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Top talking points from Family Attractions Expo 2019

We were once again part of the 18,000 strong crowd that attended the Family Attractions Expo in Birmingham, UK, this year. I had the privilege of attending numerous seminars given by industry leaders. Here’s the top talking points from Thursday’s speakers.

IPs are proven to generate more revenue

Natalia Bakhlina from Leisure Development Partners spoke about the impact that IPs (intellectual properties) can have on a theme park or themed attraction – if the right IP is chosen. A global review of the attractions that have added an IP, compared to those who haven’t, showed that merchandise sales increased 19% on average – while visitor numbers and admission prices also increased too.

Getting the right IP is the trickiest job, according to Natalia. How do you add an IP without alienating other visitors? Are you willing to give up a percentage of admission, merchandise and other sales to compensate for licensing the IP?

Museum ‘pecking orders’ need revising

‘Who is the museum for?’ was a question asked by the CEO of Brooklands Museum, Tamalie Newbery, when she first started working at the attraction. Volunteers, staff members and trustees were seen as more important than paying visitors, when she first arrived at the museum.

Through consumer research, Brooklands Museum were able to understand what mattered most to family visitors (better welcome, places to relax and an understanding of the overall story) and implement that into their brand and experience. The result has been a three-fold increase in visitor numbers and greater revenue too.

Four pillars make great visitor experiences

Former Merlin Entertainments and Warner Bros visitor experience director, Laura Watson spoke about the balance required to make a great attraction – namely, the experience, design, marketing and operations.

These four teams should work and collaborate together, equally, ensuring the right investments are made at the right times with the right people in place to make it happen. Do these four pillars have equal standing in your attraction? What needs to be done to get everyone, including suppliers, on the same page?

Not all F&B has to be experiential

Paul Jackson from Longleat Enterprises introduced the refreshed F&B offer at the attraction and how the changes he and his team have made, are reaping the rewards. Using customer profiling, Longleat were able to match their visitor’s demand for F&B based on their behaviour – for example, more ‘grab ‘n go’ snacks for busy families.

This profiling also revealed the need for more simplicity and calmer environments for visitors to enjoy their food and drink. As a result, their highly themed dining areas have been refurbished with simple, stylish designs that offer peace away from the main attraction.

Katapult will be attending all the major attractions conventions in the next 12 months, including MAPIC and IAAPA Expo. Make sure you subscribe to the blog to get the inside track on all of the years’ events.

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