business news in context, analysis with attitude

by Michael Sansolo

A few months back I wrote about the importance of business people making a trek to Disneyland to get a sense of the future of the consumer experience by seeing how technology and reality are blended.

I was wrong, but not by that much. Make your trip to Disney World instead and get a lesson in just how far all of this can go…today that is.

My wife and daughter made the trip to Orlando (sadly, without me) and came back raving with happy stories, but not with the rides, the shows or parades. It was all about the technology.

My two favorite women stayed at a hotel on the Disney World property and that put them firmly into the future. As guests on property they were each given a wristband that demonstrated just where technology could take us.

To start with, the wristband served as their room key. So there’s one problem quickly solved. It also served as their entry ticket into the assorted parks and, once in those parks, it served as the way to Fast Pass, reserving a time to get on the busiest rides. So one wristband replaced a key, a ticket and the collection of Fast Pass tickets one gets at Disney.

Since their package came with certain foods and drinks at the park, the wristbands took care of that as well. When they were in the proper spots to collect those treats they simply had their wrists scanned and everything was handled. What’s more, at one restaurant their meal was brought to their table by wait staff simply able to find them by the wristband.

There were other elements that they didn’t use. If they wished, they could have tied the band to a credit card so all purchases would have automatically charged back. (In real world terms, it meant neither of them would have needed to carry a purse or bag of any kind.) Plus they could enter important information, such as food allergies so that they couldn’t make a mistake when chowing down. (This isn’t an issue in our family, but I can imagine that would be a huge benefit for parents of small children who have such issues or who simply worry about losing track of one of those same children.)

Clearly there’s a trade off here. As with so many technologies these days, we are trading privacy for convenience and that’s a trade some may resist. But given all the information people eagerly spill on social media, it’s hard to imagine that a wristband at Disney World would be a make or break issue.

I have to believe the capabilities of the technology will only grow. In years to come Disney will no doubt use the wristbands to provide additional value such as alerting guests to move to rides with shorter lines. And even the rides will develop the ability to work guests’ names into their performances.

There’s a point Kevin makes frequently here on MNB about the long-term benefits of frictionless front ends, such as being tried today. Once the shopper experiences these benefits, just like high-speed toll payment systems on highways, they won’t want to go back. It’s not that they are being lazy or entitled. They are simply growing accustomed to how technology can make their lives easier and then they start to expect that level of experience and service everywhere.

So we have to look at Disney’s experiments with an eye to how they could alter the general customer perception especially in how we use technology. Some day we may have wristbands to guide us to products on the shelves, to help us avoid foods that don’t fit with out diets or even to help us assemble the products necessary for specific recipes.

That may sound creepy to some, but it’s going to appeal to many shoppers. The future is already here or at least it’s in Orlando.

Michael Sansolo can be reached via email at . His book, “THE BIG PICTURE: Essential Business Lessons From The Movies,” co-authored with Kevin Coupe, is available on Amazon by clicking here. And, his book "Business Rules!" is available from Amazon by clicking here.
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