In recent years, the Tour & Attractions industry has undergone a tremendous evolution, driven by the increasing demand for personalized and unique experiences, and the rise of online sales.
The opportunities afforded by this evolution have increased the importance of having great marketing and web design talent, either in-house or through a specialized agency, to manage the details of the web sales process to reflect the operator’s brand, increase conversions, and ensure positive ROI on ad spend.
We work with these teams every day to build amazing web engines and are constantly learning from operator marketing teams to ensure we stay on the cutting edge of what they need.
What is a Web Engine?
This is the embeddable widget inserted onto your website so that customers can buy your tickets and products. It is generally built by your restech/booking software to display your products, content, pricing, and inventory levels. It generally has some degree of customization and will be equipped with specific functionality to match your operation (like a calendar, capacity limits, schedules, imagery, content, and more).
Web engines are a crucial component of your chosen restech, and serve as a sales funnel that guides customers through the buying process.
RocketRez is different from your average restech, because it is an end-to-end Guest Experience Platform, going beyond just ticketing to include food & beverage, retail, events, inventory, staffing, and more in a single system.
We collect data from each step in the customer journey to give operators actionable insights to drive guest satisfaction. Our web engine is the important “first touch” in the process, and an opportunity to gather valuable data that informs the rest of the experience with your brand.
We pride ourselves on having among the most flexible and customizable web engines in the business, which strikes the balance between out-of-the-box functionality, and flexibility to let your marketing team run wild.
We are often asked for our point of view on how to build an effective web engine. This is difficult to answer. Building an effective web engine depends on many factors that are specific to the business in question:
- Is it an Attraction? Tour? Zoo? Aquarium? Other?
- What is the price point?
- Is the event rare? Or does it happen ten times a day?
- How early in advance do customers book?
- Do they bring their family?
While there are many considerations at the operator level, after many years of building beautiful custom web engines with the help of marketing teams from a diverse cross-section of attractions, we’ve been able to identify six key elements of a successful web engine that apply in every scenario.
Let’s take a look at the six key elements that any tour or attraction needs to manage to have a successful web engine and elaborate on how they allow you to collect great customer data that you can use to increase conversions.
The Six Elements of a Successful Web Engine
The first element of a successful web engine is clarity. With many different products and offers, it's essential to describe, sell, and present your product or service in such a way that customers truly know what they are buying.
The messaging should communicate what you're offering, the value it provides, and how it meets the needs of your customers in a concise and understandable manner. It can be easy to take context for granted when putting together website content, but you have to get in the mindset of someone who has never heard of you before.
- Tours: How long is it? How many stops? Is it guided? What is the theme?
- Attractions: Is the pass all day? What are the key exhibits? What is the base package? What does VIP include?
Customers must have a clear picture in their minds of what they are doing that day to envision themselves having the time of their life.
The first step to making a great web engine is to put yourself in the customer’s shoes and scrutinize if they understand what they are getting based on the imagery and copy you’re presenting.
Step two is editing. Having too much text or imagery can reduce conversions, so it's crucial to strike a balance between clarity and conciseness. The messaging should be straightforward and to the point.
One mistake we see operators making is putting too many details and operational instructions in their web engine. These can be written in detail in a comprehensive, matter-of-fact tone, but are better used in your follow-up emails and pre-visit communications.
Your web engine, however, should feature your best copywriting. Use words that sell by tapping into the buyer’s emotions on your web engine.
- “Share the Magic with your Kids”
- “Create an Unforgettable Memory”
- “Get up-close and exclusive”
If you micro-manage every word in your web engine sales process, and test your messaging, you will be rewarded with reliable data that will help you convert more sales.
Communication is a critical component of a successful web engine. Customers appreciate personalization and excellent customer service, so providing them with an opportunity to communicate with you can make a big difference in driving conversions.
Communication can take the form of customer logins, abandoned carts, messaging, and surveys.
These add personalized touch points, the ability for two-way communication, and allow you to guide the customer through the purchase in a manner that has them much more invested in the process – and has you collecting much more information to use as data.
