While you’re enjoying this article, check out Episode 81 of the AttractionPros Podcast where we discuss this same topic.
I have always observed that guests will pay a premium dollar as long as it is proportional to a premium experience. If you look up nearly any business on an online review site, you’ll notice that the guests who praise the value of their purchase are frequently the ones who opted for a more premium option, and therefore spent the highest. On the flipside, guests who complain that the experience was too expensive, or not worth their money, are very often guests who bought the most basic option, and therefore spent the least.
With that logic, we would assume that every guest would want to purchase the most premium option so that they can have the best value and the best experience. This is obviously not the case, otherwise you would see a 100% conversion rate on your most expensive offerings. Price is usually seen to be the culprit, and the perception becomes that guests can’t afford more than your basic admission or that they don’t want to spend more. However, price is not always the determining factor, even if it seems the most obvious. Here are three suggestions for what might be dragging down your premium sales – and therefore reducing your average spend per guest, and none of them have to do with price:
1. They don’t know it exists
Recently, on a trip to visit a client, I toured the facility before meeting with them as I had not been to the property before. When I approached the admissions area, there were clear prices for their basic options – a price for adults and a price for children. Underneath it, in smaller text, was a message to inquire about front of the line access, along with mentioning that annual passes are available too. While this gives a brief indication that it exists, it could have been promoted alongside the general admission options, or even presented as a premium option, rather than an afterthought, which was my perception when studying the sign.
Even if they want it, your guests will not always ask you what additional options are available, particularly if they are unfamiliar with ticket structure, packages, or premium offerings. They will make an assumption that what they see is what they can buy. At several other attractions and businesses, I have seen premium offerings promoted once the guest has already entered the facility, and therefore paid for general admission. Since they didn’t know it existed when they made their initial commitment, their likelihood to want to add to their experience will substantially drop after they make their initial transaction.
This might sound like I’m reducing a revenue growth strategy by simply letting your guests know that more options exist, and I am! Too often I will see that premium offerings and more opportunities for enhanced experiences (and therefore further spending) are tucked away, only mentioned discreetly to a small percentage of guests, or not part of front-line staff’s proficiency of offerings. If guests don’t know it exists, they can’t buy it.
2. They don’t know why they should buy it
There is a huge difference between features and benefits, and both of them are more compelling arguments over price. If you only list price as the main component of a larger option or package, then the only takeaway is that this is a more expensive purchase. By promoting features with your guests, they will have a slightly better understanding of what they will receive when making the purchase. To take it a step further, the benefits of premium options are too often under-communicated, yet they have the most impact. This is how the guest uses the features, and how they feel when they use them.
Features are like ingredients, and benefits are how feel when you consume it. For instance, the features of a chocolate cake would be:
And a few others. If you are trying to sell a chocolate cake, you wouldn’t tell your customer that they should buy it because it has ¾ cup of unsalted butter, softened (thank you wikiHow), but rather that this cake is going to be the perfect way to celebrate their special occasion, and it wouldn’t be the same without it.
The features of an annual pass may be the bullet points that you list on your website and in your marketing materials. Year-round access, discounts on food & beverage, and discounts for admission for friends and family, are all features that can be listed. However, instead of listing each of the features when trying to sell the idea of an annual pass, think of how the guest will feel as they use each of the components. For example:
As a valued annual passholder, you will be able to visit as many times as you’d like over the next year. Not only that, but you’ll save money each time when you eat and shop here. Also, you’re about to be your family’s favorite relative, because when they come and visit you, you’ll save them money too!
3. It’s not convenient for them to buy
Even if the guest has a desire for a premium option, even the slightest friction point will have a negative impact on sales. Your guests might want it, but they don’t want to exert much energy in buying it. If they have to walk farther, wait longer, talk to another person, click another button, fill out another form, pull out their wallet again, or use a specific coupon or access code, the propensity to buy drops every single time. By focusing on transaction speed and requiring as few transactions as possible, guests will retain their desire to buy and see it through to completion. The more hoops they have to jump through, the less worth it that additional purchase seems.
Take a look at your flow of transactions and try to identify every friction point that you can. It might be as simple as removing a few items that a guest needs to type onto an e-commerce page. It might be bundling two items into one transaction that otherwise were sold separately. Or, it could be moving a point of sale to where guests naturally congregate rather than requiring them to go out of their way. Every friction point you remove is a step in the right direction. I recommend Shep Hyken’s recent book, The Convenience Revolution, for a deep dive into removing friction and making it easier for your guests to do business with you.
In summary, price is not the only reason why your guests haven’t bought more of your premium item. They may not know it exists, how it will benefit them, and it just might not be easy for them to make the transaction.
What other reasons have you seen to be the case when slowing down sales?
As the Founder of BackLooper, a consumer insights tool, Joshua not only helps attractions generate higher volumes of customer feedback, but provides them with the intelligence needed to correct the most pressing concerns that detract from the guest experience. Joshua’s passion for guest experience comes from his background in hospitality and tourism, serving visitors from all around the world and specializing in complex service failure resolution. BackLooper has proven to help attractions optimize their feedback loop and foster guest loyalty.