Sam Zietz, CEO of business automation platform specialists GRUBBRR, explains how the customer experience might be improved – and fear removed – when the industry is able to re-open
As COVID-19 sweeps through the nation and the world, every industry is being forced to rethink its approach to business. These changes will likely last for years to come, far after social distancing protocols are officially suspended. Not the least among these industries facing significant changes is amusement parks. In order to re-capture the business of amusement park goers post-COVID-19, one must first regain their trust.
Making visitors feel safe
Even after social distancing measures are lifted, many potential visitors will still feel extremely wary about re-entering public spaces, especially public spaces like amusement parks that tend to draw large crowds in almost exclusively shared spaces.
It is important that parks clearly demonstrate that cleanliness and hygiene are top-priority issues. All food vendors should wear gloves and hair coverings. Cleaning staff should be visible and present at all times, and workers should be regularly disinfecting areas that many people touch, including handlebars on rides, fences, and ticket machines. Moreover, it is vital that parks are open and transparent about the procedures that they are planning on implementing. Parks should address concerns over cleanliness and health-related safety head-on with consumers in order to rebuild trust.
Technology: self-service kiosks
Introducing new and innovative technologies into amusement parks will play a key role in creating safer park environments and re-establishing a trusting relationship with visitors.
Beyond the question of health-safety, self-service kiosks improve the customer experience by 38%. Kiosks create the ability to deliver a wider range of products and services, and allow customers to serve themselves when and where it is convenient for them. Kiosks also provide easily accessible information to aid the customer in making better buying decisions, and increase the average ticket by 12-22% by offering a perfect and customised up-sell every time.
Self-service kiosks also maximise convenience for consumers by decreasing lines and wait times. A study reports that most consumers associate each second of waiting time with an additional $0.05 cost, which corresponds with an hourly cost rate of almost 10 times the average wage of $18/hour. Self-service kiosks can help eliminate these extra costs by reducing wait times.
Payment technologies like the self-service kiosk are also the best way to cater to residual consumer concerns about social distancing. The self-service kiosk eliminates the need for a cashier. Instead, staff can be on stand-by to regularly wipe down kiosks to further emphasise and maintain high hygienic standards. The self-service kiosk helps move amusement parks away from the dirtiest thing out there: cash.
The technology within our kiosks enable cashless functionality by accepting credit and debit cards. However, since this isn’t always an option given cashless bans, kiosks are also coupled with cash recyclers. A fully automated payment system will reduce concerns about extended human-to-human contact and hygienic concerns over cash exchange.
For example, GRUBBRR kiosks offer a QR code functionality for fully contactless ordering option, too. A visitor simply needs to open the camera on their smartphone, scan the QR code, and a digital menu will appear on their phone. They can order from right outside a restaurant, or at whatever distance they feel comfortable with. Once the purchase is complete, the consumer has a multitude of payment options, including many payment options through their phone, credit and debit card options, or the tap-payment function.
Keeping the consumer engaged
The digital world is also ideal for keeping the consumer engaged, even now while parks are closed due to social distancing practices. Parks should use social media to stay in contact with their audience. Social media is a great way to broadcast information about new attractions that are being developed, and to start the process of communicating to visitors the ways in which the park is preparing for a post-COVID-19 future.
Constant contact through social media not only reminds consumers that they are still important, but it also begins to set the foundations for re-building that trust with visitors and getting them excited to come out to amusement parks once they re-open. From the comfort of their home, consumers will get to see first-hand what measures are being taken to ensure the safety of future visitors. Moreover, especially now, when so much of the media is focused on the despair of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is important to give people something to look forward to.
Our focus on the digital world can help compound efforts to engage with consumers online. Self-service kiosks and other digital ordering platforms are an effective way to retain customer loyalty because it opens the doors to personalised ordering experiences. In that way, the ordering process just becomes another part of a customer’s digital persona.
Self-service kiosks also make it easier to administer and reward customer loyalty through digital loyalty programs that can go from the kiosk or QR code straight to the customer’s phone for their convenience. These programs can keep consumers engaged with the park even when they are not there.
In light of the inevitable ways the world will change in the wake of the COVID-19 virus, health and hygiene must be priorities. Technology will play a large role in engaging consumers and regaining their trust, and eventually, their business.
Sam Zietz is founder and CEO of the financial technology company GRUBBRR. In 2015, Sam was a recipient of the prestigious EY Entrepreneur of the Year Award in Florida, and he has served on the judging panel for the annual program since 2018.
His companies have also appeared on the INC 500 list eight times.