Customer experience is at the forefront of any visitor attraction or theme park organiser’s mind when it comes to one of the busiest times of the year – Halloween.
This blog will explore how technological advances have changed the game for these attractions. Customer satisfaction is constantly improving due to important changes to the way the attractions are run. Most notably, we highlight how important a reliable, market-leading lost property process can be for a brilliant customer experience. Our clients Alton Towers are a brilliant example of how this works.
Busy times ahead
The busy summer season has sadly ended so for many businesses this may mean the gentle dwindle of customers. However, for businesses like theme parks and visitor attractions, things are only about to get busier.
The period from the end of October to November means one thing – Halloween. A huge hit for all ages, young and old. Halloween events are in full swing across the UK, from Thorpe Park’s Fright Nights, to Blackpool Pleasure Beach. Even some of the zoos, such as Longleat and ZSL London Zoo, are getting in the spooky spirit!
This busy Autumn period will push visitor attractions to the limit; the demand for the perfect experience will be higher whilst queues simply get longer. This can mean a real decline in customer satisfaction which is detrimental for the overall enjoyment of the attraction.
Source: Alton Towers Resort
So, what can cause a bad customer experience? And what are visitor attractions doing to improve it?
1) Paperwork in a paper-less society
Printing tickets, looking after passes, room keys and cards can be a great hassle, especially if you’re with the whole family.
Companies have launched innovative wearable bands act as park passes, room keys and contactless payment devices. For example, Disney’s ‘Magic Band’ allows guests to enjoy the park to the max without worrying about tickets, paperwork, multiple cards or keys. Attractions are also now moving towards exclusively paper-free e-ticketing. This encourages customers to book in advance, allowing the attractions to predict footfall and to adapt accordingly. Also, it means customers can arrive with just their phone with an e-mail and simply scan a barcode.
2) The queues
Queues are the most dreaded part of the day. Research reports that amongst the UKs leading attractions, queues for rides can bypass 2 hours on peak days.
Leading attractions have invested time and money into upgrading the experience of queuing. A prime example is that of Disney’s Star Tours attraction, that has used the queue as part of the overall ride experience. Themed spaces and interactivity eliminates the worst part of the day and boosts customer experience.
3) Tired technology
The tech world is constantly evolving. As such, visitor attractions can get stuck in with out-dated tech, lacking the latest gadgets and gizmos to excite customers.
Companies are working hard to ensure their attractions have cutting-edge technology to put them above their competitors. In August 2019, Coca-Cola worked in partnership with Alton Towers to pilot self-driving robots to deliver drinks to visitors. These robots used cutting-edge artificial intelligence, GPS tech, sight, sound and motion sensors to trial if attractions could enable 24/7 on-demand logistic services. They went down a treat with visitors!
Source: CCEP Ventures
4) Lack of environmental awareness
Encouraging sustainability in every aspect of our lives is of global importance now. For example, food wastage is a concern as data shows 1/3 of all food produced in the UK ends up in the bin. Additionally, reducing the use of single-use plastic at visitor attractions has proven hard and many are still struggling to eliminate this bad-practice.
Attractions have launched a variety of initiatives in order to combat this. Firstly, easy-to-use recycling bins around the site have encouraged sustainable behaviour from visitors. Furthermore, the pull towards re-usable cups has been astounding.
Recently, Thorpe Park introduced their Fright Night reusable cups to try and stamp out single-use plastic from its park. Changes are being made, much to the customers delight, improving customer experience.
5) Lost property
Visitors to attractions and theme parks are only human. Therefore, every day a lot of belongings go missing and a lot end up in lost property. This means customers must battle against old-fashioned, poorly organised lost property systems in the hope they will be returned with their item. This is frustrating for visitors, as staff are often busy with other jobs and it can take a lot of time and enjoyment out of your trip.
To put it simply, NotLost does it best. Using NotLost’s transformational lost and found software solution ensures the whole process is efficient from start to finish. This enables visitors to be reunited with their lost items and significantly improves the customer experience.
NotLost has worked alongside Alton Towers to completely transform their lost property process for the better.
Case Study: Alton Towers
The market-leader when it comes to theme parks is undoubtedly Alton Towers Resort. Based in Staffordshire, attracting guests from every corner of the country, Alton Towers Resort saw an estimated 2.1 million visitors through its gates in 2018.
From 18th October – 3rd November, the UK’s largest theme park Alton Towers Resorts hosts its ninth annual ‘Scarefest’. Scarefest treats (or tricks?) guests to menacing mazes, terrifying tours of the haunted Altonville Mines and chilling interactive live shows, alongside the chance to ride the nations favourite rides in the dark!
With expected footfall to peak during this October-November period, it’s paramount that Alton Towers put visitor experience at the forefront of their minds.
Each week, up to 200 items were found across the park and passed to the Box Office for registration and then onto Reception for storage. Around 150 enquiries came in via a number of channels to both locations. Each item was registered manually on a paper form and then was inputted into Excel. Shockingly, it typically took up to 15 minutes to register each item as team members were often distracted with other important guest-facing tasks.
The process was extremely time-consuming and difficult. Moreover, the lack of communication to guests resulted in numerous enquiries about the same items, further convoluting the process and frustrating everybody involved. The whole process was a burden for team members and resulted in a negative guest experience.
Items are now registered with NotLost on an electronic tablet. Image recognition software ensures accurate data entry and detailed, standardised reports, as well as removing the need for duplicate registration. NotLost have also built an online lost form that provides a simple 24/7 method for visitors to report lost items. The use of images, lost/found comparison and keyword searching enables reception staff to quickly identify items and validate guest enquiries. To find out more about how it works, head here!
The team spend up to 90% less time registering items and 20% less time handling enquiries. The customer experience has also improved. A more robust process means that enquiries have a faster turnaround, and ultimately more items are returned.
“It’s now a lot simpler for guests to report a lost item. We’ve even had quite a few emails from people post visit saying ‘thank you for finding it so quickly’ and ‘it’s been really efficient!”
Sales and Customer Services Manager | Alton Towers
In conclusion, using technology and innovation is vital for customer success and satisfaction. Most notably, the issue of lost property can be fixed with NotLost’s transformational software solution.
Are you in charge of lost property at your visitor attraction? Think NotLost could be the answer to your lost and found woes? Please feel free to get in touch, we’d love to hear from you!