The Secrets of Nurturing Loyalty in Annual Pass Holders
The secret for keeping annual and season pass holders coming back for more—and thus maintaining this vital source of income for operators—was the topic of the IAAPA Expo session, “Developing Annual Pass Loyalty: A Look at the Important Base of Your Business.”
According to Stephen Davis, vice president of pricing and revenue services with Integrated Insight Inc., if attractions want to mount a successful annual pass sales campaign, the first thing to do is understand the consumer. This means learning about their “visitation behaviors,” namely how often do guests come to the park, how much do they spend, and on what?
Consumer research is also essential to this fact-finding process, which means talking directly with park guests to find out what they really want. “Ask them, ‘what do you think about this product?’” Davis said. “‘How much would you be willing to pay for this? What benefits are important to you?’”
Using this combined data, operators can then develop annual pass programs that are in tune with consumers’ buying patterns and willingness to pay. At the same time, annual and season pass prices should not be so low that they undercut daily and multiday pass pricing.
Besides reducing the cost of regular visits, consumers buy passes for convenience’s sake. “Our guests wanted the least amount of touch points when they came to the park,” said Todd Andrus, director of marketing and sales at Island H2O Water Park. This means just flashing a physical pass—or an electronic pass stored on their phone—and heading into the park without waiting in line. This trio of financial value, unlimited entries, and ease of access “all leads to a sense of ownership and embracing of your brand,” he said.
“You don’t want to sell out cheap if you can get top dollar during Christmas and New Year,” added Jeremy Hauwelaert, vice president of sales and marketing with Jungle Island. This is why cheaper tiered passes may restrict access to weekdays and include blackout days, while the most expensive can offer truly unlimited access.
By taking a tiered pricing approach to passes, operators can build loyalty among budget-minded and free-spending consumers alike. They can then boost this pass holder loyalty through on-site discounts, admission price breaks for their families and friends, special events, and “Membership Days” that are only available to pass holders.