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Tough times

The cost of living crisis is already having an impact on leisure spend, but BVA BDRC’s travel and culture director Jon Young is confident that with careful targeting, attractions can continue to draw in guests


In the current climate you’d be forgiven for thinking that attractions visitors would favour venues that are warm and inside as they try to offset the chill of inflation and rising interest rates.

Despite the cost of living crisis however, there are opportunities for attractions to continue to attract visitors and counterbalance the economic challenges faced by the public. There can be no doubt that the increased cost of living will have an impact on leisure spend.

At consumer and business insight consultancy BVA BDRC, we’ve carried out research that shows three quarters of the UK public are either ‘already hit hard’ or ‘cautious’ and having to be ‘very careful’. Around 80 per cent think the worst is still to come, meaning that they’re likely to hold back even if they built up savings during the pandemic.

It’s important to remember that the public won’t cut back on all of their disposable spending in equal measure though. There will be a hierarchy of non-essential to essential leisure spending and some types of attractions are much better insulated from cost-of-living pressures than others.

We asked consumers which types of activities they were most likely to cut back on over the coming six months. Out of a list of 25 different leisure activities, ‘museums, art galleries and historic houses’ and ‘gardens and country parks’ were very low down in the list – coming 20th and 22nd in the list respectively. Trips to coffee shops, pubs, restaurants, the cinema and streaming services are a few examples of activities respondents said they would cut back on first. Less positively, ‘theme parks, zoos and farm attractions’ were more vulnerable – ranked fourth in the list of activities consumers would choose to cut back on, behind restaurant visits, holidays, shopping and visits to pubs and bars.

The clear implication, perhaps unsurprisingly, is that more expensive attractions will suffer first.

However, cost is not the only driver. If we look at the cut-backs ranked ahead of some of the cultural attractions, many of these are fairly inexpensive; visits to cafés or coffee shops and streaming services are relatively cheap.

A key difference is the value consumers place on these activities in boosting their physical and mental health. The main planned cut-backs are to indulgent activities. Those seen to boost physical and mental wellbeing are least likely to be cut and most visitor attractions fall into the latter category. If theme parks, zoos and farm attractions can communicate their educational benefits and their role in improving mental health, that’s likely to help them as people choose where to make cuts to their spending.

Attractions operators may also want to actively promote membership packages – although ‘attraction memberships’ were mid-table in terms of cut-backs, their value during difficult financial times means they could act as a kind of leisure safety net for some members of the public.

While most people will be negatively impacted by the cost of living crisis, we should remember that around a quarter of the UK population are unlikely to be affected. This is relatively consistent across life stages which suggests there’s still a place for exclusive, premium experiences. These could go some way towards off-setting rising costs and a reduction in spending by the cash-strapped majority.

The conversation around lost admissions can be a little too inward-looking. Rather than worrying about the visitors we might lose, we might also want to think about the ones we can gain. Our research shows that a large majority of the UK public haven’t visited a visitor attraction in the last two years.

Moreover, according to our brand health research, even some of the most iconic attractions in the UK have never been visited by a large proportion of the UK public.

Of the top 10 most-visited attractions ever – only 37 per cent of people had visited the most popular attraction, Alton Towers (45 per cent of people who live in the Midlands) and only 35 per cent of people have visited Madame Tussauds.

There’s also an opportunity to increase the public’s understanding of what attractions offer. Some household names boast very high awareness but very low understanding of what a visit actually involves. A lack of understanding of what happens when you walk through the door is a big issue when trying to attract people who may already have internal barriers around visiting. Heritage sites in particular need to communicate their offer more clearly.

A further area for development is communicating the fact that an attraction is family-friendly. Our findings revealed a number of family-friendly venues that people stated they were familiar with, but didn’t think they had a family offer. This will be driven by perceptions rather than product and some perceptions are driven by the type of venue rather than the venue itself.

Cutting past sector perceptions – as National Trust and English Heritage have done in the Heritage sector – is important. One attraction that has done this well is Eden Project – overcoming traditional perceptions of botanic gardens to be ranked in the top 12 most perceived family friendly attractions – Top 5 amongst residents of the South West.

In summary, people are concerned about their finances and the sector will inevitably be hit, but some attractions will be insulated and there are opportunities there – not just to protect your market, but to grow it too.

Photo: BVA BDRC

"If theme parks, zoos and farm attractions can communicate their role in boosting mental health, that’s likely to help as people choose where to make cuts to their spending" – BVA BDRC’s travel and culture director, Jon Young

Gardens and country parks are seen as being good for mental and physical health Credit: Photo: National Trust Images/Arnhel de Serra
Theme parks were high up on the list of attractions visits people might cut back on Credit: Photo: Merlin Entertainments
Clearly communicating a family-friendly offering is vital Credit: Photo: Merlin Entertainments
Even some of the most iconic attractions have never been visited by a large proportion of the UK public Credit: Photo: Phil Richardson
Heritage sites need to communicate their offer very clearly Credit: Photo: Historic Royal Palaces
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06-06 Jun 2024

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Research
Tough times

The cost of living crisis is already having an impact on leisure spend, but BVA BDRC’s travel and culture director Jon Young is confident that with careful targeting, attractions can continue to draw in guests


In the current climate you’d be forgiven for thinking that attractions visitors would favour venues that are warm and inside as they try to offset the chill of inflation and rising interest rates.

Despite the cost of living crisis however, there are opportunities for attractions to continue to attract visitors and counterbalance the economic challenges faced by the public. There can be no doubt that the increased cost of living will have an impact on leisure spend.

