How can a mobile app help improve an attraction’s sustainability with Jacob Thompson

In this Skip the Queue podcast episode I speak with Jacob Thompson, Business Development Manager at Attractions.io.

Jacob Thompson joined the industry at the height of the pandemic and heads up business development for Attractions.io, a mobile app platform dedicated to creating better guest experiences.

Before joining Attractions.io, Jacob has worked across varying sectors, including financial services, not-for-profit, education and tech, and has a passion for helping businesses realise the fantastic opportunities that technology presents us with.

When he’s not working, Jacob is a keen reader, an average basketball player and a below-average golfer.

“Ultimately we just want to enhance that physical experience. We’re not here to replace it. Because you can’t replace the feeling of seeing your favourite animal for the first time or going on that roller coaster. So it’s all about being that companion, to make that experience better and not take away from it.”

What will you learn from this podcast?

  • Why your attraction needs an app
  • The incredible positives of going digital from an environmental perspective
  • Getting the balance between app engagement, and not detracting attention from the attraction

To listen to the full podcast, search Skip The Queue on iTunes, Google Podcasts and Spotify to subscribe. You can find links to every episode and more at www.rubbercheese.com/podcast.

You can also read the full transcript below.

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The interview

Your host, Kelly Molson

Our guest, Jacob Thompson


Kelly Molson: Jacob, thank you for coming on the Skip the Queue podcast this morning. It’s lovely to have you.

Jacob Thompson: Thanks for having me. Listened to it for a long time. So it’s an absolute pleasure to finally be on it as well.

Kelly Molson: Oh, I love that. I love it when guests come on and they already love the podcast. Maybe I’ll be kinder to you with the icebreaker questions because of that. Or maybe not.

Jacob Thompson: Please do. Please do.

Kelly Molson: Right. Let’s get cracking. I want to know what your favourite movie quote is?

Jacob Thompson: “We’re going to need a bigger boat.” I think it’s got to be, hasn’t it? Iconic. And I find myself using that expression a lot, especially with how busy things are currently. I think it kind of translates very well.

Kelly Molson: Love it. Yeah. That is a perfect one for how we’re all feeling right now. Jacob and I had a little conversation just before we started recording, about how busy we all are right now. There seems to be an influx of very positive, new leads and inquiries, which is wonderful, but also, oh, I think that probably sums up how we’re feeling, right?

Jacob Thompson: Absolutely. Absolutely.

Kelly Molson: Okay. If you could get rid of one food, so nobody ever had to eat this food ever again, what would it be? What would you destroy?

Jacob Thompson: Oh, Stilton. Oh, is that going to be an unpopular-

Kelly Molson: Cheese?

Jacob Thompson: Can I use that as my unpopular opinion? It’s just when you have a cheese platter, the smell just ruins it for me. And I think just get rid of it. There’s plenty of other cheeses to choose from, so that… Can I use that as my unpopular opinion as well, maybe?

Kelly Molson: No, you can’t. We were getting on so well up until that point as well.

Jacob Thompson: I’m sorry. I’m sorry. Had to be honest.

Kelly Molson: Feel like you just ruined it. Wow. Okay. This might not go as well. All right. Okay. Tell me something that you are not very good at?

Jacob Thompson: Oh, there’s a lot of things. I think maybe this is a little bit deep, but I think reflecting on previous achievements, I think I often get so focused on what needs to be done that actually, I forget all of the things that I have done already. And I think maybe that’s a bit deep and philosophical for what you are looking for. But that’s yeah… That’s what I go with.

Kelly Molson: That’s a really good one. Because I think that that is a good reminder that we all need to celebrate the small wins, don’t we? We really need to take time out. And I think that’s quite a common challenge with a lot of us. I am exactly the same as you. I’m always focused on what’s next. What’s next? What’s next? And then don’t sit back and go, oh actually we did a really good job there.

Jacob Thompson: Definitely.

Kelly Molson: Pat ourselves on the back a little bit.

Jacob Thompson: Need to do it a little bit more.

Kelly Molson: Definitely. All right. You’re unpopular opinion. Not about cheese.

Jacob Thompson: Oh, so I’ve probably already alienated that half of the listeners already. Probably more than half, but oh, yeah. What could I give you that’s not too controversial? I think firstly, I fully get behind the England team and really get into it when it comes to the World Cup and the Euro’s. But when I put them side by side, I think rugby is the better sport, over football. So sorry if I offend anyone there.

