Attractions, theme parks, and how payments simplify ROLLER's business

In this episode, we jump right into the business of leisure and attractions with ROLLER, the world’s leading guest experience platform. Supporting over 750 attractions worldwide from museums to trampoline parks including brands like FlipOut, Skyline and SuperPark, ROLLER helps elevate the guest experience for over 50 million visitors every year.

How does Adyen simplify payments for ROLLER and its extensive portfolio of brands – what’s the role of payments in its strategy as brand needs and guest preferences evolve?


Speaking in this episode


Will Nicholson, Chief Operating Officer and Head of Payments, ROLLER

William Nicholson is COO and Head of Payments at ROLLER. Since inception William has helped ROLLER scale its global technology platform to 28 countries and over $1B+ transactions per year. He is now a respected leader in unified commerce and payments technology helping leisure and entertainment businesses to operate more effectively, and deliver a better guest experience. 


Jamie Collings, Vice President, Sales, Adyen, AUNZ

Jamie Collings is VP of Sales (AUNZ) at Adyen, the world’s leading payment service provider. He has over 12 years’ professional experience working in the UK, the US and Australia, specializing in the retail and payments space. He has a proven track record of success in helping the world’s largest platforms and retailers including ROLLER, Easi, Nando’s, Hanesbrands, Koala, and Showpo optimize their omnichannel payments setups globally. With a passion for technology, he applies his knowledge to help brands evolve their businesses in order to meet the expectations of today’s competitive landscape.

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Episode transcript

Jamie: Hi, I'm Jamie Collings, VP of Sales, Australia, and New Zealand at Adyen. And you're listening to Adyen’s Behind the Figures podcast. Today, we'll be speaking with Will Nicholson, the Chief Operating Officer and Head of Payments of ROLLER, one of the world's leading guest experience platforms. ROLLER supports over 750 attractions worldwide, including FlipOut, Skyline and SuperPark, and many more. 

Its all-in-one platform helps brands take care of ticketing, guest management, packages, and payments – making it easier for brands to deliver amazing guest experiences across the various touchpoints in all channels. We'll be discussing how ROLLER keeps up with changing guest expectations. As more industries look at the platforms and marketplaces as a business model, we'll also cover insights surrounding Adyen for Platforms.

Welcome, Will. Great to have you with us, mate.

Will: Thanks, Jamie, it’s great to be here. 

Jamie: Will, for those who aren't overly familiar with ROLLER, can you give us a bit of a background for the company, how it was started? I heard a story about you starting off in the nightclub scene in Melbourne. Is that true?

Will: That's true. Yeah. We've had a lot of pivots, as you would say, along the way with ROLLER. ROLLER started as a hospitality platform where we were a business-to-consumer platform.

We essentially allowed you to pre-spend bar tabs at leading bars and nightclubs around the world everywhere from Sydney, Australia to Vegas. And we realized early on that the guest experience was integral to everything that we wanted to do at the company. And what better way to build on the guest experience than expanding our offering to leisure and attraction parks. And we now do that all around the world. 

ROLLER obviously has been around for over a decade now. And we've focused our energies on the attraction and leisure space because we feel that [our] mission is to create experiences that bring joy to the world. How we do that is by empowering leisure and attractions businesses with specific business modules that help drive guest experience, guest engagement, and also to essentially operationally run their businesses.

And so we have a varied array of modules, including point of sale, online ticketing and booking management, memberships, as well as a guest experience score to help them drive ways to improve the guest experience. 

Jamie: It's epic growth, Will.

Will: I think how we came across Adyen as a partner, we're very blessed in the sense that over our entire history, we had to work with all of the other payment providers out there.

And I won't go into boring detail about who they are, but we got first sort of behind-the-scenes insight into how all of them operate, what some of the challenges, and say, the technical infrastructure that they had behind-the-scenes in play was. And early on, about six years ago, we were fortunate enough to come across Adyen in our European market. And we realized that these guys were leading the way in terms of payment innovation, as well as essentially providing a unified commerce experience from their payments stack. And that in itself sort of grew into the evolution that we're where we are today, because we realized that Adyen was one of the best payment providers out there. And they also offered us the ability to essentially act as a platform for our customers where payment is such a critical part of the guest experience. And so we were fortunate that with your Adyen for Platforms product, we were able to better support customers with payment processing, but also better support our customers from the guest experience standpoint, because we're providing the best-of-breed payment infrastructure, the best-of-breed payment methods, and the best-of-breed payment experience, so using your drop-in components. 

