How Payment Technology is Reshaping the Amusement and Attractions IndustryWendy Wang
Traditional Payment Methods in the Amusement Industry and the Impact of COVID-19
As amusement and attraction businesses reopened their gates over the past year, we’ve experienced a sweeping introduction of new payment technology throughout our favorite parks, arcades, and fun centers. Payment technology has come a long way in the past few years, and it has helped redefine the amusement and attractions industry indefinitely. Along with theme parks, many other attractions in the industry are reaping the benefits that payment technology has to offer: waterparks, arcades, and family fun centers have implemented cashless, contactless, and other new solutions in an effort to attract more visitors. Although the industry was already on its way to modernizing the way customers pay, COVID-19 kickstarted the progression of adapting to new forms of payment methods and channels of payment acceptance.
According to a McKinsey Global Survey, it is estimated that COVID-19 transformed 3-5 years’ worth of adoption of contactless payment technologies into just six months. Several technologies are helping meet these expectations — such as unattended devices, mobile apps, and the growth of e-commerce for pre-purchasing tickets, bookings, meals, and more.
In this article, we’ll dive deeper into these technologies as well as several others, and we’ll discuss how the amusement and attractions industry can adapt to ever-changing consumer demands while fueling the industry’s continued growth.
How Amusement and Attractions Businesses Are Responding to Industry Challenges
As businesses continue to upgrade their checkout processes, they are gaining much insight into how to improve the customer experience. In recent years, the industry has risen to the challenge and found ways to transform the customer journey by upgrading and introducing innovative technologies to their business operations. Here’s a look at some of the top payment trends hitting amusement industry businesses:
A New Era of Going Cashless
The amusement and attractions industry is heavily cash-intensive, with multiple points of sale relying on cash payments—from the ticket admission at the gate entrance to multiple food vendors and parking fees alone. In a case study by Knott’s Berry Farm, it was estimated that 500-700 cashier tills were managed throughout the park per day, and a combined 75-120 hours per day were spent counting cash among various personnel. Without an electronic payments system, many long, tedious hours must be spent manually recording cash receipts. As cash use is steadily declining, it’s only inevitable that businesses will need to upgrade their payment infrastructure. Even before the pandemic, the shift from heavy cash operations to cashless options has been long overdue. We’re finding that not only are these digital tools bringing visitors backs, but increasing overall efficiency, sales revenue, and customer satisfaction.
Increasingly, the standard plastic credit card is not what’s replacing cash payments these days, however. More and more customers are opting to pay using their mobile phones — and to accept these payments, businesses are upgrading their hardware. According to a recent survey in 2021, more than half (56%) of attraction visitors consider contactless technology a ‘must-have.’ Universal Orlando has recently updated their Universal Orlando Resort app to accept contactless payments via the wallet tab. Park visitors can link their credit or debit card and select the Universal Pay option. At the checkout, cashiers will scan an auto-generated QR code from their mobile app. Following their footsteps shortly thereafter, in June 2020, Six Flags rolled out mobile food ordering and contactless payment across all of its parks. Guests need to download the Six Flags app, which allows them to choose their restaurant, place their order, and pay. The installation of mobile apps has proven much success and positive feedback from customers.
The Shift to Contactless Payment Solutions
As contactless payment use surged over the past year and a half, industry leaders are shifting towards touch-free solutions. The demand for contactless payment solutions such as mobile wallets, dedicated mobile apps, and QR codes has risen with popularity as customers gravitate towards digital and mobile-driven options. Business owners have adopted mobile apps and digital wristbands so that customers can pay, carry tickets, collect points, and check wait times. Additionally, pre-ordering tickets and mobile ordering at restaurants have become more prevalent than ever before.
Consumer payment preferences are dramatically evolving, and it is more important than ever to meet the needs of these demands. According to a recent 2021 survey, 41% of families would love to interact via a dedicated mobile app, 52% of respondents say they would buy more if they could avoid queues and order ahead, and 24% of Gen Z are most keen on a QR code system for ordering food and drinks.
