Culture

Why your visitor attraction needs a digital annual pass system

Seamless, stress-free and stat-friendly – we take a closer look at why your visitor attraction needs a digital annual pass system.

We know a thing or two about digitising annual passes.

Last year, we untangled a massive historical systems-knot for Eureka! The National Children’s Museum, which comprised of paper-based annual pass records and a challenging booking system.

Our aim was simple – trade in the manual annual pass process for an automated and digitised solution, all while alleviating nerves around taking such a momentous step.

In layman’s terms, we wanted to move everything online without causing mass panic.

Why did we want to do this?

Well, previously Eureka! team members had to manage and create annual passes by hand. As you can imagine, this took a lot of time and caused long waits of up to an hour during busy periods. Despite our British resilience and familiarity with queues, this frustrated visitors and employees greatly.

In fact, once we moved Eureka’s pass system online, their online booking conversion rate increased by 24.5%!

(You can read about this project in more detail on our work page.)

Eureka! The National Children's Museum website on an Ipad

Saving resources and reducing queue times are reasons enough to consider a digital annual pass system. However, they aren’t the only perks for attractions and their guests – we explore some of the additional benefits below.

Benefits of having a digital annual pass system for attractions

More customer data

Digital annual passes allow you to collect more customer data, which leads to a better understanding of your guest’s online and on-site behaviours.

For example, you could monitor:

  • Frequency of visits at certain times of year
  • Frequency of visits at specific times of day
  • Age of people who visit
  • Number of recurring visits
  • If the attraction has a check-out, the average length of stay

Some passes allow customers a discount on food, drink and merchandise. In this case, venues could also track WHAT visitors are buying and WHEN.

Taking this one step further, certain attractions (think museums or theme parks) may require visitors to use their annual passes (via an app, card or wristband) to scan into rides or exhibitions. By doing this, they can track a guest’s movement around the venue and decipher what elements of the attraction are most popular. If this sounds farfetched, just take a look at Disney’s MagicBand case study.

The future is here, people.

All this data allows you to anticipate the guest’s needs and streamline your marketing and operational strategies.

For example, you can upsell in-demand products at peak times, ensure there are enough employees at particularly busy shops or restaurants and re-route guests to reduce queue times and crowding.

Disney Magic Band

More opportunities to communicate with customers via email marketing, SMS and feedback tools

Purchasing an annual pass digitally creates another avenue, alongside an online booking system, for attractions to collect a guest’s contact information.

This information, specifically email addresses, can potentially be used to keep visitors up-to-date with the latest promotions and events. It can also be used to ask guests for feedback regarding their experience, so venues can identify areas that need improvement.

Encourages recurring visits

A person is more likely to repeat visits if they have paid for a year’s access up-front – we all like value for money.

Every time a guest returns, their brand loyalty increases dramatically, which means more recommendations for your venue as well as in-attraction spend.

A crowd of people taking photos of an exhibition

Provides opportunities to upsell products and promotions

If a person is buying an annual pass, they’re likely to be receptive to additional products, services or promotions that’ll enhance their experience.

Many attractions offer discounts on dining, merchandise and special events alongside annual passes, and report great success in doing so. After all, if the guest plans on coming back, these special offers only work to their advantage.

If a company has enough attractions to push, they can start to upsell the annual pass itself by dividing it into tiers. The more expensive options might include extra access options and incentives (unlimited skip the queues, priority entry, free parking, free drinks etc.).

A chance to work with other organisations and offer cross promotions

Big companies, like Merlin Entertainments, cross-promote attractions through their annual passes and monthly memberships. For example, with a Merlin annual pass, you receive access to 32 attractions, including Alton Towers Resort, SEA LIFE, LEGOLAND® Windsor Resort and the London Eye.

This is a great way for venues that aren’t performing so well to piggyback off the success of their more popular siblings.

However, it’s not just big players like Merlin who benefit from cross-promotion. Smaller or mid-size venues could partner with other organisations who have the same target market.

For instance, a Yorkshire art gallery and tour provider could work together and package their services to appeal to history fanatics and culture-vultures. Their digital annual passes could include entrance to both venues and discounts on local heritage events.

People riding a rollercoaster

Environmentally friendly

This one’s self-explanatory – less paper = happy planet.

Easier backend management

Digital annual passes are, without a doubt, easier to manage than clunky, paper-based systems.

Let’s take Eureka! as an example…

Before opening, employees spent an hour or so writing passes to sell throughout the day. When a person bought a pass, their details needed manually inputting into an unwieldy till system. This database lacked an advanced search option, so it took a considerable amount of time for employees to search through customer details if they needed to.

Once we digitised the process, by developing a bespoke annual pass system that worked in conjunction with their existing ePos system – Gamma, employees were able to order details by age, location, name and more.

We also made everyone’s lives easier by building a simple and responsive interface for the front-of-house team to use on tills and IPads. Now, employees can efficiently manage annual pass requests.

In general, a digital annual pass system removes the hard work for attractions. It allows guests to activate their passes and complete their profiles from home. It also sends automated messages to guests reminding them to provide missing information or renew their passes.

Improved security

Without a digital system, it’s difficult to monitor who is actually using an annual pass (unfortunately, it’s quite common for people to share passes without the venue’s knowledge).

Venues can eradicate fraudulent behaviour when customer details are stored online with an accompanying profile picture and number of guests registered to a pass.

Annual pass process

Benefits of having a digital annual pass system for customers

Special perks

Annual passes come with a treasure chest of fancy perks and special offers, such as priority or unlimited entry, discounts on food, photos or merchandise and skip the queue access. What’s more, these benefits are often included at a discounted rate.

What’s not to love?

A better all-round experience, depending on how innovative the annual pass is

Remember when we spoke about the benefits of collecting customer data for tourist attractions? Well, it works both ways.

Depending on how innovative the annual pass is, attractions could anticipate your needs and intervene as issues arise in real-time.

For instance, as part of the annual pass sign-up process, you may have to complete a profile where you create a wishlist for the day. From here, attractions could direct you to shows, rides or exhibitions you’ve specifically expressed an interest in and show you relevant promotions. It means they can create a totally unique experience for you.

People taking photos of an art exhibition

More intuitive for the computer-savvy generation

Paper-based annual passes aren’t very 21st century – they certainly don’t prioritise the millennial need for speed and ease. Digital passes, on the other hand, are more intuitive – you can purchase, amend and renew them remotely and quickly.

This ease-of-use isn’t just good for guests – it also benefits tourist attractions that are trying to attract a younger audience.

Security

As discussed, venues can assign a profile picture to an annual pass if done digitally, which means nobody can use your annual pass if you accidentally lose it.

 

Switching to a digital annual pass system will have a phenomenal impact on your business.

We’re not just saying that – we have hard proof. Once we moved Eureka’s pass system online, their online booking conversion rate increased by 24.5%!

If you want to digitise your annual pass process, just get in touch today and we can help.

 

Image credits: Medium, Unsplash, Unsplash and Unsplash.

Paul Wright.
Author:
Paul Wright Creative Director

Wag is the Co-Founder and Creative Director of Rubber Cheese. He has over 18 years of experience working in digital, and he merges his knowledge and hands-on approach to manage projects for global brands such as Pernod Ricard and Chivas Brothers.

He began his career as a brand and web designer, and his passion for all things design still thrives today. He describes himself as a champion of intuitive, user-friendly design, and his keen eye for detail is as strong as ever!

As a business owner and digital expert, he has a unique ability for finding and understanding the challenges that businesses face. He loves nothing more than using his creativity, knowledge and experience to develop BIG solutions.

Read more about me

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