Case Study: A fresh approach to online sales at Gulf Islands Waterpark

How the quest for a better guest experience and greater operational predictability led to Liftopia’s dynamic pricing model and pre-sale success

+21% increase in pre-sold revenue online

Goals & Challenges

Gulf Islands Waterpark is a large seasonal waterpark located on the Mississippi Coast in Gulfport, MS. A family-friendly destination, Gulf Islands offers many different attractions, including slides, the Gulf Coast’s first and only water roller coaster, and a zipline park.

As a leading innovator in the waterpark industry, General Manager Mark Moore is always brainstorming ways to improve the guest experience at his operation. Leading up to the 2018 summer season, Mark wanted to devise a strategy to get guests into the park faster, which meant driving more sales online in advance thereby reducing timely transactions at the gate. As any park operator knows well, happier guests are those who don’t have to wait in line.

When Mark decided to focus on guest experience, he didn’t realize he’d eventually land on dynamic pricing, but it quickly became apparent that it was the best strategy to accomplish his goals. To shift guest transactions online, in advance, Mark knew he needed to offer customers a price they could not refuse. And the best way to do this, he decided, was with dynamic pricing, something he’d been considering for several years. Additionally, Gulf Islands recognized the multitude of coupons it had available in the market, which were not only confusing for customers, but costly to print, and unlikely to yield valid email addresses for marketing.

Goals for Summer 2018:

  1. Get guests into the park more quickly by increasing the total percent of transactions sold online
  2. Move away from traditional couponing, driving rate on best days and raise per cap at least $2
  3. Lower payroll costs

Gulf Islands chose Liftopia, who brings 13+ years of revenue management experience and data in the ski and attractions industry, as a dynamic pricing partner.

“Liftopia quickly became the standout choice to help us craft a pricing strategy to move customers from the ticket window to advance purchase” said Moore. “The depth and experience of the Liftopia team made me confident about overhauling my pricing strategy from the ground up and moving towards a dynamic strategy.”

Because tickets sold are date-specific, Mark would better be able to plan his operations and staffing on a daily basis using the wealth of information and automated reporting available to him through the Liftopia platform.

Solutions & Results

  1. 21% growth in online sales
  2. 50% growth in percent of revenue sold online vs. the year prior, allowing for a reduction in the number of on-site ticket sellers required*
  3. Per cap per ticket sold online increased $5, or 25%
  4. Per cap per ticket sold from any channel increased $8.20, or 38%

“Working with Liftopia has resulted in a tremendous improvement of key results for us this summer” says Mark Moore. “As a result of Liftopia’s dynamic pricing model, both revenue and average purchase price are up year over year at our property. Selling in advance on Cloud Store has significantly reduced the strain on our ticketing staff and created an better overall guest experience!”

All summer long, Gulf Islands took advantage of Liftopia’s customized dashboards and reporting to see how its strategy could be adjusted in real-time to achieve greater pricing efficiency. With access to an experienced analytics team with years of performance data from over 200 ski and summer attractions, Mark was confident he could sell dynamically without leaving money on the table.

When Gulf Islands introduced its new summer strategy, Mark thought it would take about three years for Gulf Islands to educate its consumer base on dynamic pricing, but after one summer, he believes 80% of his market is educated. By fully committing to a consistent marketing message across email, social media, telephone, etc., adoption has progressed much more quickly than he expected. “It will probably only take about a year and a half until the market is educated” says Moore. “Customers are more used to this than we realize.”

What do future goals look like for Gulf Islands? In three years, Mark aims to sell 75% of Gulf Islands’ tickets online, and Liftopia is excited to help them hit that target.

*12% of revenue booked online this season

“Liftopia’s dynamic pricing strategy has allowed us to take back control of our pricing by getting rid of numerous coupons and discounts and clarifying our marketing message for customers. On top of that, we’ve collected a wealth of customer information and email addresses to improve our marketing that we wouldn’t have gotten otherwise.”

Mark Moore

General Manager, Gulf Islands Waterpark


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