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7 changes Covid-19 has accelerated in the attractions industry


Katapult were hosts of a thought-leading webinar in September as part of the Connecting Culture Virtual Expo. Alongside our Co-Founder and Chief Creative Officer, Phil Higgins, was Adam Goymour from Roarr! Dinosaur Adventure and Carly Straughan from Q LINE Consulting.

The topic of discussion was how Covid-19 has become an accelerator for change in guest experience for attractions and leisure experiences. While theme parks had seen success over the summer months, this was achieved against a backdrop of enforced guest capacity limits and consumer caution about visiting attractions once more. Research by Morning Consult in July revealed that 78% of U.S parents don’t feel comfortable visiting theme parks in 2020.

So what has changed so swiftly for the attractions industry in the nine months since the outbreak began? How will this define our future? What can other attractions learn from those that are already operational? Here are some of the key takeaways from the webinar.

1 – Embrace opinions of front line staff

As Park Manager & Company Director, Adam at Roarr! Dinosaur Adventure has made his staff (or ‘crew’ as he describes them) integral to the reopening of his attraction.

As well as conversing in the changes they were making to the park to make it Covid-secure, Adam also engaged with the crew using a questionnaire to determine their thoughts, feelings and ideas. The result was that 90% of the staff returned to work for the opening and the park was a safe environment for guests to return to.

2 – Capacity management

With a background at working at Merlin Entertainments and industry ticketing specialists, Carly Straughan understands the operational benefits of managing guest numbers. “Finally, capacity management is now being taken seriously in the industry” she said, after talking about the widespread implementation of technology to manage visitors in the wake of the pandemic.

While this is allowing attractions to ensure capacity remains capped and contact details are saved for Track & Trace systems, Carly argues that these tools can fundamentally help improve the operations of the whole attraction anyway, as well as helping create an even greater guest experience.

3 – Adaptive experiences

Even the global projects which Katapult are working on for completion in 2021 and 2023, are thinking about the impact of Covid, according to Phil.

While attractions and investors wish to keep the core experience untouched, they are still planning for how the pandemic, current or new, will affect their future plans. Operators and investors “want to be prepared” and that means creating designs that can be adapted to meet new social distancing regulations or guidelines of the future.

4 – Target new market segments

Carly spoke about the importance of continuing the good work seen in the industry to encourage groups of guests who may not visit previously. ‘Museum Lates’ concept was mentioned as to how attractions had branched out into new experiences that capture a new demographic.

The results can be a higher spend per head, compared to annual passholders, while ingraining the attraction within a new market segment.

5 – Invest in your unique offer

A reference made by both Carly and Adam was the need for attractions to rely on their strong and unique offer to bring back visitors once more. Adam spoke about his park’s use of their character, Dippy the Dinosaur, to help accentuate their offer, as well as using him to add new themed attractions such as their go-kart Raceway and live entertainment performances.

This has helped the Dinosaur Adventure achieve 55% new visitors to both their website and the park.

6 – Start thinking about new experiences now

With both indoor and outdoor attractions gearing up towards a ‘normal’ season in Spring 2021, Phil talked about the need for investment in experiences to differentiate in a crowded market. “It’s not enough to simply open the doors in a Covid-secure way. Attractions need to think about investing in new experiences, rides, entertainment, programming and theming to draw visitors in and set themselves apart from others.”

Phil also spoke about the need for more experiences within larger attractions, to help manage guest flow and maintain guest contentment even with the uncertainty of social distancing regulations of the future.

7 – Make the mundane, an experience

Already implemented with Roarr! Dinosaur Adventure is the use of dinosaur footprints stickers on the floor to provide social distancing guidelines. Adam said that these should become opportunities to bring in theming and add a little extra experience to the visit. This is something that Katapult embraced in their al fresco dining experience concept (see image above) to reinforce social distancing.

Adam also highlighted the important work his park has done to showcase the safety features in the park via video and share this with their community on social media. This has provided additional reassurance for families and also those with greater accessibility needs.

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