Future-Proof Entertainment: Adapting to Trends for Long-Term Success

Future-Proof Entertainment: Adapting to Trends for Long-Term Success
The attractions industry is perpetually dynamic, driven by evolving guest expectations, technological breakthroughs, and broader societal trends. To thrive, venues must adapt swiftly and strategically. 

This guide, co-written by LBX Collective Co-Founder Christine Buhr, explores current trends reshaping the entertainment landscape and offers practical strategies to help venue owners and operators stay relevant and competitive.

Emerging trends in the attractions industry

The rise of experiential entertainment

Guests increasingly seek immersive and interactive experiences beyond traditional passive entertainment. Venues that offer unique, participatory activities, like escape rooms or interactive digital installations, are seeing a notable increase in guest engagement and satisfaction.

See it for yourself: Meow Wolf
Meow Wolf, based in Santa Fe, New Mexico, excels in experiential entertainment with immersive art installations. Their flagship, the House of Eternal Return, offers a multidimensional experience with secret passages, interactive elements, and a narrative-driven exploration that blurs the line between observer and participant. Meow Wolf's innovative approach, allowing visitors to engage deeply with the art, sets a high standard for experiential entertainment, driving immense popularity and expansions to Las Vegas and Denver.

Technology-driven attractions

Advancements in technology such as augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), and artificial intelligence (AI) are creating new possibilities for personalized and engaging visitor experiences. For example, theme parks are using VR to transform old roller coasters into new, immersive adventures without the need for extensive physical renovations.

See it for yourself: Disney
Disney exemplifies excellence in technology-driven attractions, especially with their "Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge" at Disneyland, which uses VR and AR to immerse visitors in the Star Wars universe. Features like a VR-based Millennium Falcon ride and an AR-enabled app transform smartphones into interactive tools for engaging with the environment. Additionally, AI optimizes ride queues and personalizes character interactions, enhancing the guest experience by making it feel uniquely tailored to each visitor. These technologies allow Disney to innovate continuously, elevating the theme park experience without constant physical renovations.

Sustainability initiatives

There's a growing expectation for businesses to operate sustainably. This trend is particularly pronounced in attractions, where large-scale operations can have significant environmental impacts. Implementing eco-friendly practices appeals to environmentally conscious consumers and often leads to operational efficiencies and cost savings.

See it for yourself: Go Ape
Go Ape, an outdoor adventure company, excels in sustainable operations with its high ropes courses designed to integrate seamlessly into natural environments. By utilizing trees and terrain, Go Ape minimizes the ecological impact. They adhere to a leave-no-trace policy, ensuring their activities do not disrupt local wildlife or flora. The company uses eco-friendly materials and promotes environmental awareness among participants, reinforcing sustainability through practice and education.

Health and safety innovations

In response to global health challenges, there's an increased focus on health and safety within public spaces. Contactless technologies, enhanced cleaning protocols, and crowd management solutions are becoming standard practices, improving guests' safety and comfort.

See it for yourself: Urban Air Adventure Park

Urban Air Adventure Park, known for its indoor adventure facilities, has effectively implemented health and safety innovations. They've introduced contactless technologies like online waivers and payments to minimize physical interactions. Enhanced cleaning protocols now include frequent sanitization with hospital-grade disinfectants, especially in high-touch areas. Additionally, their online booking system limits guest numbers to ensure social distancing, enhancing overall safety and comfort for visitors. These measures not only address health concerns but also boost guests' confidence in the safety of the park.

Adapting business models to contemporary markets

Off-peak pricing

Flexible pricing models with discounts for off-peak visits are becoming more common. This approach can maximize revenue and manage visitor flow more effectively.

Extending the experience online

Many attractions extend the visitor experience beyond physical visits by offering virtual tours or augmented reality apps that can be enjoyed at home. This maintains engagement and broadens the venue's audience to include those who cannot visit in person.

Integrating cutting-edge technology to enhance guest experiences

Personalization through technology

Utilizing an all-in-one venue management software solution transforms how attractions engage with their visitors by centralizing data from various touchpoints, including ticket sales, in-park purchases, and online interactions. This comprehensive data aggregation allows venues to gain deep insights into guest behavior and preferences.

With this wealth of information, venues can craft personalized marketing campaigns and promotions that resonate deeply with individual guests. For example, if data shows that certain visitors prefer specific types of events or times of the year, the venue can target these guests with tailored offers and recommendations that are more likely to capture their interest.

