Nicholas ran a workshop where he presented a massive digital canvas full of insights on the ever-changing consumer mindset and ideas.
TURNOVER GAP The turnover gap is the medium-term loss of pre-pandemic revenue. This is exactly where we need to use innovation to identify new opportunities to plug holes in the business.
NEW REALITIES For our customers, their realities have changed.
A few months ago, our CEO, Nicholas Hall, ran a workshop where he presented a massive digital canvas full of insights on the ever-changing consumer mindset and ideas to start building new products and experiences that respond to the needs of visitors.
TURNOVER GAP The turnover gap is the medium-term loss of pre-pandemic revenue. This is exactly where we need to use innovation to identify new opportunities to plug holes in the business.
NEW REALITIES For our customers, their realities have changed. We need to work harder to earn their custom and consider changes, which accommodate their needs.
PIVOT & DIVERSIFY Changing markets and realities mean that the need to pivot, diversify and evolve the business is paramount in navigating a prolonged period of uncertainty.
2020 saw an unprecedented social momentum take place with the entire world devastated by COVID-19. With many countries in varying periods of circuit-breaker lockdowns, the social impact has been unprecedented. To understand trends emerging from this, we need to first understand what happened and how this changed the way we live our lives, socially, culturally, physically and digitally.
Cultural < > Social Connections
Whilst social media gave an outlet for creators and audience figures showed a rise in 'learn along' videos, museums, galleries, zoos and parks went online to create in-depth remote visitor experiences from virtual gallery tours, and curated exhibitions.
With more time to discover and more need to 'tune out', long-form content discovery is on the rise.
Episodic content such as video series', podcasts and other richer content formats show the bridge that attractions can make between affinity, discovery and visitation alongside a broader business model considering digital elements too.
I envisage a paradigm shift away from museums as temples and areas of authority and towards being conveners.
Right now, the world is facing a health crisis and a massive economic fallout from that situation. People need homes, food and economics for survival. I really do believe, however, that the arts are a foundational part of that economic survival, as well as nourishment for our souls.
Sofie Andersen, Head of Digital Content at the Metropolitan Museum of Art
ENGAGING THROUGH LEARNING One of the biggest trends evolving from the pandemic has been the shift to remote learning.
Savvy attractions have thought about how they can support parents by offering material and interactive experience for homeschooling.
Whilst there's not always an immediate obvious link between business and remote learning, some are gradually starting to find ways to cross that boundary.
From straight-up charging to provide a premium remote learning experience, where brand equity can open up many opportunities, to moving into the value space, exploring opportunities such as subscription-based loyalty, or even combining visitation with remote experiences to strengthen revenue streams from visitors beyond the in-person visit.
To make any such shift requires a mindset adjustment from thinking as an attractions business to thinking like a brand.
In 2020, we saw farms charging for zoom time with goats or special messages from farm animals. The ease of engagement opens up endless possibilities to deliver a wide range of experiences.
Just imagine a surprise gift bundle, complete with an announcement from a Zooming goat?
Augmented experiences are all around us and whilst the world has learnt to experience remotely, a few have been able to take that digital visitor experience a step further.
There are many opportunities when thinking about 'real-world digital experiences', or better considered as 'hybrid' experiences. The only limit is our imagination.
From hand-written messages and five-minute zoom's from goats to creating that 'reason' to visit through AR Murals, businesses are using their imagination to create business opportunities.
Thinking further, gamification offers incredible potential to expand the business footprint, offer value fulfilment and consider new business models.
This simple artist collaboration with a well-renowned restaurant in London shows how hospitality and culture can find ways to collaborate, create more reasons to go and use digital to augment everyday experiences, transforming them into new experiences.
The story of Secret City Trails shows us how technology can help us to play with the real world around us through technology. This web-app based start-up transforms cities into riddles and creates an engaging interpretation that works amazingly in groups.
If you think of it as an escape game in the real environment, with their new sofa trails, just imagine how to create packaging with real experiences that can allow you to extend value beyond the visit, before, during and after.
For most businesses, demand isn't an all-year given. For those low-season dips, think about ways to invigorate demand. Take culture into the experience and design that hybrid experience to live online and offline.
Light and AV installations are great concepts to extend visitation hours, work with arts and culture communities and think like a festival or event organiser to secure sponsorship and new ways of experiencing familiar places.
Visitors seek more value-driven experiences, away from crowds, where that feeling of escaping is something that can be created by offering unique surroundings where time to think, to get away, to be with loved ones or to experience something a little different, are the key drivers for that next impromptu staycation.
Since Airbnb formed unique brand partnerships with 'A Night At', the attractions sector has realised the huge and lucrative potential to offer exclusive and unforgettable 'one of a kind' stays. Under the stars, amongst the birds, amongst the fish. The only limit is imagination. Pop-ups can re-utilise existing spaces in hidden places or create new ones with completely bespoke 'tailor made' concepts.
