Discover how the Chillon Castle Foundation succeeded, despite the restrictions linked to the COVID-19 health crisis, in maximising its capacity and boosting its online sales thanks to dynamic pricing.
The Chillon Castle Foundation
Chillon Castle has been located in an idyllic setting on the shores of Lake Geneva for over 1'000 years. It is the most visited castle and historical monument in Switzerland with nearly 400'000 visitors per year.
Until 2020, the Chillon Castle Foundation was using a ticketing solution that was very limited in terms of offers and only allowed them to propose single entry tickets. Their in-house ticketing migration project was put on hold following the announcement of the first Swiss lockdown in March 2020.
The Covid-19 crisis and the implementation of sanitary measures had a significant impact on the activities and capacity of the cultural and tourism sectors, pushing them to adapt to the circumstances and to look for new ways to generate income.
It was the starting point to the collaboration between the Chillon Castle Foundation and Smeetz when the opportunity to sell more than just tickets arose.
"Smeetz provided us with a technical solution but not only that. The customer success team also provided us with personalised support. They helped us to develop our product offering autonomously while ensuring the quality of the more technical points during the implementation of our ticketing system." - Kit Strobl, Head of ticketing at the Chillon Castle Foundation.
COVID-19 - Sudden reopening in April 2021
The reopening of the cultural venues in April 2021 was a major challenge for the Chillon Castle Foundation and Smeetz. Together, we had one week to set up their online ticketing, while respecting health measures such as social distancing and capacity restrictions.
These capacity restrictions reduced the capacity of Chillon Castle by 60%. The number of visitors per day fell from 2,500 in the high season to only 1,500.
Two main questions arose in order to limit the losses despite the capacity restrictions:
- How to ensure that the maximum number of visitors per day is reached in Covid period?
- How to boost online sales?
Restriction of capacity - how to limit losses?
Setting up time slots with dynamic prices
Firstly, time slots for a defined number of visitors were introduced in order to better manage visitor flows.
Then, a dynamic pricing strategy was launched with prices that automatically vary according to the level of reservations. As the Foundation's main objective was to maximise the number of visitors, the dynamic pricing strategy was set up to optimise capacity management by dividing visits between peak and off-peak days.
"Using Smeetz' smart pricing tool, we were able to implement a dynamic pricing strategy to optimise the capacity of each of the time slots by varying prices, among other things, according to the occupancy rate." - Kit Strobl, Head of ticketing at the Chillon Castle Foundation.
Since the implementation of this strategy, Chillon Castle has seen an increase in its online sales, while maintaining a relatively conservative dynamic pricing strategy, with predefined minimum and maximum prices.
"From 2020 to 2021, online sales have increased from 5 to 20%. For 2022, our goal is to reach 25%." - Kit Strobl, head of ticketing at the Chillon Castle Foundation.
One of the advantages of implementing a dynamic pricing strategy combined with limited capacity is that it encourages visitors to buy online in advance.
"We were convinced by the implementation of this strategy and it proved to be successful as the maximum capacity was indeed reached! Now we are looking forward to the end of the season to get the final results and start thinking about implementing new strategies with different objectives next year." - Kit Strobl, Head of Ticketing at the Chillon Castle Foundation.
Setting up dynamic packages
Chillon Castle seized this opportunity for digitalization to set up a varied offer with add-ons and dynamic packages.
"The sale of add-ons has enabled us to propose a more complete offer and to boost our sales even in Covid period. For example, we offered the possibility of booking an audio guide directly online with the entrance ticket as well as packages such as "Vive la Suisse" including a meal at Café Byron." - Kit Strobl, Head of Ticketing at the Chillon Castle Foundation.
Improving customer relationships
The Smeetz ticketing system also assisted the Foundation in managing reservations and cancellations. The ultimate goal of the system is to provide a simple, smooth and personalised booking experience.
"The Smeetz system is easy to use and has greatly facilitated the management of operations. Working with Smeetz has also prompted us to simplify the user experience as well as redesign the way we address our audience." - Lise Leyvraz Dorier, Head of Communications at the Chillon Castle Foundation.
2021 and beyond?
The future projects between the Chillon Castle Foundation and Smeetz are numerous, with priority given to the implementation of an online sales and group reservation management feature. This is a functionality that the Castle has been looking for for a long time and which, thanks to the agility and flexibility of Smeetz, will soon be available.
"What we particularly appreciate about working with Smeetz is their availability, flexibility and above all their approach to highlighting areas for improvement and ways to solve them that have allowed us to develop the Castle's activities and increase our online visibility." - Lise Leyvraz Dorier, Head of Communications at the Chillon Castle Foundation.
The Castle has also put a first merchandising product on sale on Smeetz, the "Vies de princesses" publications.
"We can imagine a shop like an e-commerce shop that would allow us to go even further in the variety of our offer." - Lise Leyvraz Dorier, Head of communications at the Chillon Castle Foundation.