As you and your team emerge from what we trust was a successful and incident free peak season, it is time to think about what 2019 will look like.
While much has been written about the forecasted trends for tourism, we would like to focus on what we see as the trends for our industry, attractions and visitor experiences. Specifically, let us look at which trends will have an impact on your operational needs in 2019:
Coming off the back of the summer school holiday, we, as attractions, certainly felt the pressure of being in higher demand and it affecting capacity and the visitor experience . The festive season combined with the Easter weekend, can account for a significant portion of your foot traffic and the key factor is ensuring those visitors leave with a satisfactory feeling about your site to ensure they will return.
The reality right now is that in South Africa, we have an influx of domestic visitors over 30 extremely busy days. This negatively affects the visitor experience while increasing the visitor pressure and it is high time we consider how to spread the demand throughout the year.
How best to shift the ever-growing demand? Let us start with going back to the country’s previous system of staggering inland and coastal school holidays. By staggering the school holidays, queue management, road traffic and visitor experiences at your attractions would all greatly improve.
We are opening a dialogue with the tourism authorities about reverting to staggered holidays and would appreciate your input.
Please share your thoughts with us and your fans and followers on Twitter and Facebook and remember to use the hashtag #StaggeredSASchoolHolidays.
Ride-Sharing is here to stay
Uber and the ride-sharing trend are here to stay and attractions need to include this worldwide-recognised transport service in our operational plans.
Do you have adequate pick up and drop off spaces available at your attraction and are these effectively managed?
While we as visitor sites tend to focus on parking, the ride-sharing trend demands that we focus on ensuring that metre taxis, Uber cars and other public transport options are considered and have a place to pick up and drop off visitors.
Whilst in home entertainment and socialisation takes up an ever increasing amount of time and spending power, when consumers choose to socialise IRL ( in real life) they do so in larger groups, with intent and with a spending budget.
Does your site account for this? Are there spaces for people to chill, relax, and engage with each other at your attraction?
If you do not have these spaces, now is the time to incorporate them into your planning.
Health and wellness is a global megatrend in which consumers take their healthy habits with them on holiday and wish to make choices that improve their wellbeing
Holiday visitors tend to ‘trade healthy choices’ e.g. choose healthy activities so that they can indulge over lunch. Visitors wish to have healthy options. Does your experience provide these choices?
Provide mindful and quiet spaces for guests to switch off and engage with your site. A bench in the right place invites people to slow down.
Luxury redefined as Exclusivity
As access to travel becomes easier (and as tourism pressure becomes an increasing issue), luxury is being redefined as exclusive access.
This does not mean that experiences and attractions need to create VIP access and experiences, or increase price and access but rather provide hard-to-access moments that are special and not necessarily well known to all ( they also provide good social media moments and new story angles).
Think of implementing behind the scenes tours, adjusting your operational hours to open early, highlighting ‘secret and special’ spaces and moments etc.
Changing needs of health and safety
As your visitor demographic changes so too do your health and safety regulations requirements.
Death by selfie is a thing! There has been a rise in injuries and reportedly 259 deaths, according to this study (https://www.bbc.com/news/newsbeat-45745982) as people look to get the best image for their social media posts.
Make sure that the location at your attraction, which is the Instagram image that everyone wants to take, is accessible and safe.
Equally, our traditional tourism markets have an ageing population. Are you prepared for the health and safety needs that this brings?
Measures to take to assist aging visitors could include reading glasses on offer for people to use to read menus; larger font on signage, more rest stops and rest benches etc.
Queue psychology is changing
The more our online world delivers instant gratification, the harder we will find it to stand in queues in real life.
Unlike our online life, much of our travel experiences involves queues, from visa collection to airports to queues at attractions during peak pressure times.
This results in frustration and anger -we have no tolerance for queues anymore and this induces stress.
Work on decreasing the stress for your visitors and ensuring that everyone in the queue is informed, that the queue keeps moving and is equally fair to visitors.
Providing free WiFi at your attractions helps visitors manage their own entertainment whilst waiting in the queue.
Managing Sensory Overload at your attraction
Sensory overload is an issue both for visitors with sensory integration challenges as well as those visitors who wish to find more quiet in the world i.e. older people, rushed and anxious visitors, those looking for some relaxation on their day out.
Taking care of special needs and hyper stimulated visitors means finding ways to provide your experience with less stimulation. You can do this in the following ways:
Letting them in early via fast tracking through the queue – thereby decreasing the overexcitement and stimulation.
Allocating a time slot for sensory sensitive visitors where ‘less is more” e.g. not all the bright lights switched on and the background music is turned off.
Training your staff in autism awareness to interact with sensory sensitive visitors appropriately and manage any situation that arises.
Providing quiet rooms at your attractions that are equipped with weighted blankets, noise-quieting earphones, sensory appropriate toys and non-stimulating movies.