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US – North American casino players among those ‘reluctant to enter due to COVID-19’

By - 3 February 2021

New research has revealed that 80 per cent of US consumers are concerned about visiting attractions in 2021 as a result of the on-going Covid-19 pandemic. Almost one in three Americans are so concerned by the prospect of returning to theme parks, resorts, and other public attractions, including casinos, that they will no longer visit at all.

The key to overcoming reluctance could, however, lie with technology, as 60 per cent 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 2,015 US consumers, visitors are most concerned with safety: top worries include navigating crowds (60 per cent), the inability to enforce safe social distancing (53 per cent), and two in five (42 per cent) are even concerned that – after a tough year – attractions are more focused on bringing in money than ensuring visitor safety.

More than a third (35 per cent) of respondents also believe attractions aren’t doing enough to limit visitor numbers, while one in three (33 per cent) say venues are falling short when it comes to enabling contactless customer experiences and 1 in 4 (25%) express concern about attraction’s ability to reduce queues.

The survey ­– presented in Omnico’s ‘5 Steps to Rebuild Footfall and Drive Loyalty in 2021’ report – explores 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, explained: “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 (59 per cent) and capacity (47 per cent) 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.

A huge 86 per cent of US consumers are now researching an attraction’s Covid-19 safety measures prior to booking; and 60 per cent 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, 53 per cent of US respondents said clear social distancing guidelines, 44 per cent wanted capped visitor numbers, and 36 per cent said staggered entry times would make them feel safer visiting attractions in 2021.

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. 60 per cent 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 (55 per cent), self-scan checkouts (49 per cent) and pay-at-table (47 per cent) for contactless service, and attraction mobile apps (53 per cent).

In fact, a contactless customer experience – which minimizes physical contact between visitors, other patrons, and staff – is now so important that 26 per cent of consumers booking trips this year will only visit attractions that can offer this kind of experience.

With 89 per cent 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.

88 per cent of US respondents said personalised offers would make them more likely to visit an attraction in 2021, citing discounted or ‘off-peak’ ticket prices , free or discounted return visits, family-friendly events, and food and drink offers as the most appealing drivers.

As a result, 42 per cent of consumers consider loyalty apps another ‘must-have’ technology for venues in 2021, and over 1 in 4 (26%) 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.”

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