In this Skip the Queue podcast episode, I speak with Andy Povey, Managing Director, UK and Ireland for Convious.
“We have an artificial intelligence engine that sits behind what we’re doing. And it can monitor in real time what’s happening about your conversion rate. So if you put the price up by a pound and then your conversion rate drops by 5%, you’ve probably gone up too high. So drop it down a little bit. So just manage it better.”
Andy Povey joined Convious in November 2021 as managing director for UK and Ireland.
Andy has worked in the attractions industry since the early nineties when he began as a ride operator at Chessington World of Adventures. He stayed with the Tussaud’s company and later Merlin Entertainments for another 18 years, working in a variety of operational jobs at Rock Circus, Madame Tussauds, and central support, where he was responsible for the group’s ticketing systems.
After Merlin, he worked for Gateway Ticketing Systems for ten years, opening and then overseeing their UK operation, before transferring his experience to the Convious team. Outside work, Andy enjoys visiting attractions of all shapes and sizes with his family.
What will you learn from this podcast?
- The 5 key #digital trends attractions shouldn’t miss out on
- Research into dynamic pricing for theme parks and tourist attractions
- Flip flops and airport walks – and why you shouldn’t get in Andy’s way at baggage claim!
You can also read the full transcript below.
Your host, Kelly Molson
Our guest, Andy Povey
Kelly Molson: Andy Povey, it’s so lovely to have you on Skip The Queue podcast today. Thanks for coming on.
Andy Povey: Thank you. It’s my absolute pleasure.
Kelly Molson: And I know you’ve been a bit poorly. So let’s just state now, poor old Andy has had COVID, and he’s got a little bit of a cold today. So be kind to him.
Andy Povey: It’s man flu.
Kelly Molson: It’s always man flu, Andy. Right. As ever, we’re going to start with icebreakers and I’ve got a really good one for you. So how would you describe your job to a three year old?
Andy Povey: Oh, to a three year old? Well, I’ve got eight year old twin girls. So as far as they’re concerned, daddy gets to go to zoos and theme parks without them, which is not brilliant. But no, I make computers work, I suppose.
Kelly Molson: Make computers work for cool attractions like zoos and theme parks. I think that’s perfect.
Andy Povey: Absolutely.
Kelly Molson: Good job, Andy. We’ll talk more about that later. Okay. What one thing would you make a law that isn’t one already?
Andy Povey: That’s a really difficult one.
Kelly Molson: They’re always difficult, Andy. It’s always.
Andy Povey: Yeah. Yeah, yeah, yeah. You’re being mean to me. Yeah. Oh, I’m in our office in Amsterdam at the moment, so I’m traveling a bit. And I do have a theory that you should never, ever fly from an airport where people feel it’s appropriate to turn up in flip flops.
Kelly Molson: Well, even if you’re traveling back from holiday and it’s a bit warm.
Andy Povey: So the law would be, if I’m at the airport, and I’m waiting in the back to get to Carousel, you need to get out of my way.
Kelly Molson: I think that’s fair. Everyone goes a bit savage at the airport. Don’t you think? You know when you go into London, and there’s a certain way that you act on the tubes to get to places. You’ve got to walk really, you’ve got to be very determined, haven’t you?
Andy Povey: Absolutely.
Kelly Molson: That’s how I feel when I go into London. I’ve got my London walk on. And I feel it’s a bit like that at the airports as well. Everyone’s all in it for themselves. They don’t care about anyone else around them. It’s all just-
Andy Povey: No, no. Get out of my way.
Kelly Molson: Yeah. It’s a good law, Andy. Right. Everyone has to get out of Andy’s way at the airport. That’s the law. Nice. Okay. And this one, I’ve asked a few people this one. Because I really like this one. What would you buy as you exit through the gift shop?
Andy Povey: I’m not really into things. I’m much more of an experience kind of person. So if there was another experience, or something to enhance the experience, then it would be something like that.
Kelly Molson: Okay. Good answer.
Andy Povey: Yeah, something to enhance the experience.
Kelly Molson: Good answer. I like that, Andy. And we’ll talk about that a little bit more later as well. What would your twin girls pick? What would be their things from the theme park?
Andy Povey: Oh, cuddly toys. You must be the same. Shelves and shelves and shelves of these things in the house.
Kelly Molson: My daughter is doing incredibly well from all of the visits though that I have been on recently. Yeah. Let me tell you the gift shops, I’ve been [inaudible 00:03:28].
