Attractions move slowly to SaaS, distribution demand keeps growing
On average, distribution can account for 20%-40% of attraction sales. Online resellers in particular are making big investments in marketing to acquire more market share.
Most of the investment and media interest has focused on the long tail of the hot tours and activities sector: the small operators and the new Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) technology services. Many, however, have overlooked the technology players serving the biggest part of the market: large ticketed attractions, including attractions, theme parks, amusement parks, museums, zoos, national landmarks, and much more.
This new Arival Guide goes deep on the tech powering ticketing across the global attractions landscape. Five things in this report:
1.Attractions: the sleeping giant of tours & activities
Most of the investment and industry attention has centered on technology companies providing reservations technology to smaller and medium-sized operators of tours, activities and attractions. However larger attractions are critical to the sector. Whether it’s Walt Disney World or SeaWorld, the Eiffel Tower or Louvre in Paris, or the Colosseum or Vatican in Rome, these attractions drive tourism.
2.The state and the future
Arival identified more than 40 companies and ticketing systems as part of its desk research. Four companies – Accesso, Galasys (in China), Gateway, Vivaticket – have strong positions with major attractions and venues. However, several other firms have significant penetration in several key segments. For example, Aluvii has many smaller amusement and water parks in the U.S., Gantner (Syx Automations) serves many attractions in Europe, and Tessitura is widely used among large non-profits, institutions and membership organizations.
There has been some significant investment and merger and acquisition activity among ticketing systems over the past few years:
* Travel and entertainment technology company in China Shiji acquired Galasys, the market leader in China
* accesso acquired Ingresso
* Gantner acquired Syx Automations
* TrekkSoft acquired Digitickets
* Startup ROLLER Software has raised $15 million
There will likely be more consolidation.
3.Six key themes constraining and advancing this industry
1) Established Systems Retain a Foothold
Technology systems in use at major attractions around the world generally share two traits:
a. The installations are on premises (not SaaS or cloud-based)
b. They tend to be moderately to highly customized to meet the unique needs of the specific attraction.
This leads to strongly entrenched systems and processes at attractions that results in strong customer retention for the system vendor. But it can also make significant change and upgrades more difficult.
2) The Slow Move to SaaS
New players with SaaS offerings such as ACME Ticketing, Digitickets, PrioTicket and ROLLER are racing to steal market share away. But this race is more like a marathon: the established players are responding with SaaS-based modules and integration layers. However, attractions’ reluctance to migrate remains an obstacle.
3) Fragmentation & Complexity
The fragmentation within the attractions market presents significant hurdles to industry standard technology adoption. For instance, the ticketing needs of a member-supported institution such as a museum or zoo differ from that of a concert venue with reserved-seating or an amusement park with a "Fast Pass" upsell option.
4) Consumer Impact on Features & Functions
Digitally-enabled customer experiences in other areas like retail and entertainment affect the consumer’s expectations of their attraction experiences. Consumers like buying bundled deals including merchandise and food, reserved or VIP entrance times, mobile ticketing and redemption, and technically-enabled, customized, in-entertainment experiences.
5) Demand for Distribution Keeps Growing
Distribution includes ticket sales through online travel agencies (OTAs), ticket aggregators, deal sites (Groupon), affiliates, tour operators, hotel concierges, hotel loyalty and online cross-selling initiatives, wholesalers/partners, corporate benefit providers, and multi-attraction passes. Distribution through resellers is the fastest growing channel for attractions. On average, distribution can account for 20%-40% of sales. Online resellers in particular are making big investments in marketing to acquire more market share.
Managing, redeeming, and tracking these mobile tickets, and doing so up to the last minute before entry, presents a further challenge for the distributor-attraction relationship.
As online booking through distributors began, some of the largest suppliers demanded and set up dedicated connections, often using a mix of “real-time” customized APIs and batch processing, which were based on older API technology standards. These connections may pass direct booking data between the supplier and distributor, but not instantly. In some cases, validation and end-customer confirmation can take up to 24 hours.
6) Company Culture and the Will to Change
Changing technology is hard, but changing company culture is much harder. For many attractions, technology is not viewed as a core strategic asset, but a necessary service to administer.
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