Embracing technology and trampoline parks; the two big things to shake up the family attraction sector in 2017. But what’s next for days out? With increasing demand for attention and spend, plus customer expectations at an all-time high, how can attractions ensure they’re delivering the best experience for visitors?
Lisa O’Keeffe, brand manager at www.dayoutwiththekids.co.uk, talks us through what we can expect to see more of from days out in 2018…
Hole in One
Looking back even just a few years ago, crazy golf courses were made up of miniature greens and some strategic obstacles. Fast forward to 2018, and you’ll be putting your way around dinosaurs, lakes, pirate ships and more, as themed courses deliver an exciting new experience to captivate visitors.
Whilst the core activity of crazy golf hasn’t changed in over 100 years, the challenge for owners and operators is to offer something new, to help keep audiences coming back for more.
Mr Mulligan’s is just one example putting the adventure back into adventure golf, with nine themed sites and counting across the UK. Whilst the brand started with the more typical outdoor courses, it has since launched a number of indoor sites to offer an all-weather day out, transforming former retail and warehouse units along the way.
Imagination is a magic ingredient for attractions, offering families the chance to escape the everyday and experience something new. Role-play centres are the perfect example of this, so it’s no surprise to hear of plenty of plans for tiny towns to launch this year.
Designed to be a more interactive version of play, kids of all ages are encouraged to explore a range of experiences, learning to discover things for themselves. The most common theme is around small towns where kids rule the roost; taking on the role of everything from hairdresser and postman, to doctor or vet. Although it may sound like an episode of Biggleton on CBeebies, attractions like KidZania London are firmly based on reality, but with plenty of excitement and opportunities to let imaginations run wild.
Bouncy castles were once the highlight of any kid’s birthday party, but with a major upgrade for 2018, inflatable parks are set to be springing up all over the country. Following the popularity of trampoline parks in the last 18 months, inflatable parks offer an exciting new challenge for both kids and grown-ups. Following its success with its touring offer in the last year, Wacky World is one brand that is testing the water with the first permanent inflatable attraction in the UK.
Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) are already huge in the gaming world, and with a gradual integration in the attractions market, these are two buzzwords that are certainly going to be a talking point this year.
Whilst VR is designed to offer escapism and is typically an isolated experience, AR can be enjoyed as a group, making it a fantastic addition for those looking to attract the family market. Take the fantastic Gruffalo trails from last year, which saw thousands of parents heading into the forest in search of a much-loved children’s character, all brought to life with a simple app. This new form of reality is seamless, exciting and accessible to everyone, whilst still providing an unforgettable experience like never before – that’s the key to the success of VR and AR to the family market.
Stay & Play
On-site hotels and resorts are nothing new, but when they can come with a premium price tag and demand is all but guaranteed, the maths certainly adds up for why they’re a hot topic of conversation this year.
Perfect for destination attractions, the ones that families will travel for and turn into a short break, these on-site hotels are all part of the experience. CBeebies Land Hotel at Alton Towers is one of the biggest new additions, offering a hotel experience to match the more toddler-centric zone within the park itself. Designed specifically for young families, this is a fantastic example of an inner circle hotel catering for its audience.
It’s no secret that the more time spent on-site at your attraction, the more opportunities there are to generate revenue. Despite becoming more time-strapped than ever, there are huge opportunities for multi-use sites and facilities to maximise on dwell time, with families looking for the convenience of lots of activities under one roof to turn an hour into a full day out.
Combining a handful of activities with a pick ‘n’ mix approach allows visitors to build a bespoke experience, with offers like bowling and laser tag working well in joint spaces. Of 206 of the laser tag venues we have listed at dayoutwiththekids.co.uk, more than 24% share their site with a bowling alley, whilst others boast go karting, paintball and even trampoline parks under their roof too.
Live and Kicking
Take your seats and get ready for a show, as 2018 is set to be the year of live entertainment at attractions.
In theme park terms, this opens another opportunity for owners to introduce licensed characters and shows, without launching a new zone or ride. Both adaptable and changeable, these live entertainment shows at bigger attractions spell another reason to visit, especially if the show is on for a limited period of time. There are also huge seasonal opportunities to introduce live entertainment, especially around Halloween and Christmas.
But it’s not all stage and lighting; the live entertainment experience is something that is easily replicable at any scale. Things like animal talks and feedings at zoos, sheep racing at farm parks, firework displays and even character meet and greets offer an unmissable highlight of the day – in fact many people shape their day out agenda based on these events!
Dayoutwiththekids.co.uk is the biggest website for days out in the UK, connecting families with great days out wherever they are. For more information, or to start planning your adventure, visit www.dayoutwiththekids.co.uk.