As we think about new approaches to the visitor economy, we must first think about closing the loop on the environment around us. The circular business design ensures a distinctive and authentically rooted experience that is all about the local supply chain.
As we imagine our post-pandemic business future, setting high ambitions such as achieving zero waste is entirely possible.
Once highly niche, now this is conceptual. Demand has never been higher for business concepts that respect nature, the environment and the local economy. Easily a competitive space to play in when innovating to pivot towards new segments.
Rebuilding together as a community requires us to reflect on what really matters, for locals and coming together as a business community to create reasons to visit more purposeful. Who are the community champions and how can they rise above the clouds?
Montreux Jazz Festival is a prime example of a world-renowned festival disrupted by COVID-19. By tying in creativity and entrepreneurial leadership, Mathieu Jaton, Director of Montreux Jazz Festival brought everyone together to create an amazing new festival in just weeks the 'Dolce Riviera', creating a staycation boom, filling lost revenue and establishing a new locally-driven experience concept.
The story of the Montreux Jazz Festival is a case in point about how a business community can come together to create something incredible. In this case, the Dolce Riviera.
In the case of Soneva, we learn how one business can become a catalyst for positive impact by measuring impact and setting ambitious goals based on the UN's Sustainable Development Goals.
The SG Green Plan is an opportunity for the entire industry to seek purpose and become a living laboratory for change.
The term 'build back better' has been bouncing around but at the root of it, there is a strong desire to 'correct' many of the wrongs which existed before COVID.
Circularity, zero waste, and community are just a few of the key principles behind this.
The next competitive front is not only about being digitally astute but socially too.
Embrace and commit to change by being on the leading edge of designing attractions for a new era of consciousness. As we emerge from the pandemic, commit to doing things differently.
Play a part in greening Singapore. The commitment to tree planting and open spaces not only speaks to consumer trends pointing towards a growing desire for nature but also support your own climate commitments too.
If you're a large attraction look at how you can design green spaces and commit to protection. If you're not, why not consider how you can 'bring your experience' into nature, for visitors to discover, learn and appreciate it. Soundscapes, audio, visual, AR and VR experiences can all transform and augment the natural environment.
Sustainability starts with processes and whilst much of this may seem like under the hood changes, for consumers it is exactly what they want to see. Many trailblazer businesses today wear a commitment to sustainability on their sleeve. In fact, sustainability is the differentiator, the reason to visit and the motivation to go, discover and experience. Concepts like a zero-waste restaurant can become flagship steps towards a sustainable future but don't forget, you can also start with one small step.
Reducing the impact of our carbon footprint as an industry means thinking about every detail of the customer journey from both a customer perspective but also an environmental perspective.
How can we work with partners and our suppliers to incorporate low-impact commitments? This might begin by short-circuiting food and menu choices, to multi-modal travel and later to low or even reverse impact construction design.
Can attractions become a centre of research and development in the new Green Economy? Are we able to foster the notion of living labs to engage start-ups and change-makers to work with attractions as a canvas to explore new approaches to sourcing, energy conservation, impact measurement and much more? As living labs, we can play a key role in re-imagining the future from expert let tree-top corporate educational retreats to incorporating start-up incubators within our business to re-design it from the bottom up.
From urban farming to carbon capture, how can your attraction play a part in designing a more resilient future? In the short term, resilience will depend on our ability to use technology, digital and agility to adapt to the changing market environment. In the long run, our resilience will depend on our competitiveness as a purpose-driven business. For some, this is in their DNA but for most of us, making this change will take time and commitment.
Whilst there are many obvious changes brought about by the pandemic, there are those which have been creeping up for some time which has only be accelerated by recent developments. Changes brought about by digital is now happening everywhere whilst the need to use digital to greatly strengthen customer experiences and relationships has taken centre stage.
Today, mobile dominates the customer experience. Design a truly contact-free or low-touch visitor journey from end-to-end with a mobile-first approach to re-imagining the customer journey. This starts with discovery, continues with augmented experiences and completes with digital lifecycle and affinity.
Avoid a race to the bottom. Look further than competing on price, look at how you can offer truly transformative experiences based on customer empathy. As an attraction, this will be found in understanding the needs of your visitors. It might be re-imagining family time, facilitating work from home upgrades or takeouts or providing opportunities for self-improvement.
User experience is a trend that stemmed from internet unicorns who understood that UX was one of the most important things to consider when building with users in mind. As digital increasingly dominates our lives, the notion of being 'user driven' now extends to everything. In fact, in marketing user experience is what drives a brand, not the image or creativity of the message.
Data should be driving every experience and decision in any business today. Seeking to gather and analyse every single data touchpoint is key to empowering attractions to be more competitive, smarter and capable. Whilst the potential of machine learning in research is incredible, the need for extensive and routine data capture and analysis at every point along the customer journey. This is key to making iterative improvements.
