Many businesses regard customer experience as a top priority.
As a result, decision-makers are increasingly looking for creative new ways to enrich the customer journey using technology.
The trend is even more evident for businesses where experience is central to their value proposition. Amusement parks, cultural attractions, and events-based businesses realize that delighting customers is crucial, and they have embraced technology as a key enabler of their delivery model.
Key applications of modern technology in these industries include seamless online checkouts, self-serve kiosk technology, mobile-friendly interfaces, and a personalized customer experience.
What is the role of technology in ‘experience’ venues?
Technology has played a key role in transforming the customer experience by enabling greater control, convenience, communication and choice. This, in turn, leads to more meaningful customer interactions and ultimately repeat business.
Given the abundance of information available online, coupled with the ease in which that can be accessed, the customer journey now begins well before a customer arrives at a leisure or entertainment venue. It begins as soon as someone conducts a Google search and looks at a venue’s website.
Guests also are ready, willing, and able to evaluate your business well beyond a visit, too. Often, they will share their experience via online review sites and social forums, which helps to shape other customers’ decision making.
This extended period of customer engagement has forced venue owners to rethink when the customer experience begins and ends. Let's look at some of the key ways technology has transformed the customer experience in the constantly evolving marketplace of experiences.
1. Seamless online experiences
More than 30 percent of guests now pre-book activities and make purchases online. So if the checkout flow is complex, potential guests are more likely to abandon the purchase and head elsewhere.
In fact, more than 74 percent of people begin a transaction process only to become frustrated with friction points and leave. Forcing customers to jump through too many hoops during the checkout process is a massive deterrent.
A good checkout is simple to navigate. A best-in-class solution is optimized to convert a site visitor into a happy guest in less than a minute. In some cases, a transaction can take as little as 45 seconds.
It’s important for venues to take the clunkiness and distractions away and make the purchase flow clear, quick and simple. They should only include touchpoints that are absolutely necessary and don’t overwhelm potential guests with clutter.
And consider this: an optimized checkout flow improves conversion rates by 25 percent.
A best-in-class solution enables venue managers to create as many online checkouts as they wish. Doing so allows them to control the products and services on offer with just a few clicks. This provides a more customer-friendly experience and adds value to each interaction.
Creating multiple online checkouts with selected – and more relevant – offerings reduces clutter and increases the chance of conversions. In turn, checkouts will be more engaging and provide insight into what resonates with guests.
By continuing to identify what makes guests happy, venue managers be able to implement, or alter, processes that will continue to positively affect the customer experience.
2. Self-Serve Kiosk technology
Venues that implement self-serve kiosks (SSKs) are seeing efficiency improvements in the ticketing, waiver and check-in process, leading to fewer bottlenecks and happier guests. This means guests spend less time waiting in line and more time having fun.
Industry data suggests that the average guest can avoid up to two minutes standing in a queue when SSKs are an option. And since SSKs lead to a faster check-in experience, the potential to delight guests as soon as they enter a venue increases.
Guests can also sign waivers with SSKs, which is occasionally a requirement in some leisure, attractions or entertainment venues. At traditional waiver stations, guests who enter their details are still required to join a ticketing queue before entering the venue.
With an SSK that includes an integrated waiver flow, guests can do everything they need at the one terminal. This results in a more seamless check-in process with fewer queues. SSKs also streamline the normal purchase flow that occurs with traditional point-of-sale software (POS).
This frees up staff to focus on more meaningful customer engagements. For example, staff are able to move from behind a register and spend more time interacting with guests, such as welcoming them to the venue and adding a personalized experience.
Guests using SSKs ultimately enjoy a more relaxed experience and are able to assess purchase options in their own time. This is largely because they are afforded more freedom to make decisions without the pressure and frustration that often comes from lengthy queues at a manually-operated POS. It’s no wonder that 66 percent of consumers prefer self-serve and self-checkout over human interaction.
