How Data is Changing the Industry
With antique carousels, steam trains, vintage roller coasters, and other mechanical rides lining their midways, classic amusement parks showcase the early days of the industrial revolution. Parks and their visitors embrace the traditional attractions and revel in their nostalgic appeal.
When it comes to ticketing, reservations, mobile websites, reporting, and other back-of-house functions, however, many parks and attractions are stuck in the third industrial revolution: computing. This can create negative experiences for parks and guests.
Convious, which has developed an all-in-one e-commerce platform specifically designed for parks and attractions, aims to capitalize on the fourth industrial revolution: intelligence. Based in Amsterdam, the company also has offices in Lithuania, France, and the U.K., serving Europe.
“Everything we do is data driven,” explains Adriaan Van der Hek, Convious’ chief operating officer (COO). By gathering, processing, and drawing conclusions from data, and making the findings actionable, Convious can automate manual tasks, thereby delivering better results, as well as a better experience for both visitors and attractions. “We can really remove a lot of frustration,” Van der Hek adds.
Most venues aren’t all that fond of dealing with data, the COO contends. But when they need to produce a report or do something as simple as determine attendance numbers, they realize the importance of data—and the woeful state of their ability to wrangle it.
Parks typically have multiple data points, often on systems that are not integrated. Among them are on-site sales—including tickets, food and beverage, merchandise, and parking—as well as online sales. There is access control at front-gate turnstiles. Then there are external systems, such as Google advertising, third-party ticket sales from the likes of TripAdvisor, and reviews on platforms such as Facebook and Google Maps. If systems don’t talk to each other, reporting, inventory control, park reservations, and other functions can be challenging at best.
Attractions generally store their data on in-house servers, which are vulnerable to all kinds of problems, such as security, maintenance, slow or glitchy performance, and downtime. One of the first orders of business in the fourth industrial revolution is to ditch the hardware and move everything to the cloud.
“Technologies in the cloud are amazing,” Van der Hek says. “They are so much more stable, scalable, flexible, secure, and efficient, as well as cheaper.”
Boost Your Revenue with Dynamic Pricing
Once in the cloud, Convious’ proprietary solutions can help attractions take advantage of strategies and technology, such as artificial intelligence (AI) and dynamic pricing. Gathering data from multiple sources, the system can forecast demand and automatically determine a park’s optimal ticket price.
“A lot of people think dynamic pricing is about giving discounts, which is wrong,” Van der Hek notes. “It’s about optimizing your average price.”
One of the benefits of dynamic pricing is that it creates a sense of urgency for users. When ticket prices remain consistent, people can defer deciding, as there is no incentive. When presented with a variety of prices and options, however, they focus on which day they should go rather than whether to go at all.
Generating the most revenue may not always be the primary objective. Convious’ sophisticated systems can optimize for different goals, such as maximizing attendance or distributing attendance more evenly across operating days, a concept known as “maximum spread.”
Artificial intelligence (AI) can be used to generate revenue other than ticket sales. For example, it can automatically introduce upsell opportunities. In the park, the system could ping users at lunchtime about food items that are on sale or inform them about a nearby restaurant that isn’t busy. Convious also has an out-of-the-box mobile food order solution that includes the option to preorder food when purchasing tickets.
If a season passholder always buys a parking voucher but neglects to on a particular transaction, the system can prompt him. Conversely, if a passholder has never purchased parking, it could withhold the prompt.
“Sometimes, it’s trying to deduce simple things from data,” Van der Hek explains. “We want to understand your guests better.”
It’s also about delighting guests. As guests buy parking passes online, for instance, they could enter their license plate numbers. When they arrive at the park, the parking gate would automatically open for them. This turns a nuisance like parking into something that is perceived as positive.
Dealing Intelligently with the New Normal
The pandemic has upended many things, including park operations. Strategies introduced during this difficult period, such as park reservations, may remain after the crisis is over. Convious’ highly dynamic system can help parks cope with the new normal.
For instance, if a park is ordered to close with little notice, it could easily notify guests with reservations and offer them a self-service date change function. If it must issue refunds, a park could push a button and automate the entire process, rather than having to manually issue refunds one at a time.
“We’re trying to come up with smart solutions for disaster scenarios,” Van der Hek says. “We are using technology and communication to help venues get out of troublesome situations.”
Among the ways that Convious helps its clients reach out to their guests is via email. Noting that emails sometimes end up in spam folders, Van der Hek says the company has mastered the art of deliverability and can prevent unnecessary support requests.
Convious offers a complimentary app to all clients, which includes automated push notifications. On websites, it can also develop targeted campaigns that include custom pop-ups designed specifically for users visiting the attractions’ online sites.
By collecting data, it is possible to personalize the experience on the website, in email, and in the app. For example, if guests buy a season pass at the gate, they wouldn’t need to be convinced how great the rides are the next time they go to the park’s site. Instead, they might receive a message about bringing family and friends with them on their next visit.
Regarding websites, Van der Hek notes that nearly everything online is designed primarily for desktops, which is problematic. Recognizing that 80% of today’s users access the internet on their phones, Convious uses a mobile-first strategy for its sites.
“If you’re not optimized for mobile, it hurts your wallet,” he says. “If you lower the threshold, usage and revenue will increase.”
The mega parks understand the power of data and embrace the fourth industrial revolution. They hire legions of programmers and data scientists to develop robust e-commerce systems. Convious wants to level the playing field.
“We’re trying to bring all of these smart functions to everybody else,” Van der Hek says.
This story was made possible by IAAPA partner Convious. It does not necessarily reflect the views of Funworld writers and editors. IAAPA does not endorse any service, company, or product mentioned within.
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