10 Trends That Will Help Define the Attractions Industry in 2019 (And what to do about them)
Blog | January 21, 2019
Updated: February 18, 2019 | Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on LinkedIn
Contributions from Randy Josselyn, Dave Langran, Matthew Hoenstine, Ella Baskerville and Tom Uretsky
Last week we kicked it off with five trends that would impact the industry in 2019. This week we’d like to wrap it up with five more that our industry experts have identified that could help drive your business in 2019.
The guest experience no longer starts when they walk up to the gate. Your marketing, your branding, your social voice and reputation and your word of mouth are driving a 360-degree customer journey well before a guest ever buys a ticket. So you need to ensure you’re aware of the customer touchpoints you can control or monitor, and that you are working to tell a consistent story, or influence a consistent story, in each of these.
Luckily, there are tools to help. There is ample Reputation Management software that can aggregate your social media mentions and online reviews in a digestible manner so you can monitor your reputation and respond appropriately. What data are you collecting, and are you using a CRM? A CRM will provide the data you need to deliver personalized messages to your guests at the time they’re most receptive, thus contributing to a positive journey and a repeat visit.
The words we use at our attractions convey so much more than just their literal meaning. Many of us are familiar with Chick-fil-a employees who always respond with a courteous “My Pleasure” when thanked, rather than the typical “You’re Welcome” or “No Problem”. Those two words not only communicate appreciation, but also contribute to the company’s caring and concerned brand identity.
In the attractions industry, we’ve seen language leveraged to create an immersive environment. Take Pandora at Disney’s Animal Kingdom for example. Cast members speak words of the fictional language spoken by the beings in the Avatar movie to reinforce the theme and feeling of the attraction. At the 2018 Asia Attractions Expo, an APAC attraction shared their experience using language like ‘stoppage’ and ‘unloaded’ instead of ‘breakdown’ and ‘evacuated’ when dealing with ride downtime. As noted by Francis Jackson from Alton Towers, rides may stop for many reasons: emergency, benign or otherwise. But words like ‘breakdown’ and ‘evacuated’ add an air of drama and sensationalism that may unnecessarily degrade the guest experience.
It’s also important to note that this focus on language should apply to employee to employee communications first, so employees form speaking habits they can reference when they talk to guests. Leveraging carefully selected words and nomenclature used in everyday conversations with your guests contributes to the brand of your attraction, so make sure they are the right ones.
Building on data integration and the big data philosophy we mentioned last post, 2019 will also see the adoption of various types of artificial intelligence to assist with guest engagement. For example, artificial intelligence allows attractions to define their ideal membership profile, and then proactively identify at-risk or high-likelihood potential members and contact them with highly intelligent, personalized and one-to-one messages or offers that encourage engagement.
On the flip side, for the guest, the significant rise in the usage of home smart devices will see attraction based artificial intelligence come into play as a means for suggesting how the customer should use their valuable leisure time to maximum effect. By understanding the customer and their interests on a broad lifestyle basis, smart devices will be able to suggest relevant experiences for the guest. If it’s raining, the smart device might suggest a visit to a relevant indoor facility, if the traffic is bad in one direction, the device might suggest an alternative destination for the day’s activities.
This was a prominent theme at the 2018 IAAPA Attractions Expo: from seminars on generation-based business decisions to best practices for family business succession to increased exposure on training and development opportunities for young industry professionals. It’s clear the industry as a whole sees the value brought by Millennials and Centennials and the energy, innovation and leadership they bring as a sustaining factor for its future. In fact, IAAPA has developed a Young Professionals Mentor/Mentee Program that matches your young professionals with an industry veteran to provide them insight into career paths, community and professional growth. Initial results have been overwhelmingly positive with many ‘veterans’ claiming they’re getting just as much out of the program as the mentees. You can find out more about IAAPA’s program here.
Since our number one trend was all about embracing the trends, we think it’s appropriate to book-end this post with a counterbalance: In 2019, it will be equally as important to spend some time ignoring the trends! Companies will sacrifice valuable time to look inward at their old practices and operations. They’ll work to sew-up some of the seams they created in the past 12 to 24 months of growth or change and find efficiencies in their guest and employee experiences that can drive bottom line value.
We recently worked with an IT Director for a large attraction and learned that the operations team needed to activate found annual passes. This consisted of a heavy manual effort requiring multiple teams to find a solution and provide a positive guest experience. The attraction had not taken the time to improve the process through automation or process improvement and was facing a drain on resources and a degraded guest experience. Attractions that make the time for this introspective analysis to address the top areas needing improvement will benefit in the long run. Looking for a place to start? Taking a walk through your current guest journey and the supporting employee journey will help you to identify these areas of improvement.
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