About Subscribe Submit news Get in touch
 
Home Opinion In depth Video LIVE news Interviews Company profiles Events diary Jobs
Solving the puzzle: Connect&GO’s Anthony Palermo on how technology is rapidly changing attractions management | Planet Attractions
     

In depth

Solving the puzzle: Connect&GO’s Anthony Palermo on how technology is rapidly changing attractions management

There’s a transformative shift happening when it comes to use of technology in attractions management. Anthony Palermo, co-founder of Connect&GO, spoke to Tom Anstey...




All-in-one systems offer a number of benefits, including payment via a wrist band or other wearable device   Credit: Connect&GO

The management of visitor attractions is rapidly changing as the technology surrounding operations evolves.

In a quest for operational efficiency and experiences that leave the visitor wanting to come back for more, attractions large and small are turning to solutions that integrate multiple parts of the guest experience into a single cohesive system, functioning as one collective mind for better operational output.

The popular way to do this is through cloud-based platforms that combine elements including eCommerce, point-of-sale (POS), access control and payment systems into one centralised system. This approach offers a number of advantages, including not only the ability to streamline operations, but to also better understand and accommodate guests on an individual basis.

Operating for some time as a leader in this corner of the attractions market, Connect&GO is a company that has worked with iconic brands and events all over the world. Moving from other markets into the attractions sector, company co-founder Anthony Palermo believes previous experience uniquely places the solution provider ahead of its competitors.

“We were in sports and live entertainment for the first eight years of our business,” he explains, speaking to Planet Attractions.

“Our first project was in a stadium and then very quickly we were doing large scale music events and sporting events. So whether it's PGA Golf Tours or Formula One or the Olympic Village or the Super Bowl, everything on a large scale requiring access control, cashless payments and guest engagement, that's what we spent years and years travelling the world doing.”

Starting with sports and live events offered a few things very relatable to attractions, primarily large volumes of people needing to complete certain tasks quickly.

“At an event you have to provide technology that's simple enough for everyone - tens of thousands of people - for a seamless experience,” explains Palermo.

“You're able to look at it and say, we need to get a lot of people to act in a certain way. Let's say you go to your local grocery store and all of a sudden they go from having cashiers to self-serve checkout. It's a big change for people of all ages that are coming to the store. They know one system and suddenly they have to change and adapt, so it has to be simple.”









Exploring how its RFID and integrated technology could best be applied, Palermo naturally identified attractions as a prime area that would benefit from Connect&GO’s offering.

He explains: “The attractions industry was the best target market for us to zero in on because these installations were permanent. One of the challenges of large scale events is that there are a lot of people using your technology, but only for three or four days. There's so much that you can try out and innovate. You can be very clever and come up with three or four new great things to do for an event. But it's going to be a year before you can try anything new because the event after three days doesn't exist. In a permanent installation, you can try something out on week one and then take a week to tweak it.

“This means that if an attraction can see that guests are engaging more with an element, then they could for example package it with another product to see how that package sells. There’s a lot more experimentation that can happen when it comes to marketing teams and retail teams and guest experience teams for a permanent installation because it gives you more opportunities to test out new strategies, measure results and deploy the best possible solution.”

Offering its easy-to-use solution for operators, Connect&GO is currently deployed in attractions throughout Europe, Canada and the US, with the Konnect platform transacting revenues of several hundred million dollars, serving waterparks, theme parks, family entertainment centres, animal attractions, and more.

“We're a company that's focussed on understanding, evaluating and digging a little deeper when it comes to how guests and operators are using technology to create better and more profitable experiences,” says Palermo.

“Konnect allows you to bring together all the guest touch points around an experience on-site, such as buying or redeeming your ticket, letting you into the property, connecting payments, redeeming discounts and so on. We provide technology that gives operators a unified view of the guest while making it easier for guests to enjoy their day.”



Of course with improved management systems, comes improved attractions experience. One of the main goals of Connect&GO is to ensure visitors have a day where time-consuming elements such as lines aren’t a major factor.

“This idea of line busting, or simply just finding easier ways for people to engage, is something that we focussed on for years in the events space,” says Palermo. “It’s also the main problem that a lot of attractions face. People wait in line from the parking lot to get into the property. Then, they're waiting for food and beverage and then they're waiting to get onto a ride. It’s all time that could be spent elsewhere. If you don't want lines to be the sum total of someone's experience, then you've got to find ways for people to get through the gates quickly or order their food while waiting for a ride.”