Jamie: Yeah, it sounds great. Can you delve a bit deeper into the broader payments in ROLLER’s business strategy overall? Given [that] you service several verticals and a range of business sizes, is payments a sweet spot that is driving strong growth for you?

Will: Yeah, payments is such a critical part of our entire software. I mean, if you think about value proposition to our customers, it is the ability for them to generate revenue. And so within the ROLLER modules, we have our point of sale module, so when guests attend parks, they're required to pay for goods and services, whether it be Food and Beverage or experiences. And our online gateway, we've seen a massive growth in online bookings and engagement from ecommerce services. And so that's another critical part of the ecosystem that requires payments associated with it. 

And so, for Adyen to form the basis of being a unified commerce platform, so again, a one-way, same-way relationship where we use the same customer information is sent from the point of sale as it is from online, that allows us to build enriched cross-channel experiences for our customers.

So that when you do book online with a membership and you come in and redeem that membership at the point of sale, we get better data visualization of that customer and we also can better service that customer by essentially looking up that payment information. And that's unique, I think, to the Adyen ecosystem that, you know, true unified commerce offering.

Jamie: Can you talk about how important it is having a unified commerce setup with Adyen? 

Will: Yeah, I think it's critical. I mean, if you think about your guest experience, wherever you attend an attraction, you've normally had a touchpoint online where you've made a booking to attend that park. Then you come to a check-in or a waiver scenario where you also may want to upgrade a pass, you realize that you can skip the queue and you have an additional purchase that you didn't make earlier. And then you go inside of the attraction and then you're looking at buying Food and Beverage, or even merchandise. 

All of those used to be traditional channels that weren't linked in any way. And so by using Adyen as a unified commerce payment system and ROLLER as a unified commerce platform, linking those two together, we can see that there's a massive value from not only the guest experience by making those transactions as frictionless as possible, but also from the venue, because they're getting those rich insights about what customers are doing without having to try and stitch that data themselves. You know, normally what would happen is you would just have your online sales and your in-venue sales, and there would be no customer relationship between those. They would just be revenue centers for you. And so, now we're really enriching that data to know that a consumer or a guest has gone from online to card-present to even a post-sale when they've left the venue and decided to buy merchandise online because they had such a great time. All of that feeds into the guest experience. 

Jamie: It sounds like you're trying to make your merchant’s lives easier and of course, the end customers’ lives easier. Can you give a bit more information as to what you're doing with that data that Adyen’s providing you? So, how are you better servicing your customers?

Will: Yeah. I mean, ultimately what used to happen if I wanted to go back in time is we would have a separate supplier or a separate integration for our online gateway to our card-present or offline environment. And what that meant was those transaction data or the transactional data was split between two systems and ROLLER had to essentially act as the platform to stitch that together. 

With Adyen, we have the same customer relationship online as we do offline and that means that when a customer comes up to the point of sale that has purchased online before, we can quickly bring up that customer's details, we can upgrade them, downgrade them, refund them all from a channel that traditionally wouldn't be able to facilitate that type of relationship. Now, refunds and upgrades for the guest experience is a real friction point. So if you've bought the wrong product or you want to expand on your offering in the park, us having that tokenized payment information to be able to facilitate that means that they can spend more time on the attractions than spending time at the point of sale buying things.

Jamie: That sounds great. I don't know if this is something that you planned, but all the trampoline parks that I go to with my family, they get me to sign a waiver every time I go in. But I believe that you save those details for your park, so you don't have to do it again. That's the friction you're removing, right?

Will: Yeah. I mean, that's just another component that it is a mandatory requirement that we look after people's safety. And so we share obviously how we're doing that through our waiver module. So these are customers being at the attractions; they can essentially spin up a waiver that not only protects the guests but also protects them as a business. And we can streamline this signing of those processes, not only in-park with our waiver kiosks but also online where we can give you a personalized link to send to all of your family members or group bookings that are attending – to make sure that you've signed in advance on your mobile device rather than arriving at the park and having to wait a long time to go through that process.

