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The double-edged sword of dwell time in visitor attractions

Dwell time – a revered metric and key performance indicator across the leisure and attractions industry. It is used to assess the performance of keeping guests engaged and spending their most lucrative commodity in the 21st century. Time.

The traditional formula of dwell time goes like this:

  1. If I make my guests stay longer in my attraction…

  2. They will enjoy the experience more…

  3. And spend more money…

  4. And leave more positive reviews.

We of course know that not every attraction fits this narrative, nor, not every guest experience. The continual shift of new and enhanched themed attractions and a dynamically-shifting consumer behaviour means it is impossible to really understand if your ‘dwell time’ figure alone is a ‘good’ metric score, or a bad one.

Contextual data

Something we practice and preach at Katapult is using your data within the context of your guests’ experience, and not always a number to compare yourself to competing attractions. To understand this further, here’s a statement for you to complete:

My visitor attraction model has a low/high dwell time that is/isn’t commercially successful. [DELETE AS APPROPRIATE]

Whatever your answer is to the above statement, there are some fundamental ways to make sure you are using your dwell time metric especially, to make the best decisions for your guests and your attraction. It starts by cross-referencing other data you may have.

Vs. Guest reviews

Take a look at the matrix below that considers the dwell time of guests, against guest reviews. Here, you can see how a ‘high’ dwell time can signal operational issues – not just a sign of success and opportunity to grow. Which of the four boxes would you place your attraction in, on this matrix?

Vs. Guest spend

This time we’ve looked at the impact of assessing dwell time by guest spend. Again, high dwell time can also represent an issue with efficiency and poor commercial offering, as well as being seen as a ‘positive’ that guests are sticking around.

Vs. Throughput

Finally, how does dwell time coincide with the throughput of guests you are calculating as they are entertained on your rides and experiences? This again provides questions as to how reliable dwell time can be as a solitary KPI.

Decisions on dwell time

Dwell time IS a great metric for visitor attractions to use, but only within context of your attraction and the metrics that matter to you. The three matrix boxes above show just how dwell time could be wrongly (or rightly) analysed, then relied on to provide you with recommendations to improve.

Insights like this are here to not only teach, but reaffirm what you already know. If you dwell time data and performance metrics doesn’t do the same, now is the time to re-assess what matters to you and your guests.

For more information on how Katapult can support you on creating insights-driven decisions that better inform your next expansion or improvement project, get in touch with us today.

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