Click to Buy

Last week, I bought my daughter a new Smartphone for her birthday. To protect her new device, we immediately went online to browse for and purchase a new phone case. After looking at several options, she and I selected a sturdy, stylish black and pink case. She liked the colors, I liked the ruggedness! Overall, the entire purchase experience--browsing for, selecting, and processing payment--took less than five minutes. As I reflect back on what made the purchase process so incredibly easy, there were three distinct elements:

1) the site was easy to navigate
2) images were engaging and
3) the process of finalizing payment was effortless
In our world, an attraction's online ticket purchase process can be just as engaging and effective as the experience I shared above.  Done right, an effective web store has the potential not only to positively impact revenue growth but to drive additional in-park spending.  Why?  Because buying tickets in advance--especially days in advance--of a visit is money that doesn't go against a guest's in-park experience budgeting.  It's a proven fact that guests will spend more on retail, food, and other ancillary products if they buy their admission tickets in advance.

When designing your online ticket purchase process, here are a few helpful tips that  
Keep it Stupid Simple. I love to say small, bite-size pieces.  Your website needs to be easy to read, easy to navigate, and easy to buy tickets. Take for example--they're masters of this. They offer hundreds of thousands of product listings, yet you only see the ones you're looking for. Amazon uses a search bar and category filters to make it easy for the user to drill down to a specific line or family of products. On top of that, Amazon doesn't just list all of the products returned from the search in one enormous data dump. Product listings are presented in small bursts--a listing of 20-24 products per page--which require the user to click to see more.  Arranging products in smaller, controlled listings makes it easier for the user to process information without becoming overwhelmed.
Product Sorting. Giving users the ability to sort allows for more convenience and less frustration.  At Amazon, you have the option to sort by most popular, consumer rating, price (High to Low) and Price (Low to High).  We can do the same thing in our online ticket stores. By collecting email addresses and giving our guests the ability to rate their experience (post visit), we can assign guest ratings to our products and then allow them to be sorted online.  Then, just as Amazon does, we can present our products using Top-Rated and by Most Popular ordering--techniques that are proven to generate additional revenue growth.
Product Filters. By categorizing our product offerings and grouping each category onto a tabbed set of web pages for easier browsing. We can arrange our products with intuitively named tabs, for example: Single Day Admission, Membership or Annual Pass, Camps and Education, Special Events, and Retail Items. Then, from tabbed product listings and specific category pages, we can link to each of these tabs from our home page and our informational pages. For example, let's say that you have a Membership page that includes each of your Membership products, listed From Best-to-Basic. You might create a specific link that filters to only your Family line of membership products and another for your Grandparent line of products. By doing this, you can drive specific clicks for purchase directly from your informational pages.
What's In the Box? Show me, don't just tell me. Design a compelling visual representation of what a product looks like or how it will manifest itself to you. I always think back to my experience at Jungle Island in Miami and how we could effectively convey what the Lemurs! Up Close Day Pass was like. The best representation was a child smiling from ear to ear because a Lemur was perched on his head. People want to be emotionally engaged. They want to quickly look at an image, understand, and make a decision-buy it or move on. When the decision to buy can be triggered by an emotional response such as in the Lemur example, you're going to sell more tickets.  Feature your products with accompanying imagery that encapsulates what's in the box.
Pass On Service Fees.  If you use an online ticketing provider to host your web sales, you might be paying a per ticket use fee as part of your annual agreement. Your online service should also allow you to pass this fee on to the web user as a convenience fee. The beauty of doing this is that we are all accustomed to seeing and accepting handling and processing fees and we generally do not consider such fees when we are calculating ticket costs and comparing savings to the competition.  Get creative and try it.  Keep an ear to the ground, listen for any grumbling, and watch your web sales soar.
Close the Sale Quickly. It's essential to position your shopping cart icon visibly on your website. In general, this icon should be situated at the top, right hand corner of the screen and be visible and navigable on every site page. This allows for users who may have become sidetracked after adding items to their cart to quickly and easily return to the cart and to process payment.
Have a great week!

"We begin to change the world when we stimulate long-term prosperity using technology. There is not a problem that's large enough that innovation and entrepreneurship can't solve."

- Naveen Jain