Kelly Molson: Okay. All right. No, that’s fine. I think this has come up before as well actually, that rugby is the far superior sport to football. I’m a massive football fan.

Jacob Thompson: Yeah.

Kelly Molson: So I’m going to disagree with you.

Jacob Thompson: Yeah.

Kelly Molson: But I think there’s plenty of people that will agree with your unpopular opinion. Let us know what you think about that one listeners? And Jacob, tell us a little bit about you, and what your role is at Attractions.io?

Jacob Thompson: Yeah. So I’m the business development manager for Attractions.io. So basically my role is to speak with attractions at an early stage to understand obviously, what we can help them with, what they’re struggling with at the moment. And I’ve been doing that for the past two years now. So a relative rookie in the industry compared to some of the big hitters that you’ve had join you on the podcast.

But yeah, it’s really just, I’m here to help attractions, especially not just with a mobile app, but just their approach to their digital strategy. How they can engage their guests, how they can better communicate them. And obviously, most importantly, create better guest experiences. And that’s what I’m here to do.

Kelly Molson: Did you come from an attractions background? Have you got a slightly different…

Jacob Thompson: So I’m still pretty young. So I left school with not really a clear direction on what I wanted to do. But I thought if I give everything to go work hard at it, and see what opportunities presents themselves to me. So after leaving school, I quickly moved into to the tech background, and working with mobile app providers, for conferences and events.

And after a few changes and moves, I found myself at Attractions.io. And I think obviously there was huge imposter syndrome entering the industry, because I know, I learned very quickly how kind of tight knit it is. But I guess I kind of went in with a mindset of, if I’ve been visiting attractions since as young as I can remember. So I’ve got the experience, I know what a good guest experience feels like. And I’ve just tried to bring that to the role. But yeah, so still very, very new to the industry.

Kelly Molson: But you’ve got real world experience. So that’s-

Jacob Thompson: Exactly.

Kelly Molson: …what’s important. And I love that you mentioned customer experience there.

Jacob Thompson: Yep.

Kelly Molson: Because that’s what I really love about Attractions.io. So all the content that you produce or the webinars that I’ve watched, that yourself and Mark have spoken on, is that you are all about improving the customer experience. And I love that because that’s exactly what Rubber Cheese is all about as well. But it’s interesting because we come from slightly different ways of looking at that.

Jacob Thompson: Yep.

Kelly Molson: So I guess we are all about that kind of pre-visit experience and making people feel excited about what they’re potentially buying and what they’re potentially going to see. And then you guys take over with the-

Jacob Thompson: Yep.

Kelly Molson: ..app visitor experience. So we are very complimentary. I’ve got loads of questions around what you do today, but I think the most important question that I want to know is, why does an attraction need an app?

Jacob Thompson: Yeah. So I think there’s kind of two sides to this. I think firstly, and this has been largely because of the pandemic, but it’s always changing, is guest expectations. So I think we all know that we spent however long in lock down. Everything turned digital for us, our whole lives and experiences were digital.

And we got very used to being served personalised content, whether that’s Netflix, given recommendations, personalised ads, Amazon offering discounts on products we’ve viewed, things like that. It shaped that, experienced in the expectations we now have, is that wherever we go, we want that same personalised experience. It makes us feel special. It creates a better experience.

I think also there’s now more digital natives. So people that have grown up with technology, than there has been previously. And I think, I know for one that I’m comfortable and happy to order, when I go to McDonald’s or Wetherspoons, or wherever I may go, ordering through my phone as much-

Kelly Molson: Still, insight in there, to get your free time Jacob.

Jacob Thompson: I don’t get, don’t go to McDonald’s as much as they used to. So yeah, no, but I think it’s that whole expectation. It makes people’s lives easier. And I think, tying into that, is actually solving the problems that I guess, some we knew of and tried to hide. And some, we hadn’t even really kind of come across before, that were highlighted during the pandemic. So I think that the biggest one was queues, and social distancing.

Queues are kind of that number one complaint that guests have, especially a theme park, you spend more time queuing than you do on rides. So suddenly, parks and operators needed to look at that, and go, how do we remove those physical queues? Because we can’t have people standing next to each other for that long.

