Consumers are ready to return to theme parks, says Merlin Entertainments

New research from Merlin Entertainments and Oracle shows that consumers in the US and UK are ready to return to theme park adventures in their droves. Consumer confidence is on the rise as guests experience the ‘JOLA’ phenomenon – the Joy of Looking Ahead.

In the US, consumers (between May and June) showed a jump in confidence to get back to leisure activities, from 68% to 80%. In the UK confidence remained high, with 80% saying they are ‘optimistic’ about the prospect of spending quality time with families and friends at leisure attractions. As part of the JOLA phenomenon, families and groups increasingly want to book ahead to have an outing to look forward to. This includes everything from planning and paying for activities in advance to pre-ordering food and drinks.

The research from Merlin Entertainments and technology provider Oracle’s Food and Beverage looks to understand how consumers are buying, behaving and even booking differently this summer, whilst COVID-19 still continues to dominate headlines and holidays across the globe. The research highlights how new technologies will enhance the experience for visitors at their favourite Merlin Entertainments theme parks and attractions such as LEGOLAND, Alton Towers, SEA LIFE Centres and the London Eye.

‘Togetherness & Escape’ are most valued by UK & US customers when visiting attractions. Consumers in both countries also value the chance for screen free experiences and see good customer service as well as an effortless customer journey as essential.

1 in 3 (US) and 1 in 5 (UK) travellers are staying closer to home, while 20% (US) and 25% (UK) are booking more weekend trips and shorter stays than previously seen.

Visitors are also increasingly looking to plan and personalise their visit to make the most of it. Using data and technology can go a long way in providing visitors the control and comfort they crave.

“After a difficult year, with limited entertainment, guests are excited about a summer of fun. With the ‘Joy of Looking Ahead’ effect in full flow, our customers want to plan and purchase ahead too. Pre-ordering meals, refreshments, photos and checking-in online are all happening before they even arrive. Our guests are excited for feel-good experiences, but they want to feel safe and in control at the same time. For Merlin, the pre-planning technology we’re bringing in offers guests the ability to tailor and personalise their stay while allowing us to flex our business to allow for things like social distancing, staff support and food and beverage pre-ordering,” said Lee Cowie, CTO at Merlin.

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