3. Mobile optimization
Industry data from ParkWorld reveals that 95 percent of global attractions and theme park visitors will engage more if they can access optimized mobile functionality. This certainly highlights the importance of customer-centric technology that puts the guest experience first.
In the last decade, mobile accessibility has gone from being a luxury used by a select group to a commonplace part of most people’s daily lives. As a result, expectations have risen in line with this growth.
Mobile users now demand access to content and services anywhere and anytime. And it’s an area no business can ignore. Especially considering the number of smartphone owners is expected to exceed 1.7 billion by 2020.
Yet almost 90 percent of consumers across all industries have had a negative experience when using their phones for mobile shopping. Their pain points are difficult navigation (51 percent), tiny product images (46 percent), and an inconvenient checkout process (26 percent). Thus, a one-size-fits-all approach to an online presence is ineffective, inefficient and even potentially damaging to a venue’s brand.
Data obtained from a PwC study in the UK indicates that although 93 percent of venues have websites, only around 29 percent have online booking facilities, with the proportion of those having mobile-friendly capabilities being even less.
It’s why venues that use technology partners with mobile integration can be far more prepared to meet today’s expectations andoptimize the customer experience, providing a more flexible and efficient experience at every touchpoint of their journey.
Customers are increasingly demanding more relevant messaging and personalized experiences at every stage of their journey. It’s, therefore, necessary to use available technology to better understand customers’ needs, concerns and challenges, and use the information to offer more meaningful experiences.
And the potential to provide contextualized experiences continues to grow as venues are better able to capture, store and utilize more information than ever before.
TIP: With the right customer relationship management software (CRM) technology, ‘experience’ venues can analyze the history of guests’ interactions with them and use that information to provide more customized experiences.
An easy way to utilize customer information for personalized communication is with email. Creating more meaningful communication using an email platform that offers dynamic segmentation to enable timely, personal, and effective email campaigns can have a lasting impact. By segmenting the audience, managers can effectively reach out to guests based on unique segments such as time and day of typical attendance, frequency of attendance, average spend, total lifetime spend and most common purchases.
HubSpot data shows that99 percent of consumers check their email every day and the number of email users worldwide is expected to reach a massive 5.6 billion people this year, according to research by Statista.
So, it’s important to cut through the clutter and ensure emails stand out. Emails that resonate with the individual drive the highest engagement and revenue, in fact,82 percent of marketers say personalization leads to a significant increase in email open rates.
Where to start
Shaping the customer experience in attractions, entertainment and leisure venues requires a deep level of digital insight coupled with an experienced technology partner.
Keeping up with trends and transformations is also imperative. Just as new technologies help enhance the customer experience, they are also creating new expectations. Today’s luxury is tomorrow’s standard.
‘Experience’ venues can’t afford to be idle. In a world where new technologies are constantly being introduced, venues that put customers’ needs first are the ones who are better placed to succeed. Thus, choosing a scalable and flexible technology partner will not only help venues meet customers’ needs now, it will also future-proof their business. The best way to achieve this is with a cloud-based, all-in-one solution.
With so much technology available today, attractions, entertainment and leisure venues run the risk of finding themselves using different systems from multiple vendors. When all these systems are fragmented, they rarely integrate well. This is where costly operational problems arise.
A cloud-based, all-in-one solution gives ‘experience’ venues all of the necessary features and products, without dealing with multiple vendors. This includes online booking, ticketing, POS, CRM, and more. Everything is managed via one platform, leading to tangible operating efficiencies and an end-to-end view of the customer journey.
In this way, technology has transformed the customer experience of “experiences.”
Paul Robertson is the Head of Digital Marketing and Strategy at ROLLER Software, an all-in-one software for attractions, entertainment, and leisure venues to improve the guest experience. Paul has an undergraduate degree in communications and marketing and a Master of Information Systems from the University of Melbourne. He also presents workshops on behalf of HubSpot. Paul has worked in global businesses for the past seven years and uses his commercial/marketing background alongside his technical/systems background to drive business growth.