Sage advice from the creatives behind Ripley’s Believe It Or Not to help breathe life into your attraction.
Ripley’s Believe It Or Not locations are globally known for showcasing the creepy, the peculiar and the most unbelievable artifacts and oddities in the world. But as a 100-year-old brand, it’s up to the creative team behind Ripley’s to keep enticing customers both new and old into their attractions.
Here, Stacy Shuster, vice president of marketing and sales at Ripley’s Believe It Or Not Times Square shares how Ripley’s keeps the discovery and excitement alive at the busy New York City location.
Pay Attention to Cultural Movements
Robert Ripley founded the Ripley’s brand way back in 1913, when his travels allowed him to meet extraordinary people, places and things. “Ripley was very interested in hearing the stories of people on the fringe of society,” says Shuster. “In these very trying times of polarized politics, we have much more in common than we don’t, and that’s still a message that rings true today.”
In this vein, Ripley’s Times Square partners with an anti-bullying organization called Odd Is In to bring school-aged children to the attraction, and share how people’s differences should be celebrated, not made fun of. “The message of inclusivity is a super great one for us,” says Shuster, who adds the attraction also welcomed Pride Day in New York City this year with an attempt to break the Guiness Book of World Records for longest feather boa.
It’s no secret that many modern travelers are seeking experiences in addition to attractions. That’s why Ripley’s Times Square has recently focused on bolstering the attraction’s interactivity for all ages.
In addition to adding touchscreens to most exhibits, the attraction also incorporated a 15-minute game inspired by the escape room trend called Ripley’s Relic, which involves guests solving a series of puzzles to unlock a secret treasure. “We took the trend of escape rooms and put a Ripley-esque spin on it,” says Shuster. A 15-minute time limit—instead of the escape room norm of 60 minutes—allows visitors to flow through exhibits easier.
Additionally, Shuster says Ripley’s recently added a “create-your-own” activity on an iPad that allows children to draw their own transportation vehicle to digitally travel throughout the New York City skyline—an activity catering to three-to-seven year old visitors. Interactivity technology is more affordable now than even just four years ago, Shuster adds.
Expand Your Customer Base
The main demographic of Ripley’s Believe It Or Not visitors are families with children, which can include parents and their children, grandparents and teenagers.
However, Ripley’s has recently been accessing younger adults by staying open until 1 A.M. on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights. “We’re the last attraction open on 42nd Street,” says Shuster. “We’re touting ourselves also as a date night, and a you’re-not-done-with-the-city-after-a-show-type place.” In order to advertise this fact, Ripley’s partners with several Broadway shows next door, which finishes around 10:15 P.M., by printing discount offers on the back of tickets, WiFi sign-in pop-ups and more. “I moved a lot of my traditional ad dollars into these type of promotions with partners.”
Stay On Brand
Ripley’s Times Square doesn’t offer a food and beverage service—a function of the plethora of restaurants in the vicinity. But if you do offer culinary options, make sure it makes sense with your brand. For instance, in the gift shop, Ripley’s sells oddities such as lollipops with bugs in them, and other locations sell ice cream in weird flavors, or even Dippin’ Dots instead of regular soft serve. “Carry your brand ethos into everything you do,” she says. “You can draw outside the lines as long as you stay true to your core customers who love your brand.”
Interested in learning more about Ripley’s Believe It Or Not Times Square? Meet Stacy Shuster at Arival Orlando 2019!
Oct. 27-30, 2019
1-3 March, 2020
Registration Open Soon