Comment: Catherine Warrilow, head of brand and sales at Day Out With The Kids, discusses the latest travel trends and why we should all be big kids when it comes to days out
Few things can unite generations like a great day out, but with competition for attention, time and spend at an all-time high, standing out is more important than ever before.
But how can attractions continue to keep up?
Stay and play
What if a day out became days out?
Double the fun for visitors, and a fantastic chance for attractions to increase revenue, overnight stays and experiences are big business in travel.
For guests, on-site resorts and hotels provide the most convenient short break option, often coming with added-value incentives, such as early entry or fast-track across everything from themed rooms to glamping sites.
One of our recent campaigns focusing on short breaks had some fantastic results – including a reach of more than five million people – demonstrating a real appetite for this type of travel.
But it’s not just hotels that can cash in on the late nights; just take Dino Snores sleepovers at Natural History Museum.
Giving visitors the chance to spend the night in the museum, the focus is on delivering an enhanced or unusual experience that excites, and with Legoland lodges and exciting plans for accommodation at West Midland Safari Park too, it’s a trend that we’re set to see more of across the industry.
In a world where convenience is key, we all like the idea of being able to get more from our experiences, without any extra effort.
This is something we’re seeing attractions tap into more and more, by offering multi-experience days out under one roof.
The pick ‘n’ mix approach works as well for families looking to cater to a range of ages, as it does travel organisers looking to create a more bespoke package for guests.
More and more venues are becoming multi-activity centres, such as bowling alleys adding laser tag or crazy golf.
Of 206 of the laser tag venues we have listed at dayoutwiththekids.co.uk, more than 24% share their site with a bowling alley, while others boast go-karting, paintball and even trampoline parks under their roof too.
But it’s not just activities that benefit from the package approach; everything from food and drink bundles, to partner promotions with nearby attractions help to create great value for money, giving visitors the chance to upgrade their experience for little or no extra cost.
For families, soft play centres launching nurseries is something we’re seeing more of too.
While Virtual Reality (VR) involves putting on goggles and escaping everyday life, Augmented Reality (AR) is all about a shared experience that heightens the world around you.
With both making slow but steady waves in the industry, it’s AR that is particularly exciting for both group and family travel.
Take the Forestry Commission’s Gruffalo trails and Pokemon Go – both fantastic examples of how technology can get people exploring together in a seamless way.
Collective, shared and available at the touch of a button, AR really is the most exciting way to enhance visitor and user experience in 2018.
For permanent attractions, keeping up with the latest craze isn’t always easy, and can often incur a lot of additional costs, so how can they stay front of mind for potential visitors?
We’re seeing a lot more themed events, primarily weekend takeovers or seasonal activities designed to attract new and returning visitors.
Everything from dinosaurs and unicorns to popular licensed characters make appearances all across the UK each week, and it’s not just in the family market either – we’ve also seen things such as Heritage or Victorian weekends becoming increasingly popular, which are great for older audiences too.
We also expect to see mash-ups and collaborations become more prevalent over the coming months and years – because, in a child’s mind, why wouldn’t Lego Batman and Bing Bunny be friends?!
Live and kicking
If themed events provide a fleeting reason to visit at a specific time, then live shows give a reason to come back regularly, and can be updated seasonally to refresh the attraction’s offer.
When you hear live events, your mind automatically pictures stage shows with lighting and music, but in reality the ‘live’ element can be much more basic.
Including everything from animals talks and feeds, to firework displays and jousting tournaments at castles, it’s easy to add an element of live entertainment at any scale.