1. Aquariums
  2. Technology
  3. Zoos
  4. Attractions Management
  5. Audience Engagement
  6. Attraction Management Software
  7. Attraction App

Creating emotional connections through
audience engagement.

Increasing revenue, loyalty and building lasting relationships using attraction management software.

In the immortal words of Bob Dylan: “How do you feel…?”

Ever wondered how those journeying through your visitor attraction feel about their experience and what the value of knowing this would be for your business?

In 2015, Scott Magids, Alan Zorfas and Daniel Leemon published an article in the Harvard Business Review about the New Science of Customer Emotions, which discussed a better way to drive growth and profitability. In it, they posited that “when a company connects with customers’ emotions, the payoff can be huge. Yet building such connections is often more guesswork than science.”

The same article goes on to admit that these companies have little idea of what really works and whether their efforts produce the desired results. However, recognising the value of these emotional connections, the authors set out to use ‘big data’ to create a lexicon of “emotional motivators” and monitor their desired profitable actions.

The report concludes that emotionally connected customers are more than twice as valuable as highly satisfied customers.

Whilst we agree with the undeniable fact that connecting with someone’s emotions is critical to forming a relationship with them, we respectfully dispute that the building of these connections is pure conjecture, that they cannot be measured, or that a dictionary of words alone can create that engagement.

In the visitor attraction sector, measuring audience reaction, perception, and the level of engagement is becoming ever more important in determining the commercial success of the venture. The question is how to create that engagement that results in long-lasting relationships that translate into revenue.

A solution that is steadily gaining traction in the attractions sector, is cloud-based Software as a Service (SaaS) audience engagement platforms (AEPs). These are out of the box plug and play attraction management software platforms that are a hybrid of content management and consumer marketing offerings. Together on one platform, the AEP is a powerful customisable tool to reach not only more people, but increase their engagement with your product – before, during and after their visit – and can lead to ongoing loyal relationships.

The AEP is also a key metric for gauging how your visitors feel about your overall offering, as well as specific aspects of your attraction, be it a museum, zoo, aqua, wildlife park, cultural heritage exhibit, and even town centres, festivals, and events.

The benefits of knowing
Understanding what your visitors think is useful in planning future exhibits, displays, or events, as well as in better curating existing content. Getting their immediate insights as to the value of a particular on-site talk/discussion they attended will provide honest evaluation of your efforts too.

In their HBR article, the authors share how, “after a major bank introduced a credit card for Millennials that was designed to inspire emotional connection, use among the segment increased by 70% and new account growth rose by 40%. Within a year of launching products and messaging to maximize emotional connection, a leading household cleaner turned market share losses into double-digit growth. And when a nationwide apparel retailer reoriented its merchandising and customer experience to its most emotionally connected customer segments, same-store sales growth accelerated more than threefold.”

Your attraction is also a consumer-focused brand and given the potential then, of increasing not only visitor ticket sales but onsite purchasing of merchandise and additional events, the importance of emotionally connecting to your visitors can significantly impact your revenue growth.

Emotionally connected visitors also tend to recommend your offering to their network, thus increasing the likelihood of more visitors experiencing your attraction. Moreover, a customer/visitor who is emotionally invested in what you are ‘selling’ is less likely to be price sensitive and therefore, more likely to not only increase spending but are also happy to support initiatives that may require some additional funding.

How to obtain this information that can create a strong bond
Now for the exciting bit. The AEP, which spins out into an app that mirrors your brand, is a dynamic, intelligent, and interactive system through which to present content, gather live data, and turn that data into powerful real time insights that promote engagement.

We’ve written several blogs about what the n-gage.io audience engagement platform can offer and how it works, but here is a snapshot of how it could help you create an emotional connection with your audience and build long-term engagement.

Let’s start.

If creating emotional connections relies on knowing your customers, then one of the best and fastest ways to determine what your audience thinks about your offering, is to ask them. But, in today’s fast-paced world of lean operations, visitor churn, and on-the-go to-do lists, there is little time or manpower available to stand and ask every single visitor a round of questions, then tabulate their responses into some form of sensible and useful data.

Digital, however, can overcome many of these downsides. The audience engagement platform (AEP), which allows attraction and event operators the ability to upload all manner of multimedia content – as deep and as rich as they like – can serve this content to visitors via the automatically configured visitor experience app.

Once installed on the visitor’s mobile phone, you can start tracking them (legitimately) around your attraction, beginning the journey of discovery as to how each visitor engages and interacts in the physical realm.

The tracking that takes place is enabled through the mobile phone’s active GPS synchronised with the app. Each phone has a unique signature, and this is beamed out to the world but only recognised and collected to enabled/permitted parameters. A lot of words to explain that your phone emits a signal, it is automatically detected by the attraction management software, which can then determine through mechanisms such as ‘heat mapping’, where you spent most of your time, and where you didn’t of course.

This is what we in the industry call ‘dwell’ time and it is a valuable metric for attractions to understand how their visitors behave.

The why, is where we come in, because, right here, right now, this is where you as the operator can send a specific visitor a quick hello and ask them if they enjoyed a certain exhibit. This is also a personalised communication as it's addressed to the phone owner and not a random, ‘dear sir or madam’ so immediately; you have started a connection. That initial question can be followed up with another – but not too many otherwise you begin to impede on their experience.

These initial questions and answers start to form a picture and help to lay the groundwork for future engagements, driven by the platform’s AI and ML programming.

For example, let’s say I brought my 9-year-old grand-daughter to the wildlife park and stopped by the giraffe enclosure. We watch a mother giraffe encourage her young one to eat or stand-up or play. We’re entranced by the interaction between them, and we spend some time observing them. We then move on to another exhibit, not necessarily as engaging and so we keep going.

The audience engagement platform has already registered – through the app – that I spent some time at a particular exhibit, but curiosity being what it is, the AEP has been programmed to send me a prompt to find out why. It also sends me some additional information about giraffes, especially about this young calf and even a video of when it was first born, which I can share with my grand-daughter and my family.

This is all content I wouldn’t have otherwise had access to, as the display board at the giraffe enclosure can only share so much. I’m quite naturally captivated by this and feeling great, and even share the information with others.

I’ve become emotionally connected to the baby giraffe and now eagerly anticipate updates, which I receive even after I’ve left the wildlife park. Sometime later, I’m personally invited to come and meet the little feller up close and personal, and of course, I accept, having stored the information in the ‘plan my day’ section of the wildlife park’s app. We’ve now created a bond.

The app, powered by the AEP, also helps visitors navigate around the attraction, trigger more on-site content through proprietary beacon triggering, as well as providing operators (you the attractions), with the opportunity to create even more fun and interactive ways to get your visitors to engage and create memorable experiences – how about a clue-based treasure hunt, or a mystery tour of discovery that initiates a reward and recognition programme?

This is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg, because the more sophisticated your app becomes, as in the more data it gathers and interprets, the more detailed and targeted your communications with your visitors will become. Serving people content, they want at a time that suits them has been shown to enhance the overall experience and sets the foundations for a mutually beneficial relationship.

The visitor experience does not need to end when the visitor leaves, in fact, with the audience engagement platform, it’s only the beginning.

Want to start your emotional journey with your visitors? Then please get in touch, or request a demo.

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