Jamie: So, obviously we've had bushfires, droughts, earthquakes, global pandemics. How has the business pivoted during these crazy events? More so COVID, I'd say, because that probably affected you the most. 

Will: Yeah, it's interesting. We've had a lot of clients that we support and, you know, a big shoutout to some of the zoos that were affected by the recent bushfires in Australia. COVID has been a massive change from where people would like to book. People are much more inclined to book in advance and reserve capacity because it is restricted by government controls as well as safety. It's really important that the attraction that you are attending, whether it be in the US or Europe, that they're doing the right things from a COVID-safe perspective. And so we've seen that massive growth in online bookings, which meant that there's been less friction when you're coming to the parks. So we talked about queue-busting when you would arrive at a really busy restaurant or a really busy attraction, and you have to wait a long time before you even get to experience the attraction. With COVID, they've seen that push to online has allowed us to reduce a lot of that friction that would happen in the park. We've also seen that people spend more when they're processing online in advance. And we've also seen that COVID has meant that people who've been in lockdown a long time; so they're excited to obviously get back out and that's reflected in the revenue of our clients as well. So we've seen a massive uplift when restrictions have been removed, we've seen a massive uplift in the revenue for our clients. 

Jamie: So, with these different channels that you're engaging with your customers with, are you going to build out any loyalty for your platforms or parks that customers go to?

Will: Yeah, absolutely. And one of our major modules is the membership module. So membership allows you essentially, a membership to an attraction allows you not only access to benefits of say, Food and Beverage but also allows you the ability to attend that attraction much more often than buying individual visits. So it's a value driver, not only for the guests but also for the business. And with that, using Adyen’s unified commerce platform for payments, we can see that when a customer buys online and we know that customer's details or token can essentially be used as [a] unique identifier for that customer. And so, we start to move away from the requirement to have loyalty cards or even to request the customer's email address because their payment method essentially acts as their loyalty card.

Jamie: It's funny seeing something that was essentially adopted more readily by the luxury space, moving into children's entertainment and to trampoline parks, just as important, that vertical. Obviously, you’re present around the world, can you give us a bit of an overview as to what payment methods you offer on your platform and why it's so important to offer a whole breadth of payment methods?

Will: Yeah. I mean, we definitely see the value in 28 markets. So we had to be able to support the localized payment methods, whether it be Vipps in Norway or iDEAL in the Netherlands, it's important that you're essentially allowing customers or guests to pay the way that they want to pay. And so, with Adyen, we allow not only customers or attractions to essentially configure the payment methods that they want to accept, but we also allow the guests to pay the way that they want to pay. And then from a broader context, we know that payment methods can drive a lot of loyalty and visitation from different customer groups. So from a marketing perspective, being able to offer digital wallets, Buy Now Pay Later opportunities to our customers, not only allows them to essentially access new customer segments that traditionally wouldn't have been purchased, but it improves the guest experience because a lot of the information that we require in order to facilitate the experience has already been collected by those providers and can be shared with us to allow them a great day out.

Jamie: Are you actually seeing quite a few customers spending more with the Buy Now Pay Later’s as opposed to the traditional credit card? Is it higher spend? 

Will: Yeah. I mean, we've seen that there's a different type of customer, probably more than, you know, the spend. I mean, the spend has been increased as I mentioned previously by that move to online. And a lot of these Buy Now Pay Later schemes are providing a different way to look at group bookings or birthday parties about how you actually fund those purchases. But the type of customers, especially across say, the US, we're seeing a lot of, you know, the access to credit is a heavily controlled environment and so what Buy Now Pay Later is allowing is for lots more people to be able to essentially book in advance for their favorite attractions using a Buy Now Pay Later scheme. 

Jamie: We have seen actually that customers do spend more if they are shopping or spending across different channels. So you're saying that customers are probably spending more because you're offering more options for them to pay beyond the usual card schemes. Do you think different payment methods play a big part in that as well? And how many do you cater for?

