When guests enter the gates of a theme park or destination, they want a thrilling experience that is friction-free, highly personalised and memorable for the right reasons.
The operator’s systems have to deliver that experience while coping with millions of transactions and interactions. Visitors want the technology to take care of payment, enable staff to greet them by name and already know which ride, piece of merchandise or food order they want. They want a restaurant to have their table and food ready as they arrive. Accommodation, luggage and transport should all be taken care of through the same single interface. Personalised loyalty rewards and offers and an optimised daily itinerary are part of the expectation.
It’s a tough set of demands, with very high expectations around mobile and wearable devices. Omnico’s Theme Park Mobile Barometer research found, for example, that 82 per cent of visitors expect to buy anything in a resort using a cashless device, such as a wristband or mobile app. But the research also confirms the rewards available to operators who get it right. We found that 95 per cent of visitors will spend more if a park has a dedicated app.
Whichever device, you need to analyse masses of data at speed to give guests what they want
The question for parks is whether they put the emphasis on wearables like RFID bands or capitalise on the explosive growth of smartphone apps. Whichever course they pursue, operators need to be fully capable of harvesting and analysing data from millions of transactions so they can remove all the hassle and fully personalise the visitor experience in real time. That requires advanced customer engagement that begins before guests arrive and should continue after they have gone home in order to boost repeat visits.
Parks need to offer mobile app self-scan and order ahead functionality, fully integrating kiosks, wearables and guests’ smartphones, employing location data to achieve pinpoint relevance and immediacy in offers and discounts. A single customer engagement engine needs to ensure that all visitor touchpoint and point-of-sale devices talk to one another so the visitor always feels they are having the best experience possible.
Consumers are in love with technology – a trend that parks will have to embrace. Our Theme Park ROI Barometer research found UK consumers would increase spending from £31 to £177 per head on food and merchandise if mobile apps, self-service kiosks and robot deliveries to avoid queues were available.
Integration with digital assistants like Amazon Alexa will become a necessity for park brands in order to make organising and updating visits as easy as ordering groceries. Consumers will expect it, along with greater use of artificial intelligence applications. More than eight-in-ten (85 per cent) consumers in the US, UK, China, Japan and Malaysia told researchers they want theme parks to use artificial intelligence (AI) systems for ID verification so their visits are as trouble-free as possible.
Parks will certainly have to ensure their customer engagement platforms keep pace with this appetite for technology.