Andy Povey: Squish ’em alls.
Kelly Molson: To the gift shops. Yeah.
Andy Povey: What do they call them?
Kelly Molson: Squishy animals, all sorts of stuff. She’s now got from various attractions that she’s never been to that I’ll have to take her to, to say thank you.
Andy Povey: No, when mine were the same age as your daughter, I went to Orlando a few times for IAAPA. And I would buy them Mickey Mouse and Mini Mouse cuddly toys, and bring them home. But because they’d never seen anything to do with Disney, these were just referred to as Boy Mouse and Girl Mouse.
Kelly Molson: Oh, bless them.
Andy Povey: They didn’t know what Mickey Mouse was.
Kelly Molson: Oh. And I’m sure they do very well now.
Andy Povey: Absolutely. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Yeah.
Kelly Molson: All right, Andy, what is your unpopular opinion? What have you prepared for us?
Andy Povey: I actually did a poll of my colleagues in the office, because I was looking at something to do with Eurovision, and actually trying to work out whether my opinion was unpopular or not. And unfortunately it wasn’t. So Eurovision massively overrated is my opinion of this.
Kelly Molson: Gosh. So-
Andy Povey: I knew we were going to fall out over this.
Kelly Molson: Well, it’s not just me. There’s a lot of listeners that you are going to make very unhappy about that statement, Andy. Not to mention Rachel MacKay, who, if she hears this, I don’t know how she’s going to feel the next time she sees you. So that is for you to feel awkward about.
Andy Povey: You asked for an unpopular opinion.
Kelly Molson: Okay, let’s put it out there. How does everyone feel about Eurovision? I feel like this is definitely going to be an unpopular one, Andy. Thank you. Right. Okay. Andy, so you have got over two decades in the attraction sector, self proclaimed attractions industry nerd. I think that’s fair. Tell us a little bit about your background, and how you ended up working in the sector.
Andy Povey: A colleague did tell me the other day that it’s actually 30 years, and I was trying to hide away from this. Yes, I am old. So many, many years ago, started a temporary seasonal job at Chessington World of Adventures, having left college without a clue about what I wanted to do when I grew up.
My first job was driving the train around the park at Chessington, and absolutely fell in love with the attractions industry. And then stayed with Merlin or The Tussauds Group, which then became Merlin Entertainment for about 18 years, and doing all sorts of different jobs. So that’s how I fell into it. And I’ve never looked back.
Kelly Molson: It’s a really common theme actually, from guests that come on who’ve gone to work in a theme park or an attraction as what they probably thought would be a temp job for a while. And then absolutely loved every minute of it, and then have just risen through the ranks. Whether they’ve stayed in one group or they’ve moved around. But they’ve just continued to learn, and learn, and learn, and progress. And that comes across so frequently with our guests. It sucks you in.
Andy Povey: It absolutely does. And it’s a great industry. And I love the fact that you can build a career within our industry from starting right at the bottom, and just work your way up. I think it’s a testament to the industry.
Kelly Molson: What kind of roles did you work in then as you moved your way up?
Andy Povey: So I did four years at Chessington as a ride operator. Then went to Rock Circus, which was a subsidiary of Madame Tussauds in the Trocadero and Piccadilly Circus in Central London. It was there for four years, and we were told that someone from head office was going to come and install the till system and tell me how to make it work. At which point I went, “Oh, maybe not.” So I went and became that person.
Kelly Molson: Oh, you were a tills man?
Andy Povey: Yeah, I was. It was a tills man. So I started in ticketing before the internet.
Kelly Molson: Yeah.
Andy Povey: Before anybody really knew what the internet was, and then moved to Madame Tussauds for a short period of time, and then to what was Tussauds Group head office in Tottenham Court Road looking after all of the till systems for the organisation. And then did that for about 10 years, and then left, went and joined the supplier that we were using, Tussauds, so gateway ticketing. I was with them for 10 years.
Basically convinced them to set up a UK office, and I ran the UK office for 10 years. And then after COVID, decided it was time to go and do something else. So came across Convious, the company I work for now, and whose office I’m sitting in today. And that’s it, really. That’s a very brief summary of Andy’s career.
Kelly Molson: Excellent career. I’d like to hear a little bit about Convious. So I am aware of you, and I think that most people at the moment would be aware of Convious. They’re everywhere. Convious are everywhere.