Notably, other businesses in the attractions industry also rose to the occasion during the pandemic. Arcades and gaming centers have found a way to allow customers to purchase electronic tickets and coins with their mobile phones or pre-order them online before arrival. Along with mobile wallet payments, some gaming centers implemented QR code capabilities where customers can print their pre-purchased paper receipt with a QR code that is then scanned at the arcade’s kiosk.
A Steady Increase in Unattended Devices
Self-service kiosks continue to grow in popularity, as customers appreciate their convenience, speed, and simplicity. The market for self-service kiosks is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 6.4% during 2021-2026. Additionally, high-tech vending machines are providing seamless payment solutions where customers can purchase packaged products with their mobile devices or card on hand.
In February 2020, PYMNTS reported that consumers prefer unattended retail channels because they like shopping at their own pace—49.4% use self-checkout because it’s faster, and 34.7% prefer the shorter lines. Unattended retail devices provide considerable functionality and ease of use for customers and greater profitability for businesses that want to future-proof their payment infrastructure.
Payment Solutions for the Amusement Industry
Adapting and understanding new payment technologies can be difficult, which is why it is essential to find a payment solution provider that will intuitively evolve with consumer demands. Cardknox offers a wide range of payment options optimized for the amusement and attractions industry. Here are some key features and benefits to elevate your theme park business:
- Store and Forward Payments: No internet connection? No problem. Store and Forward payment solutions allow merchants to process payments without having access to an internet connection. The merchant can accept the payment information for the transaction, and then it’s stored on the wireless payment terminal until the connection returns, at which point it’s submitted for processing. With the presence of multiple POS systems and terminals throughout the park, this is a fault-proof way to ensure that you won’t lose sales in the unlikely case of an internet outage.
- Unattended Devices: With the growth of mobile ordering and devices, customers want to have the option to access self-service ordering devices. This limits the need for face-to-face interactions with food vendors. Cardknox supports leading unattended terminal devices, perfect for self-service kiosks and high-tech vending machines. Customers can pre-order and choose their preferred payment method and receive their order with minimal to no contact. This reduces the need for a physical worker, minimizes overhead costs, and streamlines data collection.
- Support for a Wide Range of POS Systems and Hardware: With the increase in usage of various contactless payment methods, it is important for retailers to accommodate these preferences. Our payment solutions are compatible with a wide range of sleek terminal devices and POS systems. Cardknox supports EMV chip cards, mobile payments, contactless cards, gift cards, and more!
- Online and E-Commerce Solutions: Implementing an e-commerce site can create many valuable opportunities for amusement and attractions businesses — and Cardknox’s e-commerce integrations make it easy. As more and more customers prefer to pay online, businesses are adopting an omnichannel approach by offering their services and features to a digital marketplace. With an online storefront, customers can book reservations, pay for tickets in advance, purchase gift cards, and manage monthly subscriptions. For those who don’t have an e-commerce site, our intuitive Merchant Portal enables businesses to process one-time and recurring payments and save customer payment information on file— perfect for memberships and subscription services. We also offer PaymentSITE, a hosted online form that’s an easy alternative to setting up an e-commerce site.
- QR Codes: Recent data predicts that by 2025, QR codes will be used by 30% of all mobile users. Cardknox can generate unique QR codes that can be displayed on POS devices and customer receipts. Customers can simply scan the QR code with their smartphone and they are redirected to a custom online payment form with pre-filled fields. This reduces friction at the checkout while increasing customer satisfaction and cash flow.
What’s In Store for the Amusement and Attractions Industry
Although the industry took a big hit during the pandemic, we’re seeing positive growth and a resurgence of consumers in the past few months. The industry has proven its resilience and tenacity with more businesses re-opening their gates and adapting to online and mobile selling channels.
As payment technologies continue to develop, it is crucial for business owners to find a payment integration that seamlessly integrates with their existing infrastructure. The digital payment landscape has transformed the user experience with cutting-edge technologies like unattended devices, mobile payments, e-commerce solutions, and many more to come.Industry leaders are finding that updating their legacy technology with the latest payment advances is critical for their businesses’ future success and continued growth. To find out more about our solutions for the amusement industry, contact us today to help get you started.