By Laarnie David on 5/12/20 8:00 AM
As with most other industries in the world today, digitalization has become very important in the leisure business. While this can mean many very different things, the general idea is that various digital technologies and applications can help companies to meet modern consumers’ expectations and keep up with the latest modes of societal engagement. But where specifically should those in the leisure industry look to adopt?
In talking with our partners and engaging with various players within the leisure industry, we've identified five specific strategies that are helping forward-looking companies to better engage with the markets they serve.
1. Integrating Artificial Intelligence
Artificial intelligence is already employed in a massive range of industries, and leisure is certainly no different. That said, it’s hard to pin down just one application of AI, or even a primary one. There are many forms AI can take in various usage scenarios.
Let's have a look at the marketing front, where AI can be used to gather information about customers to better identify a company’s target demographics. In customer service, it can recognise the customer's patterns and recommend shows, events, destinations, or much more based on their past purchases or profile information.
AI can even be the root of the features used on a website or chatbots that can help guide customers to the experiences they’re looking for.
Altogether these kinds of functions can drastically improve a leisure business’s efficiency reaching and catering to customers.
2. Dynamic Pricing
Dynamic pricing is essentially another function of artificial intelligence in today’s leisure businesses, but it’s specific and important enough to merit its own mention here. It's something that we have discussed before, but to recap, let's discuss the basics.
Essentially, dynamic pricing is the process of a company allowing algorithms to take over the task of using data to price products and services.
Determining prices manually can be tricky, as it’s hard to know where to draw the line between maximising profits and satisfying customers. By employing data and analytics, however, a company can let the algorithm essentially comb the internet for any and all relevant information — competitor prices, customer tendencies, etc. — and couple the information with your business goals to calculate your prices accordingly. This essentially means that the prices should strike the best balance between what customers are willing to pay, and what you need to earn. Within the scope of this process, there are different forms dynamic pricing can take, but the basic idea behind it has a clear appeal to today’s leisure businesses as it actively involves the situation of venues as well as customers.
3. Introducing Virtual Reality Experiences
Virtual reality is starting to trickle into various sectors within the industry and can offer customers new, interesting experiences to get excited about.
There are some specific examples we see already. Lifewire pointed to VR travel experiences that can help people to virtually experience places around the world, with programs aimed at the Grand Canyon, Mount Everest, and the deep sea, to name a few; another one mentioned, Google Earth VR, even allows people to virtually explore cities and locations of their choice. Naturally, companies can use VR experiences like these to incentivize travel. Similarly, Google Arts & Culture identified cultural experiences from galleries (like the Smithsonian's Peacock Room) to historical sites (such as the Temple of Juno) that can be visited in a similar fashion. Basically, although these kinds of applications aren’t particularly widespread just yet, we’re beginning to see how leisure companies can use VR to branch out and offer customers something they haven’t seen before.
4. Updating Web Platforms
If the leisure industry is one thing these days, it’s competitive. From massive ticket providers to independent leisure venues like aquariums or theme parks, to industry-adjacent blogs, there are innumerable entities in the business. This can mean a lot of different things, but one is that any such entity that doesn’t present an up-to-date digital front can stand out in a negative way.
Think, for instance, of a tourist in a new city considering a few hours out at the local zoo or aquarium. The zoo’s website is packed with recent information, social feeds, and an up-to-date calendar; the aquarium looks somewhat stale, with no recently dated content and visible advertisements for events or deals on days that have already passed. Which venue would the tourist be more likely to visit in this case?
Maintaining an updated web platform is a vital aspect of digitization in the leisure business, and can help any company avoid being the aquarium in this hypothetical scenario. To some extent, it’s just about due diligence, but there are also tools available now that can make it easier to keep a site fresh and optimized for potential customers. Powerful site editors, as described by Updatable, provide “greater freedom and complete flexibility” for web upkeep, and can help with everything from switching out images, to adding fresh written content, to adjusting SEO priorities — all without any coding skills. Setting up this sort of editing effectively modernizes a site, and helps you stay competitive in the online space of leisure.
5. Getting Social
As you may well have noticed, there seem to be more leisure-related apps and social media accounts popping up with each passing month. Digital Trends named some top apps that showcase this trend specifically in travel. For instance, it mentions Skyscanner, which helps users to book and arrange travel plans; Airbnb, which helps people to rent private properties and view experiences at a given destination; and even Uber, which, as you likely know, can arrange easy-to-find ground transpiration. Beyond these travel examples, there are plenty of similarly useful options in entertainment and sports as well, such as SeatGeek and Ticketmaster — both of which simplify the process of booking tickets for events.
Meanwhile, companies ranging from booking agencies to performance businesses, to sports franchises all have busy accounts on social media. At this point, in fact, it’s fair to say that any business in the leisure industry that is not going digital is now lagging behind.
As to what apps and social media actually accomplish for a company, it’s essentially a combination of access and exposure. Maintaining an app gives people a more convenient way to access a company’s offerings than simply visiting an online website; in some cases, it can also lead to a more personalized experience, with features such as push notifications based on stated interests, event recommendations based on past ticket purchases, etc. And staying active on social media accounts gives a company a direct channel to customers, and likely to a broader audience as well.
Sharing information about new offerings, upcoming events, and so on through social media alerts customers and does so in a medium in which they can help spread the word. We'll put it this way: Announcing an upcoming event or ticketing special on a website gets the word out to passing visitors; making the same announcement on social media invites the possibility for each and every follower to re-broadcast the news to all of his or her followers, effectively amplifying a company's reach.
Digitization is a broad and somewhat complex topic but can be made simple if approached step by step. Various tech-related adjustments can help businesses in the leisure industry to adapt to modern needs and explore new business opportunities. No matter if this is by having better apps and websites, or VR and AI integration, every leisure venue can be part of a digital and lasting impression in the world.