Should Visitor Attractions Still Require Advance Purchase Post-Pandemic?

Covid restrictions pushed many visitor attractions to require advanced purchase online with timed-entry, but most travelers say flexibility matters more

Reading Time: 3 minutes 20 seconds

Brought to you by Go City

The pandemic drove huge changes in how attractions have long managed ticketing and admission. More than half of all visitor attractions — including cultural sites and monuments, museums, zoos and aquariums, amusement parks and observation decks — implemented advanced purchase requirements with timed entry to manage capacity limits during Covid-era restrictions. 

The shift helped fuel a surge in online booking and also delivered an array of new business benefits, including much better customer data for capacity planning, marketing and more. But what should attractions do as restrictions ease? Pre-pandemic, travelers typically made a decision to visit an attraction on the same day they would visit. The most common booking method, until last year, was simply walking up to the ticket counter and buying tickets. 

Advance Purchase vs. Flexibility: What Visitors Think

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For Arival’s new short report, Attractions Revisited, we conducted a survey, in partnership with Go City, of 1,000 U.S. travelers on their planned or intended travel between July 2021 and June 2022. We asked travelers to rate the relative importance of flexible admission, lower ticket price, advanced purchase and timed-entry. Travelers were sourced through a nationally representative online sample of all U.S. traveling adults. 

Despite the many restrictions and policies to emerge in response to the pandemic, travelers continue to prize flexibility in attraction choice and entry well above advanced purchase, and even significantly more so than a lower price. Travelers rated the ability to book in advance or have a dedicated time slot as much less important, and 18% of travelers said they would be less likely to visit an attraction if advance purchase and timed-entry were required. 

Should Visitor Attractions Still Require Advance Purchase Post-Pandemic? Douglas Quinby Arival

Attraction Takeaway: A Hybrid Approach

Visitor attractions should be flexible with timed-entry. While they should certainly optimize for online booking in advance, and potentially create incentives for travelers to book ahead of time, attractions should take a flexible, hybrid approach to give those travelers the option to decide on the fly what they want to do, and when.

Get the Full Paper — It’s Short and Free

Arival’s Attractions Revisited: How Visitor Attractions Can Adapt to the New Traveler Path to Purchase is freely available on Arival. A log in or email address is not required to access the paper. 

Based on exclusive new research of 1,000 U.S. travelers on their planned or intended travel over the next 12 months, this short presentation from Arival and Go City highlights the key trends in traveler behavior and expectations for ticketed attractions. It also presents actionable recommendations that all attractions should consider as travel continues its recovery. 

Get your copy here

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