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Tech Trends in the Entertainment Industry: How to Stay Ahead

Tech Trends in the Entertainment Industry: How to Stay Ahead

The entertainment industry is undergoing a seismic shift thanks to the advent of cutting-edge technologies. From virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) to sophisticated online booking systems and gamification, these innovations are not just transforming how businesses operate; they're reshaping customer expectations and experiences. 

In this guide, we’ll explore the latest entertainment tech trends and offer insights on how to leverage these advancements to grow your business.  

VR in entertainment

VR technology has revolutionized the entertainment industry by providing immersive experiences that were once the stuff of science fiction. From education to immersion, there are a lot of ways to incorporate VR into your venue to attract guests. 

Here are some thought starters for incorporating VR into your venue: 

  • Immersive experiences: Offer immersive VR experiences that transport guests to other worlds or scenarios, ranging from virtual roller coaster rides to exploring distant galaxies, providing an escape from reality that traditional entertainment cannot match.
  • Interactive games: Offer interactive VR games, allowing guests to step into the shoes of their favorite characters or explore interactive storylines where their choices affect the outcome, enhancing engagement and replay value.
  • Educational content: Utilize VR for educational purposes by offering simulations that take guests through historical events, to distant planets, or even inside the human body, making learning a fun and immersive experience.
  • Virtual escape rooms: Create VR-based escape rooms that offer puzzles and challenges in meticulously designed virtual environments. This provides a unique and compelling group activity that encourages teamwork and problem-solving. 
  • Sports and adventure simulations: Offer sports and adventure simulations, where guests can experience extreme sports, like skydiving or mountain climbing, or practice their skills in virtual golf or racing without the physical risks or space requirements.
  • Social interaction: Facilitate VR experiences that support multiplayer modes, where guests can interact, compete, or collaborate with others in virtual spaces, enhancing the social aspect of entertainment.
  • Customized adventures: Allow guests to customize their VR adventures, choosing themes, difficulty levels, and even avatars, giving them a personalized experience they can’t find elsewhere.

How to add VR to your venue

In terms of practicality, integrating VR into your venue is a smart move, especially if space is tight. Unlike building a new attraction, which can take up a lot of room and cash, setting up VR is pretty straightforward. You can fit VR setups in small spaces, like rooms or booths, allowing you to offer tons of cool experiences without needing more square footage. 

VR success story 

Zero Latency is a VR franchise with venues in 25 countries. They offer guests the chance to team up and fight zombies, solve puzzles, and more – all with state-of-the-art free-roam VR headsets and body packs. The concept is proving strong, and they have seen constant demand across their 92 (and growing) locations.  

Read this next: How Zero Latency Dublin Grew Revenue by 50% with the Support of ROLLER’s Online Booking System

AR experiences

AR brings a layer of digital enhancement to the real world, enabling businesses to create engaging and interactive experiences. For instance, AR in mini golf can animate static objects, turning a simple game into an interactive story. Play centers with AR features allow children to learn and play in an enriched environment where physical play equipment comes alive with digital overlays. 

Here are some thought starters on how to implement AR tech in your entertainment venue: 

  • Interactive exhibits: Enhance traditional exhibits by overlaying digital information, animations, or interactive elements on real-world objects, making the experience more engaging and informative.
  • Scavenger hunts: Create AR scavenger hunts within the venue, encouraging guests to explore and interact with their surroundings in a fun and innovative way.
  • Educational tours: Offer AR-guided tours that provide additional information, historical context, or interactive content when pointing a device at specific points of interest around your venue.
  • Gamified experiences: Introduce AR games that can be played within the venue, turning the space into an interactive game board and adding a layer of competition and fun.
  • Personalized interactions: Use AR to offer personalized experiences, such as virtual meet-and-greets with characters or customized messages, enhancing the visitor's connection to your venue.
  • Social media integration: Encourage guests to use AR filters or effects related to your venue and share their experiences on social media, increasing online engagement and visibility.
  • Wayfinding solutions: Implement AR for navigation, helping guests find their way around the venue with interactive maps and directions, improving the overall visit experience.

