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How technology is changing the face of guest experience in the leisure sector

How technology is changing the face of guest experience in the leisure sector

Mobile interaction at theme parks has significantly increased

Taking photos and social check-ins among most popular mobile activities

Connected parks provide understanding about customer journey

Be playful with new mobile apps or integration in park


There are thousands of people in Orlando this week for the IAAPA’s Attraction Expo and a couple of the Katapult team have joined them again this year to support a key client who’s exhibiting, catch up with contacts and to gather insights.

IAAPA is the largest international tradeshow for the amusements and attractions industry in the world and there is a lot of socialising and catching up done at the show, alongside many people visiting from attractions who are looking for new products, new technology and ways to enhance their guests’ experiences.

There have been a few reports released which provide some interesting statistics and findings which help inform attractions of guests behaviours when it comes to technology and the guest experience in the leisure sector.

So whilst visiting IAAPA looking to find the next new shiny product, here’s our quick round-up of some of the key points to keep front-of-mind.


67% of respondents are interested in seeing increased mobile integration at theme parks and say it would improve their experience

80% took a mobile device on their last visit and engaged with it on and off during the day. 67% of visitors said they want more mobile integration at theme parks saying it will improve their overall experience.


What do guests do on their mobile devices while at a theme park

We have seen attractions introducing features via mobile apps to inform guests of ways to save time by ability to check queue times, planning an itinerary for the day and using GPS to locate friends. All very useful and practical functionality.

78% of people take photos during their visit on their mobile device which is no surprise, with many people checking their phones for emails and social channels, which again, is no surprise. So the question is, in light of the above statistics what type of mobile integrations will truly improve the guest experience? There are a few things to consider…


Investing in the infrastructure to allow connectivity is key. There is little or no point introducing ways to enhance the experience via user-owned devices if the connectivity in the park isn’t up to scratch.

But more importantly, theme parks need to be thinking about linking customer data and understanding the key touch points, as well as understanding guests behaviours and what motivates them. It’s about making technology an enabler and Vail Resorts are a great example of this… the detail of which are highlighted in this SAS Conclusions Paper.

Another example is Picsolve, the world’s leading photography partner for the leisure sector who have just announced a contract to provide a fully connected photo and video experience at four new themed developments within Dubai Parks and Resorts. This means guests have photography as part of an ‘all inclusive’ package which truly integrates photography as part of the day – which will enhance experience for guests.


When designing new experiences, attractions need to think very early on about technology integration so you don’t end up with clunky bolt-ons that aren’t linked in with the narrative & experience.

Also with existing attractions there are many ways you can improve the experience by introducing technology at key touch points that don’t distract from the physical experience but enrich it.


This may sound obvious but use insights to better understand your guest’s needs. For example, for a family audience, you should consider enriching educational content and how digital devices unlock these. This is a key consideration for those parks that have dedicated kids areas, heritage or strong  IP’s. We look to map the user journey, pre-visit, during and post-visit – alongside looking at user needs to inform key touch points. This helps identify where there are current friction points or a disconnect, then look at innovative solutions to enhance and extend the experience.


As you work in a sector where guests are in a playful mind set. Embrace this, it’s a big reason why we all love working in this sector. A fantastic example of an attraction that achieved this is the Penguin Navi at Sunhine Aquarium, Tokyo – Japan.

They addressed an issue of their location being on the outskirts by using mobile/AR technology in a very playful way, making travelling to the venue fun and by doing so achieving significant commercial results, with 152% increase in visitors over the previous month despite no change in exhibition content.

Photo Credits: Thinkwell Group

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