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Don't just sell tickets. Enhance the experience.

Are you just selling tickets or enhancing the visitor experience?

I recently attended the ASVA conference listening to several speeches, all of them with memorable content. As you can imagine the topics varied but the core subject matter revolved around 'best practice' and what the attraction industry achieves.

One theme resonated with me. 'What we deliver as a sector'. These can be several things but in essence they boil down to fun, adventure, escapism, experiences and most important – memories!

Your Audience Expects

The modern audience demands more from visitor attractions and we need to supply them with the experiences they are obviously looking for. Many of you will appreciate that the core offering is only part of the experience, with additional attributes running alongside, incorporating food & beverage with retail to complete your package.

Your site can offer the fastest ride, the highest tower, the world’s most famous artwork or the best view. The food offering can be exceptional. Your staff can be the friendliest and best trained in the industry. But unless all of the offering is of the same standard you will fail to deliver the experience your customers demand. 

One of the world leaders in the visitor attraction market, Disney, adopt a number of standards, one of which is the 'Four Keys' hierarchical in structure: Safety, Courtesy, Show, and Efficiency. They resonate through everything the members of staff deliver whilst on site and are key to great guest experience.

Just selling a ticket is no longer enough. Customers now need the ticket delivered to smart phones and tablets in a variety of formats via email, as a PDF, barcode or QR code.

From the moment the customer clicks on the call to action, their journey begins. How you deal with your customers from this point on reflects on their overall experience. Just before your first interview you may have heard the following, 'you never get a second chance to make a first impression'.

The Visitor Experience

How you communicate with your customers or members is every bit as important as the first smile when you greet them at the entrance or in the carpark. Your website needs to be informative and clear with concise journeys to gain the information the client requires. The booking engine needs to be easy to access, uncluttered and slick. Options for up and cross sells require planning, there is simply no point offering the same products across the board, it's far better to offer tailored suggestions based on products purchased, data and a strategy.

Once the booking is made the communications should be specific, time delivered and adding value to the initial experience. This should not preclude an offer or promotion; however, these must be tailored to the experience and not generalist. If possible, the day before send a communication welcoming the visitor, covering the entrance experience and what a guest should perhaps consider bringing to site... wellies for example.

visitor engagement

If you know that the client may experience queues, tell them, don’t hide it. Embrace it, giving them the option to make informed decisions that will not detract from the experience. If you have the capability to communicate with them on site, do so. Surely as a guest with younger children, if you knew that you could dine early to avoid busy times, you would, wouldn’t you? Incentives to use facilities outside of key times are often well received.

Importance of Communication

The core to all of this is communication and I might add this also includes social media. If you don’t currently allow guest access to the WiFi, then why not? After all they are advertising your experience to their friends. Just remember to make sure that this is delivered on a separate network and not the platform for your core systems – heaven forbid you create your own queues with payment devices.

Having a centralised system that allows you communicate with your guests before, during and post visit is a necessity in the modern visitor attraction. The data that this aggregated system provides is your life blood, your future decision data, and it requires careful selection and review.

Many of you will recognise the value in creating a complete experience, creating those precious memories that live with people when they talk about your site.

So, I ask the question again - are you just selling tickets?

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