This targeted approach enhances the guest experience by making interactions feel more personal improves conversion rates, and increases per-head spending. Having all relevant data in one place allows venues to quickly adapt their marketing strategies to optimize effectiveness and profitability, ensuring a consistently engaging visitor experience.

Automation for efficiency

Venue management software greatly enhances operational efficiency by introducing self-service options that reduce administrative tasks and improve the guest experience. Key features like online accounts for bookings and mobile food and beverage ordering empower guests to take control of their experiences, streamlining interactions and reducing the need for direct staff involvement.

Online accounts: Guests can manage their bookings, view ticket options, and modify reservations at their convenience. This reduces the workload on customer service teams and gives guests the flexibility to update their booking when it’s convenient for them, even if that’s after business hours.

Mobile food and beverage ordering: This feature allows guests to order food and drinks directly from their mobile devices, reducing queue times at the counter and increasing guest satisfaction. It also encourages guests to spend more while at your venue - customers spend around 30% more when they have the convenience of ordering online!

Additionally, the integration of automated ticketing systems and in-park navigation tools within the software helps to speed up entry processes and guide guests efficiently through the venue. By reducing friction points such as long lines and navigation difficulties, these automated systems streamline operations and enhance the overall visitor experience, making each visit more enjoyable and efficient.

ICYMI, TreeClimb, an adventure park, has successfully automated 90% of its transactions using ROLLER’s online tools, significantly enhancing operational efficiency. By leveraging ROLLER's robust system, TreeClimb enables guests to manage bookings, sign waivers, and make purchases online, streamlining their entire visit and reducing the need for staff intervention.

You can learn more about ROLLER’s suite of self-service experience tools here

Sustainable practices as a competitive advantage

Implementing green technologies

Investing in renewable energy sources, waste reduction strategies, and sustainable building materials not only reduces environmental impact but also positions a venue as a responsible leader in the industry.

Eco-friendly guest services

Offering recycling stations, biodegradable packaging for food services, and incentives for guests who choose eco-friendly options can significantly enhance a venue’s reputation.

Diversifying offerings to enhance attraction appeal

Developing new revenue streams

Venues are exploring new revenue streams, such as nighttime events, seasonal festivals, and special exhibitions that attract different demographics and provide guests with reasons to return.

See it for yourself: The San Diego Zoo

The San Diego Zoo excels in creating new revenue streams by hosting events like the "Nighttime Zoo" during summer, which extends evening hours with live music and special animal shows, appealing to a wide audience. Seasonal events like "HalGLOWeen" and "Jungle Bells" feature unique, themed activities that attract additional visitors during off-peak times, enhancing both the guest experience and zoo revenue year-round.

Leveraging local culture and heritage

Integrating local culture into attractions not only enhances the guest experience but also supports local communities and businesses, creating a unique, authentic environment that can distinguish a venue from competitors.

See it for yourself: Dollywood

Dollywood in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, exemplifies integrating local culture into its attractions. This theme park, founded by Dolly Parton, showcases Southern Appalachian traditions with artisan demonstrations like blacksmithing and woodcarving and hosts events such as the Smoky Mountain Christmas festival. Featuring local music and crafts, Dollywood enriches visitor experiences while supporting the community by preserving regional heritage and boosting the local economy.

Leveraging customer feedback to drive innovation

Real-time feedback for immediate improvements

ROLLER’s Guest Experience Score is a handy tool for venues to gather guest feedback and make necessary improvements quickly. It helps pinpoint areas that need attention, allowing management to act swiftly and effectively. 

Flying Squirrel provides a great example of how effectively this tool can be used. They've streamlined their feedback process, making it easier to understand and meet their visitors' needs without overwhelming their staff. By embracing ROLLER’s Guest Experience Score, venues can create more enjoyable and memorable visits, leading to happier guests and more positive reviews.

Community engagement for co-creation

Engaging with the local community to co-create experiences or improve services ensures that the offerings are not only appealing but also relevant to the audience's interests and values.

Adapting to current trends is crucial for any venue aiming to succeed in the fast-evolving attractions industry. By embracing new technologies, adopting sustainable practices, and actively seeking guest feedback, venues can ensure they meet modern expectations and remain at the forefront of the entertainment industry.

Interested in seeing how ROLLER can help your venue adapt to the latest industry trends? Whether you’re looking to gather real-time feedback, manage bookings more efficiently, or introduce innovative marketing strategies, ROLLER can help.

Book a demo today to discover the powerful tools we offer for enhancing guest experiences and streamlining operations.