You lost me at the queue...

02/05/2018 By Diana Meterna

The weather is (finally) warming up, summer is almost here, and visitor attractions across the UK are hoping that hordes of visitors will soon be queuing outside their doors, gates or drawbridges. However, ALVA data shows that visitors are more dissatisfied with queuing time in summer than at any other time of the year. Many attractions are beginning to realise that the visitor experience begins with the queue; long queues risk sabotaging the visitor experience at the very first hurdle, and jeopardise the chance of attracting passers-by.  Queue management is therefore becoming a key trend across the industry.

Thankfully, there are ways to make queuing enjoyable, believe it or not! The Roman Baths have introduced the app ‘Beneath My Feet’, which informs and entertains visitors whilst they queue. They’ve also employed the National Theatre Company to provide costumed characters, bringing the attraction to life before the visitor has even entered. To tackle the risk of passers-by being put off by long queues, the Roman Baths introduced signage showing visitor reviews of the site to pique their interest, and staff equipped with tablets walk amongst the queue and outside the attraction to show people what there is to do inside.

Another attraction that has successfully tackled the problem of long queues is Sir John Soane’s Museum. Situated in Lincoln’s Inn in London, the Museum is the historic house, museum and library of 19th century architect Sir John Soane. I highly recommend it to anyone visiting or living in London; I consider myself very lucky that BVA BDRC’s office is located right by the museum, and I frequently visit during my lunch hour. Much of the museum’s atmosphere and charm is due to how little has been changed since Soane lived there almost 180 years ago. However, this also means that space is scarce, so only a limited number of people can enter the museum at any one time. This can lead to queues during the peak season, which the museum realised could deter potential visitors. As a result, the museum introduced ticketed entry – if there’s a long queue, visitors can receive a ticket on the door that allows them priority entry in roughly an hour’s time. Staff guide visitors as to what they could do in this hour, such as visiting Lincoln’s Inn Field’s café or relaxing in the park.  Since the ticketing system, Sir John Soane’s Museum’s VisitorVerdict score for ‘amount of queuing’ has improved, and they no longer have a long, off-putting queue outside.

ALVA’s visitor attraction bench-marking (now with over 90 leading sites bench-marked) encompasses the entire visitor experience, showing visitor attractions where they may be falling short (or too long, in the case of queues). With summer fast approaching and VisitBritain forecasting an increase of 4.4% in inbound tourism this year (bringing the number of visitors up to 41.7 million), visitor attractions need to realise that enticing long queues isn’t enough anymore; you have to entertain them, too.