At the recent TiLEzone conference held at The London Transport Museum, one session focussed on “Managing the attraction, the visitor and the building”. It looked at the way networking technology is bringing operators, visitors and suppliers closer than ever before.
John Davies (left), Director, OmniTicket Network, spoke about how visitors are increasingly being given their own unique digital identity, connecting revenue, ticketing systems and access. Here he summarises his presentation.
Whether the attraction is a theme park, museum, zoo or any other visitor attraction, the visitor has to be made aware of the its existence and have a desire to attend.
There are various ways in which the visitor will experience their first interaction with the attraction and these are typically via the internet, by telephone or of course the main entrance on arrival.
Each of these experiences will give the visitor their first impression of the attraction, so a lot of thought needs to be put into each of these areas.
This is also the first opportunity for the attraction to collect as much demographic information as possible about the visitor which can be used to manage their visit experience, and also populate a CRM database for ongoing targeted marketing campaigns after the visitor has left.
Each process has to be streamlined, so as not to be too much of a burden to the visitor. Call centre staff and front of house ticketing staff have to be well trained and may need to “upsell” additional offerings to the visitor
Regardless of which purchase method the guest chooses, they will at some stage need to be given their ticket media of some kind.
If they have booked online, this could be in the form of a print@home ticket
which could be printed with a bar code to allow immediate access
at a turnstile or a scanner – thereby avoiding queues. However this would not necessarily be conducive for allowing interaction with exhibits or activities within the attraction. In this case, their print@home ticket could have a bar code which would be used to identify their booking and this could be scanned at a self-service terminal which would then dispense a more suitable ticket media which could be used for the required interaction.
This ticket media could be a low-cost bar-coded card ticket, it could be magnetic stripe plastic card or RFID in one form or another depending upon the level of sophistication – and cost – required.
Another emerging technology which will become more prevalent is NFC (Near Field Communications). This is the new RFID standard for smartphones and similar devices.
The next generation of smartphones will have this technology embedded. This will mean that each smartphone will have its unique RFID identity, allowing it to be activated as a valid “ticket” for admission and interaction once inside the attraction.
Current technology allows any unique code to be used as an identifier in this way – everything from a bar-coded supermarket loyalty card to an Oyster travel card. This opens up marketing opportunities in conjunction with many well known commonly held identifiers.
The ticket media can even be packaged up with bigger city-wide programmes such as the destination city pass type concept, allowing the media to be distributed widely through tourist offices, hotel concierges and so on. This media can then be activated accordingly, either online or via the telephone, and used directly at the attraction for admission.
Inside the attraction
Once the visitor is inside the attraction there can be many ways in which the operator wants to interact with them – for example encouraging them to choose a special subject of interest to them in a specific exhibit. They would be encouraged to scan their card and their demographic record can be instantly accessed on the CRM database and a reaction prompted accordingly.
Consideration must be made in the early stages of planning in such attractions to allow the reading of multiple media types where relevant and also to avoid incorrectly identifying the visitor if they may be in close proximity to other visitors.
The new generation of trigger based CRM databases can have many varied applications within the attraction, including at food and merchandise sales stations for example, where their purchase of one item could trigger a text message to them offering them another special deal or offer which could be available.
This visitor tracking can then be used at the end of the visit to provide a summary of their registered interests. It could also provide a points score in the case of competitive exhibits and provide follow up marketing in the future to draw them back to the attraction for repeat visits.
All of these technologies are providing an ever closer interaction between an attraction, its operator and the attraction’s visitors, creating a more rewarding visitor experience. The ticketing, revenue and access systems are becoming seamlessly integrated into whole experience.