At consumer and business insight consultancy BVA BDRC, we’ve carried out research that shows three quarters of the UK public are either ‘already hit hard’ or ‘cautious’ and having to be ‘very careful’. Around 80 per cent think the worst is still to come, meaning that they’re likely to hold back even if they built up savings during the pandemic.

It’s important to remember that the public won’t cut back on all of their disposable spending in equal measure though. There will be a hierarchy of non-essential to essential leisure spending and some types of attractions are much better insulated from cost-of-living pressures than others.

We asked consumers which types of activities they were most likely to cut back on over the coming six months. Out of a list of 25 different leisure activities, ‘museums, art galleries and historic houses’ and ‘gardens and country parks’ were very low down in the list – coming 20th and 22nd in the list respectively. Trips to coffee shops, pubs, restaurants, the cinema and streaming services are a few examples of activities respondents said they would cut back on first. Less positively, ‘theme parks, zoos and farm attractions’ were more vulnerable – ranked fourth in the list of activities consumers would choose to cut back on, behind restaurant visits, holidays, shopping and visits to pubs and bars.

The clear implication, perhaps unsurprisingly, is that more expensive attractions will suffer first.

However, cost is not the only driver. If we look at the cut-backs ranked ahead of some of the cultural attractions, many of these are fairly inexpensive; visits to cafés or coffee shops and streaming services are relatively cheap.

A key difference is the value consumers place on these activities in boosting their physical and mental health. The main planned cut-backs are to indulgent activities. Those seen to boost physical and mental wellbeing are least likely to be cut and most visitor attractions fall into the latter category. If theme parks, zoos and farm attractions can communicate their educational benefits and their role in improving mental health, that’s likely to help them as people choose where to make cuts to their spending.

Attractions operators may also want to actively promote membership packages – although ‘attraction memberships’ were mid-table in terms of cut-backs, their value during difficult financial times means they could act as a kind of leisure safety net for some members of the public.

While most people will be negatively impacted by the cost of living crisis, we should remember that around a quarter of the UK population are unlikely to be affected. This is relatively consistent across life stages which suggests there’s still a place for exclusive, premium experiences. These could go some way towards off-setting rising costs and a reduction in spending by the cash-strapped majority.

The conversation around lost admissions can be a little too inward-looking. Rather than worrying about the visitors we might lose, we might also want to think about the ones we can gain. Our research shows that a large majority of the UK public haven’t visited a visitor attraction in the last two years.

Moreover, according to our brand health research, even some of the most iconic attractions in the UK have never been visited by a large proportion of the UK public.

Of the top 10 most-visited attractions ever – only 37 per cent of people had visited the most popular attraction, Alton Towers (45 per cent of people who live in the Midlands) and only 35 per cent of people have visited Madame Tussauds.

There’s also an opportunity to increase the public’s understanding of what attractions offer. Some household names boast very high awareness but very low understanding of what a visit actually involves. A lack of understanding of what happens when you walk through the door is a big issue when trying to attract people who may already have internal barriers around visiting. Heritage sites in particular need to communicate their offer more clearly.

A further area for development is communicating the fact that an attraction is family-friendly. Our findings revealed a number of family-friendly venues that people stated they were familiar with, but didn’t think they had a family offer. This will be driven by perceptions rather than product and some perceptions are driven by the type of venue rather than the venue itself.

Cutting past sector perceptions – as National Trust and English Heritage have done in the Heritage sector – is important. One attraction that has done this well is Eden Project – overcoming traditional perceptions of botanic gardens to be ranked in the top 12 most perceived family friendly attractions – Top 5 amongst residents of the South West.

In summary, people are concerned about their finances and the sector will inevitably be hit, but some attractions will be insulated and there are opportunities there – not just to protect your market, but to grow it too.

Photo: BVA BDRC

"If theme parks, zoos and farm attractions can communicate their role in boosting mental health, that’s likely to help as people choose where to make cuts to their spending" – BVA BDRC’s travel and culture director, Jon Young

Gardens and country parks are seen as being good for mental and physical health Credit: Photo: National Trust Images/Arnhel de Serra
Theme parks were high up on the list of attractions visits people might cut back on Credit: Photo: Merlin Entertainments
Clearly communicating a family-friendly offering is vital Credit: Photo: Merlin Entertainments
Even some of the most iconic attractions have never been visited by a large proportion of the UK public Credit: Photo: Phil Richardson
Heritage sites need to communicate their offer very clearly Credit: Photo: Historic Royal Palaces
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COMPANY PROFILES
Painting With Light

By combining lighting, video, scenic and architectural elements, sound and special effects we tell s [more...]
ProSlide Technology, Inc.

A former national ski team racer, ProSlide® CEO Rick Hunter’s goal has been to integrate the smoot [more...]
Alterface

Alterface’s Creative Division team is seasoned in concept and ride development, as well as storyte [more...]
Vekoma Rides Manufacturing B.V.

Vekoma Rides has a large variety of coasters and attractions. [more...]
+ More profiles  
FEATURED SUPPLIER

Red Raion expands global presence with new Riyadh office
Red Raion, the CGI studio for media-based attractions, has announced the opening of its new office in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. [more...]
CATALOGUE GALLERY
+ More catalogues  
DIRECTORY
+ More directory  
DIARY

 

06-06 Jun 2024

National Attractions Marketing Conference

Drayton Manor Theme Park & Resort, Tamworth, United Kingdom
06-07 Jun 2024

World Sauna Forum 2024

Sataman Viilu , Jyväskylä, Finland
+ More diary  
 


ADVERTISE . CONTACT US

Leisure Media
Tel: +44 (0)1462 431385

©Cybertrek 2024

ABOUT LEISURE MEDIA
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