22 May 2018 Attractions Management Handbook
 

HOME
VIEW DIGITAL EDITION
CONTENTS
PROFILES
BUY HANDBOOK
JOBS
NEWS
BLOG
PRODUCTS
ADVERTISE
CONTACT US
Sign up for FREE ezine
Current issue
Attractions Management Handbook
Current issue

View this issue online
Buy print edition
Download PDF

Previous issues
Attractions Management Handbook
2016/2017 issue

View issue contents
View this issue online
Download PDF
Attractions Management Handbook
2015 issue

View issue contents
View this issue online
Download PDF
Attractions Management Handbook
2014 issue

View issue contents
View this issue online
Download PDF
Attractions Management Handbook
2013 issue

View issue contents
View this issue online
Download PDF
Attractions Management Handbook
2012 issue

View issue contents
View this issue online
Download PDF
Attractions Management Handbook
2011 issue

View issue contents
View this issue online
Attractions Management Handbook
2010 issue

View issue contents
View this issue online
Attractions Management Handbook - Attractions in Motion

Mintel

Attractions in Motion


Mintel’s senior leisure analyst John Worthington looks at the key issues arising in the UK visitor attractions market as well as the future outlook

John Worthington, Mintel
SEA LIFE London Aquarium’s new augmented reality Frozen Planet © Vusiem Ltd
Face to Face interactive walk-through experience uses scent, sound and visual effects
Vusiem’s Museum App makes the visitor experience easier, smarter, faster and more fun
The Kynren live-action show launched in the UK this summer combines entertainment with learning
Galactica at Alton Towers is the first ride in the world to combine a flying-style coaster with VR
Safari Glamping is the latest after-hours revenue stream at Chessington World of Adventures

The steady long-term growth trend in UK visitor attractions continues. Total visits to attractions increased by an estimated 3.5 per cent in 2015 following a 4.4 per cent rise seen in 2014. Over the past five years visits have risen by an estimated 16.5 per cent. Inbound tourism growth – one of the key drivers – is now stalling but domestic tourism had a better year in 2015 and the core domestic days out market remains solid. Two thirds of UK adults visited at least one type of attraction in the 12 months ending September 2015, on a par with the previous two years, and underlining the importance of this sector to the UK leisure economy (see Table 1).

APP APPEAL
New technology is being continuously developed, giving attractions ever-more opportunities to engage visitors at a deeper level – and throughout the entire ‘visitor journey’. Mintel’s exclusive research (see Table 2) shows that one in 10 visitors to attractions have used an app on a smartphone or tablet as an interactive guide during the past 12 months, rising to around one in five of those aged 25-44. Some 36 per cent of these app users visit attractions at least once a month (versus 23 per cent of all visitors). Meanwhile, 61 per cent of these app users have returned to an attraction they have been to before (versus 42 per cent of all visitors).

As many as 69 per cent of these app users have bought a meal at an attraction (compared to 48 per cent of all visitors), 56 per cent have bought a souvenir (versus 36 per cent overall) and 18 per cent have paid extra for fast-track entry (compared with seven per cent overall).

One in five visitors to historical/cultural attractions say they’d “be more likely to visit an attraction if the visit was more interactive (e.g. virtual reality facilities, touchscreens etc)’ – rising to a quarter of non-family and a third of family visitors.

Mintel’s research shows that those who use apps when visiting attractions have significantly higher levels of engagement, interest and secondary spend. It is hard to separate cause from effect here of course: are these visitors already more highly engaged (and therefore engaged enough to use an app), or does usage of the app itself help to further raise their level of engagement? The answer is perhaps a bit of both. Either way, by promoting the use of apps as interactive tools to get the most out of venues, attractions can also build long-term and more personalised relationships with these highly engaged visitors before, during and after their stay.

The growing use of mobile apps in conjunction with Beacon technology has growing relevance in the attractions market as a way to engage and inform visitors, provide richer interaction and – especially for family visitors – ‘gamify’ exhibits. But apps can also be used before and after visits to communicate new exhibits, displays, rides, experiences, deals and exclusive events. By involving app users in this way, attractions are fostering a sense of belonging as well as acquiring invaluable information about visitor preferences and behaviour.

