Who would have anticipated such a boom in technology-related solutions before the COVID-19 stroke? If Zoom or Microsoft Teams might have sounded a little unfamiliar to most of us a year and half ago, it has now totally entered our way of working. COVID has been the most phenomenal accelerator one can imagine in terms of digitalisation and adoption of new technologies.
If ResTech, TravelTech, etc. had already an enormous impact on the leisure, cultural and entertainment industry before COVID-19, we can confirm today that the change in our industry has been even more brutal in the last 12 months. Very few people could imagine 24 months ago that fans would actually pay for concerts that are streamed from the other side of the world or that visitors would visit the new exhibition of their favorite museum virtually.
While some trends that have emerged during COVID times will not survive at large scale once normalisation takes place, we do predict that some deep underlying movements that got boosted during COVID will continue to shape the future of our industry, as they best serve the interest of the consumers and the providers.
Who said we needed to wait in line?
It may now seem like a different era, but not so long ago it was very normal to wait in queues to purchase a museum ticket, wait for its turn at a new attraction or simply wait behind the bar to get food and drinks.
We do strongly believe that these waiting times do now belong to the past and that every waiting time will be optimised to offer frictionless experiences. This will happen not only for sanitary reasons, but also because it provides a better experience to the guests and allows providers to spare some costs.
We would advise museums, attractions, music venues and theatres to have a close look into solutions that allow better management of queuing, access control, online purchase for tickets with flexible cancellations, rescheduling and refunds, and pre-ordering of foods and drinks.
We do think that consumers have now taken the habit to be self-served and will continue to avoid social interactions when it comes to low-added value relationships with staff at the cashier, the access control, the cloakroom, etc.
Cash is no longer king!
At the same time that waiting times will tend to disappear from the experience landscape, cash payments will also be eliminated since they are definitely not as efficient as digital payments.
End-buyers and providers have no interest in pursuing these money flows in the same way they were already managed for centuries. On the one-side, it costs institutions a countless amount of money to collect, manage and keep these money flows safe, and on the other side, consumers might be willing to remove this bacteria-prone way of paying from their habits.
We do believe that the transition from cash to cashless will not go through the traditional way we envision cashless, meaning with a bracelet or a card, but it will again become something more frictionless with for instance a bill being delivered to your email and your credit card being charged once the experience is behind.
Tailored experiences v/s crowed tours
Another important trend that we have noticed before COVID and that got reinforced with the pandemic is the wish of customers to avoid crowds and focus their time, energy and money on personalised and unique experiences.
End-buyers are now expecting providers to allow them to live what others don’t — to provide them with the secret sauce that will make an experience unforgettable. Naked tickets that allow consumers to attend a concert or visit a museum are just not enough anymore. End-customers will attentively look for what is outside the box.
To achieve this, cultural and tourism organisers have now no choice but to expand their product/services offering - in-house - and outside with external partners, in order to go one step further and package invaluable experiences when all put together.
In terms of technology, we introduced not long ago the notion of Smart Booking and it relates to the ability of organisations to cross-sell and upsell packages based on end-user preferences thanks to recommendations that are powered by artificial intelligence. We do believe that this technology, coupled with one that allows simple bookings and payments between providers, has great potential to push the experience boundaries well beyond standard market practises.
Strengthened engagement pre-, during- and post-experience
VR or virtual reality has made a big appearance during COVID times where most international cities and outdoor destinations have started to offer some online content in order to let virtual visitors immerse themselves into fantastic art exhibitions or mind-blowing landscapes.
While we believe that virtual experiences will never replace real experiences, obviously, we do believe that VR constitutes an effective and powerful technique to start engaging with potential visitors before they actually commit to their visit. VR has the fabulous potential to be able to transport to the 4 corners of the world a first feeling and atmosphere.
As VR has the potential to really change the pre-visit engagement with potential new customers, there are other new innovations such as holograms that have the potential to disrupt the industry and the way we experience on-site visits. These kinds of techs are definitely at an early stage, but it’s definitely ones to have on your radar.
To end this prospective blog on a more foot on the ground note, we do believe that it is worth for venues, museums, attractions and tours providers to have a closer look into all innovative marketing and sales technologies as they will be the key to strengthen engagement with their customers post-visit in order to build a more loyal customer base.