Andy Povey: Yeah. We’re bright pink, and we shout a lot.
Kelly Molson: And they’re pink.
Andy Povey: Don’t know what they do.
Kelly Molson: You have fantastic stands, events that we all attend. But I think there’s something really different about Convious. Can you just tell us a little bit about it?
Andy Povey: So it’s not just what Convious are doing. There’s something going off in the whole world of technology that the sales force are referring to as the fourth industrial revolution. And so competing with third industrial revolution from sort of 1949 to 2010, the fourth industrial revolution’s all about data.
And five years ago everyone was talking about big data. That was the buzzword that was everywhere. So we were just storing loads and loads of information. The fourth industrial revolution we’re seeing now is actually doing things with that data. Because there’s no point in just paying for a load of storage somewhere, if you’re not going to do anything with it.
So what we’re doing at Convious with that data. It’s really sitting on top of our partner’s websites rather than being a page that you go off to, and gathering as much data as we possibly can. So we pull in long range weather forecasts, we’re pulling in all sorts of information about how people are interacting with the website. And ultimately just using it all to drive sales and increase sales for our partners.
Kelly Molson: I know that the weather thing is a really small thing of the system. It’s a tiny thing, but it’s the thing that sticks in my head the most. Because I just think it’s blooming genius. I know. It’s such a small thing, but it’s such a clever thing to have.
Andy Povey: It really does affect attendance at so many attractions. And I love Dom Jones when he was talking to you. I love his take on the weather, of actually, if you’re going to blame the weather, you should also give the weather credit when you have a great attendance.
Kelly Molson: I agree. Yeah, I love that quote from Dom. So it is really interesting in terms of what Convious do. Because I think that one of the things that attractions could be better at is using the data that they already have in more sophisticated ways. And the Convious platform allows you to do that really easily. Because let’s face it, marketing teams are overstretched in attractions. And they can be quite small at times as well. We had Danielle and Ross on from Drayton Manor a few weeks ago. And the two of them pretty much head up their department. And I know they’re a head of marketing as well. But that’s a small team for what is a significant attraction.
Andy Povey: Yes. Yeah, yeah.
Kelly Molson: So anything that we can help to put in place for those teams is ultimately going to make it easier for them, and make it better. And they’ll be able to understand better what their customers are actually doing.
Andy Povey: And ultimately it’s about making it easier for the customer. There’s a whole focus on personalisation at the moment, again, across the industry. So rather than it being one too many, it’s one personalisation. And looking at, if we know something about the customer, so take me for example. I buy family tickets, and I love industrial heritage. So Google knows that about me, and Google will tell every website that I go to, that’s who I am. So if we’ve got a family offering as an attraction, then let’s promote the family offering. If you’ve got an industrial heritage offering, let’s promote the industrial heritage offering to the people who’ve identified that they are. Ultimately it’s about giving people what they want.
Kelly Molson: And that’s the really smart bit, isn’t it? That the system can identify the person that’s coming, and show them the things that are more relevant to them from that attraction. Then the standard things that they might like, they might buy. But actually this is the one that they really want, because that’s connecting with them at a completely deeper level. That’s some of the stuff that I want to talk about today.
So one of the things that’s good about Convious, and I’d like to hope that Rubber Cheese are aligned in this way as well, is that when we think about talking to attractions, we’re giving them things that are useful. I think, that ultimately from any marketing perspective is how useful can you be? This content that I’m putting out, what value does it bring somebody? And how can they engage with it? And is it helpful for them?
And that’s what I feel Convious does really well. And I see a lot of your articles on Blooloop for example. And a month or so ago there was an article about the five key digital trends for attractions as we roll into 2023. And I think that this is a really good time to talk about these things. Because people are doing a lot of planning at this time of year. They’re in Christmas, which this year feels very busy, because it’s the first Christmas people can-
Andy Povey: It certainly does.
Kelly Molson: It’s the first one though, if you think about it, that people can actually go out and feel comfortable that the things they’re going to book, they can actually do. Last year we still had that Omicron. Do we do big groups? Do we just stay inside a little bit longer? But this year feels busy. And I think that attractions will get through Christmas, have a brilliant Christmas.
And then January will be that time when they go “Right, what are we doing? This is what we need to focus on now.” So this is very pertinent. It comes at a great time. One of the key trends that you just mentioned was personalisation. So you talked about making things relevant to your audience. Really, really relevant. Are we talking about exclusive here as well? Because we talk about that quite a lot. Exclusive events and things that they can only get at certain places.
