digital adoption during covid

Staggering increase in digital adoption caused by Covid-19

It’s comes as no surprise that Covid-19 was a seismic event for visitor attractions, and the effects still linger. There are fewer visitors from abroad meaning visitor numbers are about a quarter lower than before the pandemic in terms of the UK’s largest attractions (ALVA)*. Digital adoption soared during the pandemic.

Northern Ireland Tourism submitted written evidence to Parliament stating: “In effect, the tourism industry lost 12 months of trading during the 24 months of the pandemic“. And it went on to say that the estimated loss to their economy was over £1bn during that period.

Covid-19 certainly forced people to change habits. What’s pertinent to visitor attractions is to understand how digital interactions increased dramatically. This is shown from research conducted by McKinley & Company in the graph above. Lockdown allowed people time to investigate and engage with their technology. This is particularly the case with mobile phone usage during lockdown.

Digital adoption – native QR code reading now in Apple and Android operating systems

What’s certain is that something used by a small proportion of the population across the UK, became used by nearly everyone. This was the humble QR code. Most people can now easily deal with a QR code, and of course it helps that Apple and Android phone operating systems have QR code recognition built into their cameras. So there’s no longer a requirement to install a QR code reading app. QR codes are a great way to launch web and augmented reality apps. This increases the possibilities for enhancing visitor experience at attractions.

One issue that’s has been a barrier to providing mobile optimised visitor information. This has been the argument whether or not everyone is capable of using their mobile phone fully. With older generations there was a bias towards paper-based visitor information. But this is rapidly changing, things have moved on. We’re in a new post-Covid age with mobile saturation in the UK at 93% (Office for National Statistics). The smartphone is undoubtedly now the most relevant media for supplying visitor information.

So, if you’re a visitor attraction operations manager and wondering about the relevance of supplying visitor information via a mobile app? Now is the time!

*(ALVA) Association of Leading Visitor Attractions

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