How to add AR to your venue

Incorporating AR into a venue offers a creative way to enhance the guest experience without the need for additional physical space or the significant costs associated with constructing new attractions. One key consideration when integrating AR is the technology and infrastructure required. Venues need to ensure they have the appropriate AR software and possibly hardware, depending on the experience they wish to offer. This might include investing in tablets or AR glasses for guests or developing an app that visitors can use on their own devices. And remember, tech literacy will vary depending on your audience demographics, so be sure to develop clear instructions on how to activate AR features! 

AR success story 

Legoland, Windsor offers visitors a whole world to explore in AR. Guests can use an app to discover fantastic beasts and bring real-life models to life on their screens. Users can engage with the world outside of the venue, with additional content being unlocked when visiting – which is a fantastic way to tease excitement and ensure experiences stay with the guests long after they’ve left.  

Read this next: Augmented Reality: How to Unlock New Dimensions at Your Venue

Online booking systems

The convenience of smooth online booking systems cannot be overstated. They simplify the reservation process for everyone involved, ensuring guests have a better experience interacting with your business while reducing admin for you and your team. 

The right online booking technology can help your venue with the following:

  • Reduce cart abandonment: When guests are offered an easy-to-use system, they are more likely to convert. ROLLER sees a 10% increase in conversion rate when customers use progressive checkouts.
  • Increase upsells: With an online purchasing platform, you can offer guests upsells such as memberships, group bookings, party packages, food and beverages, merchandise, and more. Providing all of this from one easy-to-use app can significantly boost revenue. ROLLER venues see a 50% increase in basket size. 
  • Improved efficiency: The right online platform allows you to easily manage multiple attractions, capacity, group bookings, and purchases from the same place. Not only does this lower labor costs, but it ensures that your venue is consistently optimized for better experiences. 

How to add online booking systems to your venue

Implementing an online booking system is one of the best upgrades you can make to your tech stack. You should find a provider that’s purpose-built for your industry and understands your specific requirements. Doing so will ensure you have a good product-market fit, and don’t waste time trying to get a platform to work for your needs when it wasn’t designed for that purpose. 

The right platform should be:  

  • A modern, cloud-based solution
  • Approachable for guests and staff alike
  • Purpose-built for your industry
  • A truly all-in-one platform (everything you need in one place)
  • Completely integrated end-to-end
  • A digital solution that makes selling online easy

Online booking success story 

ExpERIEnce Children's Museum in Pennsylvania teaches children aged 0-11 the principles of STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and math) through interactive exhibits and activities. Since switching to ROLLER, they have increased their sales significantly. In December 2023, they brought in $60,000 in membership and gift card sales alone!   

The return on investment for gift cards has been phenomenal. We sold $30,000 in gift cards in December last year. We've probably never even sold that in a year, let alone a month.
Kristina Leiter
Director of Member and Visitor Experiences

Read this next: Discover How ROLLER Helped ExpERIEnce Children's Museum Sell $60,000 in Gift Cards and Memberships in a Single Month

Mobile apps for customer engagement

Developing a dedicated mobile app for your venue offers numerous benefits. It can serve as a one-stop shop for customers to browse offerings, make reservations, access exclusive deals, and receive personalized recommendations. 

