On Sunday, my family and I decided to visit Paultons Park, which is just a 15-minute drive away from our home. It was our first time there as a family, and my almost three-year-old son's first visit to a theme park ever.

As well as a fun-filled day, it reinforced some buying psychology concepts I’ve read about lately, and I wanted to share.

The Story

When we bought our day tickets, I was surprised at the cost, but we figured we should do it now while our kids are under one meter and therefore get free entry to the park. My wife then discovered that if we ordered the tickets the night before, we could get a 25% discount on the on-the-day ticket price. Suddenly, it felt like a good deal.

Our visit to the park was a seamless experience. The process of parking, getting into the park, and getting to where we needed to be (big up Peppa Pig World) was easy. We spent the morning enjoying the rides, eating snacks, failing at the carnival-style games, and avoiding the rain showers.

Lunchtime came around, and we decided to treat ourselves to a burrito and nachos. The pricing per meal was reasonable, and the portion sizes were substantial. I had a pulled pork burrito with all the free fillings, and we shared some chips. They had some additional fillings available for £2.25 each, but my burrito looked big enough anyway, so I decided not to add them.

In the afternoon, we continued to enjoy the park without any issues, and on our way out, we saw customer services advertising their season passes. We were curious, so we decided to find out more.

On the wall, they had a big screen scrolling through the benefits of the three different annual passes, with clear pricing and line items. The cheapest package had restricted dates and no discounts on in-park purchases. The middle offering had more availability of dates and up to 20% off in-park purchases. The most expensive offering had unlimited availability of dates and up to 20% off in-park purchases. We could upgrade within three days and use our ticket prices as an offset against the annual pass too, meaning we could save £80 if we decided to upgrade.

After a couple of days of thinking, we decided to upgrade to the annual pass and chose the middle package. The upgrade to the higher package didn't make sense for us.

The Learnings

So, what can we learn from our trip to Paultons Park? Well, there's a lot of psychology involved in a purchasing decision, and Paultons Park did a lot of things right on the day and after to get more money out of us.

For someone to buy your product or service, they need to be in a position where three things align. Daniel Priestley details these in his book Scorecard Marketing as follows:

Emotion: “They need to feel some form of emotional pay-off would be achieved by buying.”

Logic: “People need to understand the practical reasons why they should buy.” “Most logical arguments can be made using facts, statistics, diagrams, and data.”

Urgency: “A sense of urgency comes when we feel that there is a cost associated with inaction.”

At each buying stage in the story above, these three principles were at play, producing a buying decision - either a yes, or a no. But a decision nonetheless.

Let’s take a look:

Buying the initial day tickets

Logic - it’s just 15 minutes up the road, the boy is old enough to enjoy some of the smaller rides now, and we had no other plans for the day.

Emotion - I’d been to Paultons Park many times as a child, and so had my wife. It was always a good day out, and we wanted that for our children. We knew what to expect, and with the addition of Peppa Pig World, it made it even more appealing to our children.

Urgency - we needed to buy the tickets that night in order to get a decent discount. We couldn’t delay.

Result - A Purchase. Logic, emotion, and urgency tied together successfully.

Extra Toppings on my burrito

Logic - I know that this was heavily inflated pricing with little reward in terms of adding to the burrito.

Emotion - no real emotion about it. Take it or leave it. I’m not a Mexican food connoisseur, so leaving this off didn’t matter to me.

Urgency - take it or leave it was the decision. I knew I couldn’t come back later and ask for a pot of it.

Result - No purchase. Logic told me it wasn’t worth it.

Upgrading to the Annual Pass

Logic - I very quickly worked out that we’d only need to visit a handful more time in 12 months to make the annual pass financially worth it.

Emotion - we all walked out of the park saying how much fun we’d had, and how we hadn’t seen it all, and we’d like to return soon.

Urgency - we had 3 days to decide whether we wanted to upgrade. If we did, we saved £80 - if we didn’t it felt like we’d lose £80.

Result - Purchase! Emotion and Urgency took over, and the Logic just backed up the decision. We only need to visit a few more time in the next 12 months to make it worth it. We’ve already got a visit in the diary for my sons birthday in September!

Funnily enough, there was another really important purchase psychology factor included in this story. Did you spot it?

I wrote a blog on it a while ago - check it out here if you’re interested.