And that’s where things like virtual queuing came in, and just adapting to use technology, to solve a lot of the problems that already existed and unlock new benefits that we didn’t have before. So being able to have that direct channel of communication. You mentioned that pre-visit experience, you’ve got so much control around building that excitement, understanding who’s on your website, what they’re clicking on, what they’re engaging with most. But then they arrive on site and we’ve lost that channel there. And that’s obviously what we’re out here to provide.

Kelly Molson: I love that. Yeah. And it’s really important. Isn’t it? Because like you say, once someone’s in, you’ve essentially lost them. If they’re not attached to their app or they’re not like engaged with it in some way. You’re giving them, it’s harder to understand where people are, where they’re interacting, what their challenges are, what their frustrations are, what their positives are, I guess. So tell me some of the biggest challenges that attractions will bring to you, that might shape what their app would look like?

Jacob Thompson: Yeah. That’s a tough one, because I think every attraction is slightly different. And I mean, we work with theme parks, zoos, resorts, heritage attractions. They’ve all got their independent challenges. I think when I joined the industry, so I joined right in the middle of the pandemic. So early on, maybe just before summer 2020. So right in the middle of it, and obviously everyone was panicking, going, how do we reopen safely?

And a lot of that was around, obviously supporting social distancing, with things like virtual queues, using heat map data of guest flow to understand where people going, and making sure that we’re spreading people out. Now we’re, fingers crossed, at the tail end of that. I think it’s still highlighted a lot around the guest experience. So making sure guest flow is spread out. So people aren’t queuing for ages.

That they’re not having to wait to get on rides, or to see an attraction, that they can move around freely. I think another thing, and it starts to crop up a lot more, is ungated attractions. So whether that’s free to enter attractions, there’s some theme parks that we work with, where you can go in for free and you just pay per ride. A lack of understanding of who’s visiting them.

Kelly Molson: Yeah.

Jacob Thompson: So they may get the odd bit of information, maybe on pre purchase of car parking, but largely they can maybe only understand 10% of their visitor base, which we need to unlock as much of that data as possible. By having that app there, is we can collect email addresses and behavioural data to attach to that, which in turn, just opens up that world of possibility, to engage guests and understand who they are.

But I think the biggest thing now that I’ve noticed is that people, as we spoke about expectations, changing, do understand the importance and need for that digital presence and that experience on site. So I think the biggest challenge that’s coming to us now is, how do we do this right? Because there’s so many ways to approach building an app and it’s about rethinking, okay, how can we not only benefit the guest and create a really good guest experience, but how can we obviously gain those benefits as operators?

So that data, those insights, and often rushing into building an app can lead to just an interactive map and not much more, and not giving much substance. So yeah, again, from your experience, I don’t know from the previous experience, what it’s like for you, when you get operators coming to you, because digital is so important now, how they approach that. And whether they want to jump in and just make sure they’ve got the basics, or it’d be really good to understand how you’ve approached that as well.

Kelly Molson: Yeah. So I guess it is interesting. So as a web design agency, we often get asked about apps. And it’s always, okay, well, we’ve had this idea and we think that we need an app. And you go, okay, well, let’s pull that apart. What does this app need to do for you? What does it need to deliver for you?

And then essentially they will kind of explain something that their website already does. And so we are like, okay, well, you don’t need to create an app that’s a carbon copy of your website. It has to do something more for the guest. They can go to your website and they can find that information. What is, what’s the use of just replicating that in an app.

And I think that’s the challenge, is understanding really, what the benefit to the client, what the benefits are to the customer is, and what the benefit to them is going to be, and not just replicating what they already have, because that doesn’t make any sense. So that’s what I see as the biggest challenge is. Do attractions, and then not just attractions because we work with a variety of people. Do people really understand what that need, and what that benefit is going to it be by having an app? I think that’s what we get asked all the time.

Jacob Thompson: Yeah, absolutely. And I think one thing that people often, until they start to speak to us, and I think the biggest thing is, is that education piece around, there’s no point in doing this kind of just have an app for the sake of it. It’s really making sure that it’s delivering value.

And most people see the app, but then forget that we’ve not just spent a long time building an app dedicated to the attraction’s industry. We’ve also got a whole operator experience as well in the background, where it’s given those data and insights, allowing you to use the data capture, to communicate with guests.

