-Brand Digital Guest Experience Is Essential for Visitor Attractions  

How to keep pace with rapidly evolving expectations from digital native guest by mapping your on-site touchpoints to a digital guest journey

Digital natives make up the largest age demographic on the planet. On top of that, they’re fast becoming the most influential group of consumers, too. According to Forbes, by 2026, digital natives will make up almost 60% of all customers. 

This significant shift in consumer demographics is creating a profound difference in what guests expect from your attraction and, in turn, the digital guest experiences you provide.

From how they shop to what shows they watch on Netflix, digital natives take instant, seamless, and personalised digital experiences as the norm. What’s more, given that as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the entire global population across all generations have just been plunged into a world where they've had to depend on technology more than ever for communication, work and entertainment, it’s safe to assume that this expectation of technology will soon extend beyond just digital natives. 

Whilst time will tell what the ‘new normal’ will become after COVID-19 , optimising your technological capability to ensure your visitor experience meets the expectations of your digitally savvy guests will be essential.

Understanding the Digital Guest Journey 

The average consumer conducts over 500 online searches relevant to their travelling intention before booking a trip. In doing so, they interact with thousands of digital touchpoints ranging from TripAdvisor reviews to YouTube videos. 

That’s especially true for attractions. When it comes to booking a holiday, guests search for information about attractions and experiences six times more often than accommodation. 

Your digitally native guests are leaving little to chance and want to get to know you long before they visit. Effective communication on your part is vital, especially during uncertain times when attractions face fast-moving and evolving challenges such as COVID-19. 

Guests should feel not only excited (and in times of trouble, reassured) to visit your attraction, but also feel that every touchpoint they encountered during their visit enhanced their experience and left them eager to come back again afterward. For attractions, that’s where things get complicated. 

The Challenge

Most attractions have no trouble reaching and engaging with their target audience before and after their visit, thanks to an ever expanding landscape of marketing tools and tactics that allow for individualised messages and laser-targeted offers during the pre and post-visit stages.

Image Credit: Hallam Agency: Digital Marketing Map

Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for when guests are on-site.

During the visit, most attractions have limited capabilities to communicate with their guests using digital channels. This can create a huge communication black hole. If you don’t know where your guests are going and what they’re doing, you won’t be able to figure out what’s working and what isn’t. Perhaps more importantly, you won’t be able to make your guests feel as special because you won’t be able to tailor their experience the way you could in the pre-visit stage (for example, when you sent them a special offer because they were recently on your website). 

Guests expect to be able to go from a pre to during to post-visit stage while interacting with your brand across multiple channels. It’s therefore vital that you tailor your messages across the channels your guests are likely to be using at any given stage. 

For example, a guest planning a visit to your attraction will probably go to your website in search of information on opening times, pricing, and directions. However, during their visit, guests don’t want to be wasting their time browsing your website — but they still want information on the things they should do or see. On-site digital touchpoints need to help maximise guests’ time on-site and reduce friction. Similarly, post-visit, guests are less likely to return to your website until they plan their next visit. Yet you still need to incentivise positive feedback and personalise communications to encourage repeat visits. One way to do that is through email, or if you have an app, via a notification after they’ve left your attraction. 

Getting this kind of digital guest experience right doesn't happen by accident. As with any journey, mapping your guests’ route can help you understand where their path is smooth and where it isn’t. 

Mapping Your Guests’ Digital Journey

The digital guest journey your guests take has three main stages. These stages progress from the moment guests first hear of your attraction to their experience during their visit to how they feel after they leave. 

Looking at the digital interactions your guests might encounter during each of these stages can help highlight where your digital touchpoint gaps lie. Let's take a look at each of these stages.

Pre-Visit

At this point, potential guests might be considering whether or not they want to spend their time and money visiting your attraction. They’re more than likely going to read guest reviews on Google and TripAdvisor to see what experiences past guests have had with your attraction. 

So, it's important to encourage guests who’ve had a positive experience to leave a review and also to respond to past reviews, regardless of whether they showered you with praise or criticism.

As potential guests move deeper into the pre-visit stage, they’re going to consider booking their visit online through your booking engine or website. Here, understanding website behaviour can help you personalise touchpoints and influence a potential guest’s decision. For example, if someone views a certain page multiple times, you can tailor your offers to include a discount for that guest via an on-site popup or even email.

Post-Visit

After your guests leave your attraction, their digital guest journey isn't finished. In fact, similarly to Mckinsey's up to date model of customer decision making, the digital customer journey is now entering a vital phase — the post-visit experience. 

This stage is crucial because it has a direct relationship to the likelihood of guests coming back to your attraction and recommending you to others. 

Possible touchpoints here include personalised marketing and surveys via email or a guest mobile app. If you opt for the latter, you can take advantage of contextual marketing, which allows you to target guests as they're leaving the park. You can even use this powerful technique to signpost happy guests to leave a TripAdvisor review and field negative feedback from unhappy guests, proactively solving problems they encountered before they vent their frustrations on TripAdvisor. Remember: Positive TripAdvisor ratings build trust and confidence which directly influences new visits. This may be more vital than ever before as attractions recover from COVID-19 and consumer confidence will take time.

During-Visit

But what about whilst guests are on-site? The moment that a customer arrives at your attraction, their digital journey enters a new stage. The during-visit stage of a guest's digital journey can sometimes be under-estimated by attractions even though it’s actually incredibly dense in touchpoint opportunities...but only if you have the right tools. 

From navigating around the site and viewing ride wait times to ordering food or finding timings for upcoming shows and events, there is no shortage of possible touchpoints that your guests will encounter during their visit... the challenge is connecting them digitally in order to delight and influence guests more effectively.

If after you map your guests’ digital journey, you may see some gaps on-site and realise that you’re not exploiting as many of these touchpoints as you could, don’t worry, luckily, there are tools to fill the gaps. 

Filling In the Gaps 

So how can you seamlessly bridge the gap between your digitally native guests, their digital journeys, and your attraction’s touchpoints? 

A mobile guest app is one of the few ways that you can maintain consistency across channels while incorporating the dozens of different digital touchpoints that present themselves along the way and allow for personalisation. 

A mobile app can help your guests move from one stage of their guest journey to the next seamlessly. 

From allowing someone to plan their day and book entrance tickets to showing them wait times and communicating additional information and offers via push notifications or in-app messaging, through to post-visit feedback surveys, an app is a true multi-channel and multi-stage method for improving customer satisfaction and retention. 

Interested in learning more about the opportunities that a mobile app could bring to your attraction? Then be sure to download our eBook! 

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