Andy Povey: Yeah, I think so. And I think that’s one of the things that, not just around digital, I think it’s one of the things that the attractions world will do to really weather the economic storm that we’re going through at the moment. Generally what we’ve seen over the past 12 months is that if you’ve got a short event, or a short-term event, it tends to sell out. So looking at what you as an attraction can do that creates that exclusive event.
So if you are a park, can you get Peppa Pig on site for two or three days? Can you get Paw Patrol there for a couple of days? So giving people their incentive to come, and come again, and come again. So not just being, this is the six weeks of the summer at my theme park. This is the Peppa Pig, fortnight, although two days. And this is the Paw Patrol for two days. So improving that repeat visitation.
Kelly Molson: And what you talked about data, I guess that comes back to really understanding your audience.
Andy Povey: Absolutely.
Kelly Molson: So you need to be collecting the data to understand what those people want in the first phase to then be able to tailor your offering to what they like.
Andy Povey: 100%. 100%. There’s no value in creating a Peppa Pig experience if none of your visitors have got kids. A great way to waste a load of money.
Kelly Molson: I don’t need to see Peppa.
Andy Povey: No. No, no, no.
Kelly Molson: You can keep Peppa. So you talked earlier about what you like, and that Google knows that about you. How do attractions tap into that? I guess through advertising, right?
Andy Povey: Well it’s not just advertising. It’s actually looking at… And you did the survey a few weeks ago about the attractions, and understanding Google Analytics, that kind of stuff. It’s free. You do not need to pay to get Google Analytics data. It’s there for you. And there are so many venues, and so many prospective clients that I’m talking to now, that don’t have access to it. It’s almost criminal. There are still vendors out there that don’t share this information. So I suppose to come back and answer your question is, go and look at the data that you’ve got. Google Analytics will give you a view of everybody that’s coming to your website.
Kelly Molson: Find out who they are, what they like, and then give them what they want.
Andy Povey: Well, yeah. But tailor something for them. So if you’ve got a large foodie audience, then look at your catering.
Kelly Molson: Yeah, that’s really good advice.
Andy Povey: Can you put on a Heston Blumenthal event, or a Jamie Oliver event?
Kelly Molson: Yeah, that’s really great advice actually, taking it to that deeper level. The second key digital trend was about online and offline, which we’re talking a lot about online and offline as well. So this isn’t just about digital, but I guess one of the things that was mentioned was about digital experiences. And I guess you can talk about that from a pre-visit perspective. How do you engage people digitally before they turn up at your event? But also, once they’re at your venue too. So digital experiences that deepen or extend the experience that you were already giving them. Can you think of any really good examples of that, that we could talk about from an attractions perspective?
Andy Povey: That’s really difficult. The reason that we go to attractions as human beings, is because we like doing physical things. We want to be with our friends. We want to be with our family. Particularly after COVID, it’s has been difficult to go and see granny, and whatever. So it’s safer to go and visit a park, or to visit a garden than it is to possibly all sit around in the lounge, having a cup of tea. I can give you an unusual example, I suppose. The Forestry Commission did something a few years ago with The Gruffalo, and it’s an augmented reality thing.
Kelly Molson: Yes.
Andy Povey: So as a parent, you could sit your child on a tree trunk and hold up your phone, and the augmented reality would superimpose an image of the Gruffalo sitting next to your child. They pulled it within six months, because the parent is having this experience of looking at their child through a phone. Whereas the child’s sitting there going, “Well, mummy and daddy’s just on their phone again.”
Kelly Molson: “Where’s the Gruffalo?”
Andy Povey: “Mummy and daddy’s just on their phone again. What are we doing?”
Kelly Molson: Yeah.
Andy Povey: So in that situation it’s about getting back to reality, rather than being digital. So it’s a really fine line. At what point does an app, or a park map, or something like that, at what point does it enhance your visit, versus intruding on your visit?
Kelly Molson: Yeah, that’s a really good question. It’s really funny, because when you mentioned that, I was like, that’s a perfect example of this, how digital interacts with nature. But you’re right, aren’t you? Because the child doesn’t interact with it. They just see you pointing a phone at them again, or you interacting with your phone and not with them. I hadn’t considered that, and what message that actually sends out to them while they’re outside in nature as well.
