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Guests have high expectations when visiting a theme park. Being able to ultimately deliver the wow factor is a pivotal component to theme park success. Of course, maintaining the momentum over time is a challenge in an environment where the experience is central to everyday life.
When today’s guests are seeking entertainment, they want the latest and greatest experience, which often means integrating the last big movie into your attractions. As a result, creating new attractions is often an expensive endeavor with costs climbing into the 100s of millions of dollars.
Audiovisual technology understandably plays a significant role in meeting guest expectations by utilizing a mix of sustained and disruption technologies. Sustained technologies center around incremental improvements to what is already deployed, such as the deployment of next generation displays capable of delivering better resolutions, brighter colors, etc.
Making the most of disruptive technology such as the constantly evolving smart devices equipped with GPS, NFC, dynamic APPs and the ability to identify a guest presents intriguing challenges and opportunities.
Faced with the challenge of deploying complicated electronics and overcoming high cost investments leads theme parks need to constantly look for way to get the people in and keep them engaged during the visit as well as the months following. The best way to look at it, is through the three clearly defined stages:
It can be a complicated process to fully understand how guests are planning their trip. Fortunately, apps can play a key role in helping to build a schedule, select fast passes and arrange park visits around meeting up with others. As guests use the app or even an online portal, it is an opportunity to collect data and gain insights. It also represents an opportunity to engage with the guest and build momentum around specific attractions or events occurring during their planned visit.
The sustained technology that most people immediately think of when hearing AV is great at wowing the guest. However, going beyond each attraction, seizing the opportunity to “plug in” to the personal devices can prove powerful as well. This is especially true when managing guest wait times, making dinner and lunch recommendations or streamlining the merchandising process. For instance, having the ability to reduce the number of items guests carry during the visit can improve the experience. Specifically, replacing the wallet with the ability to charge through an RFID enabled bracelet or a phone is an attractive opportunity with a reasonable cost.
Additionally, smart devices make it possible to offer gamification to effectively bump up the engagement process and fully immerse the guest into the theme park experience. For example, create prize-based competitions amongst visitors where the winner can in some way customize the closing activities.
Furthermore, collecting and analyzing big data can provide operators with extremely valuable insights including a deeper understanding of which attractions have the most meaningful levels of guest engagement. Or data collection can also point to small faults that even your standard technical support may not identify immediately. For instance, something that is loose on a vehicle, a cut on the seat material or even how specific AV equipment is performing. All of these insights empower operators to make on-the-fly changes to constantly optimize the guest experience.
AV presents unique opportunities to engage and deliver when it is fully integrated with high level of infrastructure. Having a technology masterplan helps ensure that the experience starts when the guest pulls into the parking lot.
What happens after a theme park visit? How do you keep up with the guest? How do you inform visitors of various upgrades or changes that you are planning? Again, paying attention to which attractions intrigued the guest during their visit makes it possible to deliver next level content for weeks or months after the initial engagement.
Bryan Hinckley, Electrosonic’s Global Vice President of Immersive Experiences, builds on 20+ years’ experience creating memorable experiences through innovative technology. He writes with an expert eye on the continuing importance of focusing on the story, guest experience and quality of customer service, regardless of technology changes.