How Innovative Technology Can Revolutionize the Attractions Industry
In 2013, Anthony Palermo started a consulting and engineering firm specializing in RFID technology. His path intersected with Dominic Gagnon, who was knee-deep in sponsor activations with his own marketing firm. They soon joined forces, embarking on a groundbreaking project that enhanced the guest experience at Saputo Stadium in Montreal with RFID technology. Fans were given an RFID-enabled key they could use to unlock branded photos with social sharing, games, prizes, and discounts—a revolutionary idea at the time.
Little did Palermo and Gagnon know; this stadium project laid the foundation for Connect&GO— a global leader in RFID and integrated attractions management technology for over a decade. Their initial success led to rapid expansion, with major clients like The Super Bowl, Vancouver Olympics, Comic Con, SXSW, Formula One, and others joining their roster.
“It was really hyper-growth over the first couple of years as we traveled the world, doing access control, cashless payments, and sponsor activations via a smart wearable,” explains Palermo, Connect&GO’s co-founder. “It was a lot of fun and very exciting—especially because our clients were constantly pushing us to be more innovative.”
The company's willingness to embrace innovation and continuously push boundaries fueled its growth, as it challenged the status quo with its disruptive technology.
Pivoting Toward Family Experiences and Leisure
After years of working with major brands worldwide, the co-founders recognized the opportunity to shift away from one-time events toward an industry that would install their system and use it daily.
Noting that the attractions industry can be conservative about embracing new technology, Palermo was surprised at how welcoming the attractions industry was—and how much attractions wanted connected experiences.
“Clients were very forthcoming about their operational needs. This pushed us to become forward-thinking with our technology,” notes Palermo.
For instance, rather than framing an attraction as a temporary, one-day experience where technology hiccups don’t have an effect, Connect&GO recognizes that a visit may actually be a highlight of a guest’s summer and contribute to how they view the attraction.
“You might only come to a water park once or twice,” he explains. “So, let’s give you the tools to plan it in advance, to book activities, to load money, and to turn your entire experience into a curated journey that we'll load directly onto a smart wearable and take you throughout the park.”
Innovating with Invisible Technology and Integrated Data
Technology plays a key role in the operator's experience, from selling products online to managing guest relationships and everything in between. They don’t take the time to fully evaluate if these relationships still fulfill their needs after so many years together.
Understanding the toll legacy technology can take on operators, Connect&GO aims to empower attractions to transition to more evolved, integrated technology. The company’s innovation lies in making seamless, invisible technology backed by a completely integrated platform, appropriately named Konnect.
On the guest side, Konnect integrates all data on guest transactions into one centralized place. Its Virtual Wallet technology allows guests to manage everything they need, from tickets to season passes and cashless funds, on a smart wearable. Konnect’s cloud-based infrastructure, mobile point-of-sale, and numerous hardware integrations all support faster park entry and transactions on-site, while features like connected accounts make it easier to manage family outings.
A parent could, for example, load their child’s wristband with $50 and send them on their way to enjoy arcade games, buy lunch, and even get a souvenir at the end of the day. Plus, guests can see their transaction history. Such conveniences delight guests and encourage loyalty.
On the operator side, the Konnect platform boasts a flexible interface that lets operators customize packages and configure inventory for virtually every sales situation. Features like self-service kiosks, RFID access control, and integrated waivers help reduce the burden on staff while providing data with every scan in real-time.
“The ability to access real-time data to make powerful decisions is truly revolutionary in this field. So much of attractions’ data sits in silos, resulting in an incomplete picture of the guest experience that leaves a lot of revenue on the table,” says Palermo.
Making a Mark on the Industry
“It’s an exciting time for attractions. Operators are more open to change in a post-COVID era. They’re starting to see the value in switching to modern technology and partnerships that fulfill their needs,” explains Palermo.
It’s precisely that shift in consumer sentiment that has accelerated Connect&GO’s rapid growth in the past few years, expanding to France with 7 Looping Group parks, deploying its Virtual Wallet technology at 4 Six Flags Hurricane Harbor water parks and working with attractions throughout the United States, Canada, Europe, and the Middle East to help operators drive revenue, simplify operations and maximize guest engagement.
“We’re on a mission to lead the attractions industry revolution and help all clients step into the future with truly integrated systems and smart wearable technology,” says Palermo.
For Connect&GO, that mission is never complete, because the needs of the industry are always evolving, as are the company’s products. Recent innovations include an enhanced marketing automation integration with ActiveCampaign which offers improved marketing capabilities and group sales enhancements, a new mobile-friendly Interactive Map for eCommerce, its new mobile point-of-sale and several new features for the French market including integrations with Ticketmaster, Francebillet and Chorus Pro. A new artificial intelligence (AI) traffic predictions engine is coming soon, along with other functionality that the team plans to debut at IAAPA Expo 2023.
“We really listen to our clients to understand their challenges and how we can address them. Then we use that information to build a roadmap based on our clients’ needs, vision, and goals,” Palermo adds. “We're very dedicated to this philosophy of making sure operators have a say, that their voice is heard—and that makes us a bit different in the industry.”
Ready to learn more? Request a customized demo now or book time to visit Connect&GO at Booth 2036 at IAAPA Expo 2023.