And I think that’s one thing that the education is so important, because what we don’t want is, is attractions taking that leap, trying to build an app themselves, and have not really thought it through.

And we really want to make sure that they’ve got all the information they need to make an informed decision around how is this going to add value to the guest experience. And also how is it going make our lives easier, solve our biggest challenges, and obviously bring the benefits of increased revenue, increased NPS. So there’s a whole host. And I think education’s just that big piece that we really have to work with when we speak to attractions.

Kelly Molson: Yeah, definitely. And I think what was really interesting. So I listened to Mark.

Jacob Thompson: Yep.

Kelly Molson: Founder of Attractions.io. I listened to his podcast interview that he did with the great guys at AttractionPros. And I really liked how he described the approach to what you guys do for app development, as a holistic approach. And this was really interesting, because he described it as, “A lot of the time when attractions want to develop an app, it will sit with marketing, and it’ll be very much in the marketing departments pile.”

But where he said, actually, this is a whole operational piece, that this app could be. And it was really interesting to hear, how this app can have an effect on so many different departments. From operations, in terms of customer flow, like you mentioned, yes it is a marketing piece as well, but yes, you can order your food.

So the beverage team need to be involved in these decisions as well. And I just, I kind of thought, yeah, that this is so much bigger, isn’t it? It’s such a, it could be such an integrated piece that could really help so many different departments across the organisation, rather than it just being something that marketing pick up and go, we need an app.

Jacob Thompson: Yeah. Yeah. And I think that’s, again, it’s probably my biggest challenge when speaking to attractions, is getting that message across. And yeah, like you say, it’s very easy for marketing to have, own the app and do a good job with it. But in that siloed approach, they miss out on so many opportunities.

And just from the deployments we’ve done, and even attractions that have apps with different providers that have done it right, or built it themselves, is the best ones are where it really just span the entire guest experience, which as you mentioned, it spans the whole team at that attraction.

So retail, food and beverage operations, ride operators, even senior management, in terms of planning, expansion, understanding what guests are doing, where they’re spending the time. It really is. Yeah. That, that holistic approach to the whole digital strategy.

And I think it also ties into, again, what you and the team do is, tying the whole journey together. So it’s a seamless digital experience from the moment they see an advert online, to going through to the website, to purchasing their tickets, uploading their tickets into the app, using scanning it when they arrive. Using the app through the whole experience. And then obviously the data that we’ve captured from the start of the journey.

So the booking phase to the app phase is then continuing to own that relationship going forward, and being able to communicate with them. So you want people to come back, you want them to bring friends and family, you want them to purchase season passes. So by creating that end to end guest journey, you’ve then got full control to engage and influence that the guests that are visiting with you.

Kelly Molson: Yeah. It’s really powerful, isn’t it? When you actually timeline that journey through, that’s a really powerful, to be able to contain that data for so long. Here’s a question for you. Now this is something that’s come up a few times when I’ve had guests on. And I think actually it was one of our guest’s unpopular opinions. I’m pretty sure it was.

Jacob Thompson: Yeah.

Kelly Molson: How do you get the balance right, of wanting guests to engage with the app, but not trying to detract their attention from the attraction that they’re currently in. So this was definitely, I can remember now, it was the interview that we carried out with Edinburgh Zoo.

Jacob Thompson: Yeah.

Kelly Molson: David Field of Edinburgh Zoo.

Jacob Thompson: Yep.

Kelly Molson: The unpopular opinion was, “I just, I don’t, I want people off of their phones while they’re here. I don’t want them on their phones. I want them to be present. I want them to be in the moment.” And so I guess that’s really tricky, isn’t it? Like, how do you do that?

Jacob Thompson: Yeah. And do you know what? That is quite a common early objection that we’ll come up against. And I think the kind of highlight is, is we don’t want people on the phones the whole time. We don’t want them staring at the phone. We want them experiencing it. We want to enhance that experience.

I think there’s a few ways we do that. And just that is, firstly, it’s getting people from A to B quicker. So let’s say we’re at the zoo and we want to go find the penguins. So a paper map, obviously we can talk about sustainability, and the printed maps aren’t great for the environment and cost money.

Having the app there, we’ve got, rather than having to rotate the map, you’ve got the whole family standing around. It is, we can quickly find where we want to go and use the wayfinding abilities to get, to see the animals quicker.