Reducing lines is just one example of how using real-time data can help a business make powerful decisions that help not only the customer but the operation itself.

“When it comes to real-time data, over the past 10 to 15 years, the leading companies in just about every industry have started to leverage the benefits of having real-time data to make better decisions at the right time and the right moment,” says Palermo.

“It’s time the attractions industry has those same opportunities to do so. Having operations visibility, you can start to send support staff to certain areas that you know are a lot busier. You know when rides are getting the most traffic, so you can think about where you are going to send your visitors.”



Using real-time data can improve the visitor experience and make operations easier for visitor attractions. But beyond that, data can create a personalised experience.

Using information gathered through a visit to an attraction, the operator can build a profile around each ticket, tailoring sales and experience around the individual customer.

“It's much more than just data points and scan points - it's a rich profile that's starting to aggregate around a person,” says Palermo. “It's not about wanting to know anything related to the privacy of these people, it's asking how do we give them more of what they really want? If we understand their behaviour on site, now, we can say 'we know that you seem to really like thrill rides, so here's a discount for you to come back to do the three rides you didn't get a chance to do yet’.”

Using these data points, parks can do things such as recommend products based on those purchased, or offer discounts on certain activities.

“Connect&GO as a company collects a lot of this kind of data,” Palermo continues. “We scan the visitor at the door, then at the point of sale for food and beverage, and at the rides for access control.

“The question to ask is how can we speak to people about what we're seeing and what we could promote to them? It's looking for the right product at the right price, at the right moment, for the right person.”

Recently Connect&GO worked on a full integration with a company called ActiveCampaign that allows venues to automate marketing messages based on items purchased online in real-time. With the fully-integrated Konnect Marketing and CRM, powered by ActiveCampaign, operators can utilise automation and real-time data to help generate new revenue, increase guest engagement and maximise efficiency.

Palermo says: “This idea of being specific in the way we engage is what raises the level of engagement and makes people feel like they're being serviced directly and gets them talking about properties and coming back. That repeat visit is something that's really important for attractions, but also for people to be talking about it to others.”

As a software platform, Konnect is a revolution in the ticketing field that allows the operator to think about the guest experience and about how all the different touchpoints of that experience work together. Its cloud-based ecosystem fuses ticketing point-of-sale software with a number of elements, including integrated e-Commerce, season pass management, memberships, bundles, party bookings, waivers, smart access with capacity control, restaurant and retail POS software, marketing automation, customer relationship management, financial management and more.

“To fully leverage real-time data, you need a system that connects all of the pieces, and that’s what makes Konnect so unique,” says Palermo. “Our virtual wallet sits at the centre of our integrated platform, enabling the free exchange of real-time data between different systems. This enables your guests to have frictionless experiences while giving you the insights you need.”



In September last year, Connect&GO announced a partnership with Roaring Springs Waterpark and Wahooz Family Fun Zone in Meridian, Idaho, US, to implement the Konnect platform at the attraction.

Roaring Springs is the largest waterpark in the US’s northwest and recently announced a seven-phase expansion plan over a five year period that will make it one of the largest waterparks in the country. Next door Wahooz Family Fun Zone an FEC offering over 15 attractions, including two 18-hole mini golf courses, laser tag, a large arcade with 80 games and a 24-lane bowling alley. The facility also includes a large event venue that hosts a variety of corporate and social events.

Both Roaring Springs and Wahooz utilise the Konnect platform along with RFID wristbands, self-serve kiosks, mobile food ordering and flexible access control options. This creates a guest experience that reduces friction while maximising engagement.

“Wahooz uses our reporting to track and compare usage of multiple attractions,” says Palermo. “Their CFO recently told us that she was able to accomplish balancing and allocating sales in a quarter of the time that it took her in her old system. This means that they can now track the revenue better to make informed decisions in the future. Then, there’s the real-time data that your team needs to do their job effectively.:

The cloud-based Konnect platform is designed to equip operators with the tools they need to welcome guests and handle day-to-day challenges with ease.

“A cloud-based platform gives you the flexibility to make real-time changes on the fly. One of our clients in California recently shared that she previously needed to drive across town every time she needed to make a pricing change after-hours,” shares Palermo. “There’s no reason why anyone should have to waste time like that.”



