Safety is always paramount when considering the customer journey of a child through a theme park, no matter what the venue. Operators should, however, not limit their thinking about family-friendly technology to ride safety, nor think about customer journeys purely in terms of adults. Technology that is designed with different age groups in mind can simultaneously boost engagement and security for everyone.
Researching family-friendly app functions
Research conducted by Omnico among 1,200 consumers in the U.S. explored what kind of family-friendly technology is attractive to parents – primarily in relation to phone apps.
We found that app-savvy adults see the advantages of integrating park technology onto their phones to give them more supervision of their children. Yet they see little purpose in gamification unless it delivers discounts and value.
More than nine-in-ten respondents (91 per cent) with children said they want any technology to have functionality that gives them peace-of-mind. More than seven-in-ten parents (71 per cent) would like a theme park app loaded onto their children’s phones to give them a good idea of where their youngsters are.
Monitoring kids’ spending
Half of all parents (50 per cent) want a phone app to give them the power to limit their kids’ spending. Four-in-ten (40 per cent) would like to be able to restrict what their kids can buy in terms of merchandise or food and slightly fewer (35 per cent) would like to send rewards to their children’s phones, ready for them to spend. Less than half of the respondents (45 per cent) said they like the idea of keeping an eye on their kids’ activities by means of an app.
Respondents also supplied their own suggestions about app functionality, including “automatic reminders for children to check-in with their parents at particular intervals” or provision of lists about what their children have done with their time.
App games boost engagement – to a point
The use of app games meanwhile, gained mixed reactions. On the one hand, more than two-thirds of parents (67 per cent) are positive, saying they are likely to encourage their children to use a park’s phone app games that keep them busy while waiting in line and relate to the rides and experiences they want to enjoy. Among all respondents, however, including non-parents, the majority (68 per cent) are more likely to use theme park app games if they can earn reward points or discounts for use at the venue.
Family-friendly apps as part of the growth strategy for U.S. parks
What emerges from this research is how U.S. parks can capitalise on the widespread and sophisticated use of apps. New rides, dynamic pricing and discounts are all part of the tactics by which operators boost revenue. Family-friendly technology based on apps should be part of the broader strategy.
IAAPA estimates spending in regional and destination parks in the U.S. will rise from $22.4 billion in 2017 to a projected $29.7 billion in 2022. If operators have the engagement engine technology working in the background to pull all the necessary data together, they should have all the app functionality to enhance family visits and boost revenues much further.