In its best year ever, the Heineken Experience welcomed no less than 1.2 million visitors to Amsterdam. Busloads of Italians, Germans, and Brits often arrive at the door, enthusiastically plunging into the world of their favourite beer. The building, on the Stadhouderskade, was in use as an active Heineken brewery until 1988.
You can still come and taste it: the atmosphere and the beer. Visitors are introduced to the 150-year-old brand and see how Heineken's products and marketing have developed. Did you know, for example, that beer used to have an amber color and that Heineken is largely responsible for its bright golden yellow color? Or that the beer is 'aged' for 24 days before it arrives in the shops? With a visual and interactive journey through Heineken's history, the Experience provides the ultimate brand encounter. After their visit, tourists leave Amsterdam as ambassadors, taking their enthusiasm for Heineken back to their home countries and looking for the products there as well.
Martijn Otten is responsible for IT within the Heineken Experience and, in cooperation with Global Ticket's attraction-specific knowledge, has invested heavily in technology in recent years.
From this collaboration, they developed the new online Heineken Experience ticketing page.
Martijn says: "We wanted to improve the setup of our online ticketing, but many of the parties we worked with were very conservative and focused on hardware. I also thought they were not very flexible. Global Ticket (now part of CM.com ticketing) thought along with us about the best solution and how we could build it together. For example, we worked on time slots in our e-ticketing. Sometimes we have up to 6000 visitors a day and want to be able to distribute them evenly. The space in the Experience is limited, with one direction for people to walk in. Despite the limited space, we refrain from a hard time limit within which they have to complete their visit. We assume one and a half to two hours, but we don't want to rush visitors.”
An additional challenge for the Experience and Global Ticket is that the attraction sells different types of tickets through a variety of channels. Good channel management is therefore important to ensure that everything runs smoothly for the organization and the visitors. Martijn comments: "By developing a reseller platform, we were able to divide the capacity over our channel and the various resellers via the API. We prefer to sell through our own channels, so we optimized these. Tickets that are still available an hour before an upcoming timeslot can only be purchased through our own website or at the door."
Another improvement is to make the tickets uniformly accessible across all channels and to make their origin more recognisable when scanned. The final step is in the making, explains Martijn: "We want to run the scanning directly through the platform of Global Ticket and CM.com instead of through an external API. That always provides live insight into how many tickets have been scanned and where they have come from." The attraction previously had to regularly deal with fake tickets, which customers bought through scammers. Those barcodes were not recognised at the door. In the past, visitors were then allowed to enter to avoid crowding at the entrance, but that cost revenue because they had not paid for admission. No matter how annoying it is for the visitor: now the Heineken Experience can always immediately see at the entrance whether a ticket is genuine and, if not, a customer is asked to buy an official ticket.
Good cooperation has developed between the Heineken Experience and Global Ticket, which has many advantages now that both parties know each other well. Martijn says: "The Global Ticket team has a lot of experience with what tourists go through at our location, also because they have often visited us personally. The insights they have gained are very useful in building the necessary technology and in advising on how to optimise processes. This led, for example, to the idea of allowing visitors to rebook their tickets themselves, a major improvement in the area of customer service. We now also use Mobile Service Cloud to handle visitor queries. With Mobile Service Cloud, visitors can ask questions via their preferred channel. A big advantage for the customer support team is that all these messages are collected in the Agent Inbox for a clear overview. That makes it more efficient and easier for them to understand.”
Implementation of these types of new features and technical solutions runs smoothly. Take, for example, the recent introduction of the OTA portal. Tour operators can log in here, book online for a group, and make changes to the booking 24 hours in advance. Martijn states: "We are now supplementing the OTA portal with an automated invoicing process. Here we can assume that Global Ticket prioritises the open cases. Very useful, also because of the direct and personal communication between both parties."
Many effective technical solutions have been implemented in the Heineken Experience, in cooperation with Global Ticket and CM.com, but there are still more gains to be made in the partnership. Also, because big changes are coming up within the popular attraction. Martijn says: "We see the Experience as Heineken's playground for developing new technologies. A great opportunity to come up with new ideas. For example, we recently placed a kiosk at the entrance for self-service ticket sales. We will also work with personalised tickets: a personal QR code will provide a unique, interactive experience. There is further room for improvement in the analysis of the customer experience, such as the more effective use of after-visit mails, the collection of ratings, and Hotjar analyses on our pages. All things where we could use Global Ticket's help." In addition to custom solutions, CM.com's products are also being assessed to see how they can create value for the Heineken Experience. The Mobile Service Cloud has been successfully implemented, and discussions are already underway for the deployment of more solutions from CM.com. Together with the Heineken Experience, we are continuously looking for better ways to deliver the ultimate visitor experience.
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