You May Not Be Ready, but Your Customers Are

women laughing on amusement park ride

Change is hard. We all know it. 

Resort, park, and attraction operators are hard-pressed to think about making changes to online sales strategy when they’re dealing with unpredictable attendance, running multiple departments, and feeling the pain of being short-staffed. It’s all too easy to say, “not now” when overwhelmed, let alone think strategically about improvements to customer experience and predictable sales of tickets. Although a streamlined online ticketing experience improves the customer journey and dynamic pricing is a proven revenue growth solution, some operators are still hesitant to change their existing strategy for a variety of reasons, whether time constraints, fear of consumer reaction, or simply relying on what they’ve used for years.

But as the famous business educator and author, Peter Drucker, once said, “Change is opportunity.” While you may not be ready to implement a more streamlined e-commerce experience and dynamic pricing, your guests are. You have a unique opportunity to meet your customer’s expectations, while also increasing advanced bookings and improving operations. Here’s why. 

Your Customers Are Already Familiar With Dynamic Pricing

The assumption that customers are not already familiar with the concept of dynamic pricing is a myth. Operators frequently underestimate the public’s understanding and acceptance of the concept. The fact is, consumers encounter dynamic pricing in many aspects of everyday life, from booking hotels, to airline flights, to purchasing movie tickets. 

Dynamic pricing is a revenue management strategy that prices tickets and passes each day according to demand with prices rising over time as demand increases for the day. When employed diligently, it encourages customers to “buy now” since prices are expected to rise as the date of the activity approaches.

Fully Dynamic Pricing Strategy Example from Catalate
Catalate’s dynamic pricing strategies are based on limited quantities of tickets at unique price points that sell out over time in response to demand. Each date has its own set of prices and quantities based on expected demand for the day.

“Most people think that dynamic pricing is not something the customer understands—and they’re absolutely wrong,” says Gulf Islands Waterpark General Manager Mark Moore who has successfully employed dynamic pricing to increase sales at his attraction.

“Everybody knows that Tuesday is the cheap night at the movie theater and Monday nights are when kids eat free at certain restaurants. Everybody understands what these brands are doing and while it’s not dynamic in the way that Catalate works, it’s definitely the same premise. The consumer absolutely understands that if they do an activity at an off-time, they get a better price.

Particularly when implemented intelligently, dynamic pricing can actually build increased trust with consumers because they understand that if they buy now, the price will only go up. This is in contrast to strategies where prices may rise and fall, leading to frustrated consumers who purchased in advance only to find a better price later.

Your Customers Expect a Seamless Online Purchasing Experience

This one probably won’t surprise you, but customers today expect to be able to easily buy online, whether it’s on a desktop or mobile device. It’s forecasted that online retail sales will surpass $6.5 trillion in 2023, with e-commerce accounting for over 20% of total retail sales. E-commerce giants like Amazon have set a high standard for e-commerce, from streamlined checkout to easy browsing options, forcing other online retailers, including resort and attraction operators, to up their game to provide the experiences that consumers expect.

Young woman purchasing attraction tickets online.

What’s more, a recent Arival Report noted that planning travel in advance has surged. Booking 3 to 7 days before a visit has more than doubled from 14% to 32% of all travelers, while 1-4 weeks in advance has increased to 28% of all travelers. “More than three in four travelers now plan their attraction visits before they arrive in the destination.” The key takeaway here? “The digital experience for future guests has never mattered more, and attractions need to be visible in multiple online channels.” From lift tickets to park admission, your customers expect to have a seamless purchase experience from the comfort of their own homes prior to their day of arrival. 

How to Meet Customer Expectations 

Without dynamic pricing, parks and attractions are missing out on a major opportunity for revenue growth, streamlined operational planning, and online sales efficiency — which all lead to improved customer experience.

Guests are Happier When They Can Buy In Advance and Save

Operators who introduce reactionary discounts are at risk of leaving money on the table should demand increase, and may also upset customers who have already purchased in advance. With dynamic pricing, ticket prices increase only if and when demand appears and persists. This strategy is successful because it releases a small number of tickets at the lowest possible price well in advance of the arrival date and uses quantity rather than time to determine price movements each day. By offering the right price at the right time and building in quantity-based constraints, operators can avoid overselling at the lowest price point should demand rise. As demand increases, so does the price. 

