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Barriers to change: why the majority of visitor attractions are hesitant to invest in mobile apps...

...And why they are wrong!

According to VisitBritian, less than 17% of UK attractions currently offer guests the option to use an app before, during or after their visit. However, data from shows that visitors are using theme park apps more often than ever before, with usage rising by 37% from 2018 to 2019. So why are so many attractions hesitant to take the plunge?


It is often thought that developing and operating a mobile app is expensive and time consuming, and that can certainly be the case. But investing in an app can be done to a budget, if you’re willing to forgo the fully customised, bespoke product. By instead subscribing to a platform-based model, where the product comes virtually as-is, you can greatly reduce the cost without losing out on the practical benefits a mobile app can offer. This option also allows for any current tech to be integrated into the app, such as queue or ticketing software. Another benefit of investing in platform-based apps is the speed at which they can be up and running when compared to the more costly, customised options. Because this technology is built on existing, previously successful technology, often it can be ready to go within a much shorter time period.

Perceived usefulness

A lot of attractions believe that a website is a much better investment than an app, and they wouldn’t be wrong. However, assuming that a website will do the same thing and achieve similar results to an app is naive, because the purpose of each is different. Websites are mostly static sources of information where viewers can access general information, whereas an app can be utilised to provide dynamic, personalised content to each user for their visit. Individualised content can provide custom offers, trails, games and information about areas and events that may be of interest, as well as collecting a wide range of behavioural data which can be analysed. While website analytics can provide plenty of information about how users navigate a site, a theme park app offers analytical data on how guests navigate the park itself, which could be considered far more useful.

Maintenance & connectivity

There are plenty of misconceptions about apps, and how much maintenance they need, but as long as they are built properly and come with the appropriate management software the upkeep is no more than what a standard website would require. Attraction apps work best when content is regularly updated - this can be done via intuitive management systems which allow attractions to upload content and information easily. They can also be built to allow for over-the-air updates, where changes can be uploaded directly to the app in real time, providing the device has an internet connection. Another worry is that, without park-wide wifi, a theme park app’s use may be limited. While some live functionality is reduced by a lack of internet connectivity, they are far from useless. Maps, planners, event calendars, wayfinding and more can all work with no connection. It is more than understandable to be concerned about whether an attractions app is worth the investment, but with mobile phones becoming more and more entrenched in our daily lives, moving forward with this technology is vital to a theme park’s future.

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