They say that the funfair is neither fun, nor fair, but it seems to be particularly true for theme park goers, with 95% of them claiming they would spend more if they could download a dedicated park app that featured masses of functionality and helped beat queues.
While many parents may wonder if it is actually possible to spend more than they already do at theme parks, the study finds that in the UK, 91% will open their wallets if a park app has the right features, while across the US, China, Hong Kong and Japan, the figure is even higher – 97%. Globally, 84% want an app enabling them to order food and drinks ahead so they can avoid queuing, while 78% want an app that allows them to scan and pay for food or merchandise and bypass time-wasting tills and kiosks.
The figures are part of the Omnico Theme Park Mobile Barometer, surveying 3,362 people globally in the UK, US, China, Hong Kong and Japan who have visited a theme park in the last two years. 702 UK visitors responded to the survey.
Being able to beat queues is the main reason for downloading an app for two-thirds of respondents (68%) around the world. More than six-in-ten (61%) view the ability to receive exclusive offers and rewards as an incentive and 50% want loyalty programme benefits.
The demand for wide-ranging functionality is also reflected in the 50% who want to use an app to organise their whole visit in advance and the 48% who want real-time information about on-site events and shows.
“Our research proves that apps are becoming essential to the enjoyment of a park but that visitors will only download them if they contain valuable functionality,” explains Mel Taylor, CEO, Omnico. “Park operators with poorly-designed, clunky apps that don’t supercharge convenience risk losing out on substantial revenues from tech-savvy consumers.”
The commercial value of apps is revealed in the 52% of Chinese, Hong Kong and Japanese respondents, 51% of US and 48% of British visitors who said they will spend more during or after a visit if they receive offers relating to their next visit.
While 46% in the UK will open their wallets if they can turn accumulated loyalty points into spending value, in the US this increases to 49% and in Hong Kong, China and Japan, the figure is 52%. Loyalty points are also important for encouraging retention of apps after visits, especially for Japanese guests. 65% in Japan will keep an app on their smartphone if it has loyalty points stored and ready to use, compared with an average 53% of global visitors.
More than four-in-ten Brits (42%) say they will spend more if they can avoid queues for food and merchandise by paying for items using in-app payment technology, along with 44% in the US, 48% in Japan, and 52% in China. In Hong Kong there is slightly less enthusiasm (39%).
Yet although visitors in the countries surveyed want to be sent notifications, an average 46% would delete an app if they received too many, or the offers were irrelevant, highlighting the importance for park operators of customer-centric technology. The figure was 55% in Japan, compared with 42% in the UK.
“Parks’ apps must be supported by effective customer-engagement platforms,” added Taylor. “Apps will only meet visitors’ expectations to be a ‘theme-park-in-their-pocket’ and provide sustained revenue-increases if visitors are recognised as individuals at every touchpoint and the level of interaction is highly personalised.”