Here are the benefits of building a mobile app for your venue: 

  • Easy ticket booking and management: Allow customers to book, cancel, or reschedule their tickets directly from the app, offering a seamless experience.
  • Digital ticket storage: Provide a feature for customers to store and access their tickets within the app, ensuring they are always easy to find.
  • Real-time notifications: Send notifications about upcoming events, changes in schedules, or special promotions, keeping customers informed and engaged.
  • Mobile food ordering: Allow customers to order food and beverages from their phone, reducing wait times and improving the overall visit experience. App-less versions of this technology also exist
  • Interactive venue maps: Include detailed maps of the venue, helping customers navigate the space and find attractions, exits, restrooms, and food options.
  • Personalized recommendations: Use customer preferences and past visits to recommend upcoming events or attractions they might enjoy.
  • Loyalty programs: Integrate a loyalty program where customers can earn points for purchases and interactions within the app, which they can redeem for discounts or special perks.
  • Customer feedback: Provide a feature for customers to leave feedback about their experience, helping the venue to continuously improve. You can set this up without a dedicated app through features such as ROLLER’s automated guest experience feedback software

How to create an app for your venue 

Creating an app for your venue involves mapping out desired features, like ticket booking and venue navigation, and collaborating with an app developer. The investment to build an app depends on its complexity, ranging from a few thousand dollars for basic functionalities to significantly more for advanced features. Beyond the financial aspect, time must be dedicated to crafting a user-friendly design and ensuring the app genuinely enhances guest’s experience. Also, consider that the cost of creating an app is not a one-off. You’ll need to maintain and update the app over time to keep it valuable and functional for users.

Mobile app success story 

The Village Roadshow Theme Parks App allows guests to purchase and store tickets for five theme parks on one app. The app also features convenient maps, displays ride wait times, and notifies users of upcoming events. It’s a great example of an enterprise-level operator connecting their offerings and strengthening awareness while improving guest experience. 

Gamification strategies

Gamification involves integrating game mechanics into non-game environments to enhance user engagement. In the entertainment industry, this can mean rewarding customers with points, badges, or discounts for participating in activities or achieving certain milestones. 

Here are ways that you can implement gamification into your entertainment venue: 

  • Loyalty rewards: Implement a points system where guests earn points for visits, purchases, or completing challenges, which they can redeem for rewards.
  • Interactive scavenger hunts: Design app-based scavenger hunts within your venue, encouraging exploration and engagement with different attractions.
  • Achievement badges: Offer digital badges for completing specific activities or reaching milestones, adding a collectible element to the experience.
  • Leaderboards: Create leaderboards for games or challenges within your venue, fostering a sense of competition and community among guests.
  • Social media challenges: Encourage guests to participate in challenges that involve sharing their experiences on social media, rewarding them with discounts or exclusive offers.
  • Feedback rewards: Reward guests for providing feedback through your venue's app or website, improving customer service while encouraging engagement.
  • Event check-ins: Give rewards for checking into various events or shows within your venue, encouraging guests to experience a wider range of offerings.

How to add gamification to your venue 

Incorporating gamification into your venue means identifying areas where engaging challenges or reward systems can enhance the visitor experience. Partnering with a tech specialist is essential to integrate these features effectively, either by updating your current app or developing a new one. The financial commitment varies based on the complexity of the gamification features and the technology required.

Initial expenses include development and setup, while ongoing costs are associated with maintaining and updating the system to maintain high engagement. This strategy aims to add a layer of interactive fun, encouraging repeat visits and deeper engagement with your venue.

Gamification success story 

Dave & Buster's rewards program is a testament to the effectiveness of gamification. It offers points that can be redeemed for rewards, which is effective when encouraging repeat visits. The way the brand has incorporated gamification and points into its identity makes it a market leader in the space.

Tech your business to the next level 

By exploring and implementing the tech trends discussed, businesses can not only stay ahead of the curve but also redefine what entertainment means in the 21st century. Embracing innovation is no longer optional; it's essential for success in this rapidly evolving sector. 

Entertainment businesses should look at technology as a way of streamlining operations and enhancing guest experiences. By partnering with tech providers like ROLLER, your venue can benefit from a partner that is constantly innovating and providing access to tools and features that help you stay ahead of the curve and increase revenue. 

Discover how ROLLER can help entertainment businesses thrive.