How to implement gamification strategies in your leisure attraction.
If you are a frequent reader of our blog then you probably already read in our previous post about one of the big trends that is only bound to grow within the leisure industry: That's right, gamification will be a given for any guest in leisure in no time; people will simply expect it as part of their experience.
If you want to learn how to implement this true loyalty booster in your leisure venue and start designing an unforgettable experience for your guests, keep reading because we are about to hash it down step by step for you.
STEP 1: Define & Decide.
To kick-start your gamification strategy, you will first need to define:
- Who are the customers you want to convert into loyal ones,
- What loyalty means to you and your venue (because that will define what desired action you want to elicit), and lastly,
- What value will you be delivering in return?
These 3 points are not hierarchical but instead so heavily connected that they bare a direct influence on one another, which is why it’s important to lay them out in more detail:
When defining your customer segments - you might be thinking: ‘Hey! But I want all of my visitors to be loyal.’ And we get that thought, but to build a fruitful and well-targeted strategy, you’ll need to consider different customer segments. You may want to focus on getting families who visited for the first time to return or season cardholders to increase their spending. Here you already see that the action, and thus, your desired act of loyalty, is highly connected to the segment you choose to focus on.
Lastly, you will need to focus on what that customer segment might be asking for in return - who is asking for what your loyalty program can deliver? A family visiting for the first time might be interested in an incentive that will eventually reduce costs or bear an additional benefit on top of their experience if they visit a second time. In comparison, a season cardholder does not care about getting the 3rd visit with a discount because they already bought a season card! However, they might care about the additional access passes, exclusive insights, or tours in return for a regular lunch purchase. Do you see how many varying possibilities there are per segment?
In a nutshell: Depending on the customer, you should identify the needs and interests that will differ, and therefore, the value you get from them and deliver to them.
STEP 2: How to deliver.
After you have defined your customer segment, you need to decide on the value that will be exchanged. It is time to start thinking about how to deliver and facilitate this exchange in a playful way.
You have two main options:
1. Online & Mobile, or
2. Offline & on-sight.
When deciding which medium to use, it is key that you have your customer segment's perspective in mind - think about what they want to experience and interact with! You certainly shouldn’t take the same approach to deliver your loyalty-driven gamification strategy for ‘the boomers’ and ‘Gen Z’, right? Keep this in mind when you’re making your online/offline decision.
Let's take a look together at the advantages and disadvantages of each of these options:
1) Online & Mobile
Bringing your ideas to life in a mobile and digital environment carries a great chance to transform your traditional attractions and offerings onto an entirely new sphere. In our blog series RISE ABOVE COVID-19: how to digitize venue's from start to end, we already broke down for you why digitising your offerings brings great advantages to your business.
- With your own mobile app you could reach your audience anywhere at any time - your offer would be accessible 24/7.
- The digital environment delivers new visual and interactive ways to deliver value and create true experiences. You can add informational content and add location-based or time-based notifications to increase continuous involvement and reduce the possibilities of abandoning previous efforts.
- Meet the demand and expectations of younger generations who grew up playing games and interacting through their smartphones and ask for a continuance of this experience across all their offline experiences alike. Keep in mind that this new generation has grown up exposed to continuous stimuli and loathes idle team (time spent doing nothing while waiting), which is why gamification can directly impact their experience and loyalty.
- Future proof concept guaranteed! What if we face another lockdown and people can no longer visit your venue as freely as before? Having a digital infrastructure that keeps your venue's experience alive online is definitely forward-thinking!
- Development costs - You can either build it yourself and undergo the costly development or partner with a company that does this for you!
- While meeting the needs of younger generations, you might also risk narrowing your audience. However, it is important to point out that, the millennial generation is also used to collecting data digitally and reaping the benefits of mobile applications. Even more so now, considering the acceleration of digitalisation and usage due to the pandemic. Also, it depends on how you plan your games or programs - a parent with a smartphone and an app that provides fun pre-visit games to play on the road with the entire family by kick-starting a word-game that won't need everyone to participate via a smartphone can also be an option!
2) Offline & on-site
While mobile apps also include an on-site component, offline methodologies are naturally more focused on the extended in-venue experience. If you are wondering now, what is the offline counterpart to a mobile application, here is an example for you:
A theme park, could design a discovery game facilitated through paper cards and maps available at admission. The visitors would have to keep this paper card and bring it with him every time they return to the venue. The challenge could be to discover new statues or hidden objects within the venue at every visit. You could have this structured that certain objects are around at certain times, so the visitor knows he or she has to visit again to finish the challenge. It all could have the goal to find a certain selection of these objects and win a great piece of merchandise, free tickets, or a great deal!