So we don’t miss the keeper talks, the animal feeding time. So it’s removing some of those challenges to allow people to actually spend more time engaging, whether that’s getting on the ride, seeing the animals, rather than all the little bits in between. The other thing is reducing, as I mentioned, some of those real pain points around queuing. So let’s say the kids are on the playground, and you want to go and order food.

Jacob Thompson: Normally you’d have to queue, but now with a mobile app, you can stand there, watch your kids play in, they can have fun, you can order your food and you’ll get an alert to say, right, go and pick it up now. And you’ve just saved all of that time where the kids would be kicking and screaming, because you’re dragging them away from the playground. That you can just sit back order your food, and wait for it to be ready.

And then the other aspect and the third aspect that kind of ties it all together is, enhancing the experience. So when people are looking at, let’s say some of the animals is, that we can supplement that with audio and video guides, to just really educate. And that’s one big thing that we work with zoos on, is more than just having kind of the name plaque and the name in Latin, is how can we engage, especially a younger audience, and educate them and start to promote those conservation initiatives, which obviously drives revenue.

So there’s a few different areas, but I think ultimately we just want to enhance that physical experience. We’re not here to replace it. And I think, hopefully all of the attractions that we’ve work with, will affirm that, and understand that it’s helped. It’s really helped engage guests in a better way, but still hasn’t taken away. Because you can’t replace the feeling of seeing your favourite animal for the first time or going on that roller coaster. So it’s all about being that companion, to make that experience better and not take away from it.

Kelly Molson: That’s a great word, a digital companion. I love that.

Jacob Thompson: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Absolutely.

Kelly Molson: I actually prefer that to app. We should all use-

Jacob Thompson: Yeah, there you go. Maybe we’ll, yeah, I’ll rebrand my sales material. But yeah, I think that’s exactly what it is and yeah, we’re here to supplement and enhance it. Not take away from it, or replace it.

Kelly Molson: Yeah. It’s great. And there’s some great benefits in there as well. Just from, from talking about that, I could, it was, I could see myself kind of at the playground waiting for my kids.

Jacob Thompson: Yeah.

Kelly Molson: I could put myself in that situation. Something that you touched on actually was sustainability. And I’d really like to talk about this. I mean, sustainability is something that all attractions need to be really focused on anyway. But we had a really great past episode on this specifically, with Lucy Downing and Sue Pennington from Holkham Hall.

And they talked through, I mean, phenomenal sustainability policies that they have in place there and their Wonder program that they’ve initiated there, which is incredible. There’s a really good case study on your website that I’ve read a number of times now, from ZooTampa.

Jacob Thompson: Yep.

Kelly Molson: I would really love to hear a little bit more about this, because it does some really incredibly positive things for the environment, the sustainability around the zoo. And they’ve made some, like quite phenomenal cost savings as well.

Jacob Thompson: Yeah, absolutely. So I think that the case really kind of came off the back of, I think it was Green Loop. Me, Mark, and the team at ZooTampa, did the talk just around how having a digital presence like that, and having a mobile app can help with sustainability. So yeah, hopefully I’m quoting it right. So I think the kind of amazing results, that even blew me and Mark away, when we heard them, was that ZooTampa were able to save $50,000 a year, which is just phenomenal. Especially for a charity, a zoo. But they’re cutting their print waste by 95%.

Kelly Molson: That’s amazing.

Jacob Thompson: And it’s almost nothing. And what that has done, obviously apart from having that immediate impact on the reduced print and the cost savings, is that there’s two things that have happened. Obviously, those cost savings can now be redirected to something much more important.

Whether that be the conservation initiatives that they run locally, to them, or obviously internationally that they’re involved in. But also the way they went about it was not only digitising maps and not printing maps anymore but pushing for digitised tickets.

So they now get people to upload their tickets into the mobile app. And that means that more people, because there’s a need now to have everything within the app, that they now can communicate those conservation initiatives, because they’ve got that direct channel during the visit, during the experience. So they can educate and really capture the whole audience.

And I think it’s not just ZooTampa obviously that yet, absolutely incredible results that they’ve seen, but we’ve seen a lot of attractions, not just zoos, but theme parks as well. In some of our partner attractions, reducing printed, like guest printed information, completely. So the only option is that digital companion, we’ll call it now, I like that one.

