Packed to bursting point during peaks, near empty on ‘shoulder season’ weekdays.

It’s a familiar problem for leisure attractions around the world. By broadening the customer appeal of an attraction, you can not only achieve huge operational efficiencies, but also spread risk; which is why so many operators invest in new facilities or realign their strategies to reach new markets.

Freshening the attraction’s appeal

Madame Tussauds was among the first leisure attractions to refresh its appeal 170 years ago, when it melted down its waxworks for reuse. Since then, as competition for ‘share of wallet’ has increased, a growing number of attractions have invested heavily with new rides, exhibits and enclosures – all to ensure their core offering attracts, excites, educates and remains relevant to evolving tastes.

Others attractions have chosen to diversify their core offering by expanding the experiences they provide. Take, for example, the on-site hotel. This tactic has been adopted by big-name attractions such as Alton Towers, Drayton Manor and Legoland as well as niche venues such as Bowmore Distillery, which combines its daily tours with four-star cottage stays.

Multiple messaging

Any form of diversification or expansion of your offering means reaching a broader audience, which in turn demands an increased number of the messages to be shared.

The challenge for marketing teams is therefore to reach these new audiences without diluting the core offering and brand. And to provide an engaging brand experience for all audiences without turning off existing customers with too much promotional, cross-sell and up-sell messaging.

Fail to plan, plan to fail

We've talked previously about the importance of defining audiences and messages prior to a pixel being placed or line of code being written. That’s because for digital to be used effectively and support your objectives, it needs to be planned strategically with the help of usable insights that are mined from in-depth research around your customers, internal challenges, proposition and market.

We've used this approach across all sectors, including tourism and leisure. However, the solution naturally varies from client-to-client. For Visit Kent, we developed a deep level of understanding about the destination and its audience to create a website that gives users the tools to customise their content experience to their unique requirements. With the Edinburgh Zoo team we created a website and mobile app based on audience insights that delivered distinct journeys according to whether the visitor is visiting the zoo for the first time or is a repeat customer. Meanwhile, for a bar group we’re working with right now, we've defined personalised user journeys based on customer insights gathered from implicit and explicit information that will lead to a relevant, commercially-driven digital presence.

Your insights will inform your strategy, which will in turn help you define how you reach and engage your audiences – from identifying the right channels to defining a manageable process for creating and sharing the right types of content.

The good news is that advances in digital technologies and tools are making life easier for in-house teams. With the right approach, you can improve how data is captured and understood; create personalised user journeys that drive users towards your goals; and effectively and efficiently manage the multiple proposition messages – all of which can broaden your appeal and unlock new revenue opportunities.