Tuesday, December 6, 2022

Connect&GO: The grass is greener with next-generation technology

by InPark editors

Dealing with legacy technology is frustrating. Disconnected systems, outdated functionality and limited data can lead to headaches, high employee turnover, guest experience issues and ultimately, lost revenue potential. Connect&GO believes that there’s a better way—that attractions operators deserve a platform that is flexible, easy to deploy and easy to use. They’re dedicated to helping operators drive revenue, simplify operations and maximize guest engagement with their next-generation attractions management platform, aptly named Konnect.  

Connect&GO has focused on growth this year by raising over $17 million in Series A funding as well as expanding into the US attractions market with clients like WaTiki Indoor Waterpark in South Dakota and Wahooz Family Fun Zone and Roaring Springs in Idaho. Their team is expanding, doubling in size in the last year, and they have a thorough understanding of the pain points of legacy technology – because they’ve worked with it.

We sat down with two of the company’s newest additions, Ted Molter (the former CMO of San Diego Zoo) and Megan Fulbright (previously the Director of Operations at Six Flags Hurricane Harbor), who have seen the effects of outdated technology from an operator side. Ted and Megan take us through the importance of alignment, real-time data, and how a truly integrated platform can benefit both operators and guests.

Ted, you come from marketing, and Megan, you come from operations. Tell us about marketing-operations synergy in relation to the Connect&GO all-in-one management platform.
Ted Molter, Senior Business Development Director

Ted Molter: I like to say that silos are for grains, not for brains. In many attractions, it’s difficult for staff to access the information they need to deliver a seamless experience, which leads to disconnects between different departments and even in the guest experience.  Our all-in-one management platform is a completely  integrated system that allows parks to get in front of that issue. It gives operators instant access to guest and transactional data, all in real-time. This gets all staff to the table, where they can work together to maximize park profits and the guest experience.  

What benefits does that provide for operators?
Megan Fulbright, Senior Business Development Director

Megan Fulbright: Having a system that is truly integrated can help resolve a lot of pain points and frustration. For example, if your eCommerce platform doesn’t speak with your point-of-sale software—there’s a lot of confusion that can happen with your ticketing and reporting. A platform like Konnect is a game-changer.  It’s a one-stop shop for optimizing revenue, simplifying ticketing, processing refunds, managing front-gate operations, helping keep guests  happy, and more. This can help you create more efficient processes for selling and transacting across your facility, which leads to less staff frustration, shorter lines, etc. Ultimately you spend less time on tedious processes which allows you to spend more time in areas of your business that create more value.   I like to say that it is “tear-free” – in other words, providing an opportunity – to the operator and to the guests – not to shed tears!

Molter: There are lots of opportunities to create efficiencies using the Connect&GO platform. For example, guests can sign waivers online before their visit and they can load up their virtual wallet with cashless funds in advance. We also integrate with a lot of self-service technology like Alvarado turnstiles and Olea kiosks, which can really help ease the burden on staff.

What does this look like from the guest perspective?

Molter: With Konnect, the guest-facing component is customized for your customers. What they purchase and what they do are housed in a digital wallet. It’s a very intuitive system. The fewer hassles of that kind there are, the fewer hurdles an operator will have with guests.

Fulbright: A guest will never know about Connect&GO. Their experience is that they are on that park’s website. From the operator’s end, you can see where guests are spending money, not just in one park, but with multiple parks as well. The guests experience a unified purchasing experience. Konnect’s eCommerce features allow guests to book everything they need for their park visit before they arrive, which cuts down on entrance lines.

Can you share a few examples of clients adopting the Connect&GO solution?

Molter: WaTiki is an indoor waterpark that sits in the middle of a complex with four hotels in South Dakota. Guests at the hotels get an RFID band with access to the park. Previously, a lot of people would just walk onto the property; now, with the bands, entrance can be controlled and monitored. That in and of itself has helped to increase revenue significantly. There’s also an arcade attached to the waterpark where parents can send their kids upstairs with their wristbands to play arcade games. RFID can be read from a number of portals, including plastic and paper wristbands and smartphones.

Access control via RFID wristband at WaTiki

Granby Zoo is also another great example of a client who has added enhancements to their programming through our technology. Guests can access their digital wallets and interact with kiosks, not just for purchases, but for interpretive experiences at the exhibits, which can include games and video. These activities can be changed over time to provide for repeatability. The zoo collects that data and it becomes part of the CRM.

When you say the grass is greener with a technology partner who “gets it,” what does this actually mean to you?

Fulbright: Integrity and being available to our clients is very important. Understanding the guest journey, as well as the operator experience, is really important to us as we establish strong relationships with our clients. We’ve been committed to upholding that level of service, and it’s something that will not change as we grow. We truly know our clients and where they need more help.

Molter: We have a client success team that knows how to exercise courtesy and patience. That’s a good thing. They’re not reactive, they’re responsive.

Fulbright: We have found that clients are weary of back-door solutions. We know that nothing’s perfect, but when we’re fixing a problem, we will fix the problem. We stay on top of the latest technologies.  Each team treats our clients as partners, whether they are in leadership, sales, client success or product, it’s something that’s reflected in our company culture—we all believe in the potential of our platform to revolutionize the attractions industry and we’re committed to helping our clients grow together

Ted, you come from the nonprofit sector. How can Connect&GO help nonprofits meet their mission?

Molter: Just like a commercial operator, a nonprofit operator wants to maximize its revenue. More revenue means more money for its mission. In the case of zoos, this might mean money for conservation initiatives in the wild. When we rebranded what is now the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, it became something much different than a passive zoo. Your admission was your access to the park and a tram tour. We thought of other things to do that were upcharge experiences and time-based. Guests could go online to pre-purchase, bundle, and set their times. There’s no having to check in at a concierge desk. We even added in grace times in case they’re running late. Konnect can handle a scenario like that, and guests can add experiences on the spot through our self-serve kiosks.

Digital waiver kiosk at WaTiki

Fulbright: The Konnect platform can help give operators the intelligence they need to make impactful business decisions. For example, a park could adjust where they place their staff immediately based on ticket sales and at F&B and retail outlets. And because our platform is cloud-based, it allows the operator to view guest traffic from anywhere.

How does the system deal with memberships or, in the case of nonprofits, donor benefits?

Molter: Whether a pass or a membership, the credentials will show in the digital wallet. You can include different discounts for different tiers. All data flows into the CRM in real-time, so the operator will always have first party data. Operators can setup campaigns to remind members when it’s time to renew, and members can easily log into their account online and process their renewal themselves. Not every system makes that possible!

Does an operator need to use all the components of the Konnect platform?

Megan: It’s up to the operator. You can use what you need, and not use what you don’t need. Some clients even just start with eCommerce and point-of-sale and decide to add on cashless later. Others use RFID right away. That’s the great thing about our platform – it’s extremely flexible. Our team is there to help you understand how you can best customize the system to your needs, both now and in the future.

To schedule a demonstration of the Connect&GO all-in-one attractions management platform, click here.

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