Children Tracking in Parks, Cruises, Malls, and Resorts: Now with Beacons

Children Tracking in Parks, Cruises, Malls, and Resorts: Now with Beacons

Can you put a price tag on a parent’s peace of mind? Operators looking to make parents happy can now add options, value, and revenue streams.

For cruise ships, amusement parks, and similar family-centric locations, it can be very difficult for parents (and operators) to keep track of children. In the past, a series of different technologies and solutions have sought to fill in this gap. However, modern technology should not only make child tracking possible but also scaleable, affordable, and value-adding for managing in all public-facing verticals.

Compare different technologies used for real-time location solutions

There are four major industries that rely on child tracking to some extent:

  • Resorts
  • Amusement parks
  • Cruise ships
  • Shopping malls

Each of these settings has unique needs and visitors but they share many of the same goals. Their visitors are often families looking to have a good time. Interestingly, there is a growing interest among families of all kinds to keep better tabs on their children. With the technology available, those businesses who add value in the form of child tracking and security are not only adding “wow” factor but solving a constant problem for their customers.

children tracking across 4 industries

How children tracking works in venues

Bluetooth beacons can be used in a variety of ways to locate and track children in these public spaces. However, they often occur with the popular “tracking bracelets” made famous by Disney World.

Bluetooth tracking bracelets or other Bluetooth-enabled tags include a Bluetooth transmitter. When you wear one, you are effectively turned into a beacon, able to walk around the space while transmitting information about who you are. Don’t worry, you’re not transmitting information like your name and birthdate. Rather, these tracking bracelets send only a short code that can be used to identify which bracelet it is. So how does this help parents track children?

These transmitted signals are picked up by a Gateway (a Bluetooth router) or even by cell phones enabled to function as readers. That means, when a little girl runs down the boardwalk, she’s immediately registered by any nearby phones. In this scenario, the beacon provider need only provide a beacon scanning enabled-API and the solution provider is ready to turn phones into scanners.

Mobile-first matters in kid tracking

This concept of being “mobile-first” with kid tracking in venues like cruises, malls, and events is central to long-term success. Other systems leveraging active RFID and other active standards already exist. But these come with a costly infrastructure that must be both installed and maintained. This is a huge entry barrier for most companies and likely the reason active children tracking has yet to take off in these settings.

Compare the costs of Active RFID and Bluetooth based real-time location tracking

By simply turning a commodity as common as a smart device into a router, businesses can save money while delivering children’s location information quickly.

Adding value beyond the “wow”

If the only “pro” of implementing these systems was simply making parents happy, businesses would be wary to invest. There are a few obvious upsides to children tracking:

  • Increased safety
  • Increased visitor satisfaction
  • Better brand perception

However there are also less obvious results:

  • New revenue stream
  • Venue optimization

Bracelet trackers can be very affordable even when purchased on a large scale—only some $10 for months of continuous tracking. Once the beacon scanning-enabled app is ready, it’s set. Businesses can charge anything from a few cents to a few dollars an hour for parents to track children, opening up a new revenue stream exactly where customers are looking for options.

Tracking children movements also provide insights both for short and long-term optimization. This kind of automated data generation makes it easy to determine where any given demographic tends to spend their time and effort. When children regularly go to an area and leave, that may be a sign that it’s too full. Similarly, keeping track of active information may assist in allocating resources throughout the day.

Learn how to generate value with beacon data

child tracking technologies

Keeping parents (and kids) happy

By providing parents information on where their children are located at any point of their stay, businesses increase the chance that those parents will be able to linger and have a good time without worry. That means both more fun for kids but also more opportunities for the adults to explore, relax, and have some free time. This should lead to both overall better experiences as well as increased dwell times.

Keep costs down
Expansive and exciting resorts offer both parents and children a number of fun opportunities. While dad is away exploring the town, the kids may be joining a swimming class or taking part in other hotel activities. No matter where you are—a ski resort, a beach town, or even in the city—being able to let the kids go and play on their own is a godsend for vacationing families. So how do you keep track of them and their costs?

It’s clear that children tracking in these settings means having that safety net of location data to know the kids are safe. However, it also means better records of what they’re doing. Children aren’t always consistent. Though they sign up for one class at the beginning of the day, they may end up in another. For this reason, planning every class or game upfront doesn’t make sense when the family is supposed to be relaxing. By tracking the children’s actual movements, operators and parents can know what activities kids are really doing. This also simplifies the process of verifying or disputing costs. Instead of calling instructors or checking manual logs, information on what child used which service is readily available

Keep locating times down
It’s impossible to avoid: every day, children will get lost in theme parks and amusement parks, and their parents will not be happy. Most kids know the basics of staying put or going to a help desk. However, the question shouldn’t simply be how do you find a lost child but how can businesses minimize the risk, time waste, and, of course, absolute parental terror involved.

Guest service desks can be surpassingly packed with long line up and are busy helping parents find lost children in the crowds. When the child has really wandered off, it can easily take two hours to locate them. That’s not just upsetting for a parent and child, it’s stressful for staff and service desks and leads to a bad experience.


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Hannah Augur - Photo
Content writer / tech blogger / geek based in Berlin. Hannah reports on all things tech and has a medium-sized tolerance for buzzwords.

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