Cashless payments dramatically improve water parks experience

As the northern hemisphere melts down under the mighty sun I had the greatest idea ever (not!): why don’t I write an article about water parks and how the industry adapts itself. Because what can be cooler (pun not intended) than documenting exotic water parks while you ride a crowded subway to work? But this article walked me around the world, helping me discover incredible destinations, epic constructions, and some interesting ways of using #tech.

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I found up some interesting facts about water parks:

 

The Waterpark Capital of the world is…Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin. But although Wisconsin is home to the biggest water park in the U.S.A. (Noah’s Ark Waterpark) and has more water parks per capita than any other place in the world, the state of Florida leads when talking about the number of attendees; the biggest four locations gathered over 7.2 million people in 2016.

 

The first indoor water park was built in Edmonton, Canada, in 1985 and was the biggest indoor waterpark until 2004.

 

The biggest indoor waterpark in the world is Tropical Islands, situated 60 km outside Berlin. The building was initially designed as an aircraft hangar and it’s one of the biggest self-supported halls in the world (the dome is 107 meters high)… It’s spectacular! Tropical Island Resort also opened an outdoor section which helped them bring in over 1.1 million attendees in 2016 (a spectacular 13% increase if compared to 2015).

 

Speaking of leaps forward, another European Waterpark holds the record for the biggest percentage increase: Siam Park, located in the Canary Islands, opened its gates for over 1 mil guests in 2016, a 15% increase if compared to 2015.

 

When speaking of the total number of guests the gold medal goes to Chimelong Water Park, from China, which had over 2.5 mil attendees last year; that’s about 600.000 more than South America’s most visited water park, Thermas dos Laranjais.

 

As I was saying…it’s hard to concentrate when things are melting down around you. Fortunately, there are plenty of places that can help us overcome the heat, and water parks and pools are there to help. But you know what is not helping? The need to carry cash and/or cards when we are in our bathing suits…

I’m an advocate of using NFC technology for water parks, a technology that can make the experience a better one for attendees. How? By linking the wristband to a customer account and crediting it (so there will be no need to carry cash around or periodically visiting the locker to grab some more). Also, the wristband can replace the key to the locker, helping attendees concentrate on the only thing that should be important while they are on site: having fun!

“Paper and coin currency in water parks will go the way of the dinosaur,” said Buddy Wilkes, from Shipwreck Island Waterpark, Florida. And I totally agree.

 

Let’s review the major benefits of contactless payments:

 

To business:

  • Reduced cash handling by employees (so cases of fraud or human error are out of the question)
  • Improves transaction speed (a report from American Express states that “contactless transactions are 63% faster than cash and 53% faster than using a traditional credit card”)
  • Order value increases by over 30% (customers have instant access to their money, eliminating the extra step of walking to the wallet will increase the number of purchases)
  • Information about guests
  • Ability to prioritize clients (that pay extra for different benefits)

 

To guests:

  • Possibility to receive preferred customer benefits (this is the kind of experience that is hard to forget)
  • Reduces the risk of losing the ticket (or the cash/personal card)
  • Eliminates the need for holding separated tickets for different areas on site (the wristband can store all the access information)
  • They can keep track of family members
  • No more need to wait in line

 

The idea of using a wristband for contactless payments isn’t new and the technology has been used for some years in the industry but this year we witnessed something great. Orlando Volcano Bay, opened in May 2017, took the technology one step further: their waterproof wristband, Tapu Tapu, announces you when it’s your time to use a ride; this smart wearable it’s not just for cashless payments, it also waits in a virtual line for you, so you can do something else until it’s your time to use the ride.