Pro Tip: Our team views Abandoned Cart reminders as the “cheat code” in your web engine. In a study by Baymard Institute, the average documented online shopping cart abandonment rate is 69.57%. Email or SMS reminders offer an opportunity to reach out to customers and provide personalized support, or even a flash discount, to complete the sale.
We sometimes come across marketing teams that want to ruthlessly reduce clicks and steps in their checkout. The key to this process is making sure you’re only reducing steps that don’t add value.
It is one thing to make it easy for customers to purchase but making them want to complete the process is another art altogether. Effective communication can help build trust with customers and increase the likelihood of a purchase.
This is where your designers and marketers will have the most fun with a flexible and customizable web engine. Design elements such as color changes, modifications, and custom CSS help to reflect your brand and bring it to life.
Modern customers expect a lot in terms of design and visual appeal in their online purchase checkout process, and many operators expect that simplified web components will make this easy to set up.
The bar has been raised by companies like Shopify and BigCommerce who exploded to e-Commerce dominance at the height of the pandemic. It is now considered table stakes to have a clean online checkout, brands that go over and above aim to have a web engine that is distinctive and memorable.
RocketRez aims to strike a balance between easy set-up components, and flexible tools to build your web engine to look the way you want it to.
A cohesive and visually appealing experience for customers that aligns with your brand is essential to success, but the design should also be user-friendly, so customers can navigate the web engine easily.
Your marketing team is being judged on their conversion metrics, so they need to know the cause and effect that their customizations in the web engine have on sales. Analytics and data are crucial in optimizing the web engine.
Google Tag Manager, campaigns, ads, first-party data, and conversion tracking are all tools that can help you understand how customers interact with your site, where they drop off, and how to improve conversions. Analytics can provide insight into customer behavior, which can help you make informed decisions about how to improve the web engine.
Advanced marketers are preparing for a “cookie-less” world in digital advertising. As rules and regulations grow more privacy-centric and key browsers allow for third-party blocking, it is harder than ever to get strong data and attribution in your Google, Meta, and TikTok business managers (attribution tracking is losing effectiveness by the day).
RocketRez believes in having a strong foundation of first-party data collected through opted-in channels on your website. Our team has invested in development and integrations to feed Google, Meta and TikTok with first-party data, achieving some of the industry’s best match rates and return on ad spend.
We are leading the way when it comes to first-party data strategy in the tours and attractions space, increasing ethics and success in direct digital advertising for the cookie-less world.
A more complex web engine may have many different moving parts. This is essential to a well-rounded purchase where customers are taking advantage of your bundles, packages, and VIP offers.
Consolidating your web engine into one “sales funnel” but using different root items (starting at a specific step in your web engine, rather than always at the beginning) is essential to making the purchase easy for a customer, even if it is done in several steps.
Amazon is now a ubiquitous part of your everyday shopper's life, and there is no sense in going against the grain of such a powerful and successful UI. If you have a multi-product offer, you should be adopting an Amazon-style “shopping cart”.
Cart functionality allows customers to add items to their cart from different parts of the site and complete the purchase all at once. It is the digital equivalent of “browsing the aisles”, and gives the operator benefits of impulse or last-second add-ons that supermarkets are so effective in eliciting.
Pro Tip: RocketRez is highly customizable in the ability to use different entry points to drop users into a part of the web engine that is applicable to them. If you send out an email or put out a Facebook ad for a specific product or experience, those clicks should go directly to that item, booked for that day, in a customer’s cart - ready to check out.
Consolidation of the web engine can help reduce confusion for customers and make the buying process more straightforward. A streamlined and consolidated web engine can increase the likelihood of a purchase and reduce drop-offs.
The web engine is the operator’s (more specifically, the marketing team’s) chance to get creative and truly express their ideas about the words and images that bring your experience to life. We build software for teams that believe in maximizing the art form, and using all available tools to test and measure the effectiveness of their craft.