8 in 10 UK consumers reluctant to visit attractions in 2021

New research has revealed that almost 8 in 10 (78%) UK consumers are concerned about visiting attractions in 2021 as a result of the on-going Covid-19 pandemic. Just under 1 in 4 (23%) Brits are so concerned by the prospect of returning to theme parks, resorts, and other public attractions like casinos, zoos, aquariums, and museums, that they will no longer visit at all.

The key to overcoming reluctance could, however, lie with technology, as 1 in 2 (52%) consumers claim tech is vital for ensuring their safety and encouraging them to visit attractions once again.

According to the Omnico Group research, which was conducted among 2,048 UK consumers*, visitors are most concerned with safety: top worries include navigating crowds (58%), the inability to enforce safe social distancing (54%), and 1 in 3 (33%) are even concerned that – after a tough year – attractions are now more focused on bringing in money than ensuring visitor safety.

A third (32%) of respondents also believe attractions aren’t doing enough to limit visitor numbers, while others around a quarter say venues are falling short when it comes to enabling contactless customer experiences (24%) and reducing queues (26%).

The findings – presented in Omnico’s ‘5 Steps to Rebuild Footfall and Drive Loyalty in 2021’ – highlight what attractions can do to improve consumer comfort levels and confidence, allay concerns, and encourage visitors back after a difficult 2020.

Mel Taylor, CEO of Omnico Group, explains: “After the year we’ve had, it’s understandable that consumers are reluctant to return to attractions in 2021, but the outlook isn’t all doom and gloom. By understanding and addressing visitor concerns now, businesses can put in place appropriate measures to negate worries and begin welcoming visitors back safely. Our research highlights three core areas where attractions should focus their attention and make improvements that could ultimately turn the tide for their business – and technology has a fundamental role to play in this.”

Safety, and capacity, first

Safety (58%) and capacity (49%) are top of the priority list for consumers looking to visit attractions this year; ensuring visitors’ physical safety on-site and managing a responsible level of capacity will be deal-breakers – and could mean the difference between visiting or not.

86% of UK consumers are now researching an attraction’s Covid-19 safety measures prior to booking; and almost two thirds (64%) of respondents say if those measures aren’t up to scratch, they will simply book elsewhere.

When asked what they’re looking for to alleviate safety concerns, 55% of UK respondents said clear social distancing guidelines, 50% wanted capped visitor numbers, and 43% said staggered entry times for visitors would make them feel more comfortable visiting attractions in 2021.

Technology must-haves

Physical safety isn’t the only must for venues in 2021; technology has a significant role to play in ensuring attractions are prepared for the year ahead.

More than half (52%) of respondents agreed that technology is needed to address Covid-19 safety and would make them more likely to visit an attraction during the pandemic.

For this reason, many of the technologies previously deemed ‘nice-to-haves’ are now considered ‘must-haves’ by visitors looking to return in 2021, including: contactless entry points, smart tickets, and turnstiles (57%), pay-at-table (51%) and self-scan checkouts (49%) for contactless service, and attraction mobile apps (48%).

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In fact, a contactless customer experience – which minimises physical contact between visitors, other patrons, and staff – is now so important that over 1 in 5 (22%) consumers booking trips this year will only visit attractions that can offer this kind of experience.

Loyalty: the post-Covid currency

With 89% of attraction businesses having seen a considerable drop in visitor numbers** since the pandemic began, rewarding the loyalty of those that are still willing to walk through the gates is more important than ever.

84% of UK respondents said personalised offers would make them more likely to visit an attraction in 2021, citing discounted or ‘off-peak’ ticket prices (39%), free or discounted return visits (34%), and food and drink offers (27%) as the most appealing drivers.

As a result, a third (33%) of consumers consider loyalty apps another ‘must-have’ technology for venues in 2021, and just under 1 in 5 (19%) say some loyalty perks – like the option to pay for VIP packages or access to a private area away from crowds – would actually make them feel safer during their visit.

“The Covid-19 pandemic marks a significant inflection point for the attractions industry,” Taylor continued. “Consumers are entering 2021 with a completely different outlook, and a brand-new set of expectations for businesses like theme parks, resorts, casinos, and public attractions. Safety is rightly top of the priority list, and technology has a vital role to play in ensuring that venues are Covid-secure for returning guests. So, it’s reassuring to hear that the vast majority (88%) of attraction businesses* appreciate the importance of technology for restoring consumer confidence this year.

“Not only can technology make attractions safer for visitors – whether that’s through contactless customer service at kiosks or via self-serve apps, smart solutions like e-ticketing, or operating at safe capacity via integrated management platforms – it can make businesses run smoother. At Omnico, we pride ourselves on delivering the tools that will help businesses prepare for this new normal and support their recovery after challenging times.”

Research Methodology

*This survey was conducted by Censuswide on behalf of Omnico Group, among a sample of 2,048 UK adults (aged 18+). All respondents have visited a theme park, destination resort, casino, or other public attraction (i.e. zoo, aquarium, museum, etc.) within the last two years. Fieldwork was carried out between 21st – 24th December 2020. Censuswide abides by and employs members of the Market Research Society which is based on the ESOMAR principles.

 

**Additional qualitative research was conducted by Omnico Group, via Survey Monkey, among a sample of 35 customers in the attractions sector. Responses were gathered between 16th December 2020 – 9th January 2021.

Image credit: William/Adobe Stock