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5 ways apps and gamification can enhance family time at visitor attractions.

Visitor attractions have become increasingly important for families as enablers for quality family time, providing a backdrop for memory-making experiences. With technology now playing an increasingly important role in customer engagement, we look at how visitor attractions can use apps and gamification to enhance their offering and help foster family togetherness.

The current world requires us to interact with different devices, and smartphones are now a ubiquitous element of our lives with 88% of UK adults (aged 16+) owning one in 2021. Rather than parents and kids isolating in their own online bubbles, technology can actually enhance family bonding experiences when enjoyed and shared together. Digital technology in and out of the home has become deeply integrated into family life. Many families jointly engage with media all the time, whether it’s online shopping, sharing stories and jokes in private chat groups or even a sitting down together for some primetime TV. "Joint media engagement” as coined by research experts, have shown it is possible to design positive experiences for people using media together and can translate into enhancing family connectedness at an attraction. So how can apps and gamification help to enrich this?

1. Education

A lot of visitors – particularly families – are looking for an educational element to their day out. Apps can help bring educational content to life, encouraging an entertaining reflection of what they’ve seen or discovered. Learning can be delivered in several exciting ways from quizzes to fun fact pop ups or even audio and video content. Providing this content via an app also eliminates the use for paper guides or info packs, making it not only more cost effective but better for the environment. Bye-bye rain sodden maps and hello sustainability!

2. Entertainment

Just as sitting round the table for a game of Monopoly a few years ago may have previously been the pinnacle of ‘family time’, having interactive games that everyone can join in with together is a great way for families to connect. Children love playing games and competing with their parents! Letting children take the lead and guide the family around a gamified trail or perhaps search for points-of-interest on a scavenger hunt, can encourage communication, physical activity and help them relate to their surroundings. Throw in some prizes and rewards for the ultimate feel-good factor and you’re left with a bunch of happy children as opposed to an argument over who gets to buy Mayfair.

3. Safety

Safety is likely to be the first concern for most families looking to visit an attraction, particularly since the Coronavirus outbreak. The demands placed on venues and attractions to uphold their duty of care to visitors has never been greater. As we enter this post pandemic era, a consciousness around social distancing and touched shared surfaces have created new standards in which attractions need to operate. A shift to the “contactless” approach means using apps to pay for tickets, refreshments and even car parking offers modern convenience and a safer experience for visitors. Plus the ability to disseminate safety information and notices quickly, such as via nudge notifications or pop-ups, enables effective communication to help build trust amongst safety-conscious families.

4. More family time

Read any negative reviews from a selection of visitor attractions and one of the biggest frustrations to emerge will be those centred around crowds and queues. There’s nothing worse than having your precious family time delayed by waiting around, which will inevitably lead to the dangerous combination of disgruntled parents and bored children. Interactive apps that can communicate how busy certain areas are on site prepares visitors so they can make informed decisions about where to go and plan their route accordingly, avoiding bottlenecks and congestion.

5. Live content

Having the ability to distribute live content enables an attraction to communicate efficiently with their visitors and provide them with a more tailored and personal experience. Whether that might be informing them about exhibit closures or sending reminders to promote a talk before it’s about the start, can help keep families up-to-date and enables them to plan their visit more effectively. Being able to send promotional offers tailored specifically to families such as “kids eat for free” deals at a specific on-site restaurant will not only reward your visitors but increase on-site spending and dwell times.

As the effectiveness of digital marketing for attractions is evident and use of digital communications by visitor attractions continues to increase, this digital adoption across the industry should also translate into the park itself. It’s easy to assume that the last thing families want when looking to connect is more screen time, however this style of “sharing” technology together is capable of unifying experiences and engagement objectives, strengthening the results of marketing and promotional campaigns. If you are capable of reaching customers and new audiences digitally, then it makes sense to use continue digital engagement both before, during and after their visit.

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