 

There is one more great benefit of using wristbands for contactless payments (and also to store access credentials and to unlock your locker) and I let it last on purpose; not because it is not important, but because I want it to be the idea that you’ll stick to: going paperless will make a big change to the environment. This totally slipped my mind, but the guys from Waterbom Bali helped me realize how important this benefit is to us all. It’s been over 7 years since they first started using waterproof wristbands for cashless payments and are happy about the improvements made: because they are aiming to be #1 water park in the world that cares about the environment. Maybe this is why people love them some much and voted them as the number 1 water park in Asia in the Tripadvisor TraveleresChoice ranking. You rock, guys!

P.s.  For more statistical data you can check out Statista, Wikipedia or http://www.teaconnect.org/images/files/TEA_235_103719_170601.pdf, that’s what I did :).

Event Marketing Through Stories: Instagram vs Snapchat

“It is clear to us that regular users’ Snapchat usage/engagement have gone down significantly since the release of Instagram Stories” writes Charlie Buffin

Event Marketing

For almost one year now, it’s been quite a war between Snapchat and Instagram – Why?

 

Well, on 2nd of August 2016 Instagram has launched the Instagram Stories, which are the identical copy of Snapchat Stories. For those of you who don’t know what Snapchat does, here is a brief intro; a Snap is a picture or video you send through the app to one or more of your friends. It will disappear after a maximum of 10 seconds and can only pe played twice. You have the option to add multiple photos and videos as well into the “My Story” feed which will disappear after 24 hours and can be viewed undefined times; visible to your friends only  if you have a private account or by everybody if you have a public account.

Instagram did not stop here, and one year later it hits again by copying Snapchat’s crowd-sourcing photos which allows users to send photos or videos from a specific location or event. Basically they can add photos from their personal story to nearby locations. Afterwards Instagram will curate the photos and the selected one that would show in the Explore tab as another story, let’s say New York (story). These stories created through crowdsourcing photos and videos can be searched after the location and hashtag. Learn more how to use crowd-sourcing photos for your next event.

Crowd-sourcing photos and Geofilters are two of the features that made Snapchat famous among all types of events

Crowdsourcing photos and Geofilters are two of the features that made Snapchat famous among all types of events; managing to create a high level of awareness within numerous events by collecting loads and loads of photos/ videos from all kind of participants at the events. It is an easy and friendly way to promote and bring awareness of your event . Learn more about how to promote your event through Snapchat.

It was quite a significant hit for Snapchat when Instagram launched its “stories ” because they suffered a substantially daily users decrease.

In only 25 weeks since launch, Instagram Stories reached 150 million daily users. That’s the same number of users that Snapchat’s whole app reportedly reached in June 2016, after seeing a significant growth from 110 million daily users in December 2015, Bloomberg reported.

Another report on TechCrunch found that both Snapchat views and posting of stories counts decreased by 15-40 percent after Instagram Stories launched.

Influencers seek for Instagram’s reach

Mike Albanese the CEO of social talent media company Galore’s says “Influencers that were late to build an audience on Snapchat pretty much abandoned the platform because it was so much easier for them to reach more people through their existing audience on Instagram Stories.”

Influencers have also noticed that the engagement rates are 3-5x higher on Instagram than on Snapchat. No matter how faithful you are to Snapchat, you’ve got to do what’s best for your business.

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Snapchat is fighting back Instagram

In order to fight Instagram, Snapchat launched Custom Stories in May 2017. Custom Stories  is similar to the normal story posting, the only difference is that it allows users to create their own events within their chosen friends. So for example, if you are organizing a birthday party, you can create a story named “`Birthday Party” and invite only the friends you would like to post in that story. Through Custom Stories, Snapchat is trying to focus more on offering a qualitative and tailored content to their users.

Creating the Customs Stories seems to be the logical step after creating  a tool that creates on-demand geofilters on the web, in February 2017, which allows users to create custom stickers for different occasions and events. And as competition with Instagram intensifies, it might represent an important milestone in the process of roping in new users.

Both Snapchat and Instagram are trying to bring people together through their stories. Even if it is about user’s lifestyle, a private event, a concert or a championship they help people spread the word and their experiences.

