Discover how the Swiss Vapeur Parc managed to better anticipate its visitor flows and reduce its operational costs by 2/3 thanks to dynamic pricing.
The Swiss Vapeur Parc
Enter the world of the Swiss Vapeur Parc, a miniature amusement park located next to the beach in Le Bouveret, a stone's throw from Lake Geneva, Switzerland. It offers to its guests a unique experience of travelling over 2 km of track on ¼ scale train replicas and discovering main Swiss landscapes and monuments.
The park is open from March to November and offers themed events with home-made decorations throughout the year. In the spring, Easter opens the season, in the summer it's the Western and the season closes with Halloween in October.
Until 2019, the park did not sell tickets directly from its website. For online sales, it used intermediaries, such as eboutic, groupon etc., which take up to 25% commission on tickets sold. Despite the high cost, the park found the visibility and the cash advance interesting. Visitors bought these tickets online simply to get discounted prices.
The rise of online ticketing
In 2020, the Covid-19 crisis and capacity restrictions have changed visitors' purchasing behaviour. Online ticketing has gained considerable importance within cultural and leisure activities as visitors no longer buy tickets online to obtain a discounted rate, but simply to ensure their entry to the park.
"From now on, and depending on the evolution of sanitary rules, online ticketing represents between 30% and 90% of our admissions." Damien Fulbert, Director of Operations at Swiss Vapeur Parc
Since 2019, the Swiss Vapeur Parc has implemented the Smeetz solution with the aim of achieving several objectives:
- Anticipate customer flows
- Use of targeted advertising on social networks to maximise sales
- Internalise promotional actions to avoid netplayers
The Swiss Vapeur Parc is indeed able to anticipate by encouraging early bookings, which allows him to better forecast visitor flows.
“We now see the real trends 3-4 days in advance, this allows us to adapt the staff, the number of trains out and the supplies for the restaurant, which is very practical to avoid losses.” Damien Fulbert, Director of Operations at Swiss Vapeur Parc
The implementation of online ticketing also speeds up the sales and welcoming processes at the entrance.
- The customer already has his ticket on his smartphone, which reduces queues at the ticket office.
- The customer simply presents the e-ticket at the entrance which is then scanned.
- The customer's Covid-19 traceability data is collected at the same time to ensure compliance with health measures.
- In a few seconds, the entrance ticket is validated and the visitor can enjoy the park. This process is very fast and avoids bottlenecks at the entrance of the park.
"In concrete terms, before we had ticketing, we needed two or three people at the cash desk to manage the flow, manage the Covid traceability and give change. With Smeetz ticketing, the transaction is done within a few seconds: customers show their ticket on their smartphone, the ticket is scanned, all information is instantly collected and the customer can enjoy the park." Damien Fulbert, Director of Operations at Swiss Vapeur Parc
Automation of pricing strategies
Little by little, we have developed dynamic pricing strategies with the Swiss Vapeur Parc to automate its pricing strategies.
Until 2020, the park used a strategy based on simple rules that allowed customers to anticipate their purchase and get attractive rates if they booked up to 12 hours before the day of their visit.
"The dynamic pricing is very simple, the more the customer buys in advance and the fewer sales there are, the cheaper the ticket. This allows people who anticipate to have access to the park at a really competitive rate. As time goes by, customers are also adapting to this new way of booking tickets.” Damien Fulbert, Director of Operations at Swiss Vapeur Parc
Since the introduction of dynamic pricing at Swiss Vapeur Parc, its use has evolved from a simple model to an advanced optimisation model using artificial intelligence. Since the implementation of this new strategy, the park has seen a 17% increase in ticket sales.
"Going back to traditional pricing would now seem terribly silly knowing how much both the guests and the park are benefiting from dynamic pricing." Damien Fulbert, Director of Operations at Swiss Vapeur Parc
Furthermore, the flexibility of the system makes it possible to block tariffs during major events, to carry out tests on low prices and, thanks to the collection of all data, to analyse the impact of these tests on customer behaviour.
Apprehensions about customer acceptance of dynamic pricing are often the main obstacle to its use. Therefore, it is important to be transparent in the communication in order to avoid negative consequences.
"The apparent complexity of dynamic pricing strategies did not lead to any questions from the guests, who are used to such practice in the hotel and aviation industries." Damien Fulbert, Director of Operations at Swiss Vapeur Parc
A relationship taken to the next level
The relationship between the Swiss Vapeur Parc and Smeetz allows for mutual evolution towards more mature systems. The introduction of a collaboration with the association Léman Sans Frontière has also made it possible to propose combined offers from numerous providers of leisure and tourism activities around Lake Geneva and to create synergies between them.
“The future with Smeetz looks bright. For example, we can work together via Léman sans frontière with packaged products. For example, customers can buy a visit to the Swiss Vapeur Parc including a visit to the beach in Le Bouveret, or a package including tickets for the Bex Salt Mines and the Swiss Vapeur Parc.“ Damien Fulbert, Director of Operations at Swiss Vapeur Parc