Amusement and theme parks are getting prepped for tomorrow. The consumer experience now isn't limited to the park - it starts from online searches and continues well after a visitor leaves the park. This makes the industry more competitive and pushes it to better leverage technology.
Visitors expect a synchronized and personalized digital experience, that intertwines with and adds value to their in-park experience. They want to be in a single seamless environment, accessed through a common online portal. They want to plan their full itineraries and make all bookings via the same portal. They expect customized deals, curated but comprehensive content as well additional fun and interactive features, all accessible on their mobiles as well.
Along with building and maintaining all these complex features, the park also needs to gather all kinds of customer data to gain clearer insights into visitor behaviour and optimize their strategies and operations. How can they do it? By deploying an enterprise-level technology stack that allows the park to run a unified system with cutting-edge features and enables them to offer a seamless digital-physical experience.
The entire journey of a park visitor can broadly be divided into four phases -
The discovery phase not only involves assisted and self-discovery of the park, but also includes targeted marketing and content optimization.
There are multiple aspects of in this phase, detailed below -
· Assisted Discovery - Parks should build a well-designed network of call centres, equipped with VoIP, CRM, and knowledge management systems that can assist a call centre executives and travel agent by providing information in an organized, searchable form
· Self-Exploration - The park should align the user experience of its two digital properties (website and app), provide all the content and functionalities in a seamless fashion for end-consumers
· Identifying Target Audience - Parks should create systems for Social Media Listening to understand the consumer behaviour and preferences at a micro-segment level. Extensive A/B testing of variations of promotions and content should also be leveraged to gather intricate, deep insights about your target audience, and enable even deeper customization.
· Promotions targeting – Since parks are location-specific, location-based keywords and content and keywords in the local vernacular language is essential to fully access their target audience. Informal social forums like Quora, Facebook and WhatsApp groups should also be targeted
· Website UI/UX - A website that has large banners, prominent headlines, and summary callouts will have high stickiness. For pages that don’t support large banners, there should be attractive graphics, images of activities with category titles and succinct copies, icons pertaining to different offers, and POV videos.
· Optimized Content on “attraction” pages - Besides informing a site visitor on types and features of an attractions (rides, displays, mazes etc.), such pages should be optimized with a call to action, cues and alerts. In addition, such pages should have different keyword tags to improve searchability of individual attractions
In this phase, the consumers start their trip and making bookings. For this phase, each individual touchpoint needs to be optimized and linked to a unified system. The park website/app need to have the following features –
· Interactive Catalogue – A catalogue of all available attractions, it must allow for interaction and personalization. It should have a recommendation engine to offer customized recommendations. An Artificial Intelligence driven voice assistant can be built to interact with customers and answer their queries
· Itinerary Planner – An itinerary planner, in a calendar layout, should be the single window where customers can build an itinerary by adding attractions and events they wish to attend. For individual items along with overall timings, custom recommendations for “best time” as well as overall itinerary recommendations can be provided, along with matching with package deals where possible
· Unified Booking Portal - The site should offer a common booking window for everything - booking tickets, travel, hotel rooms and meals, as well as booking venues like banquets halls for events. Along with the park’s services, visitors should also be able to book services like cabs, hotels etc. from external service providers via 3rd party APIs of those companies. A holistic price, with combined offers and discount, and a single point of payment will make it more convenient
3. Park Experience
Today’s park visitors, armed with smartphones, can be provided a whole new range of experiences in the park. Visitors are active on social media, sharing their experience with the world in real time. The park needs to become an enabler of this social behaviour, as well as observe and analyse them for deeper insights. The possible tech enhancements to the park experience are –
· Park App - The park app should serve as the guide to the visitors in the park, helping them cover their itinerary. Some ideal features are –
o An interactive park map (with GPS) where all locations are tagged
o AI-driven voice assistant
o Hyperlocal and scheduled alerts (based on itinerary)
o Social media plugins
o Park’s own coupons, vouchers (or even a e-Wallet) for purchases
· Media Cloud – By building their own media cloud, Parks can conveniently share POV images/videos they take for visitor on rides. It can also serve as a medium of sharing for all members of the group
· Smart Wristbands - A customer can use an RFID equipped smart wristband, which can be scanned in place of using tickets or tokens, or even payments. It is a more convenient alternative
4. Post-visit Engagement
After their visit, the people should be engaged not just to garner the next visit, but to serve as a beacon to generate user content and indirectly cross-sell the park to people. Some of the possible techniques are –
· Re-marketing of individual attractions in the park, which are new or not seen yet. Special focus on itinerary items which were “missed”
· Supplementary game apps which keep young ones involved, and open to messaging
· Loyalty programs
· Emailers and notifications at major life moments like birthdays or anniversaries, or even micro-moments identified by social media listening
How to implement this - A Unified System
The future lies in seamless, multi-device experience and data-driven personalization. For a uniform experience and central data gathering, you need a unified technology stack. Components of such a stack should be -
· Park ERP layer - The ERP layer is the heart of the stack. It manages the bulk of the park operations – Governance, Supply Chain, POS and eCommerce sales, Marketing, Finance & Accounting, Admin, HR etc. It is also integrated with all other modules and serves as their back-end
· Front-end (Website/App) – This is the where customers and agents interact with you. It displays content, has interactive functions as well as the eCommerce section
· Content Management System - It stores all the content used in the website/app, data from the other modules, as well as the media cloud
· Analytics Layer – This layer includes the big data analytics engine, as well as BI Module to build dashboards ad visualizations
· External Platforms - This is a collection of all the 3rd party platforms, linked to various system modules via APIs. Such platforms can be used for Customer Service, Social media, other eCommerce channels, IOT analytics etc.
There is a generational shift at the horizon. Soon, the bulk of the target audience of amusement and theme parks (kids AND adults) will be of the smartphone generation. The competition is not just among themselves, but with other modes of entertainment. Parks must start merging their online and offline experiences and build a personalized and seamless in-park experience, to continue to be appealing to your visitors