Will: Yeah, absolutely. And if we just look at, for some payment methods like Alipay and WeChat, there's a trusted relationship to those payment brands. So being able to accept them means that you're a trusted brand as a business and so from a guest perspective, they build a lot of trust in that payment method and therefore, more likely to actually convert to the offering online. So, we provide our customers with a choice or merchants with the choice to configure any payment methods that they want to configure. 

Thanks to Adyen, we can turn on localized payment methods as well as turning on some of the leading digital wallets like Apple Pay and Google Pay, which reduces the friction for the guests when they're actually paying for things, whether it be in an online environment or even just with tap-and-go in Australia, using your Apple wallet. It's all about reducing the amount of friction that the guest has to go through in order to give the merchant money.

So, by turning on these payment methods, we also see that there's a great trust-building exercise with the guests because they can see recognized brands like Apple Pay, like WeChat, like Alipay, available at this business. And that gives the business some credibility that they're getting serviced by these great payment brands out there. 

Jamie: Can you talk about how Adyen for Platforms has actually helped simplify other parts of your business beyond the actual payment stack itself? Are there other operations that we're not necessarily privy to that would be getting help? 

Will: Yeah. I mean, I think as a software provider, you're always looking to reduce technical risk from your platform. And so, managing integrations is a big source of risk for any business. And so, by consolidating around Adyen for Platforms, we've been able to remove not only the technical risk of integrating payment providers but also the robustness and scalability of our platform has been improved. And then, I think a very important part for our customers as well as for us as a business is around compliance and we know that we're handling valuable information and so we always put a priority on security and compliance. And with Adyen, we're able to reduce the number of integrations that we have to make compliant. And we're also being able to reduce the amount of access points to ensure that that data is held secure.  

Jamie: That’s becoming ever more important these days, isn’t it? So [it’s] good to hear you feel safe in our hands. What have you heard from your customers? I believe you look after the likes of Sky Zone and Flip Out, have you heard any feedback having switched technology stacks with those merchants? 

Will: Yeah. I mean, that reliability and scalability is really important to our customers. So we have seen that the integration types that are offered by Adyen are best-of-breed so we're moving away from third-party softwares, sitting on a hardware device that talks to payment terminals to a cloud-based integration that allows us not only to rapidly deploy hardware to our customers so that they can get up and running faster, but it also makes them more reliable because we’re removing risk associated with firewalls or devices becoming outdated and having to upgrade operating systems. By being a cloud-based integration it's just a much better experience, not only for the POS operator but also for the guests, because it's super rapid for them to pay and move on to what they want to be doing, which is enjoying the attraction or leisure space.

Jamie: Having worked with lots of retail merchants, some groups opened say fifty or so stores a year. Are you seeing similar trends with these hospitality venues, such as trampoline parks, opening up X amount each year, and does that help having one single provider for that?

Will: Yeah. I mean, it's a really important point that you've raised there, Jamie. I mean, one of the things that Adyen has enabled us to do is obviously to have a one-way, same-way payment relationship across all of the different markets that we operate in. And that in itself helps a lot of these franchise groups to essentially choose ROLLER as their service provider because we can service them not only in the US and Canada but also in their operations in Ireland or across Europe and even into, [the] United Arab Emirates or Australia where these, you know, franchises want to expand. And so for them, it's also reducing the technical risks because they get to choose ROLLER for everything and they get to choose our robust payment stack across those markets as well.

Jamie: And as a vertical itself, I mean, are you seeing much more penetration in the trampoline market? Are there other areas that we haven't heard about that you're moving into?

Will: Yeah, we've seen a massive growth in virtual reality attractions or virtual reality experiences. And that's a really interesting growth market. I think for the world, if you get your head around metaverses and people living other lives in other universes that are created digitally. So, there's a massive growth area for us in that space. We also service a lot of the existing museums, zoos, waterparks, even theme parks. What we see with those groups is that they're reinvesting into the space to create unique offerings. So whether they do install a virtual reality or whether they're making them more multi-attractions. So the trampoline park used to be a sole attraction and now they're diversifying to have laser tag, a rock-climbing wall, a virtual reality studio, all-in-one. And they're really becoming hubs for guests to attend, but also community centers in a lot of ways for people to go and hang out in order to have fun.

