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  • TJ Christensen

Maximizing Guest Experience Through Digital Engagement Strategy

Over the last decade, we have helped some of the world’s largest entertainment venues deploy commerce and guest experience technology.

The problem is it’s not just the big guys that want and need to maximize the impact of digital engagement, it’s every attraction of every size. Venues know they need to keep up, but frankly many don’t know where to start.

Our hope is that whether you’re a small local museum/zoo or world-renown venue; your marketing department is two people or a hundred you can use this practical framework for implementing meaningful change to your digital guest journey. Oh, and we’re going to help you with how to calculate ROI…

Before we begin, let’s take a moment and look at the silver lining of COVID. COVID has been a huge technology accelerator across industries, and especially for online ticket sales for venues. During COVID, venues that could open were requiring 100% of their tickets to be purchased pre-arrival and online. Pre-COVID I’d guess that % was more like 30-50% of overall ticket sales. Once things return to normal – or as normal as they are going to get, I believe that around 70% of purchases will continue to be online.

For many reasons, that’s great news, but most of all it provides venues with a treasure trove of data. Data that can be leveraged to increase visitation and per caps through digital engagement and personalization.

Most marketers and operators see the opportunity, but they don’t know where to start. It feels like you have to boil the ocean to make any meaningful progress so they’re simply left paralyzed…

My hope is that we can help with that by providing a framework that will help reduce fear and spark action.

Our framework is based on RFM (Recency, Frequency, Monetary) – a marketing analysis tool that many retailers use, but lends itself quite well to venues with a slight tweak.

We like to think of it as RFDS.

Recency: provide guests a reason to book now

Frequency: drive return visitation

Duration: increase the length of stay

Spend: spend more per visit

By using a framework like this, we can build actionable programs/tactics that align with the venue’s core priorities.

For the purposes of this article, we’re going to approach RFDS from a one-size-fits-all guest segmentation perspective. That said the more you can customize RFDS tactics based on specific guest segments the closer you’ll get to the gold standard of Disney level personalization.

Here are some examples of messages you might think about sending to guests that align with the RDFS framework:


Target Audience: Guests who purchased but have not yet visited.

Message: We can’t wait to see you Saturday. Make the most of your visit and book a backstage tour today! Click here now:


Target Audience: Guests who visited the venue in the last 24-48 hours

Message: We would love to see you back again soon! Don’t miss our summer concert series kicking off June 2! Early Bird Pricing now available!


Target Audience: Guests currently in the venue

Message: Don’t miss our world-famous Flight of Wonder show at 3:30 PM in the aviary.


Target Audience: Guests Currently in the venue before the lunch rush

Message: Don’t leave hungry. Did you know you can order your food here?

What’s great about the framework is you can align it to your organizational goals. If your venue wants to increase its special event/catering revenue, what messaging might get more guests to try your food when they are visiting as a day guest?

Don’t overcomplicate the messaging or segmentation to start. Figure out 3-5 use cases across 1-3 guest segments and build from there.

Having a focused set of use cases will also help you determine what technologies you need in place to begin automating some of the work. That may mean an investment in technology. We’d recommend a solid CRM with SMS capabilities to start. The more you can integrate your ticketing/access control system with your CRM the better.

To help with securing the budget to bring these things to life, I’ll walk you through a quick ROI Calculation based on our RFDS messages above. NOTE: this is rife with holes, but I think you’ll get the point.

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