During the Covid-19 Pandemic, we distributed a guide on Guest Engagement, how attractions need to re-examine their customer-facing technologies in light of the changing requirements that we were facing.
If 2020 saw an acceleration in innovation with businesses going through digital transformations in order to better engage with customers virtually, then 2021 and beyond will look very different.
Guest Engagement still exists, but we’re entering a new Seamless era. One that provides guests with a single solution, a continuous conversation across all channels, and an entire experience packaged together for that visitor.
Guest Engagement 2.0: The Seamless Era
We’ve reached a tipping point in the middle of this year, with vaccinations rolling out and attractions and casinos re-opening, that brand operators can’t go back to the way things were. Technology was installed to provide social distancing, and that technology is now here to stay.
In our research from earlier this year we found that 49% of consumers said pay-at-table technology was now a must-have technology, not a nice-to-have. Similar percentages were given for other must-have technology including self-scan and checkout (49%), contactless entry (56%) and an attraction mobile app (51%).
We already know that these technologies are proven to deliver value with self-service kiosks accounting for an increase in average transaction value by 29%, and 35% of theme park visitors in the past said they would spend double on food and drinks if they could use an app for advance ordering.
So, with a business case for Seamless Guest Engagement, what is it and how do you achieve it?
The Omnichannel Guest
We talk a lot about frictionless experiences, where customers have little to no knowledge of moving from one platform, or channel, to another when engaging with a brand. That engagement could be purchasing food & beverage at a theme park, or spending loyalty points at the casino.
The term “omnichannel” has been used for years to describe how brands utilise the various channels available to them when speaking to their customers, in a unified approach. Now that approach is being led by the customer themselves and it’s up to brands to identify and adapt to those channels quickly.
Because those customers no longer stick to one method of contacting a brand, it’s even more crucial for the brands to have a unified view of the customer. That means the information flow within your organization has become of critical importance. No longer can a retail point-of-sale work in silo from the food and beverage ordering points. If a customer uses a self-service kiosk to order lunch, and then an in-person order for their dinner, the experience must be the same, even down to the loyalty points they collate.
The omnichannel guest is now in charge.
“Do you have your listening ears on?” – it’s a term used by parents to ensure their children are paying attention, but the same question must be said of brands. If they’re not listening to their guests and using the data available to them, then they’re not creating a personalized engagement.
It can be overwhelming with the amount of digital data now available to attractions and casinos, so it’s about knowing which data is most critical to create the right personalization. By understanding transactional data across each channel and touchpoint, together with behavioural analysis on a visitor’s movements around a theme park or casino, a brand is able to build up a digital identity – a kind of ‘guide’ on that individual guest.
This guide then not only describes that person (have they got family tickets, season pass, pre-purchased meal deals), but it tells the brand what’s important to that guest, and what messaging is then needed to engage with them.
The customer insights mentioned above, together with broader data on the number of tickets sold on a given day, the number of guests queuing for a ride, the sentiment given a particular attraction on social media, can paint a very detailed picture.
Taking all that data and then ensuring it’s in real-time means brands have to be agile, to quickly act upon their visitors desires and expectations.
For example, if monitoring your social media platforms and you see in real-time a downward decline in sentiment toward a new ride because the queue is long and it’s a hot day, the attraction obviously can’t re-build that coaster, or re-configure the queuing system. But they can quickly send personalized offers to each of those customers standing in the queue to collect a free ice cream afterwards.
In casinos, everyone is hurrying toward a particular restaurant at the same time because it’s ahead of the opening performance of Katy Perry. The restaurant manager is worried about capacity and social distancing, and the marketing manager is worried about guest satisfaction. By sending real-time notifications to those guests, and displaying updated visuals on kiosks nearby, guests can be re-directed to another restaurant prepared to take orders in time for them to get to their seats.
Being agile is about reacting as quickly as possible, but also ensuring that the incentives and promotions augment the ride or experience that guest is there to enjoy. There is no point in offering a hot tea or coffee to the frustrated guests in line on a hot day!
Where do we go from here?
While most brands have implemented new technology in the past year in-line with Covid guidelines, these technologies either need to be future-proofed or more work needs to be done to complete the digital transformation. Whatever stage your brand is at, there are various tools and technologies that can support you as you move into this new era of Seamless Guest Engagement.