What makes the difference between the two, especially when using Instagram and Snapchat Stories to market an event?

Instagram

  • Has over 600 Million Users monthly with most of its users over 24 years old  (Read more)
  • Instagram’s users spend 15 minutes per day on the app
  • A big part of the activity users spend their time mostly browsing

Snapchat

  • Has 16 Million users daily with 60% of it’s users under the age of 24
  • Users spend twice as Instagram’s users on the app, approximately 30 min per day
  • 60% of user create content (Business Insider)

It only depends on what are your goals, who is your target and what kind of event are you are trying to market in order to decide if Instagram or Snapchat is more suitable for your event.

Having so many users, Instagram’s best use is to bring awareness and gain new potential attendees. But if you want to create an after event marketing, you can make sure that Snapchat is the right tool for you; Leaving all the content to be created by the community, with the wonderful slew of tools that Snapchat has to offer.

We are curious and looking forward to see how this battle is going to end. If Snapchat will raise back by increasing the number of daily users; if Instagram will manage to surpass Snapchat in it’s quality and number of features or why not  live happily ever after by figuring a middle way to survive on the “stories market” by bringing different added value for their users.

 

We Are Museums is becoming better year by year

“From museum professionals, cultural venues, heritage owners, startups and businesses, we make worlds collide and collaborate.” – WAM

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Created in 2013, We are Museums is meant to bring the two different worlds of innovation and culture on a common ground. The purpose is to help professionals from both industries find solutions to re-define the field of museums and culture through cutting edge technology.

It is the second year in a row when Oveit is taking part at Tech Loves Culture within WAM and we may say that we are really excited to see visible progress within the number and diversity of the participants.

Finding solutions to re-define the field of museums and culture through cutting edge technology

The technologies available in this year’s representation did cover a large spectrum in the triangle formed by: Culture & Art – Visitors – Technology.

Some of the most interesting and innovative technology present at WAM were:

Artlokator  a platform that connects all major art market places in one: art platforms, online & traditional auction houses, galleries, art dealers and private collectors. The website provides free valuations and knowledge about art pieces, a data library to search for items and art market trends. As well as an online gallery where you can get inspired and can share your works of art with the global art lovers community.

Overly is the first and only agency in the Baltic States that focuses on the development of augmented reality solutions and other interactive technologies that can be used within museum with the purpose of offering a more interactive experience and an easier way to assimilate and learn new information.

Vastari is dedicated to museums around the world that organise many exhibitions a year. The interface and networking tools offered by Vatsari makes it easier for these museums to communicate with the private sector directly, to tour exhibitions globally and share information for exhibitions worldwide.

Mash Machine players combine bass, drum, melody and vocal samples by placing and moving blocks on the surface. The algorithm and the custom content ensure the resulting music is always in key and on time. With no possibility to make a mistake, newly born DJs relax and experiment with music styles ranging from rock and hip hop to deep electronic techno.

Catchbox is the world’s first soft, wireless microphone that you can throw into the audience to kickstart a discussion. Catchbox improves lectures, conferences, and group work by encouraging audiences and groups to share ideas and discuss problems. The colorful box is intuitive to use, and having it thrown around engages audience members while breaking the ice. The Catchbox is a combination of innovative product design and state of the art audio technology. With a microphone element suitable for professionals the innovative AutoMute technology, Catchbox sets new standards for the audience microphone. In addition, the unique locking mechanism means that the cover is easy to replace and change. Catchbox Custom Cover is an entirely new visual medium to communicate your own brand effectively. Whether it’s your own logo, crucial event information, or a spot for sponsors, the Custom Cover is guaranteed to give you the extra exposure boost.

The list continues with many other innovative technology and products which will definitely change the whole experience offered by museums in the near future.

Museums are investing in technology with the purpose of reshaping the traditional museum into a conjuring experience. They are not only acknowledging the new services as Facebook, YouTube or Snapchat but they are actually trying to find ways of fitting in alongside them.