Another benefit to Connect&GO’s offering is flexible access control. Using this technology, operators can program a variety of different product types at specific access points that render a pass valid or invalid. A more sophisticated offering to traditional access controls, the access control solution is adaptable, meaning different types of tickets provide access to different areas. Including time-based ticketing, zone management, ride tokens and more, operators can accurately track attendance, manage access and gain valuable insights with real-time reporting.

“Palermo explains: “You might have season ticket holders that are able to go into a certain entrance at the gates. So with access control, that same portal can be used for day ticket holders, but also for season ticket holders. That's level one.

“For level two, let's say you have three add ons. You have three fast passes that are loaded in, so three times you can skip the line. We give you three tokens in your digital wallet, with those tokens redeemable each time you use them. Access becomes flexible because it allows you to do not only general admission entry, but also work as a transactional access control, redeeming and debiting things from your account.”

Flexible access control also enhances the fully integrated solution, meaning multiple packages can be developed under the same system, whether that be discounts to visitors who enter a site multiple times or those who decide to return the day after their visit. It can also manage season pass access by including or excluding certain days, also controlling capacity and token redemption.

“The majority of the properties that we serve are using different levels of both access control, cashless payments and ticketing,” says Palermo.

“Wahooz is a large family entertainment centre. So when you come in, you can buy a ticket but you can also load a bunch of arcade tokens right there and maybe one or two rounds of go karting. As you go around and enjoy the experience, you scan in at certain places where we debit your account. This simple solution means visitors don’t need a bunch of different tickets or wristbands and, more importantly, it's reloadable.”



It’s a similar story for Connect&GO’s partnership with operator Six Flags, which has integrated its technology for its SixPay wristband system.

Four of Six Flags’ Hurricane Harbor waterparks in the US were the first to debut the supplier’s Virtual Wallet technology with the launch of the cashless wristband, which can make payments at food and beverage, retail, and rental locations throughout the parks.

“We need to make sure that we're working with operators that have a vision and that understand how technology can really maximise guest experiences,” says Palermo. “With SixPay, any time you can go create an account with your wristband and reload at any time. Our Virtual Wallet offers convenience and guest engagement. It also aligns us perfectly with Six Flags’ vision to create memorable experiences through industry-leading innovation and technology.”

Another recent partnership in attractions saw Connect&GO team up with Level X - an FEC operation in the UK that is part of the Lane7 bowling group. Featuring bowling, mini-golf, go-karting and more, visitors book a date and time slot, add on any extra gaming including arcade tokens, and then scan a QR code on arrival to redeem. They can then use a wristband to access pre-booked attractions, pay for food and beverage and play arcade games through the Konnect platform’s integration with Intercard.

“Level X has a vision of how they connect the entire experience via a wearable and how they look at the FEC space is perfect for our next-generation technology,” says Palermo. “We're fortunate enough to be working with people that are growing and want to take it further. It’s all about looking at the entire puzzle and seeing how it fits together.”



While each element of Connect&GO’s offering is individually impressive, it’s all about big picture thinking. Each individual solution included in its package is crucial to attractions operations, but when it comes together as one whole, that’s when the magic happens.

Palermo explains: “The majority of the properties that we deal with know a little bit about their guests. The guest expectation is still a bit of a puzzle. Some properties can say, 'we know everything about our clients, we do surveys, we do this, we do that'. But you're only able to actually understand guest behaviour from real data.

“People can come out of a park and say something was frustrating but you don't really know what they did. If you know that they waited in line for two rides and only got two rides on the day, that's really the frustration. Using our platform, you can curate the experience. You can say you're going to go on this ride first, this ride second, this ride third, and I'm going to give you time slots. If we provide the tools to be able to manage a day better, now the experience sees someone go on five rides as opposed to two.

A better experience provides a better ambassador to talk about your property once they leave and it makes them much more likely to come back. That’s what most attractions are looking for.”

With the technology on offer from Connect&GO, the offer is flexible enough to meet the needs of an operation rather than the operation meeting the needs of the technology supplier. In addition, for providers primarily focused on eCommerce, selling products is easy but how so for the guest?

“Getting people in and not having to pull up your phone and try and scan something on your phone - the idea of just tapping makes things much faster and simpler,” says Palermo. “We’re also seeing major staffing problems at the moment, so if we can put a turnstile in, that can remove that person and at the same time simplify access.

“One of our clients in the south of France, Fabrikus World, uses tokens loaded on wristbands for visitors to pay for everything. Every time you scan it also debits the tokens, validating whether you're allowed on, and also removing the tokens from your wallet. Most operators have seven to 10 different systems that they're using to manage their park. They're dealing with a lot, so when we come in and we can replace 5 to 7 systems, that's of great benefit to them and for the customer.