Andy Povey: Yeah. And so I’m not a [inaudible 00:18:44] who’s going, no, no, digital should be nowhere near your experience. It should be there, and it should be enhancing. But actually really understand that it is enhancing. So if you talk to the guys from BeWILDerwood, I know there was a podcast with Hannah. They delight on the fact that you can’t get a mobile phone signal in Norfolk. Because you should put your phone away. You’re here to have a day out with the kids.
Kelly Molson: Yeah, that’s a really good point. I actually quite like it when I can’t get any mobile signal, because it means that I’m present.
Andy Povey: Yes, absolutely.
Kelly Molson: It means I’m not worrying about having to check something. I’m actually not even that concerned about, oh I needed to get this picture for the gram. I just forget about it if I’ve got no signal. It’s just not going to happen. One thing that we do have to think about though, from an online perspective, is about bookings.
So what we have seen, and again we’ve seen this in our attractions website survey that we’ve just published, is that bookings are increasing on mobile year, on year, on year, on year. So we do have to think about that pre-visit, and how easy we make it for people to book tickets. So actually, someone asked me this question on LinkedIn yesterday. What’s one of my top infuriations with attractions websites?
And I said for me, I’m often on my mobile phone when I’m doing things, because I’m out and about and I might be booking my tickets on a mobile phone. And I really hate when you’re forced to create an account before you can actually buy anything. And I’m like, “God, I’ve got literally five minutes before I get off the train, and onto the tube. And I’ve got no signal. And I’ve got to get this ticket. I don’t want to be creating an account right now.”
Andy Povey: No, no, no.
Kelly Molson: Just give me the ticket. I might get an account afterwards, but just give me the ticket.
Andy Povey: That was one of the things from your report, wasn’t it? The account creation is a massive turnoff to conversion. And for me, I never remember any of those passwords. So every time I go back to their store, I’m having to reset my password, because it’s just an absolute pain in the butt.
Kelly Molson: I’m with you. So there you go.
Andy Povey: Don’t do it.
Kelly Molson: Top tip from this podcast. Don’t make people do that.
Andy Povey: Yeah. Don’t do accounts.
Kelly Molson: Two very angry consumers here.
Andy Povey: Absolutely. 100%.
Kelly Molson: All right. So number three on our digital trends list is increasing loyalty. Now this is a big one, isn’t it? Right? So again, it’s interesting. So from a personal perspective, again, I was asked about memberships. We have a National Trust membership, it renews in January. I’ll absolutely be renewing it. It’s great value for money. It gives us so many places locally that we can go to. It’s not a free day out, but it’s a great day out, and we can take quite long.
Andy Povey: It feels like it.
Kelly Molson: It feels like a free day.
Andy Povey: Yeah.
Kelly Molson: Yeah. But do attractions need to think a bit more about that now? So should attractions be rewarding loyalty? So member perks for example? Or just small things that members get for being a member, that you couldn’t get unless you were a member?
Andy Povey: Absolutely. It’s almost those money-can’t-buy experiences. So it doesn’t necessarily cost the attraction anything to do these things. And you can go have a member exclusive event to walk a coaster track, or to a behind the scenes tour of something. But yeah, all right. It might cost you a couple of hours for a member of staff to put it on. Again, as we came out of COVID, the first people that came to your rotation, were your most loyal customers. They’ve come to see you as the first thing they can do.
So as an attraction, you have the opportunity to harness that loyalty, and turn these people into advocates. And that’s going to be your best marketing resource, where they’re recommending to people to come along to you. So if you can deepen that relationship by rewarding, by sharing, then absolutely you should do it.
Kelly Molson: Yeah. Yeah, yeah, yeah. It’s understanding what they want as well. So when we talk about delivering what they want, should attractions be surveying their members, and finding out what more they can give them? And again, it comes back to the data thing again, doesn’t it? How well do you know your audience? From a member’s perspective, are you actually giving them what they want?
Andy Povey: No, absolutely. And surveying’s great, but there’s so many other ways you can capture information about members and what they’re doing that isn’t actually going and asking them a question. It was interesting when we did the dynamic pricing consumer research. The responses that you get from people when they’re answering a survey aren’t necessarily what they’re doing in real life.
Kelly Molson: Interesting. Give us an example.
