By Maitane Zarate on 12/11/20 12:35 PM
Remember the good old days where you and your friends would walk up to the ticket counter at your local theme park and go enjoy a day full of thrills? Or that spontaneous date to the movies, where you’d buy the girl you liked some popcorn and tickets to the latest rom-com? What a way to gain points! And although box offices definitely had their charm, it’s hard to picture them any longer in this post-pandemic awkward era we’re all living in.
Truth is, that COVID19 has brought walk-up culture to a halt.
So if you’re still prioritizing your Point Of Sales… you’re holding on to the past. That’s not where people are buying anymore, and definitely not where they will be buying in the future. Which is why in today’s read I want to invite you to loosen the grip over your POS and start prioritizing a strategy focused on where your leisure and adventure seekers of today really are: online.
Many venues and attractions within the leisure world have always had a ‘POS-first’ strategy and heavily relied on the revenue streams coming from that offline channel, however, things have drastically changed now.
Box-office sales can result in risks and inefficiencies, such as queuing, agglomeration, or unexpected drop-inns that can result in having a much greater capacity at your venue that you’re capable of handling. In an attempt to turn such a high-touch economy into a lower-touch one, the leisure industry (as many others) has had to shift online, which is when eCommerce has come to the rescue, allowing more direct, efficient, and contagion-risk sales.
But besides allowing leisure businesses to offer a COVID19-compliant buyer's journey, the benefits of eCommerce and having your own online ticket shop go way beyond this pandemic and are mouth-watering in terms of revenue, retention, customer loyalty and ROI. Not just now, but in the long run.
1. Collect safe and contactless payments
Even if you allow contactless payments at your POS, you’ll still have people lining up and creating bottlenecks due to the added time required in ordering them, asking questions, and then finally deciding to pay, whether that is through cash or card. You can avoid that unnecessary risk and improve your visitor flow by letting them take all of those actions online, in advance to their visit, so that when they come visit you the only thing they need to worry about is enjoying the great experience you offer.
2. Increase your average cart value
When you mainly sell through your POS, the only way to get in some extra sales on top of the tickets that your customers have bought is to cross your fingers and hope they’ll be tempted by the gift-shop or awesome smelling hot-dogs you’ve got on your venue’s food stands. On the other hand, when they visit your website to buy their tickets instead, you can suggest to them an endless list of (personalized!) offers that could add value to their experience through smart upsells and cross-selling strategies. This will ultimately help you increase your average cart value even before they’ve stepped in your venue. Whether they decide to buy your delicious hot-dogs or not once they’re there, that’s just a great extra!
3. Have more control and action-power over what happens in your venue
Information is not just power. It’s also speed, agility and more margin for maneuvering. And you know as much as I do that being agile is highly needed in the uncertain times we’re living in. By prioritizing your online sales through eCommerce, you can implement up-front reservations in combination with time-slots which will allow you to have a better spread of your visitors through the day and a less crowded venue. In addition, you’ll know exactly who is coming when to your venue and you will be able to adapt your staff and resources accordingly, taking one more step forward towards operational excellence.
Recommended read: Why time-slots are here to stay for the leisure industry.
4. Transform your one-off customer relationships into long-lasting connections by digitizing your customer journey:
After that group of friends bought their tickets on the spot at your box office, many times you never saw their faces again. It’s not that they didn’t have a good time, they had a blast, but you just didn’t have the means to remind them about it once they walked out your gates. Now, thanks to a shift to smart online channels which allow retargeting and further relationship nurturing, the ‘See-you-never’ can easily be turned into a ‘See-you-later, Mary!’.
Yes, that’s right. Mary, Anna, Tomas, Eric, Patric or whatever the name of your dear guest is, actually. Because nowadays, highly personalized experiences, mentioned in the following point, are also possible thanks to eCommerce sales.
5. Tailor and personalized experiences for each of your guests
Selling through your own online shop allows you to gather valuable data from your customers along the different stages of their customer journey, and therefore, get to know them inside out. There’s more magic that you can even imagine in putting a name and face to what otherwise would just be one more number on your system.
Using your customer’s name on your targeted messaging, offering them their favorite products, or even giving personalized in-venue suggestions on whether they should try the waterslide first or the space roller coaster depending on the weather or what time of the day it is can seem like a bit of a fantasy if you have been using traditional POS systems for the longest time, but it is actually a very plausible reality nowadays. Some of your competitors are probably doing it already, so I strongly suggest you stop hesitating and jump on the wagon quickly if you don’t want to become the dinosaur of your industry.
Ultimately, having an online shop allows you to be present in many more stages of your customer journey than just the purchase alone, allowing you to influence and learn from them on every touch-point along their experience.
As you can see, there’s a lot to gain by starting to shift your strategy towards the online world and leaving the POS-approach which will most likely become extinct in the near future. As the industry seems to progressively move forward to a POS-less world, you can turn the current events and pandemic as an opportunity to start reaping the rewards of selling online. If you want to do it right, here’s a great read on how to get you started:
Recommended read: Implementing an online ticketing system: 5 best practices for your online ticket shop.
However, all of the above-mentioned benefits are out of your hands if you are selling through third party resellers rather than your own channels, because all that invaluable data that will help you create delightful experiences, grow and improve your business, and strengthen the bond with your fans, doesn’t belong to you and gets lost long along the way through channels which are not yours.
By choosing a direct-to-consumer approach for your online sales strategy instead, you gain back the control of your customer data as well as your brand image and reputation. Your venue’s fate, its sales, prices, and customer experience are 100% in your hands and no one else’s.
If you’re interested in learning more about what a D2C or direct-to-consumer strategy consists of, how to implement it, or what other relevant benefits your leisure venue can gain from it, dive into this D2C article right here - it’s short and sweet and is meant to open up new doors for you and your venue.
When circumstances change, we must change along with them, and it’s about time to step up into the future of leisure eCommerce, don’t you think?