Package-Promote & Prosper! Part Two

Package, Promote, and Prosper! Part Two

Package, Promote, and Prosper!

Part Two: Promote It to Arriving Guests

There are two types of attractions-midway attractions and destination attractions. Midway attractions are often positioned along a busy thoroughfare or as part of a greater destination attraction. For example, if you've ever been to Times Square in New York City, you know that it is one of the highest-trafficked tourist attractions in the nation. In fact, on its busiest days, greater than 480,000 pedestrians pass through Times Square. Madame Tussauds, one such attraction in the midst of Times Square, focuses its' efforts on attracting just a fraction of this foot traffic into their point of sale lobby. Midway attractions often hire real people, called promoters, to work the passers-by, engaging them in conversation, generating enthusiasm, and creating a personal "call to action" that is designed to drive more passers-by to enter.

In contrast, destination attractions do not live and breathe by the number of passers by they can draw inside. Visitors to destination attractions make an intentional decision to visit. The Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World (and any of its other three theme parks) is a prime example of this. Through their marketing, advertising, brand recognition, and promotional initiatives, the Magic Kingdom welcomes millions of visitors every year. Visitors simply decide to go. Destination attractions come in all shapes and sizes too. They can be zoos, aquariums, museums, science centers, or entertainment complexes. The type of attraction doesn't matter--only the intent of the guest does.

When arriving guests visit a destination attraction, the initial decision--to go or not to go--is already decided and because of this, the next decision--to purchase a ticket to enter (or not) is also already decided: Yes! We want to go. This is an important point and it bears repeating. Arriving guests to a destination attraction have already committed themselves to the basic experience. The general admission ticket is a done deal...anything above general admission is an opportunity to sell more.

Last week, we discussed the importance of creating admission products and packages with curb appeal (click here for Part One). In this article, we focus on how to best promote premium offerings to arriving guests. With respect to midway attractions, some of the best practices outlined below may require some adjustment. Because these guests may have only just decided to enter the attraction, it's more difficult to layer additional offerings above and beyond basic admission--especially when the promoter out front often bases their offer primarily on price. But midway attractions can engineer both their guest arrival experience and the message delivered by their promoters to reflect many of the concepts that I have shared below.

Set the Stage. Imagine this. You've arrived at the aquarium. You park your car, walk the sidewalk and stand at the foot of the massive stairway that leads to the entrance. You climb the stairs, pass through the double doors, and make your way into a glorious entry hall. In the distance, you recognize the point of sale counter, observe the ticket queue, and take notice of the pricing signage that is positioned directly above the ticket counter. This is the guest arrival sequence and, regardless of size, all attractions have one. Guests most commonly arrive at an attraction via public transportation or in their own private car. Arriving guests can be exposed to a variety of experiences before reaching the point of sale. From the moment our arriving guests set foot on our property, the show is on and it's up to us to control every aspect of what our guests experience. Here are a few keys to ensuring a well-designed guest arrival sequence.

  • Where do I go? A well-designed guest arrival sequence makes it easy for people to find their way. It is designed to direct arriving guests to exactly where they need to be (i.e. school groups to the group check-in desk, members to the member entrance, pre-ticketed guests to the will call counter, and everyone else to the point of sale) in an orderly and efficient manner. In my experience, I find that the guests become the most confused on either extremely slow days or extremely busy days. In both situations, we can alleviate this confusion by taking a stroll through the eyes of our guests. We need to see what they see, identify where the trouble areas are, and make the changes needed to ensure that the guest arrival sequence is smooth and seamless.
  • Why is this place so dirty? Cleanliness matters. A neat and clean attraction sends a message to arriving guests about the nature of what's to come. When arriving guests see trash all over the ground, brown landscape, and chipped paint, guests begin to expect less and, as a result, are inclined to grasp their wallets a little tighter. In contrast, a sparkling guest arrival sequence sets the stage for a great first impression. If the guest arrival sequence is clean, the rest of the experience should be as well.
  • Time and Place! The physical point of sale booth is often a magnet for unnecessary information: Hours of operation, rules and regulations, alcohol policy, group sales information, price menus, conservation messages, and more. There's often no rule, law, or ordinance that this information must be posted at the point of sale. The cluttered look of our point of sale counter often evolves over time. Fortunately, much of this information can be relocated to another location where guests can still observe it without it impacting the point of sale. TMI means Too Much Information and it's a sales killer. When our guests arrive on property, it can be an overwhelming experience for them. Our job is to communicate enough information to get them excited without going overboard. Less is more.

Focus Their Attention. It's all about promoting just the right message to arriving guests before they reach the point of sale counter. We want to plant the seeds for what's to come, instilling in our guests the expectations and anticipation of experiences that they hope to gain from today's visit. Guest arrival messages should be designed to catch the eye and connect with these expectations. The right message also servers to educate guests in advance of the point of sale which has the added benefits of both reducing transaction time and eliciting more YES responses (as in "Yes, count me in!") when we offer a package.

The right message should pop, plain and simple. Its imagery should be so powerful and so compelling that it will stop people in their tracks. Then, the call to action invites them to participate. Finally, the product name that is listed toward the bottom of the image connects the experience to a physical package that is available at the point of sale. Here is some additional detail on each of the three components of the right message.

  • Image. A picture is worth a thousand words; likewise, choosing the right image to represent a package might just be worth millions. Last week, I referenced Discovery Cove at SeaWorld as a great example of how the right image can be used to reflect what's in the box for a particular package or product. But the right image doesn't come easily. Oftentimes, getting the perfect shot means that we hire a professional photographer to make it happen. The perfect shot should be designed to communicate both what the package experience includes and how it will impact our visit. For example, an all-day line pass, might be framed to show a group of happy guests wearing a special wristband as they bypass a long line of guests. The happy guests smile broadly as they display their wristbands to the attraction attendant. The image you select needs to tell the story, convey emotion, and elicit a desire to participate.
  • Hook. In addition to a powerful image, the right message includes a call to action, or a hook, that invites arriving guests to join in. At Jungle Island in Miami, we created a Critter Encounter Day Pass that included three different animal experiences along with General Admission. This gave us the flexibility to promote the package in three different ways. We could then share the Kangaroo experience by showing a face-to-face encounter between a kangaroo and a young child and link it to the tagline--Get Up Close Today. An effective hook invites arriving guests to participate in the experience.
  • Connection. While the hook serves as the call to action, connection is the bridge that ties the physical package or admission product to the experience. When we can associate the emotional aspect of an experience to a particular product or family of products, arriving guests have an easier time recalling the emotion of the experience when the product is presented once again at the point of sale.

Arriving guests at a destination attraction are, for all intents and purposes, a captive audience. They aren't going anywhere but IN. Our ability to package value and to promote effectively leads directly to prolonged health for the attraction. When we can reduce the clutter, focus the message, and generate excitement, package sales are set to soar! Next week, we'll discuss how to prosper with the right mix of sales training, coaching, and accountability.

Have a great week!

"Brevity is the soul of wit."

- William Shakespeare