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2021 marks a new era of seamless guest engagement

Visitor expectations have changed in the wake of the pandemic, and operators must keep up


By Keith Dunphy, CRO and US General Manager, Omnico Group

Over the past year, COVID-19 has triggered significant changes to our lives – from how we socialize to how we do business. Amidst fluctuating restrictions and ever-evolving consumer demands, companies responded with innovative technologies that have transformed the way they engage with customers.

Candymonium Riders masks
Candymonium at Hersheypark

But are these new approaches and solutions set to disappear when the pandemic does? Far from it. To put it bluntly, guest engagement is not going back to how it was before.

Despite lockdowns easing worldwide, the COVID-19 experience changed people’s mindset, perhaps irreversibly, so they now expect fast and convenient interactions as a matter of course. Customer and guest engagement is entering a new era: one where the speed, convenience, and safety customers have grown accustomed to are blended into a unified, seamless experience.

What does guest engagement 2.0 look like?

What attraction visitors want nowadays, above all, is simplicity. Keeping guests engaged means ensuring every step of their journey flows smoothly into the next, with minimal delay or hold-ups.

Starting from the booking phase, attractions must allow customers to pre-purchase tickets – either through smart ticketing or via contactless kiosks – so when consumers do arrive, they can just go right in without hassle. More so, they won’t have to worry about overcrowding or long lines.

And it’s what they want too – 51% of consumers are still demanding contactless entry when visiting attractions this year.  It’s about more than minimizing risky contact, it’s about enabling the speed and convenience all visitors want.

phone-hand-omnico guest engagement

That extends into food and drink as well. With visitors now accustomed to pre-ordering via apps for safety reasons and quickly collecting their refreshments before jumping on the next ride, attractions simply can’t go back to long lines in front of food vendors or at theme park cafes. Taking friction and frustration out of the equation is key.

Lastly, simplicity is also visiting an attraction and being offered the type of experience you desire, at every step, without having to ask for it each time. In other words, data-driven loyalty and personalization.

Technology takes centre stage

What’s undeniable is that technology is the fuel of this revolution. Many brands have accepted that our new reality is not just a fad, but a game-changing trend. So much so that 95% of businesses plan to continue investing in digital customer engagement. Even when the pandemic is over.

In this new era, attractions need to leverage the right tech to react as quickly as possible to meet visitor expectations. In addition, they must also ensure that every action taken enhances the guest experience. Operators that fail to do so risk getting left behind.

Around half of global consumers think pay-at-table, attraction mobile apps, and self-scan and -checkout are absolutely essential as a part of the attractions experience

Our data proves it: around half of global consumers think pay-at-table, attraction mobile apps, and self-scan and -checkout are absolutely essential as a part of the attractions experience – with 56% stating these technologies are needed well beyond COVID-19.

The demand for innovative technologies should be seen not just as a challenge but also as an exciting opportunity. One that can generate new revenue and future-proof guest engagement strategies. And there’s a multitude of tools attractions can consider, to do just that.

For example, smart ticketing allows guests access to an attraction with just a swipe of their smartphone. This means guests gain easy, line-free access to rides, driving satisfaction and engagement. Plus, it also means operators can easily gain footfall data in real-time, to prevent frustrating visitors, while maximizing capacity.

Contactless tech improves guest engagement

Another key technology in this new age of guest engagement is contactless. Contactless technologies, like advance ordering or self-service kiosks, make transactions as smooth as possible. This means visitors wait less and have more opportunities to spend.

Also, enabling digital transactions also allows operators to easily gather transaction and loyalty information to ensure rewards follow customers wherever they go in the venue. The result? Cohesive, frictionless engagement.

Friends-using-phone-at-theme-park guest engagement

Through modern transaction platforms, operators gain a powerful tool: data. Through the power of data, operators can make personalized offers to their visitors just by accumulating and analyzing the data gained from customer transactions and interactions, across all touchpoints.

86% of global consumers say personalized offers would make them more likely to visit attractions in 2021. Therefore, having that tool is key to future success.

Looking to the future

Businesses have shown impressive resilience and agility adapting to changing circumstances and consumer needs in the past eighteen months. Now, the task at hand is ensuring the innovations implemented can stand the test of time.

It’s true – evolving against this uncertain backdrop isn’t easy. However, one thing brands can be sure of is that the demand for speed and convenience is here to stay. So, attractions looking to remain relevant in this new era of guest engagement need to invest in the right technologies to deliver on this expectation.

Top image: contactless payments, image courtesy of Disneyland

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Keith Dunphy Omnico

Keith Dunphy

Keith Dunphy joined Omnico as US General Manager and Chief Revenue Officer in 2021, bringing his technical and operational experience to shape the business strategy and drive growth in the US market.

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