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Make every visit count: how to think like an online business

Attractions can use personalisation to influence guest spending


by Ellen Wilkinson,

How to Win Friends and Influence People

Writing in How to Win Friends and Influence People, back in 1936, Dale Carnegie famously stated that “A person’s name is, to that person, the sweetest and most important sound in any language.” And never has that sentiment been more accurate than in today’s digital age.

Carnegie recognised that when people – or businesses – speak to us individually, we become naturally attentive, focused and significantly, more likely to engage. In physical spaces, this principle has been utilised time and again.

From Coke’s ‘Share a Coke’ campaign in 2013 to Quality Street’s ‘Personalise Your Tin’ offer, consumer brands have successfully used personalisation to hook their audience, grow awareness and increase sales. But without a tangible product, how can we apply these principles to the experience economy?

Successful personalisation in the attractions industry takes Carnegie’s principle a step further. It focuses on creating immersive experiences that are hyper-targeted, profoundly relevant and emotionally motivated, building a clear bond between the guest and the experience itself.

By adopting a personalised approach, attractions can expect increases in loyalty, in the form of repeat visits, memberships and referrals, and in spending, on retail, food and beverage and upgrades.

Think like an online business

If personalisation is about forming an emotional connection with your customers and connecting on an individual level, attractions can learn a lot from the e-commerce world.

Ever browsed your favourite store online only to see checkout reminders pop up once you’ve finished work? That’s personalisation at its finest. These retargeted ads demonstrate a clear understanding of your behaviour to show you the information most likely to make you convert, revisit or browse again. The result? Retargeted guests are 43% more likely to convert than those who view display ads.

By leveraging mobile technology, you can finally connect with guests during their entire journey and enhance their experience through personalised interactions.

For attractions, personalisation is relatively easy to implement pre and post-visit, and you already have the tools you need to think like an online business. For example, you can customise emails, offer season pass discounts to recent visitors or send targeted social media ads to those that didn’t buy tickets.

The real challenge begins when you want to connect with guests during the visit itself. Attractions regularly report ‘losing’ guests once they’re on-site, and without a way to communicate, influencing guest spend on-site becomes next to impossible.

That is unless you tap into the one device that 94% of us carry 24/7: our smartphones. By leveraging mobile technology, you can finally connect with guests during their entire journey and enhance their experience through personalised interactions.

Using mobile tech to personalise on-the-day experiences

Mobile technology helps you build and nurture mutually beneficial relationships with guests whilst they are on site. With mobile, you’re no longer reliant on physical marketing or guest experience staff; you can reach guests at the right time with the right message.


Consider a typical family journey through an amusement park: let’s say our sample guests visit with two children under ten. Without mobile personalisation, they explore using a printed map and encounter one or more of these common friction points:

  • Heading to a popular ride only to get stuck in an hour-long queue.
  • Discovering a ride has an age restriction they didn’t know about
  • Heading to the nearest food outlet at a peak time and running late to the next activity.

Improving the guest journey

Using mobile technology such as a guest-facing mobile app, the family’s journey can change. Plus, additional opportunities to engage them with tailored upsells that enhance their day arise. Now those same friction points look like this:

  • The family still arrives at the busy ride but receive a push notification telling them to join a virtual queue and try the nearest doughnut stand while they wait.
  • The family enters the children’s ages in the app and are shown all the rides they are allowed on to avoid wasting time.
  • At 11 am, the family gets a notification asking if the kids are hungry. They pre-order food in advance and are served immediately when they arrive. Whilst ordering, a dish the parents love catches their eye, and they add it to the transaction.
kids-eating-donuts personalisation

With this personalisation, the above mobile solutions are tailored to the family and anticipate their needs to make every minute of their visit count. In the example of the busy ride, Bluetooth beacons trigger the notification, enabling them to avoid the queue. They then increase their daily spending thanks to the doughnut nudge.

Similarly, for the food ordering, their children’s ages are added to the app already. So, this insight informs the prompt for an early lunch. Even better, the parents now have time to browse the menu and increase their basket size. This mirrors recent findings that guests spend up to 42% more per transaction using a mobile app.

The above example is illustrative. But it highlights how mobile technology can deliver targeted communication in a previous ‘blind spot’ for most attraction marketeers. And it also illustrates the role data plays in influencing guest behaviour.

data trail personalisation

During the example above, the family leaves a trail of data across a wide range of touchpoints. These can help the amusement park better understand the behaviour of guests just like them.

Using this insight, they can target similar guest groups with messaging that speaks to their personal needs and drive conversions. If you cannot connect with guests whilst on-site, you lose this visibility and won’t uncover these behavioural drivers.

Effective personalisation

Thus, to implement an effective, personalised marketing strategy, attractions need to have a data strategy beyond collecting demographic information and explore social cues and buying behaviours as well. However, that doesn’t mean reverting to the good old days of iPad surveys and feedback questionnaires.

By leveraging mobile technology, you can monitor guests as they move around your attraction. This unlocks powerful insights to support your personalised marketing strategy. This could include:

  • Understanding how guests flow around your site
  • Discovering the most popular rides and peak times
  • Monitoring spending at on-site retail outlets and identifying the most common purchase times
  • Monitoring queue times
  • Collating demographic information from app downloads

This rich combination of data gives you the ability to influence guests just like the e-commerce giants.

hot dog and fries personalisation

For example, the ops team at one of our customer sites discovered that guests weren’t buying food on-site in the afternoon. With further research, it transpired that they were leaving to visit local fast-food chains on the way home. They used this insight to build a plan; they sent a personalised message to all their app users just before they’d usually leave for the day, offering a discount on their on-site restaurant.

The reward? A boom in mobile food ordering thanks to more guests eating before the drive home.

Make every visit count with personalisation

Personalisation helps guests get the most out of their day and feel that your attraction understands their needs. At the same time, by delivering hyper-targeted communication at crucial moments, you can encourage spending on site.

kids-at-amusement-park personalisation

If you want to understand better how to use personalised marketing to help increase guest spending at your attraction, are offering free digital audits to attractions this June and July. You can book a 30-minute session with a technology specialist here.

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Ellen Wilkinson

Ellen Wilkinson

Ellen is an experienced writer specialising in the tech industry. She manages the content programme at, showing attractions how to use mobile technology to unlock powerful guest insights that enrich the on-site experience and increase revenue.

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