So I think it’s been a real shift and it’s so important. And I think it’s been ever present recently, but it’s something we need to continue to think about, sustainability, and it all ties back to those expectations as well. And the digital natives especially is that people either expect or are really comfortable now, in the majority of cases, using a digital channel.

So if it makes life easier, if it enhances the experience, then it’s a perfect way to channel people in that direction, rather than picking up a printed map. And I know a lot of parks that haven’t, are on that path now, from handing out loads of maps, to now, just printing maybe 10, 15% of what they used to. Just to have it on hand. But I think over the next couple of years, especially we’re just going to see that shift towards a 100% digital, because it has all the added benefits, not only just of the sustainability angle as well.

Kelly Molson: Yeah. I mean, it’s phenomenal, isn’t it? The cost savings.

Jacob Thompson: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Kelly Molson: And the advantages to sustainability that, that can bring. I mean, I think it’s important to acknowledge that, we probably talk from a place of privilege that we have mobile phones, and we know how to use them, and there will be a lot of people out there that, it’s accessible for them. So there is self place for printed maps.

Jacob Thompson: Yeah.

Kelly Molson: But to be able to save so much and channel that into other things, is just incredible. Who knew that an app could be so valuable?

Jacob Thompson: Who knew, and yeah. It’s just been, yeah. It’s been amazing to see. And I think the results like that, when we can save charities money through our product, it’s obviously, yeah. It’s very rewarding to see. And yeah, I think, always got a soft spot when working with zoos, because I know there is that opportunity out there to really help them.

Kelly Molson: Yeah, absolutely. I want to go back a little bit. To what we talked about earlier, about some of the common challenges that attractions bring you. And kind of what I mentioned as well, about how we often get asked, hey, I need an app, but then it’s not really, they are not very clear about what that app needs to do. What do you need to understand from an attraction to be able to work out what would be the perfect solution for them? Like, what do they need to think about before they come to speak to you?

Jacob Thompson: Yeah, well, there is a lot to think about, and that’s what we’re here to help with. I think firstly, it’s really zooming out a little bit. And we did run bit of initiative last year to help attractions around mapping out the entire digital guest journey. Because as we mentioned, that timeline is really powerful, but we almost want to see it as a bit of a flywheel rather than an end to end timeline, because what we want to do is make sure the app is connecting the start and the end of the visit, but ties it all back together.

So I think firstly just, just mapping out, understanding what technology they’re currently using. So things like ticketing providers is incredibly important because we want to be able to integrate with them, through to point of sale, CRM systems.

Once we’ve started to tie that together, it’s then to really look at guest feedback, and feedback from the wider team as well. When we look at that holistic approach, to understand, okay, what challenges can we solve? So what are the biggest pain points for the guest experience right now? And like I said, that they’ll differ for each attraction.

But once you can pinpoint those, whether that be queue times, whether that be everyone is going into the same food outlet at lunch, and we’re just getting people waiting around for ages. Whether that be the animals, aren’t always visible. It’s how can we communicate with guests, to let them know when the animals might be visible or when there’s the next keeper talk so they can make sure they can obviously see the animals they’ve gone there to see.

I think obviously that’s just a flavour of some of the problems. But I think most important, is mapping that guest journey out and then pinpointing where an app is going to be able to solve those problems. There’ll be some added benefits along the way. And once you’ve got that, and that’s what we are here to help attractions do is, then you can start to really evaluate the process of, okay, how do we go about implementing an app.

Jacob Thompson: So it’s not just let’s launch an app in the app store. It’s how do we market that properly? Because otherwise, if you don’t explain the benefits or the reasons behind the launch, the app, people won’t download it, if you don’t make it visible. So if you don’t promote it, when people are purchasing tickets, when they’re receiving the ticket confirmation, when they arrive on site.

 So again, it’s that holistic approach that attractions need to just zoom out a little bit, understand what they’re currently doing, identify those pain points, and then start to evaluate the solutions that are out there. So there’s kind of three approaches that we often see. There’s the do it yourself, which larger attractions, no doubt, have the capital to throw at that kind of project. It takes millions of pounds of investment and years of work to get a solution, to be that world class solution.

And obviously, Mark and the team at Attractions.io, have learnt that the hard way I guess. And they’ve gone and done that, so other attractions don’t have to. There’s bringing in teams to help with that, which especially with an app for a visitor attraction, it’s such a specific thing. So things that need to be considered like battery life conservation.

