Guests often have to wait in lines to enter venues, and sometimes it feels like it takes forever to get in and other times it doesn’t faze a guest at all. Why is that?
Well, a study in the Journal of Consumer Research looked at the factors that determine how people experience time.
“Consumers lie happily on the beach for hours despite the uneventfulness of the activity, but they can become impatient and extremely frustrated after just a few minutes of waiting in line,” wrote authors Niklas Woermann (University of Southern Denmark) and Joonas Rokka (NEOMA Business School). “This puzzled us, and we wanted to know more as this phenomenon poses a number of challenges for businesses.”
The authors studied two sports, freeskiing and paintball, to better understand factors that shape a person’s experience of time. They identified five elements that need to be in balance for people to have a positive experience of time flow: technology, consumers’ skill, their plans and moods, rules and regulations, and cultural understanding.
If those five elements aren’t aligned, time either feels rushed or dragged.
The researchers offer waiting in line at an airport as an example.
“Politeness or local laws force us to wait even though we are already thinking about finding the gate and boarding,” the authors said. “As a result, time seems to pass very slowly. But when freeskiers wait for their next jump, they are not impatient or annoyed. They have accepted waiting as a part of their sport and use the time to prepare their mind and body for the task ahead.”
The researchers suggest that companies optimize activities and consumption experiences to ensure a more positive time flow.
“Our research is helpful for consumers to understand why they sometimes feel under time pressure or why time passes too slowly,” the authors said. “It also shows that businesses aiming to ensure an optimal customer experience should be attentive to a possible misalignment of the different elements that influence timeflow.”
How do you create a more positive waiting-in-line experience at your venue?
(Image: Gord McKenna/Creative Commons)