Primarily in the mid-market space - serving attractions that welcome 500,000 to two million people a year, Connect&GO also uses this picture to offer better data analysis to in turn improve operations.

“These kinds of operators don't always have the staff to analyse all that data, so we don’t only collect that information for them but we also provide interfaces for them to understand it. These attractions can then pull out reports that help them to make better decisions,” Palermo says.



One of the big picture things to consider is how an all-in-one platform such as Connect&GO can not only improve the customer experience but also the spend per head.

Super Aqua Club, a Quebec-based waterpark, partnered with Connect&GO to create a frictionless experience for guests. Using a virtual wallet easily accessible by smart wearables, guests can spend money while keeping valuables safe from water in lockers and bags.

“Super Aqua Club have looked at the data and asked how to add that extra something to get that conversion rate,” says Palermo. “Because we have so many of these touch points, you're able to see how many people are actually consuming it. How many are then redeeming that benefit? And then more importantly, how many of them, after they redeem it, are actually loading money again because they've actually gone to food and beverage?

“The waterpark actually allows you to bring your lunch from home. So if the operator has loaded money onto a wrist band because someone has bought a season ticket, they might not actually bring that lunch. If they come with friends or family, that lunch might end up costing more than what has been loaded into the wrist band. If they then load additional money on top, that profit is directly related to you providing that opportunity to them.

“There's some behaviour psychology through all that. But really there's that carrot. Once you start dangling that carrot, there are things that come from it.”

With SixPay at Six Flags, the operator encouraged use of the virtual wallet through a similar incentive scheme.

“SixPay allows you to load money onto your wristband and then go spend at food and beverage and retail all over,” says Palermo. “To encourage people to do that, they were giving people more value for the money they were adding to the virtual wallet. If they loaded US$50, for example, they were getting US$60 in value - US$10 in free cash to spend at the park.

For waterparks in particular, this system seems to have particular effect, with customers wanting to protect valuables such as wallets and phones from the wet rides and pools.

Palermo continues: “When you show up to a waterpark, what do you do? You get into your bathing suit and put your valuables in a locker or in your bag and you don't have it on you. Now, you've basically been given a tool to make it easier to go and spend.

“It's not that the customer didn't want to do it, it's that it’s a pain to go back to the locker and get their wallet or phone. Your wallet is here on your wrist, so you can, at any moment of the day, go and tap to redeem food and beverage or retail. For a waterpark, it's a no-brainer.”

So what about in a park or attraction where something like water isn’t an issue?

“When a parent is there and kids are going around, we can link your credit card to your wallet and you can also load money directly onto someone else’s wristband. A parent could give their children US$20 on a wristband for them to spend in a park but they will still have their phone and wallet on them. They can manage an account and load money at a distance, so can give the kids extra if it’s needed.

“There's just so much that we can do when it comes to using a wearable. A parent could be at work and the kids are at the park and the parent can upload money directly to that child's snack account so they can buy only food if they want to.

“For me, this idea of giving them that freedom.”



One of the main things to consider when looking at the big picture, is exactly how consumer habits are evolving.

Overall, cashless technology is found to increase average sales revenue by almost 25% compared to physical money and can speed up sales transactions by over 75%. Since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, the rise in cashless payments has seen it appear in place it wasn’t before, with the option now more mainstream than it has ever been before, something seen by Palermo and Connect&GO.

“80%-85% of our clients choose to go with a wearable, especially since Covid, because the wearable is extremely versatile,” he says. “You can offer our season passholders a keepsake that they bring back with them and there are a lot of different media types that are waterproof.

“What we're trying to do is keep you within the four walls of this experience. I don't want you thinking about what's going on outside, I don’t want you thinking about your wallet. I want you to take in this entire experience. So the idea of a wearable being the vehicle that drives you to all these different engagement points really makes it a full experience, but also a connected experience. I think that's probably the biggest reason people are spending more, but also the reason they are getting more out of their day out.”