In terms of immersive technologies, they are still in their infancy. Incredible immersive experiences require on both mobile chipsets, connection performance and relevant content experiences, increasing year-on-year. The opportunity for attractions is to build those immersive experiences, from 3D, VR and AR into the visitor experience, curating different material or building them from scratch as part of an engaging, self-guided discovery through mobile.
As digital is now fully embedded in our daily lives, for both the international and local market, thinking about the digital lifecycle is key to investing in customer relationships and engagement. Take a marked shift away from tactical marketing approaches and invest in the long-term relationship, speaking with authority and relevance amongst those key audiences you with to retain year-round. Podcasts, on-demand content, even entertainment-focused content can all help extend the brand relationship beyond the visit.
The constant reinvention most of us have experienced in the last year has taught us (or reminded us) to foster a start-up culture within the business. Make time to fail fast and fail often, where learning how customers respond to different concepts is all part of evolving. Teams have learnt how to do conscious leadership. Retain that culture of responsibility and remain agile and nimble to embrace change.
Has social distancing made us all realise that a socially distanced experience is a premium experience? Instead of seeking to bring back pre-pandemic normality, why not make the 'new normal' part of your redesigned visitor experience. Whether it's private dining in penthouses, exclusive 'behind closed doors' digital concerts, exclusivity is in demand more than ever.
Creating engaging experiences today require us to create constant interaction with our visitors through technology. Post pandemic, that technology-driven experience is primarily driven by mobile, social experiences. Think about the simple ways in which spaces can be brought to life, such as scanning to hear a podcast or a self-guided visit to the mobile puzzle.
Authenticity is an age-old principle in tourism but as you look to identify how to fill that 'turnover gap', being authentic is especially important for that local market. Seek to become a 'glass box brand', where the values you promote and claim in your brand are lived out by your staff, your company culture and how you seek to engage your community.
Your brand competitiveness depends on the values that underpin it. As we emerge from the pandemic, re-evaluate what's important to your customers and revisit those values that are core to your DNA. Strengthening business principles upon core values helps you to find your points of differentiation, whilst also understand where to extend and explore partnerships for the low-season periods.
Personalisation, it's a trend that has disrupted even those successful online leaders who have failed to keep up with the pace of technology. The competitive edge in digital experiences today is about creating deeply personalised experiences and interactions. Working with first-party customer data, look at ways in which you can create a truly personalised online and in-person experience based on what you know about your visitor.
There has been a marked step-change in the way our customers use technology, with the level of familiarity and the expectation from consumers for contactless guest experiences reaching a new high in the post-pandemic era.
Investment into the contactless guest experience goes far beyond solving a problem. The opportunity to use data to optimise every detail of the customer journey, to build loyalty through first-party data and to offer a unique personalised guest experience at scale.
The value proposition for any attraction? Absolute trust and confidence from visitors concerning safety and an end-to-end guest relationship lead to increased yield through diversified revenue models.
Reimagining the Visitor Experience. Both Laax as a Ski Resort and Dyreparken as an attraction show us the importance of mobile and data in managing every micro-detail of the customer journey and most importantly how to optimise every touchpoint, moment and interaction.
Digitalisation is now the biggest priority for any attraction, thinking about how to use automation and conversational technology to create a seamless, personalised digital journey.
In the attraction, the need for contactless and low-touch environments means driving the experience, transaction and up-sell all through mobile.
Re-designing attractions for the post-covid consumer requires us to revisit what it is to create an experience. There are no quick wins or shortcuts to succeeding in this ever-changing environment, but applying innovation at the core of your business, supported by human-centred design principles is your best strategy for establishing a resilient and competitive offer, shaped around your visitors' needs.
Design is the driving force behind good digital experiences. IBM Design Thinking is a good start for anybody (free online course) and also shows us what a great digital learning experience looks like from an industry perspective. Below are key principles from IBM Design but also gain inspiration from the likes of Mural, Luma, Standford D School and Ideo.
Imagine, if our customers can social distance their own experiences. This is what Design leads us to - the creation of new solutions which solve problems.
A perfect example of designing a socially driven attraction experience. MOIC New York City features imaginative, multi-sensory installations that bring to life your most delightful dreams. Let your imagination run free in a world where anything is possible.
Iles de la Madeleine in Canada used design to co-create new visitor experiences to connect different attractions through new product concepts.
In Brussels, 'Museum Night Fever' extends for one night the hours of all museums to be open all night, creating a huge discovery and engagement around museums whilst also extending visitation to factor in the sure.
These digital-first businesses show how to pivot in the pandemic. From shifting packaging and pricing to become an incentive gift business to piloting concepts around subscription-based business models, building loyalty and surprise into the business model.
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