 So it’s not just like ordering a Domino’s and you can put your phone away, you out for the whole day, you need to make sure that your battery life will last. And there’s loads of work just around optimising that. Things like being an offline solution as well, that often someone coming in wouldn’t really understand if they’re not from the attractions space, is that we know you can go to a lot of visitor attractions, and I think most of them admit themselves, there’s always going to be a patchy signal in some places.

So we need to make sure that experience doesn’t, isn’t impacted because of that. And then I think finally, is ourselves and obviously platforms like ourselves. So like I said, there’s been loads of investment going into the platform and it now means that we can scale that out to attractions very quickly.

And they’re kind of the three approaches that people will look at. So yeah, I guess looking at their current guest journey and then starting to evaluate the approach to how to launch a mobile app. And that’s, they’re the two big areas that I guess attractions will look at, on that journey.

Kelly Molson: That’s brilliant. Thank you for detailing that out for us. It’s interesting, because it’s a really similar process that we go through when we are asking about websites at the start.

Jacob Thompson: Yeah.

Kelly Molson: What technology are you already using? What does it need to integrate with? What are your challenges? What are your customers saying are big issues with stuff. And again, taking that real holistic approach, and making sure that everybody is having their say, and what gets produced, and what is going to be of benefit. So, yeah. Brilliant. Thank you.

We always ask our guests that come on the podcast, if they can share a book that they love with us, something they love, something that’s influenced their career in some way. It can be personal, it can be work related. What have you got to share with us?

Jacob Thompson: Yeah. So I know that, I think I’ve seen Mark Ellis and Johnny both recommended, I think Mark went to the extreme of recommending 43 books, I think. I know it was obviously part of a larger series and I could have easily done maybe not 43, but a few, but I have taken it down to one book, which is Atomic Habits, by James Clear.

I don’t know whether it’s been recommended before, but I picked this. In fact, I listened to it on audiobook first, and then loved it that much, that I bought the physical copy. I think it’s impacted so many areas of my life personally, professionally. I think it’s, I won’t give too much away. People should read it, but it’s all about making change.

So whether that be implementing new habits, getting rid of old ones, it’s all that, there’s so much really useful information and tips in there that a lot of books tend to waffle on and pad it out.

This is page to page, really actionable advice on making change, implementing change and basically just starting off small. And then yeah, like you say, look back and see all those changes that come together to have that big impact. So that’s, that’s my one recommendation, I’ll stick to.

Kelly Molson: One book recommendation. Did you hear that listeners? One book. Well done Jacob.

Jacob Thompson: Yep. It was hard. It was hard.

Kelly Molson: Following instructions though.

Jacob Thompson: Yeah.

Kelly Molson: It’s a great book. I have read that book.

Jacob Thompson: Yeah.

Kelly Molson: And it is an awesome book. I really like, it’s about marginal games really, isn’t it?

Jacob Thompson: Yep.

Kelly Molson: It’s about being one percent better. One percent better all the time.

Jacob Thompson: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Kelly Molson: And that is something that I think is really important, rather than taking a massive jump into trying to do something huge and looks really scary. But yeah, it’s a big thing about celebrating your progress in there.

Jacob Thompson: Yeah.

Kelly Molson: So that’s one that we all should take away from today. Thank you. As ever, if you want to win a copy of that book, if you head over to our Twitter account and you retweet this episode announcement with the words, “I want Jacob’s book”, then you will be in with the chance of winning it.

Jacob, thank you. I’ve really enjoyed our talk today. It’s really interesting to see, I think how aligned both of our approaches are. And I hope that our listeners today will take away from this, how important and how beneficial an app can actually be, as long as it’s thought out, and processed, and constructed in the right way.

Jacob Thompson: Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. You’ve summed that up perfectly. So yeah, it’s been an absolute pleasure to talk about it today, and yeah, thanks for having me on the podcast.


Do you know someone we should be talking to?

Do you know someone fascinating we should be talking to?

If so, email us at hello@rubbercheese.com – we’ll get back to you shortly.


Paul Wright.
Kelly Molson Managing Director

Host of the popular Skip the Queue Podcast, for people working in or working with visitor attractions, she regularly delivers workshops and presentations on the sector at various national conferences and universities including The Visitor Attractions Conference, ASVA and Anglia Ruskin University.

Read more about me

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