Read more about how to engage visitors emotionally on our blog.

 

How do you prepare for a cashless event?

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Last week was a full one for us here at Oveit; on Wednesday we visited the lovely city of Riga to participate at We are Museums event WAM 2017 – Tech loves Culture, where we met many museums professionals eager to use #tech to offer their customers a better experience; Thursday and Friday were reserved for ICEEfest, Interactive Central & Eastern Europe, one of the biggest  tech-related events in Central & Eastern Europe. At ICEEfest we were in charge with the registration process and also implemented the cashless payment system, offering attendees the possibility to pay using their wristbands. Everything went as smooth as it can so we thought that would be nice to share some insights that can help you to implement this cashless payment method for your next event.

 

Here are some hints for a better workflow:

Use the right tool, so you don’t have to use 2 of 3 different software products for one event (our friends used Oveit to sell tickets, check in attendees, print badges and set up the cashless payment system). We used our software “as a hole” and made it really easy to associate the NFC wristbands to an attendee and credit his/her account.

Test your hardware. For this event, we used 24 laptops, 10 NFC readers, and 6 thermal printers. It all worked well but you can be sure that we didn’t wait for the first guests to arrive before we (individually) tested every piece of hardware that we were going to use for the big event. We checked and double checked so when the guests started to arrive we knew that everything is in place and any malfunction that may occur can be easily fixed.

Make sure you have enough power supplies and a strong internet connection (it is strongly recommended to use a private network for your apps, different from the one used by your guests).

You will need to host 2 different training sessions for people operating the software: one with the cashiers (that will credit your attendees’ accounts) and one with the vendors. It’s incredibly easy to use the NFC cashless payment system (at least ours is) but you must make sure that everyone knows how to use it (don’t assume that they don’t need to test it first).

Have a crew on site that knows how to use the software and can be of help if needed. If you have access credentials for each selling point it would be best if the “guys on sight” have the ability to reset them (they are there as a backup, to fix any problem that may occur). If someone has trouble remembering how to log in (or what’s the correct password) – they will have someone to ask for help. You use NFC to improve the general experience so make sure that you have someone on site for this sort of problems.

Using cashless payments was a bliss; there were attendees from all over the world at ICEEfest, so you understand why using cash would’ve been a problem. First, not everyone had the time to stop by an ATM and withdraw cash; second, the queues would’ve been huge with hundreds of people trying to figure out which bills to use. This system allowed everyone to use their credit/debit card to top-up their accounts and a simple tap for pay at all the 8 stores available on site. The result?

 

A payment system that was very easy to use and no more queueing.

 

If you still have doubts about the NFC technology and how it can help you offer a better experience for your attendees I encourage you to read this article, where you will find (almost) all the right reasons :).

How to make your event visible using Search Engine Marketing

“Google only loves you when everyone else loves you first.” – Wendy Piersall

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We hear on a daily basis about Search Marketing, Search Engine Marketing (SEM) and Search Engine Optimization(SEO). But what does it really mean? Is Search Marketing the same with Search Engine Marketing? – the answer is no.

Search Marketing is the umbrella under which fells Search Engine Marketing and Search Engine Optimization

Search Marketing is the process of gaining website traffic both organic (SEO) and paid(SEM) advertising.

SEO is the process of improving your website and content so that it’s visible to search engines. The process is organic and requires a lot of patience.

SEM is paid advertising with the help of search engines. Advertisers pay and bid on specific keywords to be shown when searched for.

Search Marketing = SEO + SEM

Since both SEM and SEO are two broad and confusing topics, in this article I am going to speak about SEM, what is it, how to use it and what practices are best in order to maximize your event’s exposure.

When somebody is searching for an event the results displayed at the top of the search engine’s page represent the search ads. And obviously that’s the place you want your ad to be displayed in order to make your future attendees find you fast and easy.

