Every hospitality business will be keen to find ways to maintain and indeed improve the guest experience at their hotel, resort, park, stadium or restaurant. And with the raft of new technologies flooding the hospitality market, it can be difficult to know which ones to employ and how much to invest. It may therefore come as a surprise to hear that some of the most effective ways to improve the guest experience need not be expensive or indeed difficult to implement.
For anyone with a slight interest in technology or science, the Kennedy Space Center is the holy grail of places to visit. It is where so many incredible advances have been and continue to be made, and where people risk and tragically sometimes give their lives in the pursuit of discovery. And in this 50th anniversary year of the first Moon landings, a visit is even more poignant.
It has some truly amazing exhibits and experiences with a range of immersive audiovisual technology that take your breath away, shake your bones, and make your hair stand on end. It is home to the Space Shuttle Atlantis, to an immense Saturn V rocket, and to a multitude of interactive and engaging exhibits.
With so many things to wow and amaze the visitor, and with so much attention to detail in the storytelling, a great guest experience is almost guaranteed. However, the team behind the Visitor Complex do not stand still and it was a great privilege for Guestband to be invited to explore how that guest experience might be improved even further.
Consequently, if you happened to be at the Kennedy Space Center in June 2019 and saw four guys in business attire jumping up and down on pressure sensitive pads under the blistering Florida sun in an attempt to launch a rocket, I’m afraid that was us.
What makes our job so interesting is that no two locations are the same, and the Kennedy Space Center is one of the most unique (and iconic) places on the planet. You might think that nothing that would work there would work anywhere else but there is a simple recommendation that can be applied to any location interested in improving their guest experience.
When surveying a resort, park or visitor centre, we inevitably come up with lots of ideas that could in our opinion improve the guest experience. Some of these will be complex to implement and might require an investment over a longer period, others will be simple. Some will have a lot of effect on the guest experience, others will be mainly focused on gathering information for the operator so they can become more efficient and thereby offer a better service.
But we always recommend clients focus on what we call ‘easy wins’ to start with.
These are scenarios that require little investment and can make a significant difference to the guest experience.
The Kennedy Space Center is a huge site and the Saturn V exhibit is a bus trip away. So inevitably there are queues to get to the secondary location. We’d all love to see a solution that would remove them completely, but the reality is that queues do occur.
The ‘easy win’ here as we see it is one of simple communication. If visitors know how much time they will have to spend in the queue before they join it, they will be prepared for the wait and will tolerate it rather than be frustrated by it.
The cheapest way to do this (as in many other locations) is to have fixed signage indicating the average wait time from any point in the queue. A slightly more involved solution would be a system of screens around the rest of the site informing visitors of the current expected queue time allowing them to make a choice on how to manage their visit. This would then give the operator a live feed of the queue time and allow them to adjust operations accordingly. They could also have the information update automatically on their visitor app.
The next stage might be to improve the queue experience itself. Placing interactive screens or displays throughout the queue would allow visitors to be entertained and informed whilst waiting. The queue could eventually become an attraction in its own right…
Every location is unique and will require different solutions to improve the guest experience. However, there are probably some simple and cost-effective ways of making an impact on the guest experience without requiring too much effort – although sometimes it can take a fresh pair of eyes to spot them.
Additionally, when technology is installed specifically to improve one part of the guest experience, valuable additional insights will most likely be created as a by-product.
Finally, if you happen to go to Florida for any reason, do make sure you build in some time for a trip to the Kennedy Space Center: it is truly an inspiring place to visit!