Connect&GO will be attending IAAPA Expo Europe 2023 and invites you to reserve time with their team here. For more on Connect&GO, click here


Technology

 

Christie technology powers immersive experience for Beijing’s Wonderland Science Fiction Exploration Hall





Perth Zoo masterplan in full swing as work starts on multi-million dollar gibbon habitat





Hallmark to launch immersive Christmas-themed experience




Industry insights



Maximising ROI: Revenue strategies for operators



Video



Disneyland Paris renames park ahead of €2bn expansion


In Depth



Hole in One: How Holovis is changing the game with 360Golf



© Kazoo 5 Limited 2024
About Subscribe Get in touch
 
Opinion In depth Interviews
LIVE news Profiles Diary Video
Jobs
Solving the puzzle: Connect&GO’s Anthony Palermo on how technology is rapidly changing attractions management | Planet Attractions
feature

Solving the puzzle: Connect&GO’s Anthony Palermo on how technology is rapidly changing attractions management

There’s a transformative shift happening when it comes to use of technology in attractions management. Anthony Palermo, co-founder of Connect&GO, spoke to Tom Anstey...




All-in-one systems offer a number of benefits, including payment via a wrist band or other wearable device   Credit: Connect&GO

The management of visitor attractions is rapidly changing as the technology surrounding operations evolves.

In a quest for operational efficiency and experiences that leave the visitor wanting to come back for more, attractions large and small are turning to solutions that integrate multiple parts of the guest experience into a single cohesive system, functioning as one collective mind for better operational output.

The popular way to do this is through cloud-based platforms that combine elements including eCommerce, point-of-sale (POS), access control and payment systems into one centralised system. This approach offers a number of advantages, including not only the ability to streamline operations, but to also better understand and accommodate guests on an individual basis.

Operating for some time as a leader in this corner of the attractions market, Connect&GO is a company that has worked with iconic brands and events all over the world. Moving from other markets into the attractions sector, company co-founder Anthony Palermo believes previous experience uniquely places the solution provider ahead of its competitors.

“We were in sports and live entertainment for the first eight years of our business,” he explains, speaking to Planet Attractions.

“Our first project was in a stadium and then very quickly we were doing large scale music events and sporting events. So whether it's PGA Golf Tours or Formula One or the Olympic Village or the Super Bowl, everything on a large scale requiring access control, cashless payments and guest engagement, that's what we spent years and years travelling the world doing.”

Starting with sports and live events offered a few things very relatable to attractions, primarily large volumes of people needing to complete certain tasks quickly.

“At an event you have to provide technology that's simple enough for everyone - tens of thousands of people - for a seamless experience,” explains Palermo.

“You're able to look at it and say, we need to get a lot of people to act in a certain way. Let's say you go to your local grocery store and all of a sudden they go from having cashiers to self-serve checkout. It's a big change for people of all ages that are coming to the store. They know one system and suddenly they have to change and adapt, so it has to be simple.”









Exploring how its RFID and integrated technology could best be applied, Palermo naturally identified attractions as a prime area that would benefit from Connect&GO’s offering.

He explains: “The attractions industry was the best target market for us to zero in on because these installations were permanent. One of the challenges of large scale events is that there are a lot of people using your technology, but only for three or four days. There's so much that you can try out and innovate. You can be very clever and come up with three or four new great things to do for an event. But it's going to be a year before you can try anything new because the event after three days doesn't exist. In a permanent installation, you can try something out on week one and then take a week to tweak it.

“This means that if an attraction can see that guests are engaging more with an element, then they could for example package it with another product to see how that package sells. There’s a lot more experimentation that can happen when it comes to marketing teams and retail teams and guest experience teams for a permanent installation because it gives you more opportunities to test out new strategies, measure results and deploy the best possible solution.”

Offering its easy-to-use solution for operators, Connect&GO is currently deployed in attractions throughout Europe, Canada and the US, with the Konnect platform transacting revenues of several hundred million dollars, serving waterparks, theme parks, family entertainment centres, animal attractions, and more.

“We're a company that's focussed on understanding, evaluating and digging a little deeper when it comes to how guests and operators are using technology to create better and more profitable experiences,” says Palermo.

“Konnect allows you to bring together all the guest touch points around an experience on-site, such as buying or redeeming your ticket, letting you into the property, connecting payments, redeeming discounts and so on. We provide technology that gives operators a unified view of the guest while making it easier for guests to enjoy their day.”



Of course with improved management systems, comes improved attractions experience. One of the main goals of Connect&GO is to ensure visitors have a day where time-consuming elements such as lines aren’t a major factor.