- Involvement is not bound to one device - everyone can grab offline materials used. Families could compete with each other.
- Almost no technology is needed, and thus, preparation and iteration of the implementation are of a different nature. But note that it is not necessarily simpler! It will still involve a good amount of planning and manpower to bring to life.
- Offline opportunities can also be offered pre, during, and post-visit - it just requires loads of creativity!
- Tracking procedure is more difficult. With a mobile App, you can track your visitors' behaviour and understand better how they utilise, like and dislike your offer. With offline opportunities, you will rely on in-person feedback but also need to see that especially feedback on post-visit efforts might never get back to you, and as I have outlined before, this one counts as the most crucial to customer loyalty.
- Knowledge exchange and communication between you and your visitor is limited. Your visitor might want to know how many points they have already gained or are stuck on how to proceed - offline methods do not allow immediate responses from you on their questions. But especially when building relationships with customers, this immediacy and personal care is significant.
STEP 3: Build a story & strategy - all in one!
Depending on the medium you choose to deliver your strategy, you will need to build the story around your idea to deliver and subtract the value successfully. You can start by choosing an idea that is related to any of your attractions, themes, or offers that your audience favours and start brainstorming ideas on how you can connect your desired action and the value you deliver in return.
Then, move on to consider the dynamics and aesthetics of your gamification strategy and story.
Dynamics include the difficulty degree of the challenges, time pressure, tension, and self-expression of the player.
In contrast, the aesthetics are more focused on the sensation, the narrative - may be even fantasy, fellowship, and discovery.
Some inspiration to go on could be using your space-themed attractions and offering a multiplayer online game located in space. The rising levels of altitude lead to a rising chance of reaping the rewards. Or an online or offline post-visit memory recall game where kids have to visually reconstruct a certain spot or attraction at your venue while they compete with other creators. For wellness venues, here again, you might think of telling the story of your product's origin and engaging your visitors in discovering more about the background history.
STEP 4: Increase usage - bring loyalty!
When increasing involvement, whether through gamification or other means, it is important to recognise that, logically, increasing usage is crucial.
Take the post-visit memory recall game where kids have to reconstruct a certain spot as an example visually. They act and abandon it. Up until now, it was all fun and games - but for you, the cognition that connects this experience with the need to return - or perform your desired action - is what is key. A great way to achieve this, and which I have been highlighting throughout the entire article, is the reward - the value you deliver.
These rewards can be external rewards such as access to exclusive tours or discounts upon their next visit and internal rewards such as social interaction, relation, the need to get better at a game or task, and the personal will to act. Tools to elicit these and bound your visitor to continue interacting with your offer are badges, feedback and reinforcement, groups, personal messages, social sharing opportunities, blogs, chats, profiles, and avatars - just to name a few!
Which of these tools you employ depends on the story you are telling and the action & connection you are hoping to create.
Lastly, we would like to provide you with a short set of additional pro-tips on how to make loyalty gamification successful:
- Give it time to take off - what has been presented to you is not a day-to-day investment return but a long-term strategy.
- Encourage users to help each other and facilitate social interaction and relation - this can be done online through groups, hashtags, and User-Generated-Content but also offline through ‘meeting points’
- If a visitor does not succeed at following your rules and implementation, make sure the failing processes are clear and fixable to ensure they are not discouraged from trying again.
- Tie your experience to multiple destinations or offers within your venue instead of just one to make it an all-around-experience.
- As mentioned before, shareability is important. Thus, it makes sense to allow and encourage the connection to various platforms to enable this as easy as possible!
Short & Sweet:
Before we sign off, let's take a second to recap:
- Having die-hard fans and loyal customers should be on your agenda.
- Gamification is a playful strategy that helps you increase the cognitive and emotional involvement of your visitors.
- It will impact social sales, the discovery of your venue, time spent in-venue, shop clicks, up-sells, as well as social sharing and engagement.
- Including interactive elements will extend and create a unique pre, during, and post-visit experience that creates meaning for your visitors.
- Especially post-visit experience is essential to increasing visitor loyalty.
- With enough creativity, a playful loyalty strategy can be laid out in infinite ways - thus, any venue wanting to implement a customer loyalty scheme can use this approach.
Now that you've got these essential steps mapped out and a clear action plan in place, it's time to get your creative juices flowing! What is the step that you find most challenging to execute for your leisure attraction? Let us know in the comments below or contact our team of experts directly and we will make sure we give you the necessary resources to tackle it the right way! Remember, a well-implemented and immersive gamification experience will make you memorable.