Do Happy Parents Really Equal More On Site Spend At Your Attraction?

– Our Advice For Operators –

During an internal meeting recently, we were discussing the effect that our mood can have on a family day out. Many times you can spend hours getting the family ready, making up picnics and driving to an attraction, but when you arrive at that attraction how does the customer experience affect your mood and therefore your spend? Is there a link between the two?

Customer service is at the heart of many businesses, be it a theme park, farm park or museum. As a visitor attraction operator you and your team are focused on delivering the best day out to your visitors, but have you thought about what really matters to them? An expansive menu selection in the restaurant is great, but have you thought about how long queues and heavy meals could be off putting to thrill seekers who want to get back to the rides or families with small children who don’t want to sit and wait for food?


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Great customer service really happens when your visitors see the thoughtful touches that you have put into the visitor attraction to make their lives easier and their day out more enjoyable. Think about it, when you visit your chosen attraction how much would easily finding a parking space make a difference to the start of your day? Will people avoid coming to you if they know that your attraction is great but parking is a nightmare? They say in life it’s the little things that count, and when it comes to increasing on site visitor spend, keeping visitors happy with ‘the little things’ might make all the difference to your revenue.

With this in mind, we wanted to explore what made a difference to the average family’s day out. What did they look for? What service or touches made a difference to their day out? And ultimately can you increase revenue at your attraction by keeping the parents happy?

We spoke to some of the staff here at VisiSoft about what can make or break their family days out and whether visitor attractions can do anything to keep them happy – so they spend more money! The response we got was an overwhelming majority saying if the day out with the family is going well then they would be more likely to spend money on things such as ice-creams on warm days or hot chocolates on cold days, even increase average spend per child in the gift shop. So what is it that makes parents tick and how can you avoid any negativity on their day out?

Keeping The Parents Happy.

Ultimately going on a day out to a visitor attraction as a family is done to make memories and should be a source of enjoyment for everyone involved. Phil Denham, Commercial Director, commented that the favourite part of his day out with his family is being able to actually enjoy what the attraction itself has to offer, “The reason we visit attractions as a family and spend money to actually go there is to go on rides, see the animals and enjoy what they have to offer”. Focusing on what the family will experience at each touch point is so important in keep everyone happy. If a family has paid for their tickets but have to spend 2 hours queuing for lunch, they may feel like they aren’t being able to actually enjoy your attraction. In this case you could add something to help speed up service in hospitality outlets like self service kiosks so you can have more staff in the kitchen preparing food and ultimately reduce wait times.

Parents have made the decision to bring the family out to enjoy some much needed family fun, improving waiting times at your admissions desk with online timed ticket booking could help some families plan their day out and reduce entrance queues. You and your team are there to make the experience the best it can be for that family. When we asked Joanne Dixon, MD at HBP Systems, what her favourite part of a family day out at an attraction is she commented “Seeing her kids happy faces when they are experiencing something new that they haven’t done before”. Parents are happy when they see their kids are happy, so think about what new experiences you could offer families at your attraction? Could you add to your existing offering with seasonal activities? Parents may be more included to spend additional money once inside your attraction on events and activities that would make their children happy. This could be a great way to welcome additional seasonal revenue and keep families coming back for more experiences.

Focus On The Positives & Cut Queues.

Pretty much everyone we spoke to about this has something to say about an experience they’d rather forget when spending the day out at an attraction. These mainly involved queueing and being forced to spend money they didn’t expect to. Tacking queues is something we’ve visited in our blogs before, we found that by ultimately using fast EPOS systems with simple menus and easy barcoding you can help to cut down queues at outlets such as gift shops and food & drink kiosks (you can read the full blog about queue busting here). But where else could queuing impact your visitors experience? Maybe queuing for toilets, do you have enough toilets around your attraction – could you add more to reduce queuing? Or Queuing to enter the car park, could you make 2 car entry points and fill up spaces from different areas so families are stuck in the car for too long together (especially on hot days). If you can’t reduce queues in some areas what could you do too keep children happy? Maybe set up a pop up ice cream stall to sell ice-lollies to parents and children who have to wait. That way you can increase ice-cream sales on warm days and keep everyone happy in queues at the same time?

When asked what part of a day out with the family do you least enjoy Phil Denham commented “Unexpected charges are the worst part of a day out. I’d rather be charged more to include everything in an attraction and be able to go wherever we want when we want, than have an extra charge for something within the park. For example, Disneyland even did food/snack passes so we had paid for everything up front and didn’t have to worry when we were in.” Has your park thought about how you could make your visitors feel like they are enjoying an extra special day out with a higher up front charge? Maybe those ice creams could be complimentary or you can get a free ride photo emailed to you for memories? Offering a little something that feels like its free could be the ticket to more actual spend. If parents are happy they have paid up front for their day out, they may be more inclined to permit higher gift shop spend to commemorate their lovely family day out. If parents feel they’ve been shaken down for every penny you can get out of them the opposite may happen and it’s straight in the car and home for the family.

What Can Your Attraction Do To Increase Spend By Families?

Needless to say there are lots of little things your visitor attraction could do to help keep parents happy and so they ultimately spend more at your attraction. We’ve popped together a few ideas below:

  • Make sure your visitor start the day out right with simple, easy parking, whether this is manned to help with busy car parks or maybe you could open a second overflow car park to get visitors in quickly, the key to their happiness might just be as little time in the car with their kids as possible. Not only this, don’t forget about families leaving at the end of the day. The younger members of the family may be tired or unhappy they have to go home, so getting all visitors out of the park as swiftly and easily as possible may help with return visits.
  • Bust those queues. We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again really think about what you can do across your park to reduce queues and wait times. Rides and events may work a little differently as you have less control and therefore people are happy to wait. But think about hospitality outlets, pop up kiosks, staff walking around with tablet EPOS devices selling ice creams on sunny days. Providing more choice of where to spend or buy may also help keep visitors moving. If you don’t have the option for mobile EPOS or ordering food ahead on a mobile app, think about better training for staff on tills to increase service speed or reduce your menu size to help with food prep.
  • Upsell bundles or gifts after an experience. If you offer a unique experience in your park such as meet the animals, breakfast with the monkeys or learn how to milk a goat, whatever that experience, if the family visiting had enjoyed themselves they be more inclined to spend money on a photo keyring or a stuffed monkey with their name on it. If you do over these type of experiences think about what may work for your visitor attraction.

So there you have it some ideas about how you could make the visitor experience at our attraction even better and therefore (hopefully) increase spend from happy parents. If you’d like to find out more about how VisiSoft can help your attraction with it’s EPOS and ticketing solution please feel free to contact our team for a chat where we can answer any questions you may have or book a demo below to see how our EPOS and ticketing software works.

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