Want to open your hotel room door? Just wave your wrist.
If you haven’t been to Disney lately, you probably haven’t seen the newest technology from the entertainment and hospitality industry giant. MyMagic+ is a $1 billion technology experiment in crowd control, data collection and wearable technology that could change the way Disney guests experience their beloved them parks.
Disney has inserted the MyMagic+ technology into bracelets called “Magic Bands” which link electronically to an encrypted database of visitor information. Once activated, these bands serve as admission tickets, hotel keys and credit or debit cards which help create quick and easy payments at restaurants and shops. Additionally, the bands help keep track of FastPass+ reservations, which allow visitors to pre-book popular rides and attractions and sync the photos Disney takes of guests at their parks. The bands have radio frequency identification (RFID) chips, which gives Disney the ability to monitor people and things.
While some may claim this technology is intrusive and a violation of privacy, the theme park reminds critics and visitors alike that the use of the bands is voluntary and serve to help Disney determine when to add more cast members at rides, what restaurants should serve, which souvenirs should be stocked and how many cast members should roam around the parks at any given time. The data collected also enables Disney to craft more personalized messages to their guests based on their customer preferences like sending a text message to let a guest know about wait time at Magic Kingdom favorite, Space Mountain.
In activating these bands Disney has made it not only easier to plan how you spend your time on your trip but also how you spend your money and amazingly, all it takes is a swipe of the MagicBand.
"When you make (the logistics) easier, people tend to spend more time on entertainment and more time on consumables -- be that food and beverage, merchandise, etc.," Disney Chief Financial Officer Jay Rasulo said in a November investor call. "We do expect this to be a . . . growingly positive impact on our business in the years to come."
Many Disney fans are already sold on the new technology and why not? Once visitors were noted that the band was water proof and took the worry away about carrying identification, room keys or credit cards and/or cash it was a no brainer. Gone are the worries of valuables getting lost or wet in Blizzard Beach’s lazy river. A Disney World spokeswoman says 80 percent of the comments on social media about MyMagic+ have been positive, and just 2 percent have been negative; however, not all of Disney’s enthusiasts are excited about the bands.
Most of the negative press concerning the bands centers around the fact that they are confusing to set up and may be intrusive in a “big brother” way. There are reports of visitors having difficulty in setting up the bands through the average phones lines and over the Internet. To accommodate this, Disney has provided additional customer service. Guests can even have their bands set up in-person at one of Disney’s theme parks.
Disney is still in the testing and tweaking phase; however, if the system works, it could be copied and used in a variety of venues such as other theme parks, museums, zoos, airports and malls. Even more intriguing is the concept of using these bands at sporting events and arenas.
Think about it…
Similar bands would offer arenas and teams the ability to sell them for merchandise purchases, track buying trends and collect other data to give their fans a better in-game experience. Similarly to Disney, the bands could expedite ticketing and concession lines and increase sponsorship activation opportunities. A great way to validate this theory would be to start with season ticket members – a smaller, consistent group of fans rather than the occasional, less dedicated ticket buyer.
There are many advantages to implementing the band during sporting events not only for the organization but the fans as well. First and foremost, there would be opportunity for sponsorship activation. This would be accomplished when a company pays to sponsor and distribute the bands to fans for free while marketing their product. Additionally, they can use the bands to set up special giveaways and contests. There is also room for the teams to make money from the bands as well.
Disney provides the bands in basic colors but makes allowances for guests to customize their bands through their selection of a favorite character. Teams can also do this by allowing fans to purchase different bands or customized bands outside of the “free or basic” bands given out by sponsors. Similarly, fans are more likely to spend more on merchandise and concessions like visitors at the Walt Disney World because they enjoy using the technology.
The bands could even expedite the entrance process. Fans would simply swipe their wrists to enter the stadium and assist facility and security managers with maintaining crowds in regards to entrances and exits, along the concourse and when fans need to use the restrooms.
Bands could also alleviate the long lines for concessions as they would alleviate the need to fumble around in your pocket for cash or credit card. With a band, fans could just swipe their wrist against the technology and collect their food. This would make it easier for arena food services providers to gather data about providing the right amount of food, measuring the success of a stand and shortening the lines at stands.