With the pandemic showing signs of retreat, the month of August witnessed an exponential interest in water parks and other leisure centers. The stress accumulated over the past few months during the second pandemic wave has forced people to seek venues to sit back, relax and enjoy with family and friends.
A global phenomenon which is being observed is ‘JOLA’ or the Joy of Looking Ahead. This phenomenon explains the reason why families and groups want to look ahead and enjoy outings even during the pandemic. This includes planning and paying for facilities in advance.
So, how did the JOLA effect come into being globally? Well, when countries such as the UK and USA unveiled the roadmap out of the second lockdown, thousands of fun-seeking people began to think about the first thing they would like to do with their sudden freedom post-lockdown. As they began to look ahead, they became optimistic about the future. The JOLA effect settled in.
Research of US & UK customers by Merlin Entertainments and Oracle’s Food and Beverage revealed the following:
- 54% of respondents love planning their itinerary in advance to beat the queues.
- 59% of respondents favor a “fast pass” system that provides priority access to facilities, shops and food
- 40% of respondents are willing to pay extra to pre-book their day’s activities
- 48% of millennials prefer providing their preferences in advance to receive exciting offers
The above stats have inspired businesses keen to capitalize on the JOLA effect. After a tumultuous year that featured zero to limited entertainment, consumers are excited and looking forward to months of fun. The JOLA effect combines well with a concept known as revenge tourism, which amplifies the desire to go on a vacation immediately after a long period of lockdown.
Revenge tourism travelers are picky and often keen on selecting the perfect spots that offer a comprehensive package to unwind. This is where entertainment parks offer immense opportunity.
With the JOLA effect strongly in place, consumers are looking to plan leisure activities by pre-ordering refreshments, meals, and checking-in online before they arrive at a water park.
They are eagerly awaiting feel-good experiences, but want to feel safe at the same time. Pre-bookings allow guests to personalize their stay while taking factors such as social distancing into consideration.
It’s important to create and advertise exciting packages that can capture the attention of water park enthusiasts. Ideally, parks should seek partnerships with local eateries and hotels to introduce packages that offer significant discounts on leisure activities, food and lodging.
Water parks that can engage customers from the booking date to the actual visit date as this will heighten anticipation which will turn out to be winners in the entertainment game.
If you are in the water park industry, then you should anticipate what customers seek from you. Use the JOLA effect to your advantage and not miss out on this changing consumer behavior trend.