“This idea of line busting, or simply just finding easier ways for people to engage, is something that we focussed on for years in the events space,” says Palermo. “It’s also the main problem that a lot of attractions face. People wait in line from the parking lot to get into the property. Then, they're waiting for food and beverage and then they're waiting to get onto a ride. It’s all time that could be spent elsewhere. If you don't want lines to be the sum total of someone's experience, then you've got to find ways for people to get through the gates quickly or order their food while waiting for a ride.”

Reducing lines is just one example of how using real-time data can help a business make powerful decisions that help not only the customer but the operation itself.

“When it comes to real-time data, over the past 10 to 15 years, the leading companies in just about every industry have started to leverage the benefits of having real-time data to make better decisions at the right time and the right moment,” says Palermo.

“It’s time the attractions industry has those same opportunities to do so. Having operations visibility, you can start to send support staff to certain areas that you know are a lot busier. You know when rides are getting the most traffic, so you can think about where you are going to send your visitors.”



Using real-time data can improve the visitor experience and make operations easier for visitor attractions. But beyond that, data can create a personalised experience.

Using information gathered through a visit to an attraction, the operator can build a profile around each ticket, tailoring sales and experience around the individual customer.

“It's much more than just data points and scan points - it's a rich profile that's starting to aggregate around a person,” says Palermo. “It's not about wanting to know anything related to the privacy of these people, it's asking how do we give them more of what they really want? If we understand their behaviour on site, now, we can say 'we know that you seem to really like thrill rides, so here's a discount for you to come back to do the three rides you didn't get a chance to do yet’.”

Using these data points, parks can do things such as recommend products based on those purchased, or offer discounts on certain activities.

“Connect&GO as a company collects a lot of this kind of data,” Palermo continues. “We scan the visitor at the door, then at the point of sale for food and beverage, and at the rides for access control.

“The question to ask is how can we speak to people about what we're seeing and what we could promote to them? It's looking for the right product at the right price, at the right moment, for the right person.”

Recently Connect&GO worked on a full integration with a company called ActiveCampaign that allows venues to automate marketing messages based on items purchased online in real-time. With the fully-integrated Konnect Marketing and CRM, powered by ActiveCampaign, operators can utilise automation and real-time data to help generate new revenue, increase guest engagement and maximise efficiency.

Palermo says: “This idea of being specific in the way we engage is what raises the level of engagement and makes people feel like they're being serviced directly and gets them talking about properties and coming back. That repeat visit is something that's really important for attractions, but also for people to be talking about it to others.”

As a software platform, Konnect is a revolution in the ticketing field that allows the operator to think about the guest experience and about how all the different touchpoints of that experience work together. Its cloud-based ecosystem fuses ticketing point-of-sale software with a number of elements, including integrated e-Commerce, season pass management, memberships, bundles, party bookings, waivers, smart access with capacity control, restaurant and retail POS software, marketing automation, customer relationship management, financial management and more.

“To fully leverage real-time data, you need a system that connects all of the pieces, and that’s what makes Konnect so unique,” says Palermo. “Our virtual wallet sits at the centre of our integrated platform, enabling the free exchange of real-time data between different systems. This enables your guests to have frictionless experiences while giving you the insights you need.”



In September last year, Connect&GO announced a partnership with Roaring Springs Waterpark and Wahooz Family Fun Zone in Meridian, Idaho, US, to implement the Konnect platform at the attraction.

Roaring Springs is the largest waterpark in the US’s northwest and recently announced a seven-phase expansion plan over a five year period that will make it one of the largest waterparks in the country. Next door Wahooz Family Fun Zone an FEC offering over 15 attractions, including two 18-hole mini golf courses, laser tag, a large arcade with 80 games and a 24-lane bowling alley. The facility also includes a large event venue that hosts a variety of corporate and social events.

Both Roaring Springs and Wahooz utilise the Konnect platform along with RFID wristbands, self-serve kiosks, mobile food ordering and flexible access control options. This creates a guest experience that reduces friction while maximising engagement.

“Wahooz uses our reporting to track and compare usage of multiple attractions,” says Palermo. “Their CFO recently told us that she was able to accomplish balancing and allocating sales in a quarter of the time that it took her in her old system. This means that they can now track the revenue better to make informed decisions in the future. Then, there’s the real-time data that your team needs to do their job effectively.:

The cloud-based Konnect platform is designed to equip operators with the tools they need to welcome guests and handle day-to-day challenges with ease.

“A cloud-based platform gives you the flexibility to make real-time changes on the fly. One of our clients in California recently shared that she previously needed to drive across town every time she needed to make a pricing change after-hours,” shares Palermo. “There’s no reason why anyone should have to waste time like that.”