Andy Povey: There was, 30% of people believe the airlines aren’t charging dynamic prices. And I’m looking at this going, well, this can’t be right. This is obvious. But actually, if you dig into it a little bit more, and we did with the guys from Baker Richards. And it’s actually, the consumer’s not looking at the price changing. The consumer’s interested in the price they’re paying for the date and time that they want to get on the plane. It doesn’t matter that the price changes. It’s how much am I paying today? What’s my price now? That’s a very long winded way of answering your question about the value of surveys.
Kelly Molson: Yeah. No, it’s really important, isn’t it? So how else do you get to know your members? If surveys are giving us not quite the full picture, what other ways can we find out about-
Andy Povey: So if you are looking at app, then obviously you are tracking, or you have the ability to track where people are going, how they’re engaging, that kind of stuff. I was at IAAPA a couple of weeks ago in Orlando. And there’s guys there with a new product that’s actually harvesting location data from 200 different apps, and bringing all that, and presenting it back to you. Which I’m not a hundred percent sure that it is GDPR compliant, or [inaudible 00:24:44].
Kelly Molson: Is that okay though? I’m not sure about that.
Andy Povey: Yeah. But there it’s looking at where people are going, how long they’re staying there, and that kind of stuff. So that’s one example. Going back to what we do at Convious, we don’t capture addresses, postal addresses. Because we’re not interested in old school CRM. We’re not going to produce a mailing, a physical piece of paper and post it out to somebody. So why are you asking them to fill in all those fields with their address on?
Kelly Molson: That’s interesting. So even from a geographic perspective, it’s not always relevant to understand where your customers are traveling from.
Andy Povey: You can get all of that from the IP address that they’re coming from.
Kelly Molson: Sure.
Andy Povey: So obviously it’s really important to understand whereabouts in the country, and how far away your customers are from you, and that kind of stuff. But there are other ways to gathering that information, rather than traditional filling in. Back to your comment about filling in my address on the phone. Yeah, I’ve got fat fingers. I’m not going to type my address in on the phone.
Kelly Molson: And I’m busy.
Andy Povey: Yeah, yeah.
Kelly Molson: It’s not going to happen.
Andy Povey: Yeah, yeah. Yeah, yeah. Yeah.
Kelly Molson: All right. Yeah. No, I like that.
Andy Povey: Make it as simple as you possibly can for people.
Kelly Molson: Yeah, absolutely. And the data’s already there, so just gather it from the right place without giving people something else that they need to do. Good. Okay. All right. Well, our next one is about engagement, digital engagement. So digital engagement, from a marketing perspective, I always think about user generated content at this point. Because you’re asking your visitors, from an offline perspective, you’re asking them to engage with something that’s at your physical attraction, but then you then encouraging them to share that digitally.
So you’re getting that double exposure and, you’re also generating content from your users, which is invaluable for your marketing team. So that’s the thing that I always focus on from digital engagement. What other things can we ask attractions to focus on?
Andy Povey: A story someone told me many, many years ago was that their marketing guy actually ran a training session at this attraction, I can’t remember which one, for staff on how to take the best photos.
Kelly Molson: Oh that’s great. Yeah.
Andy Povey: You see a family, and mum or dad’s taking a picture of the other parent and the kids, obviously the member of staff is going to offer to take the photograph for them. That’s just human nature. That’s what we do. But if you’ve already identified the most memorable background to put these people in, then the member staff can just move them slightly. And it improves and increases the rate of those photos being uploaded and shared.
Kelly Molson: That’s such a small thing, isn’t it?
Andy Povey: Isn’t it?
Kelly Molson: But again, that’s genius. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Get a better picture for people. They’re more encouraged to share it. I love it. That’s so clever. I hadn’t even considered that. But again, that comes back to the people. People make places.
Andy Povey: Absolutely.
Kelly Molson: So you empower the people to make those things happen better for those guests. I love that. Yeah, great one. Okay. And then I guess reviews is something that’s really important about engagement. And how do we encourage people to leave reviews about the venues?
Andy Povey: It can be as simple as your post visit survey. Standard. Everyone’s doing them.
Kelly Molson: Ah, are they though? Are they though?
Andy Povey: Well, yeah okay. Everyone should be doing them.
Kelly Molson: Okay. Should be.
Andy Povey: Everyone should be doing them. And then you can have some intelligence sitting behind it, that if you get a lot of high scores, whatever, then direct the consumer over to the review site at the end of the review. If you’re getting some negative scores, then direct them to your customer service team and do something about it.
