When we think of theme parks, we think of joy, thrills, laughter, and… queues. It’s the last of these thoughts that stops people from visiting theme parks more often; the potential need to wait so long for such short rides. This is just one way in which theme park management teams should consider the use of Internet of Things (IoT) location-based solutions.
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Vastly improving queue management is only the tip of the iceberg of useful applications of location technologies. They grant the power to improve tracking, wayfinding, navigation, security, data analysis, enjoyment levels, and more. If used wisely, they could provide incredible benefits to both customer experience and corporate profits in the theme park industry.
An IoT location solution needs three major layers: hardware, management platform (software), and application. Starting from the top, the application can be desktop- or mobile-based, depending on a use case, and it is what your customers or staff use in order to make use of your solution (see examples of such applications below).
Hardware is the bottom layer. It pertains to transmitting and scanning devices that allow determining the location of a given person or object. Due to its widespread adoption and compatibility with the most of today's mobile devices, Bluetooth Low Energy is becoming an increasingly popular standard for location-based solutions. In this article, we're going to focus on Bluetooth LE-enabled devices.
The middle layer is what connects the top and bottom ones, and it contains all software elements that are needed to run your application: APIs, management tools, analytics, and so on.
At Kontakt.io, we provide all the three layers, so if you want to discuss your solution, get in touch and tell us about your project.
Beacons are small, low-energy, Bluetooth-powered, radio transmitters. They broadcast information to nearby smart devices (phones, tablets, smart watches, etc.) in order to trigger events. They do this by transmitting a unique ‘identifier’ number. This identifier is picked up by compatible operating systems when those systems move into the beacon’s proximity. Once the physical location of a device (and by proxy, the device’s user) has been determined, location-specific actions can be triggered.
In theme parks, beacons often work alongside tags to produce even more benefits. Beacons are stationary, they’re often attached to walls and objects where they can ‘talk to’ passing mobile apps. Tags are very similar devices, yet they’re designed to be mobile. They can be attached to vehicles and people; their signals can then be picked up by phones and dedicated scanning devices called ‘gateways’. This in-transit scanning, means that their signals can be detected far more frequently, providing heightened monitoring, tracking, and security capabilities.
The potential use cases for beacon and tag technology, paired with end solutions, which range from customer analytics to automated social media check-ins, are overwhelming. Aside from their small size and low energy requirements, beacons offer a wide range of advantages. Using Content Management Systems, custom apps, and IoT platforms like Kontakt’s, beacons can be managed, configured, and updated with ease.
From advertising to avalanche detection, location solutions are now being cleverly integrated into a wide array of applications, including – you guessed it – theme parks.
The primary advantage of location solutions in theme parks is queue management. Ride wait times can extend to up to 2 hours, and for many people, these queues are the primary deterring factor that stops them from visiting theme parks more often.
Beacon- and tag-enabled applications not only have the ability to provide more realistic wait times and real-time alerts, but they can increase the efficiency of visitor throughput and therefore reduce wait times. By providing real-time alerts and alternate ride suggestions, theme park management teams are able to mitigate overcrowding and enhance customer experience.
There are many more ways in which IoT can reduce negative visitor experiences. Theme parks consist of thousands of people moving through a location they don’t know their way around; many of those people may not even speak the local language. This makes theme parks prime for the navigational aspects of location tech. Visitors will no longer need to rely on old-fashioned maps – they can access digital maps on their phones, which (thanks to beacons) include their user-location.
Bluetooth LE-based solutions can help visitors find rides, restaurants, washrooms, and even people. Imagine the security benefits of providing children with wearable wrist-bands. If a theme park adopts tags and gateways, children could be easily located when they are lost. This alleviates a huge fear for parents, guardians, and tour leaders. When school groups visit theme parks, they can feel safer with arranging meeting points, knowing that they can track missing students with ease. Similarly, security and safety could be heightened via enhanced real-time crowd management.
The same navigational advantages could be applied to parking lots in theme parks. No longer will visitors need to travel in circles while trying to find a parking space (or indeed, their own car).
Learn more about wayfinding solutions here >
Customer experience isn’t all about reducing the negative, Bluetooth LE-based tech has the potential to enhance the positive through improved multimedia experiences. With a great mobile strategy, location apps invalidate the need for expensive voice-guides, and the costs to maintain, update, and distribute them. Visitors could easily discover ride information like height or age restrictions, scariness levels, and history. As visitors’ apps are triggered by beacons, alerts and actions can activate informing them of bonus facts, nearby events, and more.
Take two examples of location-specific alerts:
The potential applications are limited only by imagination. Creative uses for location technology in theme parks include the ability to pre-order food, instantly buy queue-passes, automate ride-photo delivery, provide support for persons with disabilities, as well as gamification options such as digital scavenger-hunts or “Top 10 Scariest Ride” tick-lists, encouraging social media promotion and repeat trips.
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While the beacons themselves are one-way transmitters, the corresponding apps can accumulate incredibly useful data on the actions of theme park visitors. Better yet, if a theme park opts to give visitors wristbands or badges, they can track crowd-flow via tags without the need for app-equipped smart phones. This data includes factors like the busiest times of day and customer dwell times; analysis of this data can enhance the efficiency of staff management both in real-time and in review.
Take the example of walking-pattern analytics:
These data-driven monetization efforts can continue after visitors have left the park. Based on their user data, targeted ads can be sent to visitors:
Three deterrents for would-be theme park goers are queuing, parking, and getting lost; the implementation of beacon and tag-based location technology effectively combats all three. Furthermore, IoT solutions can be cleverly utilized to create new dimensions of enjoyment value for customers and, in turn, financial value for park owners. With so many applications in theme parks alone, it’s no wonder that location tech is increasing in popularity so much each year.
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