What’s more, with a looming economic downturn, a dynamic pricing strategy can mitigate its effects by providing operators with actionable, real-time data to inform their pricing and operational planning. Dynamic pricing encourages advanced sales, increases flexibility to adapt to changing market conditions, and lets demand inform businesses’ pricing and operational planning. Your guests are happier having the option to plan in advance and save and you can better prepare your resort to maximize profits from happy guests in-park.

Improved Customer Experience 

Staffing shortages are impacting parks and attractions across the globe. Whether due to the pandemic, residual effects of government programs, or the housing crisis, operators are feeling the pain of reduced staff; which translates to longer lines, closed ski runs or rides, or hangry kids having tantrums over insufficient F&B for park dining.

While there are ideas by the handful, from raising hourly wages to housing seasonal workers, for hiring or retaining staff one lesser-known solution that can offer relief to the seasonal staffing crunch is the implementation of dynamic pricing. When coupled with a robust e-commerce sales experience, dynamic pricing incentivizes customers to purchase online, ahead of their visit. 

Some Catalate partners have shared that they use Catalate data and reporting on expected arrivals within a certain booking window to predict the total number of expected guests on the day of arrival. This in turn enables resorts and attractions operators to proactively plan staffing weeks in advance and prepare in-park dining to meet the expected visitation. 

With more tickets booked online in advance, fewer cashiers may be necessary as guests happily skip the ticket box and head directly into the park. For resorts and attractions selling food and beverage, a dynamic pricing strategy means adding purchasing efficiencies to avoid wastage and better planning at on-site restaurants to ensure a superb guest experience.

When consumers buy tickets online in advance, we can confidently predict that they’ll more fully enjoy their in-park experience.

What’s more, buying tickets in advance causes a simple shift in your guests’ positive perception of their experience at your resort, park, or attraction. Think about it; If you’ve just swiped a credit card for a few hundred dollars in entry fees then you’re less likely to pay for the services and experiences available within the park. You’re less likely to splurge on ski lessons, you’ll eat snacks you brought instead of dining in-park, or you’re hesitant to enjoy another beverage at the end of the day. But, if your ticket cost was already paid on your last credit card bill, you’re more likely to enjoy your time and not stress about the incidental expenses of making lasting memories. A Deloitte article in the Wall Street Journal supports this perspective around how purchase decisions impact consumer psychology. The article states, “Dynamic pricing is uniquely valuable because it is one of the quickest levers a business can pull to affect consumer behavior.” When consumers buy tickets online in advance, we can confidently predict that they’ll fully enjoy their experience in-park — and they’re even more excited to think about their next return visit.

Take the Stress Out of Setup With Catalate’s Cloud Store and Dynamic Pricing

Using Catalate’s Cloud Store and Dynamic Pricing, our resort & attractions partners start improving guest experience online — and earning more revenue — in just a few weeks. By gathering data about your business and understanding your goals for the season, our dedicated Analytics team can formulate a pricing strategy tailored to your unique business and products.

Our Partner Services team will be with you every step of the way to ensure your team is trained on backend tools and your store placement is optimized to generate traffic. We’ll handle the heavy lifting, from store creation, price loading, barcode testing, and more, so that all your team will need to do is add a Call-to-Action to your website that links to the URL we provide. Simple as that! And of course, you enjoy ongoing training and support from our world-class team as revenue and attendance increase.

Start Meeting Your Guests’ Expectations Today

Despite all of the reasons you may want to wait for a “better time” to make a change, your guests are ready now. But the benefits aren’t just for them!

Dynamic pricing and a seamless e-commerce experience are guaranteed to free up time to focus on the on-site guest experience. When customers understand the basics of how pricing works (buy earlier to save, wait to pay more), a complex behind-the-scenes strategy yields a simple consumer value proposition – rewarding them for their commitment and getting them excited about their trip. 

The real message here is don’t wait to make a change. Operators should maximize the opportunity to implement dynamic pricing as well as gain access to real-time data and a flexible e-commerce platform that their guests are expecting already.


Catalate is a full-service SaaS solution that offers customized pricing strategies, an e-commerce platform, and opportunities for enhanced distribution. It has processed more than $1 billion in transactions and manages 50 million price points for customers. Get in touch today.

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