Jump Aboard the Digital Train or Wave at the Ship That Has Sailed

How Water Parks Should Think About Digital Transformation.

Why are more and more businesses in the amusement industry joining the digital transformation revolution…and what exactly is digital transformation?

I’ll borrow a definition from The Enterprisers Project that sums it up nicely:

“Digital transformation is the integration of digital technology into all areas of a business resulting in fundamental changes to how businesses operate and how they deliver value to customers.”

Digital transformation is happening all around us and is quickly becoming a customer expectation.

How a Digital Customer Experience Makes This Frequent Traveler Feel Special

As a frequent business traveler, I personally rely on digital technology. With a quick scan of my phone, United Airline agents greet me by name and acknowledge my preferences: work time in the United Club, a push notification alerting me when it’s time to board, a window seat, and black coffee.

CLEAR scans my eyes and speeds me through the screening process; the National Car Rental app lets me pick my car and go; and my Marriott app opens my room door, which is automatically assigned on an upper floor away from the elevator.

As a customer, I can opt for a seamless experience with little human contact one day and perhaps enjoy a little pampering the next. When done well, digitization allows customers to interact with a brand in the way they choose—and allows operators to better understand their guests and tailor their experiences. It’s all about personalization.

Remember the Smartphone Skeptics?

With over 20 years in the amusement industry, I’ve witnessed the rise of digital technology and our industry’s evolving response. Not so long ago, some of us in the industry saw the proliferation of smartphones as competition or distraction, and actively sought ways to lure guests away from their shiny objects. More recently, we’re beginning to understand that this digital tool can be used within a physical space to engage, entertain, and retain customers.

As a water park management software system and leader in digital transformation within the amusement industry, Vantage partners with clients to design technology solutions that advance their businesses. I tend to think of our solutions as filling three buckets:

  1. Elevating and personalizing the guest experience;
  2. Creating frictionless experiences for guests and operators; and
  3. Discovering operational efficiencies.

Digital Ticketing Systems–Because No One Wants to Wait in a Three Hour Line

Currently, Vantage is working with a forward-thinking water park to digitize their annual pass process. Previously, guests purchased annual passes online and upon their first visit, activated their passes by having their photos taken and passes printed. During the first warm weeks of spring, guests might wait up to three hours in the annual pass line.

Next season, annual pass holders can complete the entire process online. Each guest will use the water park’s website or app, upload a digital headshot—which will be verified by Vantage’s artificial intelligence (AI) technology—and enter the park by simply presenting their phone. No doubt, that will fill all three buckets.

Improve Your Operations Through Loyalty Rewards Programs

One digital transformation solution that I particularly enjoy is gamification software system design: adding game elements into environments to fill those buckets. For instance, a venue can implement a loyalty rewards program through which guests can earn rewards points (free or discounted food and beverage, merchandise, etc.).

Operators can gamify just about any action in their parks and create offers in real time to impact operations. Perhaps they offer extra points for riding attractions with shorter wait times to help with crowd control; award points for dining at a new restaurant; or simply gift points to celebrate special occasions or aid in guest recovery.

Data: Easy Answers to Difficult Questions

Data shows that consumers are increasingly eager to interact digitally to enhance their personal experiences. According to recent industry reports, 41% of families would love to interact in a theme park via a dedicated mobile app¹, and more than 50% of consumers are comfortable sharing their data with a brand in exchange for better service².

As a self-proclaimed data geek, perhaps what I love most is showing my clients how they can utilize captured data to improve operations. Now they can answer previously difficult questions such as:

  • “Exactly how many guests are riding our attraction on this specific date/time?”
  • “How did this real-time gamification change guest behavior?”
  • “How does weather affect behavior historically?”
  • “Who are my most loyal customers and what are their demographics?”

The impact of digital transformation on businesses is undeniable. Today’s technology offers countless opportunities to enhance the customer journey and refine operations—and now is the time to jump on board. It’s an exciting period for the amusement industry and most definitely for our Vantage team!

1Theme Park Trends 2021, Oracle Food and Beverage
2Digital Consumer Trends Index 2021 by Cheetah Digital in conjunction with Econsultancy 

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