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Magic or Analytics? How Amusement Parks Create Great Experiences & Boost Profits

18 May, 2015 | Nader Fathi

Amusement parks around the world are deploying innovative technologies to capture insights about visitors in order to understand behavioral trends and provide a frictionless (almost magical) ambiance that improves operational efficiency and drives sales.

“Fun doesn’t just happen,” wrote the CIO of Six Flags Michael S. Israel in a recent Forbes column. “Big data lets us anticipate our guests’ every need. Our goal is to ensure we have the right personnel, food and merchandise, in the right locations, at the right time, throughout the day.”

“The whole [Magicband] system gave Disney a way of understanding the business,” said Disney’s former EVP Nick Franklin in a recent interview with WIRED. “Knowing we need more food here, how people are flowing through the park, how people are consuming the experiential product.”

From Six Flags’ ability to seamlessly adjust its staffing model during a thunderstorm to Disney’s Magicbands replacing virtually every transaction, visitor analytics ensure guests have a fantastic experience and parks grow attendance and improve profitability.

Using Wi-Fi to Capture Visitor Intelligence

One of the most popular amusement parks in Belgium – Bobbejaanland, a 56-acre park with 800,000 visitors per year – also recognized the importance of understanding social and behavioral trends to improve operations and the customer experience. By collecting visitor analytics via Kiana’s park-wide Wi-Fi system, Bobbejaanland can connect with its customers, influence behavior, better manage park resources and analyze crowd flows.

The system detects the presence of all Wi-Fi enabled mobile devices in real time and plots heat maps to show where visitors are distributed around the park. It allows the amusement park to track visitor density minute-by-minute so they can examine average dwell time, traffic flows and more.

For instance, park operations staff can watch the heat maps in real time and direct mobile vendors, entertainers and cleaning crews to service high-density areas. In low-density areas, they can delay opening a ride, lower ride frequency, or close early, reducing operational costs and equipment wear and tear.

Social Wi-Fi and Marketing Opportunities

A secure Wi-Fi system also enables new-media marketing by driving engagement, and food and merchandise sales through social Wi-Fi opt-ins (using an email address or Facebook ID). Upon login, visitors arrive at a landing page where Bobbejaanland can make real-time offers – promoting anything from high-margin merchandise to food and beverage discount coupons, even venue-specific offers that encourage visitors to go to certain rides or shops. Five-to-seven percent of visitors are currently opting-in, with more than half of them requesting coupons.

With social Wi-Fi, Bobbejaanland is building a qualified list of customers. Off-season, they can leverage the list to promote season passes, upcoming events and new attractions. And when repeat visitors return to the park, Bobbejaanland will be able to use these analytics to build more complete visitor profiles, enabling even more targeted offers in future.

Magic or analytics? While it might feel and work like magic, it’s visitor analytics that provide the wealth of data to improve efficiency, and boost customer engagement and profits at amusement parks. Analytics also provide vital intelligence for planning future staffing and the location of new rides, restaurants, shops and services. Moreover, opt-in analytics enable triggered marketing outcomes that increase conversion and boost loyalty.

Quoting futurist Arthur C. Clarke, Disney’s COO Tom Staggs said it best: “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic (WIRED).”

To learn more about how Kiana provides customer analytics and real-time marketing services that help convert amusement park visitors to buyers, visit http://www.kianaanalytics.com/