Another benefit to Connect&GO’s offering is flexible access control. Using this technology, operators can program a variety of different product types at specific access points that render a pass valid or invalid. A more sophisticated offering to traditional access controls, the access control solution is adaptable, meaning different types of tickets provide access to different areas. Including time-based ticketing, zone management, ride tokens and more, operators can accurately track attendance, manage access and gain valuable insights with real-time reporting.

“Palermo explains: “You might have season ticket holders that are able to go into a certain entrance at the gates. So with access control, that same portal can be used for day ticket holders, but also for season ticket holders. That's level one.

“For level two, let's say you have three add ons. You have three fast passes that are loaded in, so three times you can skip the line. We give you three tokens in your digital wallet, with those tokens redeemable each time you use them. Access becomes flexible because it allows you to do not only general admission entry, but also work as a transactional access control, redeeming and debiting things from your account.”

Flexible access control also enhances the fully integrated solution, meaning multiple packages can be developed under the same system, whether that be discounts to visitors who enter a site multiple times or those who decide to return the day after their visit. It can also manage season pass access by including or excluding certain days, also controlling capacity and token redemption.

“The majority of the properties that we serve are using different levels of both access control, cashless payments and ticketing,” says Palermo.

“Wahooz is a large family entertainment centre. So when you come in, you can buy a ticket but you can also load a bunch of arcade tokens right there and maybe one or two rounds of go karting. As you go around and enjoy the experience, you scan in at certain places where we debit your account. This simple solution means visitors don’t need a bunch of different tickets or wristbands and, more importantly, it's reloadable.”



It’s a similar story for Connect&GO’s partnership with operator Six Flags, which has integrated its technology for its SixPay wristband system.

Four of Six Flags’ Hurricane Harbor waterparks in the US were the first to debut the supplier’s Virtual Wallet technology with the launch of the cashless wristband, which can make payments at food and beverage, retail, and rental locations throughout the parks.

“We need to make sure that we're working with operators that have a vision and that understand how technology can really maximise guest experiences,” says Palermo. “With SixPay, any time you can go create an account with your wristband and reload at any time. Our Virtual Wallet offers convenience and guest engagement. It also aligns us perfectly with Six Flags’ vision to create memorable experiences through industry-leading innovation and technology.”

Another recent partnership in attractions saw Connect&GO team up with Level X - an FEC operation in the UK that is part of the Lane7 bowling group. Featuring bowling, mini-golf, go-karting and more, visitors book a date and time slot, add on any extra gaming including arcade tokens, and then scan a QR code on arrival to redeem. They can then use a wristband to access pre-booked attractions, pay for food and beverage and play arcade games through the Konnect platform’s integration with Intercard.

“Level X has a vision of how they connect the entire experience via a wearable and how they look at the FEC space is perfect for our next-generation technology,” says Palermo. “We're fortunate enough to be working with people that are growing and want to take it further. It’s all about looking at the entire puzzle and seeing how it fits together.”



While each element of Connect&GO’s offering is individually impressive, it’s all about big picture thinking. Each individual solution included in its package is crucial to attractions operations, but when it comes together as one whole, that’s when the magic happens.

Palermo explains: “The majority of the properties that we deal with know a little bit about their guests. The guest expectation is still a bit of a puzzle. Some properties can say, 'we know everything about our clients, we do surveys, we do this, we do that'. But you're only able to actually understand guest behaviour from real data.

“People can come out of a park and say something was frustrating but you don't really know what they did. If you know that they waited in line for two rides and only got two rides on the day, that's really the frustration. Using our platform, you can curate the experience. You can say you're going to go on this ride first, this ride second, this ride third, and I'm going to give you time slots. If we provide the tools to be able to manage a day better, now the experience sees someone go on five rides as opposed to two.

A better experience provides a better ambassador to talk about your property once they leave and it makes them much more likely to come back. That’s what most attractions are looking for.”

With the technology on offer from Connect&GO, the offer is flexible enough to meet the needs of an operation rather than the operation meeting the needs of the technology supplier. In addition, for providers primarily focused on eCommerce, selling products is easy but how so for the guest?

“Getting people in and not having to pull up your phone and try and scan something on your phone - the idea of just tapping makes things much faster and simpler,” says Palermo. “We’re also seeing major staffing problems at the moment, so if we can put a turnstile in, that can remove that person and at the same time simplify access.

