• Category: Destinations

Why smart engagement is a true springboard for theme parks

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By Steve Thomas, CTO, Omnico

Once the Cinderella of destination and theme park infrastructure, point-of-sale (POS) technology has been transformed by cloud-based advances, mobile device evolution and digital transformation. However, many parks are still being held back by outdated POS systems that restrict the options for visitors, cause long queues and are not joined up to core business systems.

By making the move to a unified system for POS,transactions, loyalty, promotions, stock, ticketing and interactions, parks can access incredible power, using smart engagement to boost revenues, drive loyalty and transform the guest experience. Most importantly, a solution should increase park efficiency, deliver higher spending per head, boost visit frequency and thereby expand revenue and profitability.

Cash is no longer king

Cashless methods of payment have vastly increased in popularity and are what guests expect in parks and destinations. A single POS platform enables customers to acquire items in a wide variety of ways, whether through a wearable RFID or IoT device, at a conventional fixed till, a self-service kiosk, in an app through pre-paid entitlements packages, or by self-scanning items and adding the cost to the hotel room bill. Wearable devices can also be used as entry devices at hotel rooms, spas or dining areas, or as a means of identifying a VIP guest at key locations.

Making the guest-experience friction-free means users can easily access information and make payments via their chosen touch-point, and can also switch between channels, taking their transactions with them automatically. Having a solution that can harness all of the interactions between business systems and guest touch-points, across every channel, is essential when a park needs to create, pilot and deploy new journeys simply and quickly.

POS must seamlessly integrate with apps

For operators, apps are critical to driving up revenue and encouraging repeat visits and off-site purchases, and for facilitating the personalised smart engagement that tech savvy consumers crave. Many guests expect to be able to orchestrate their entire experience via an app, but to be downloaded, used and then retained after a visit, the app must be seen as valuable enough to take up vital space on the users device.

This means the ability to order food in advance, redeem entitlements such as meal-deals, obtain wait times for rides and restaurants, or provide personalised loyalty programmes and promotions.

Marketing gets smart

In sharp contrast to unfocused traditional marketing techniques, having a single view of the guest and their transactions, interactions and preferences means marketers can now deliver smart engagement. This involves calling not only on the guest’s profile and behaviours, but combining this with external factors such as their location (using geolocation technology), wait times or availability in other food outlets and even the weather. This enables promotions and campaigns that can be automated using templated and machine learned algorithms and are far more personally relevant and helpful to the individual.

The result is an improved guest experience, while operators are able reduce wait times, enhance operational efficiency and even control crowd movements, resulting in increased visit frequency and spend per head.

Removing the pain of ‘out-of-stock’

The ability of advanced POS software to integrate with inventory-handling is also a huge advantage, enabling guests to obtain what they want even if it is not on the shelf. Visitors can see the entire range of stock across all outlets and warehouses using the park app, kiosk, or mobile POS device.

The result is that size or preferred colour is always available. Research also shows that park visitors increasingly expect to be assisted by fast-emerging technologies such as augmented reality (AR) or virtual reality (VR) when they enter a park. To be ready to embrace these exciting new technologies, operators must ensure they are able to easily integrate new apps and technologies into their existing systems. This is an important proof-point as many vendors have locked systems, making this impossible.

Through skill and innovation in design, an intelligent digital platform can be plugged into a destination’s existing business systems to provide a single view of data that takes efficiency and optimisation to levels otherwise unattainable. Scalability is never a hurdle, since platforms of this type are already processing a million transactions a day in a single resort.

With such ease of integration, there are virtually no barriers to achieving the significant returns on investment from advanced point-of-sale and smart engagement systems. Destinations have the potential to more than double revenues from food, beverage and retail outlets with these solutions, according to the Omnico Theme Park ROI Barometer, while also vastly enhancing the guest experience and making significant gains in efficiency.

This makes the decision to choose smart POS and engagement technologies one that should be at the top of the agenda for every destination.

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