Your guests’ journey begins long before their arrival to your park and ends well after their departure, and how they regard your brand is about more than their on-site experience. As operators and marketers, connecting and engaging with your guests outside your venue is of equal importance to connecting with them in-venue Considering the journey in a more holistic sense provides an otherwise missed opportunity to influence these additional touchpoints for an even more positive experience.
Making it easy to pre-plan visits helps get guests excited about it and removes some in-person pain points, like different entry line-ups, and positions your guests for a seamless, successful experience at your venue. Plus, engaging your guests before and after their visit will create opportunities for added revenue and return visitation. Read on for some suggestions on connecting with your customers at a distance.
Engaging Guests Before Their Visit
Ensuring a smooth-like-butter pre-planning experience and kicking off the countdown to fun sets the stage for an unforgettable visit. As they say, you never get a second chance to make a first impression—so plan to wow your customers before they even reach the gate.
An Optimized Booking Engine
Create an informative and intuitive online experience for your guests through an optimized booking engine, which walks your customers through their options and provides you with upselling opportunities. Guests use one account to create an entirely unique experience for each member of their group by selecting individual options. For example: Mrs. Smith can select a dolphin encounter for her son, a private surf lesson and wetsuit rental for her husband, and a mani-pedi for herself. Plus, she can receive recommended options based on past preferences for that added touch of personalization.
Get your guests pumped up for their visit by scheduling periodic communications prior to their departure, such as countdown messages (“Just Two Days to Adventure!”), helpful tips (“How to Beat the Florida Heat”) and options for enhancing their experience (“Get Up Close Like Never Before Through a Behind-the-Scenes Tour”).
Social Media Showcasing
Showcase your venue experiences on social media sites that your guests already use to connect, and whet their appetite for future visits. Even better, have your guests do it for you. Some forward-thinking parks, which use guest engagement platforms, have positioned cameras in prime locations to capture candid images. Guests can instantly view and upload their photos to social media using the venue app. Social media users at home will surely have FOMO when they see epic shots of up-close animal encounters, zero-gravity rolls and spectacular splashdowns.
With the right guest engagement platforms, guests are easily able to view their in-park photos at home…
…and share branded images on social media directly from their phones.
Maintaining Relationships Post-Visit
Your hope is that customers leave your venue with priceless memories, precious keepsakes and a positive connection with your brand. But turning satisfied guests into lifelong fans requires targeted communication and relationship cultivation. This ongoing process is more user-friendly with a branded venue app and most successful with access to granular guest data.
Consistent, Individualized Communication
Communication in and of itself does not guarantee guest engagement. However, using guest data to formulate informative and applicable communications helps ensure your messaging hits the mark. Perhaps you share a list of boredom-busters with parents of school-age children as summer nears, or target restaurant patrons with a recipe for a signature dish at your premier restaurant.
Offers Based on Personal Preference
Promotions and offers should feel unlike the random spam we delete out of our inbox and more like individualized invitations. Those same parents of young children should receive a schedule of summertime events and the foodies might be tempted by an exclusive dinner with a special guest chef. Your guests want to feel that you understand their unique wants and needs, and provide opportunities with value.
Celebration of Special Occasions
Customers seek value and they want to feel valued. Placing importance on your customers’ special moments helps solidify your relationship. Utilize birthdays, anniversaries, and holidays as opportunities to connect with your guests. Provide special offers that will encourage them to return and celebrate life’s memorable moments at your venue.
Communication Through Gamification
Many venues use gamification to increase user engagement and loyalty. They invite their guests to interact with their venue to earn achievements, such as digital and physical prizes. The fun doesn’t have to end upon exit. Gamification via a venue app provides a great opportunity to engage guests after their visit and incentivize their return: Just 10 more rider points to get that free burger!
Requesting Guest-Specific Feedback
Requesting feedback is another way to engage with guests that can be simple and satisfying, if done properly. Ditch those general, 20-question surveys and target your guests with single pop-up questions via your venue app. This can happen during, before or after a visit and questions are specific to each guest’s unique experience. Ask about their pre-planning experience, special occasion celebration, merchandise purchase or end-of-day treat. It shows you care and the highly detailed, relevant data will help inform your decisions.
Marketing and Communication Driven by Data
Guest data is the key to engaging with your customers in a personal, meaningful way. On-site guest behavior provides a data road map, which directs operators and marketers in their efforts to build and maintain relationships with their customers — even when they’re off site. Forget the old adage “out of sight, out of mind,” and strive for the continuous connection that results in customer loyalty.
The Vantage system can mine data and help you target your marketing and communication efforts throughout the guest journey. Check out our marketing page to learn how Vantage can help you.