Rebuilding with the “Wow” Factor for Visitor Attractions

How dynamic pricing, capacity management and interactivity enhance the visitor experience for Merlin Entertainments’ attractions

Reading Time: 2 minutes 45 seconds

Is there any metaphor better for post-Covid rebuilding than Lego?

Recently at Arival 360 | Berlin 2023 I had a one-on-one conversation with Dominique Sidley, Global Trade Strategy Director of Merlin Entertainments, which operates over 140 attractions around the world including Legoland.

We discussed the state of recovery for Merlin’s attractions, how visitor expectations have changed post-Covid, the opportunities of dynamic pricing for enhancing the visitor experience, and her advice for women in travel leadership.

Merlin Entertainments’ Dominique Sidley discusses recovery, visitor expectations and dynamic pricing with Arival editor Janelle Visser at Arival 360 | Berlin 2023

Merlin Entertainments’ secret to recovery

“We’ve been really pleasantly surprised at the pace of recovery,” shares Sidley, “the pent-up demand has definitely been there… We’re in a really good place since 2019, we’re definitely pushing forward with our international recovery.”

According to Sidley, the key to post-Covid recovery for Merlin Entertainments has been engagement. “People are looking for something beyond the visit to an attraction, they want to feel something,” shares Sidley. “We’ve had to build experiences which are much more tangible, much more interactive… we have to create attractions that have the ultimate wow factor, I think that’s the secret from our perspective.”

The importance of dynamic pricing and capacity management

Merlin Entertainments has also taken some of the lessons from Covid into improving the visitor experience by leaning into capacity management, combined with dynamic pricing: “Where we were restricted in the volume of people that we could put through an attraction, our KPIs, our visitor experience was massively improved,” Sidley explains. “So we use both a combination of dynamic pricing and capacity management to smooth out the visitor flow.”

“The heart of it has to be around the customer experience,” emphasizes Sidley, because even if you could sell a few more tickets in the peak season, capacity management puts the visitor experience first. “Customer experience has to be king, and I think then more people are prepared in the peak periods to pay that little bit more because they know they’re going to have a good experience.”

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Women in travel leadership need to “Be Bold”

Finally, from her position as a leader at one of the world’s largest attraction companies, Sidley has some advice for women who might follow in her footsteps to leadership in the experiences sector (or leadership in general): 

“Be bold. Ask. Ask for what you want,” she advises. “Statistically men are brave than women in asking for what they want and I think we just need to put our shoulders back and attack that and say ‘this is what I want, this is what I can offer, this is what I bring that someone else can’t,’ and not be timid about that.”

Learn more at Arival | Activate Bangkok 2023

Join us in Bangkok in June 2023 with industry leaders in the tours, activities and attractions sector, where together we’ll learn more about the state of recovery in experiences, and dive into topics such as experience design and dynamic pricing.

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