At AnyRoad, we’re always combing through our data to identify important trends.
We recently looked at our data around brand homes — experiential and interpretive venues that brands design to forge deeper connections with consumers — to better understand when people actually visit them. After looking across millions of brand home visitor records it became clear that there are some important differences in behavior between the US and European markets.
In the US, for example, visitor numbers are steadier throughout the year. While there’s definitely a drop-off after the end of the year, the number of visitors quickly rebounds in early spring. Meanwhile, in Europe, visitor numbers start declining in late summer. By October, they’re nearly half of what they were in August.
Europe also gets more visitors in the summer, with 52% of visits coming between May and August, compared to 40% in the US during the same period. That makes sense. European brand homes tend to be more dependent on international tourists and Europeans are more likely to take multi-week international vacations in the summer. Underscoring the point, about two-thirds of the people who visit Scotland’s whisky distilleries come from outside of the UK. By contrast, the Kentucky Bourbon Trail is almost exclusively visited by Americans who live within a few hours’ drive.
Why Seasonality Matters and How to Use It to Your Advantage
Knowing what your brand home’s peak months are for visitors is important, not just in terms of ensuring you’re prepared to host all of those guests, but also because they create the greatest opportunities to capture first-party data that you can use to glean consumer insights and better market your products. Armed with this information, you can also take advantage of slower points throughout the year to ensure that you have the right systems and processes in place to maximize these opportunities before your next seasonal peak.
So what should brand homes focus on during the off-season? Here are some suggestions:
Optimize your retail efforts
- Identify last year’s best sellers and highest margin items and make assortment adjustments accordingly
- Review your product add-on offerings at the time of booking
- Upgrade retail lighting and product fixtures
- Develop new brand home exclusive products, which typically command a 50% mark-up
- Train staff on retail product and operations
- Align your retail offering to the tour tastings and/or storytelling themes
Review guest feedback and benchmark yourself against other brand homes in the area
- Identify what’s having the biggest positive impact on your guest experience and what you could be doing better
- Assess whether your brand homes are turning guests into brand fans and promoters and what to do about it
- Consider whether or not you are charging enough for your tours and experiences
- Figure out if you could offer even more value for money
Evaluate the overall guest journey
- Confirm if your online booking landing page is inviting and on brand
- Verify if your online booking experience is frictionless for guests
- Determine whether or not you’re asking the right questions to understand who your guests are and what their impressions of your brand are pre- and post-visit
- Check if your guests are opting in to receive marketing communications from you
- Assess whether or not you have the information you need to send them targeted and personalized post-visit messages
Figuring out all of these points can be difficult and take time. One of the best things you can do to start making a positive impact on your brand home experience is implementing a new ticketing and experience management platform. Whether you’re running your brand home as a profit center, a strategic brand builder, or both, a best-in-class ticketing and experience management platform can make all the difference.
One of our spirits customers reported a 200% increase in average spend per visitor at their brand homes after implementing AnyRoad. With some of their sites at or near capacity and with international tourism expected to lag pre-COVID levels until at least 2024, it was critical for them to strategically drive increases in the average spend per visitor. The customer was able to attract and convert more profitable guests, achieving a 200% increase by significantly raising tour ticket prices, aligning product add-ons and tour tastings to the retail offering, and premiumizing the overall guest experience.
While there may never be an ideal time to adopt a new ticketing and experience management platform, the off-season is often the best time to get started. Doing so rarely requires shutting down operations for more than a few days, if at all. And while existing bookings need to be transferred, staff needs to be trained, and systems need to be integrated, that’s all pretty easy to do when you’re using the right platform.
If you’re still taking your tour bookings via phone or email or you’re not capturing as much usable, actionable consumer data as you could be, it may be time to find a better solution.