Google has 78% Market Share in the Search Network Market

The Search Network Market is shared within a limited number of players and by far the leader is Google with a 78% Market Share followed by Bing and Baidu with 8% each. NetMarketShare, May 2017

The most popular among search ads are Google Search Network which handles more than 40,000 search queries every second and a total of more than 1.2 trillion web searches every single year.

Google Search Network as explained above, are the ads which help you find new customers and if used right your ads will be displayed within the top searches.

One of the major misconceptions is that whomever has the largest advertising budget wins – False!

On top of the money, what Google stands for is delivering the most appropriate content to it’s users. For this to be possible all ads have to pass through a process which is know as ad auction and only the ads with the highest Ad Rank will be placed in the top searches. Yes, a larger advertising budget can help you, especially when bidding for competitive keywords, but another important factor which can help you spend less money is the Quality Score.

AdRank = Maximum Bid * Quality Score

Maximum Bid is the maximum amount of money you you are willing to pay for a click.

Quality Score is calculated considering the overall quality of the advertisement. The factors constituting the quality score, are:

  • Relevance of each keyword to its ad group
  • The click-through rate
  • Relevance of your ad-text
  • Landing page quality and relevance
  • Your historical AdWords account performance

The one characteristic which “weights” the most from the above mentioned is the click-through rate (CTR). It tells Google how many people saw your ad and actually clicked on it. This allows Google to understand that your ad is relevant and helpful and will increase your quality rank through a high CTR.

Keyword selection is one of the most important aspect of SEM’s success

Keyword selection is one of the most important aspect of SEM’s success and beside them there are a few more practices which should be considered:

Relevant keywords it is important to identify from the beginning the keywords which are relevant to your event and customers;

-use WordStream’s Free Keyword Tool, which provides a range of valuable information, such as search volume for each individual keyword in Google and its general competitiveness.

-to find out how well your account is doing, try WordStream’s free AdWords Performance Grader.

Group of keywords – create group of keywords and market them separately and on different occasions. It is easier to monitor which ones are successful or not. It is easier to remove the ones which don’t generate any ROI and be cost effective.

Niche keywords and long tail keywords rather than general ones since the consumers who are searching an event with the intention of attending will be more specific in their searches and keyword selection rather than searching for general keywords.

Keep pace with the competition – It is important to be updated with what your competitors are doing too, what keywords or promotions are using. Try being creative and keep up the pace with them.

Bidding strategy – you should not be focused on the general keywords and how much your maximum bid can be. You should permanently monitor the campaigns, check which keywords are converting or not and practice the AB testing within keywords and campaigns.

The advantage of Search Engine Marketing is that you can monitor and track your consumer’s journey and behavior

Once a new user lands on a page, a profile is going to be created and with which it’s whole journey is going to be monitored. From that moment every marketing link clicked on, every page viewed, and every ticket bought, is captured in the profile where it can be analyzed and understood.

SEM can be a significant tool for your event. It is the tool that helps your attendees find you and in order to do that successfully you need to make sure it is used adequately. Not only Search Engine Marketing but the whole process has to be used in the right way. SEO, SEM and of course the paid ads.

SEM Terminology

  • PPC (pay-per-click)
  • CPC (cost-per-click)
  • CPM (cost-per-thousand impressions)
  • Creative/ Adtext – Heading and description of search ad
  • SERP – Search Engine Result Page
  • CTR% – Click through Rate (as a percentage) – a metric that measures the number of clicks advertisers receive on their ads per number of impressions.
  • Impressions – The no of times your ad is shown
  • Google Content Network – Display banner ads outside of Google
  • Rank/ Position – The position your ad is shown when a keyword is searched (a through 8 page 1)
  • DKI – Dynamic Keyword Insertion
  • ROAS – return on advertising spend
  • PLA – product listing ads (shopping ads)
  • Quality Score – A ranking Google gives your ad based on its CTR