As human beings, we’re happy to share this kind of information, as long as we’re getting something back from it. It’s a transactional relationship at that point. So we talk a lot about harvesting data. But morally, you can’t do that if you’re not giving the consumer something back, and giving them a benefit for doing it. Back to your comment about accounts. What’s the point of me creating an account? What’s my benefit of doing this? There isn’t one. I’m just going to get annoyed about it.
Kelly Molson: This is the thing, actually. So most of the time when I’ve had to create an account to get my ticket, there hasn’t been any further interaction other than someone’s whacked me on their mailing list. And I’m probably going to unsubscribe from that mailing list, because I’m annoyed that I’ve had to make the account in the first place. So what is that benefit? Yeah. Think about if you are going to force people to do something, at least make it worthwhile for them than a newsletter. Just sticking them on the newsletter list is not going to cut it.
Andy Povey: Absolutely not. Absolutely not. And then for a long time I was on the Encore Hotels mailing list. I get an email from them a couple of times a week. And it started, Dear Povey, you-
Kelly Molson: Dear Povey.
Andy Povey: Dear Povey, you have got that so wrong. You cannot. Your CRM is so bad.
Kelly Molson: Can I tell you though? So sometimes when I have to sign up for stuff and I have to put my company name, I get emails to Dear Rubber. That’s not okay. I’m quite used to it, but it’s still not okay.
Andy Povey: No, no, no, no. So yeah. We’re talking a lot about examples of how not to do it, than how to do it better.
Kelly Molson: Well I think this is important, right?
Andy Povey: It is.
Kelly Molson: There may be attractions listening to this, going, “Oops, we might have done that. We might need to change that.” So it’s all relevant.
Andy Povey: Oh no, on a positive. I got an email from Father Christmas yesterday. It’s from an attraction we took the kids to last year to go and see Santa. And it’s the first mail I’ve had from that venue since visiting, so 12 months. So I’m not getting spammed. And you see Father Christmas arrive in your inbox.
Kelly Molson: Oh, that’s nice, isn’t it?
Andy Povey: It’s a very special moment. So that was very well done. Very well done.
Kelly Molson: Yeah, that’s really smart, isn’t it? If you’re just going to send one email a year, make sure it’s from Santa.
Andy Povey: Absolutely. Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.
Kelly Molson: Right. Let’s talk about pricing, because that’s our number five key digital trends for attractions. Now pricing’s really interesting. We’ve talked quite a lot about pricing recently. So we had Dominic on from Mary Rose, talking about pricing. We also had Simon Addison from Roman Baths, talking about pricing.
Andy Povey: Yes.
Kelly Molson: Let’s talk about dynamic pricing, because it’s something that we touched on just earlier when we were talking about the airlines and the surveys. So airlines use something called real time pricing. When a plane’s almost full, the airline company’s going to bump their prices up. Because they know they’re going to sell out, and they know that somebody really wants that ticket, because they have to get somewhere on a certain day at a certain time. So it’s a bit of a no-brainer for them. Is that something that attractions should be doing?
Andy Povey: I think so. And as an industry, we’ve talked about dynamic pricing for the past 20 years. And when I was Madame Tussaud’s, we implemented what then was peak and off-peak pricing. And so we changed the price of the ticket three times during the day. And actually, because we were very explicit about what the price was, we were stuck at this 1995 price point, and had been reluctant to change for a while. We actually increased our ticket yield by about 30%, whilst also increasing our value for money score, which seemed counterintuitive. And actually what was happening there was that the consumer was choosing how much they were going to pay.
So rather than being told what the price was, the consumer chooses. So naturally we are more comfortable about a situation, where we feel that we’ve had some choice. Dynamic pricing does that. Real time pricing, which is where we sit at Convious just makes that run much more efficiently, much more quickly.
So a lot of dynamic pricing consultancies out there at the moment will talk about changing prices every day, which if you think, generally people are buying tickets to an attraction three to five days before they visit. They’re only going to see three to five different price points. Whereas the way the modern world is going, or the way we are is, we’re changing prices, or we can change the price as a result of every single transaction.
Kelly Molson: Does that make it more difficult from an operational perspective, if you’re constantly changing your prices though? Is it harder to do your forecasting, for example, if that’s your price strategy?
Andy Povey: If you are forecasting on individual ticket price level, yeah, absolutely. So don’t do that.
Kelly Molson: Good advice.