Meanwhile the emerging use of virtual reality (VR) or augmented reality (AR) technology is opening up new horizons for attractions. Used in conjunction with physical environments, VR is becoming a key tool in the armoury of attractions seeking to create deeply ‘immersive experiences’ – the buzz-phrase of the moment. At the same time, as boundaries blur between reality and fantasy, and as technology plays a growing part in mediating our experience of attractions, this is also likely to give rise to a counter-trend: a greater appreciation of the value and authenticity of ‘live’ experiences – the ‘real world’ of the physical senses, the built environment, tech-free human interaction and the natural world.

EDUTAIN & GAMIFY
Cultural and historical attractions are well positioned to deliver immersive education. Almost half of visitors to these attractions prefer those that “relate specifically to a personal interest/passion like a particular historical period or artist”. Among visitors to cultural/ historical attractions, 51 per cent of family group, 31 per cent of non-family group, 33 per cent of third agers and 26 per cent of retirees prefer those that “combine learning with entertainment, like simulated historical events”.

Research by Mintel in June 2015 shows that 63 per cent of Baby Boomers (aged 51-69) and 77 per cent of the Swing Generation group (aged 70+) prefer to spend their leisure time “Keeping my mind active. such as learning something new, doing puzzles/crosswords” as a preferred activity, compared with around 36 per cent of younger adult generations.

Cultural/historical attractions should offer different pathways, using a ‘gamification’ approach for many family (and some non-family) visitors and move away from entertainment for other groups.

But while the dominant trend has clearly been towards the ‘entertainment’ end of the spectrum over recent years, Mintel’s research is a reminder that, for many visitors, attractions have a serious learning appeal. Organisations and venues could look for ways to embed site visits within a wider rolling programme of learning, using guest lecturers, behind-the-scenes tours etc. The growing use of digital technology such as virtual tours also offers the chance for attractions to open up their contents and in-house expertise to a wider, global audience.

Attractions could combine with course providers in subject areas like art history, genealogy and practical horticulture to deliver hands-on learning programmes, short modular courses or more structured long-term programmes. The space being opened up by heavy cuts in adult education services and rising higher education tuition fees could offer heritage/cultural attractions an opportunity as alternative providers, particularly for mature learners.

Mintel’s consumer research shows that the over-50s set a very high value on learning and mental stimulation. As Baby Boomers enter retirement, the population ages and people seek new ways to rejuvenate themselves and meet like-minded people, attractions with a learning element could become increasingly valuable social resources, while providing alternative revenue streams for venues.

CLOUDS ON THE HORIZON
The attractions market remains on a steady upward growth curve in terms of visitor volume and spend. There are two possible clouds on the horizon for 2016: inbound tourism growth appears to have finally stalled, and the long staycation boom may finally end if the strong revival of overseas holidays seen during 2015 continues. However, current macroeconomic factors within the UK support consumer spending on days out which should help to compensate for these possible problems.

Britain is developing an event-driven culture where high-profile, time-limited and heavily marketed blockbuster exhibits and must-see attractions play increasingly important roles, while social media contributes to a sense of “Fear Of Missing Out” as a key driver of visitor behaviour.

As attractions seek new revenue streams and ways to engage with visitors, there is growing potential for “after-hours” themed events and sleepovers, adult learning opportunities, family “edutainment” opportunities at museums and heritage attractions, and even the incorporation of a live music festival vibe into theme parks and attractions.

Table 1

 


Table 2

 



About the author:

 

John Worthington
 

Since joining Mintel in 2005, John Worthington has researched and written reports on UK travel and leisure markets. Previously, John worked for Deloitte as the research manager of their tourism, hospitality and leisure practice.

www.mintel.com



Originally published in Attractions Handbook 2016 issue 1

Published by The Leisure Media Company, Portmill House, Portmill Lane, Hitchin, Herts SG5 1DJ. Tel: +44 (0)1462 431385 | Contact us | About us | Advertise | © Cybertrek Ltd