“One of our clients in the south of France, Fabrikus World, uses tokens loaded on wristbands for visitors to pay for everything. Every time you scan it also debits the tokens, validating whether you're allowed on, and also removing the tokens from your wallet. Most operators have seven to 10 different systems that they're using to manage their park. They're dealing with a lot, so when we come in and we can replace 5 to 7 systems, that's of great benefit to them and for the customer.

Primarily in the mid-market space - serving attractions that welcome 500,000 to two million people a year, Connect&GO also uses this picture to offer better data analysis to in turn improve operations.

“These kinds of operators don't always have the staff to analyse all that data, so we don’t only collect that information for them but we also provide interfaces for them to understand it. These attractions can then pull out reports that help them to make better decisions,” Palermo says.



One of the big picture things to consider is how an all-in-one platform such as Connect&GO can not only improve the customer experience but also the spend per head.

Super Aqua Club, a Quebec-based waterpark, partnered with Connect&GO to create a frictionless experience for guests. Using a virtual wallet easily accessible by smart wearables, guests can spend money while keeping valuables safe from water in lockers and bags.

“Super Aqua Club have looked at the data and asked how to add that extra something to get that conversion rate,” says Palermo. “Because we have so many of these touch points, you're able to see how many people are actually consuming it. How many are then redeeming that benefit? And then more importantly, how many of them, after they redeem it, are actually loading money again because they've actually gone to food and beverage?

“The waterpark actually allows you to bring your lunch from home. So if the operator has loaded money onto a wrist band because someone has bought a season ticket, they might not actually bring that lunch. If they come with friends or family, that lunch might end up costing more than what has been loaded into the wrist band. If they then load additional money on top, that profit is directly related to you providing that opportunity to them.

“There's some behaviour psychology through all that. But really there's that carrot. Once you start dangling that carrot, there are things that come from it.”

With SixPay at Six Flags, the operator encouraged use of the virtual wallet through a similar incentive scheme.

“SixPay allows you to load money onto your wristband and then go spend at food and beverage and retail all over,” says Palermo. “To encourage people to do that, they were giving people more value for the money they were adding to the virtual wallet. If they loaded US$50, for example, they were getting US$60 in value - US$10 in free cash to spend at the park.

For waterparks in particular, this system seems to have particular effect, with customers wanting to protect valuables such as wallets and phones from the wet rides and pools.

Palermo continues: “When you show up to a waterpark, what do you do? You get into your bathing suit and put your valuables in a locker or in your bag and you don't have it on you. Now, you've basically been given a tool to make it easier to go and spend.

“It's not that the customer didn't want to do it, it's that it’s a pain to go back to the locker and get their wallet or phone. Your wallet is here on your wrist, so you can, at any moment of the day, go and tap to redeem food and beverage or retail. For a waterpark, it's a no-brainer.”

So what about in a park or attraction where something like water isn’t an issue?

“When a parent is there and kids are going around, we can link your credit card to your wallet and you can also load money directly onto someone else’s wristband. A parent could give their children US$20 on a wristband for them to spend in a park but they will still have their phone and wallet on them. They can manage an account and load money at a distance, so can give the kids extra if it’s needed.

“There's just so much that we can do when it comes to using a wearable. A parent could be at work and the kids are at the park and the parent can upload money directly to that child's snack account so they can buy only food if they want to.

“For me, this idea of giving them that freedom.”



One of the main things to consider when looking at the big picture, is exactly how consumer habits are evolving.

Overall, cashless technology is found to increase average sales revenue by almost 25% compared to physical money and can speed up sales transactions by over 75%. Since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, the rise in cashless payments has seen it appear in place it wasn’t before, with the option now more mainstream than it has ever been before, something seen by Palermo and Connect&GO.

“80%-85% of our clients choose to go with a wearable, especially since Covid, because the wearable is extremely versatile,” he says. “You can offer our season passholders a keepsake that they bring back with them and there are a lot of different media types that are waterproof.

“What we're trying to do is keep you within the four walls of this experience. I don't want you thinking about what's going on outside, I don’t want you thinking about your wallet. I want you to take in this entire experience. So the idea of a wearable being the vehicle that drives you to all these different engagement points really makes it a full experience, but also a connected experience. I think that's probably the biggest reason people are spending more, but also the reason they are getting more out of their day out.”

Connect&GO will be attending IAAPA Expo Europe 2023 and invites you to reserve time with their team here. For more on Connect&GO, click here


 



© Kazoo 5 Limited 2024