Jamie: What's next for ROLLER? In-app loyalty, wearables, perhaps? Or even ROLLER Plus where you can get subscriptions, service to get cheaper access to trampoline parks. What's in the pipeline for you? 

Will: You've hit the nail on the head. We've got a really exciting innovation plan ahead for improving the guest experience and all of those things that you spoke about essentially relate to the guest experience or contextual commerce experiences. But to start with, what we decided to do was, we started to: one, we created the Guest Experience Podcast to grab thought leaders’ advice on how they actually optimize the guest experience. And we also created the guest experience index and the index is a unique model or algorithm that we collate at the end of every guest visit to a park. We collect several data points that we can share with the business to show what's improving or hindering the guest experience. And that covers a lot of sentiment. So, from the actual consumers’ perspective, so whether it be about price, temperature, expansion of the rides, or the attraction. But it also extends to real data points that we gather from the ROLLER system in terms of what they booked, how they booked, and when they attended. So all of that will give us the footprint or the foundation rather, to build out some of these really exciting new guest experience drivers. 

Jamie: Great, it sounds like you're a market leader and you want to be at the forefront of these payments, experiences, or customer interactions at these venues. Do you think Adyen is really helping you along that journey?

Will: Yeah. Adyen essentially, we could see them as a partner for our future growth. They've allowed us to scale the business into multiple markets around the world, using the same payment infrastructure. They allowed us to build value on top of their system by essentially working closely with us to work in areas that we can improve in the system. And I think they're also getting a reputation themselves for being the leading payment provider out there. And so, by being able to provide that to our customers, we can say that ROLLER as a technically advanced platform is also leading the way, not only in booking and ticketing software but also in payment infrastructure as well.

Jamie: That's great! So, for anyone else embarking upon this journey that you've gone on with Adyen, have you got any tips or advice for them – payments related?

Will: Yeah, I think it's really important for people to set out with a goal. And at ROLLER, payments can often be seen as a utility and as a lowest-cost game. And a lot of education work needs to be gone into how valuable payments is to your business or to your marketplace or stack. So when you do that, you realize that it's such an integral part of every business, that there's so many ways that you can enhance and add value to that relationship, rather than just being a transactional nature, excuse the pun there, of payments. You can see that you can enhance it, not only with data, not only with fraud protection, but also with great guest experience, whether it be from payment methods to a frictionless one-click checkout. 

Jamie: Thank you. Appreciate the pun. You started this. So I'm going to come back at you. What are you doing to bounce back after COVID?

Will: A trampoline reference. I love it. Well, we'd like to keep rolling after COVID and ultimately we've seen that venues have bounced back incredibly quickly already. With the releasing of restrictions, the vaccine rollout, we've seen that a lot of people are just anxious to get back into the attractions and leisure activities that they were doing pre-pandemic. So we've seen that a lot of our customers, now that they are able to reopen, have not only been able to spend the time working on their business and looking at ways that they can improve the guest experience, but also look at how they can better serve the customers when they do come back because they're coming back in a really big way.

Jamie: That's great. I'm looking forward to going back to one of the venues, too. It's probably a good chance for me to exercise and lose the COVID pounds that have been attained. Thank you so much for your time today. Really appreciate it. It's been fascinating and all the insights you've given us about the business and how Adyen has helped you with your unified commerce journey, how you pivoted through the times of COVID and, it's been too long. Hopefully, we can go for a beer soon in Melbourne.

Will: [It’s] a crazy time in the world. Obviously, a tip out there for anyone that's going or embarking on this journey: you know, when you do choose a partner, I mean, it's great like we have with Adyen to be able to work closely with such a fantastic payment company that’s looking after so many different brands, we see ourselves as bigger than eBay and bigger than Uber, bigger than some of your other clients. So we're super excited to be working with you and soon to be your number one platform. 

Jamie: Thanks again, Will. Great words. Chat to you soon, mate. Cheers mate. 

Will: Cheers, Jamie.

Warren (voiceover): You’ve been listening to Adyen’s Behind the Figures podcast. We look forward to sharing more business stories with you. Be sure to follow and subscribe to get the latest updates.