Disney’s new vacation planning system, MyMagic+ (MM+), is the latest (and most expensive?) experiment in data-driven crowd management. The system centers on waterproof, eye-catching wristbands that are loaded with all of the personal data and transaction capabilities needed to deliver an unprecedented guest experience. Guests can pre-book ride times, meet and greets with characters, dining reservations, and even VIP parade seats. The wristbands, currently only available to Disney Resort guests, also serve as room keys and payment devices throughout the parks and properties.
This new opportunity for guests to opt-in and customize their trip is the next step in Disney’s evolving guest experience. Tom Staggs, chairman of Disney Parks and Resorts commented to USA Today that, “By doing MyMagic+ we’re implicitly upping our promise to our guests. To the extent that we can have everyone who goes to the parks feel like a VIP, then I think we’ve hit a home run.”
This level of data-usage is new territory, for the venue and the guest. Imagine costumed characters greeting a guest by name and wishing them a happy birthday. Or being able to track crowd movement dynamically throughout the venue. The new opportunities created by this data, according to Douglas Quimby, vice president for research at PhoCusWright, “could radically change interaction between customers and the company.”
Financially, the anticipated benefits are significant. Again, from Business Week: “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 … growing positive impact on our business in the years to come.”
Venues take note. This program is a well-designed, heavily-funded experiment in better linking guest data with personal onsite experiences. If the program is trustworthy and resonates with guests, this might be a defining step forward for the future of customized guest experiences … in your venues, too.