Andy Povey: Yeah. So every attraction that I’ve ever worked in and around has a target yield, or a target ticket price to achieve. And we’ve been doing variable pricing through all the coupons that get put out on all the leaflet racks that you see on every motorway service station. So you can’t control how many of those coupons are coming back, and how much discount you’re going to get. So having much more control makes it easier for you to manage that, and get the computer to do it. Obviously if you’re sitting there changing the prices all the time, then yes, it’s going to be a nightmare.
Kelly Molson: Nobody wants that job.
Andy Povey: No. And the other thing on dynamic pricing is, we still get hooked up on the idea that dynamic means increased, and it doesn’t. If you’re doing it properly, then it doesn’t mean the price is going up necessarily. Obviously you get a better yield. But the guys at Pleasurewood Hills down in Lowestoft, they have a very transient market. So there are loads and loads of holiday parks in their area.
So Mondays and Fridays are change over days. So their total addressable market on a Monday and a Friday drops by 50%, because people are packing up and going home. So if you drop the price on a Monday and Friday, or drop the price on a Monday and Friday. Someone who may have come on Wednesday, is now going to come on Monday or Friday, have a much better experience, because venue’s not full. And so it smooths their demand. So there’s a lot of science behind it.
Kelly Molson: Yep. And that all comes back to data, what we started talking about, right?
Andy Povey: Absolutely.
Kelly Molson: Knowing-
Andy Povey: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Kelly Molson: Knowing where people are coming from, what they’re doing, how you can change their mindset about things just from the data.
Andy Povey: Yeah. And actually watching what they’re doing. So we have an artificial intelligence engine that sits behind what we’re doing. And it can monitor in real time what’s happening about your conversion rate. So if you put the price up by a pound and then your conversion rate drops by 5%, you’ve probably gone up too high. So drop it down a little bit. So just manage it better, I suppose, in summary.
Kelly Molson: I think that’s good advice for life in general, isn’t it Andy?
Andy Povey: Oh yeah. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Kelly Molson: Just manage it better.
Andy Povey: Just manage it better.
Kelly Molson: This has been a great chat, Andy. Thank you. I think there’s loads to take away from. So what we’re going to do in the show notes. So there will be links to all the blog articles that we’ve mentioned today about the digital trends. And I believe there is a webinar that you ran about dynamic pricing as well. And I believe that we might have a link to that too that we could share, which would be great. But Andy, we always end our podcast by asking our guests to share a book with us, something that they love or they’ve really enjoyed that they think our listeners would also like.
Andy Povey: So I’ve pondered this for a while, and I know that some of your previous people you’ve spoken to have got away with two.
Kelly Molson: Yeah.
Andy Povey: So I’ve got a request for two books.
Kelly Molson: Oh, God. Okay.
Andy Povey: One’s a business book. Really simple, about a half hour read. It’s called Who Moved My Cheese?
Kelly Molson: Good book.
Andy Povey: It’s one of my favorites when I first read it 20, 25 years ago, something like that, it really gave me a different way of looking at change. So I really recommend that. And the other one is actually a book I love reading to my kids, called Oi Dog!
Kelly Molson: Oi Dog! Great.
Andy Povey: Oi Dog! Yeah. So there’s a child in all of us. And that for me really just tickles all of my childish bones. Yeah.
Kelly Molson: Oh brilliant.
Andy Povey: So it works pretty well.
Kelly Molson: Well, both of those books are right up my street. So Who Moved My Cheese? Unsurprisingly within a company called Rubber Cheese, you won’t be surprised to know that somebody bought that for me when I set up the business. And that was nearly 20 years ago. So that was one of the first business books that I think that I ever read. And it did make a big difference about how you deal with change, and how you compartmentalise it into an easier way of dealing with. But Oi Dog! sounds right up my street. I’m going to put that on my list too? Right listeners-
Andy Povey: Absolutely.
Kelly Molson: So as ever, if you want to win a copy of Andy’s two books, then if you go over to our Twitter account, you can just search for Skip the Queue, and you retweet this podcast announcement with the words, “I want Andy’s books.” Then we’ll enter you into a draw to potentially win them. Andy, thank you. It’s been lovely to chat today. I’ve really, really enjoyed it. I’m sure I will see you out in events soon. And if I don’t see you-
Andy Povey: Absolutely.
Kelly Molson: Before, have a wonderful Christmas.
Andy Povey: And to you. Thank you very much, Kelly.
Do you know someone we should be talking to?
Do you know someone fascinating we should be talking to?
If so, email us at email@example.com – we’ll get back to you shortly.