The ‘guest experience’ is something that we spend a lot of time thinking about at ROLLER; how to improve it, how to make it more efficient, how to drive more of them. The concept itself is not particularly new to the leisure or attractions industry; it is something that we and others have written extensively about. For those new to the term though; here is a definition that we think provides a good description of what it represents;
“The Guest Experience is how a guest thinks of you after considering all of their interactions with you. From their first interaction with your website for information, or reviews, to the parking lot, to the table and on to the follow-up after the service. It includes your newsletter or other marketing collateral sent/requested to the guest. It also includes the reviews (formal or informal) of you.”
Similarly, the idea of a ‘flywheel’ is nothing new. Although the term was first coined by Scottish engineer James Watt to describe an energy efficient wheel (and more specifically, how the amount of energy it stores depends on how fast it spins, the amount of friction it encounters, and its size), the terminology was later adapted by business strategist Jim Collins to describe how transformational breakthroughs occur in companies. In the book ‘Good to Great’ Collins outlined that;
“No matter how dramatic the end result, good-to-great transformations never happen in one fell swoop. In building a great company or social sector enterprise, there is no single defining action, no grand program, no one killer innovation, no solitary lucky break, no miracle moment. Rather, the process resembles relentlessly pushing a giant, heavy flywheel, turn upon turn, building momentum until a point of breakthrough, and beyond.”
More recently, the flywheel model has also been adapted by leading technology companies such as Amazon to embed customer centricity in its decision making, and Hubspot to promote the power of inbound marketing as a means of driving long term growth. At ROLLER, we’ve learnt from these models and developed our own flywheel that is uniquely focused on the guest experience.
Introducing the ‘Guest Experience Flywheel’
To understand the ‘Guest Experience Flywheel’, consider the end-to-end process of how you reach, engage and follow up with your customers. It starts at the point at which a prospective guest first encounters your brand, and continues well past their visit to your park, to the way in which then follow up and reengage with your guests after their visit. The quality of each touchpoint contributes to their overall impression of your brand and ultimately informs their propensity to become a repeat customer and an advocate. This in turn, helps drive further customer acquisition, accelerating the flywheel and creating a powerful feedback loop.
After analysing the end-to-end guest journey, we have broken the Guest Experience Flywheel into five distinct components;
- Attract - this is well before they’ve made a decision to buy from you, or even evaluate whether they should visit. It is the first of point contact - how do you make this happen? How do you reach them? How do you compel them to want to visit? How do you attract them? First impressions last, and how you go about doing this will set up your guests’ expectations for each of the next steps in their journey.
- Engage - once a prospective guest has become aware of your brand and what you have to offer, how do you convert them into a customer (ie: get them to purchase), and then interact with them right up until the point of their visit. How do you make the booking process simple and easy, how do you ensure they have everything they need to plan their visit? How do you ensure they are excited about the experience they are about to have? Clear communications and seamless processes are key to getting your guest ready (and excited) to attend your venue.
- Deliver - this is game day. When a guest arrives at your park and checks-in through to when they depart for the day. Is their entry and exit seamless? Do they feel the human touch? Are they informed? How do they consume the experience? What do they consume? How does it make them feel? What else can they purchase? Delivering on the promised experience is clearly important, and perhaps the strongest accelerating force in the flywheel, but without looking holistically at all the micro touchpoints, you will not reach your potential in terms of delivering a great guest experience and will not be setup to convert the goodwill created on game day into sustainable growth.
- Return - it is one thing to experience something once, novelty is fun but by definition it does wear off. A guests’ propensity to return will be a culmination of their experience with your brand so far, and is the greatest sign that you are truly delivering a great guest experience. It does not however happen magically, you need to re-engage with your guests and offer them new compelling reasons and incentives to return (such as rewards, loyalty points and memberships). The cost of customer acquisition of a returning guest is almost always lower than attracting a new one, so every dollar you invest in the customer journey to this point will pay dividends if it is done well.
- Advocate - the fifth and final part of the Guest Experience Flywheel is the process of turning your guests into brand ambassadors. There is nothing more powerful than strong and genuine word-of-mouth referrals. If your guests had an amazing experience, they will put their personal brand on the line to recommend your venue to others, and they will do it for no cost. It is the cheapest and most effective way to attract new guests (and thus bringing a new customer into the flywheel cycle). In short, if you are delivering on your promises, providing a great experience, and actively embracing your customers, you will create powerful brand advocacy, further accelerating your venues Guest Experience Flywheel.
We’ll be writing more about specific ways to improve and accelerate each part of the flywheel, but first wanted to introduce the model as a way of thinking about each touchpoint in the guest journey. By focusing on every micro moment of interaction and ensuring the transition between steps is seamless, you will be able to unlock a powerful cycle which will set your venue up for success in the long run. At ROLLER, we’re also working hard to build new and exciting features that help our clients deliver great guest experiences and accelerate the Guest Experience Flywheel!
If you’re not a ROLLER client or partner, and interested to learn about how ROLLER can transform your leisure or attraction venue, please complete this form and a Solutions Advisor will reach out to discuss your requirements.