• Category: Insights, Destinations

Theme parks should bet on Artificial Intelligence

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Destination brands need to address the use of AI and VR across theme parks and resorts to meet growing visitor demands.

Following research by Deloitte, there is now a clear call-to-action for businesses and brands to address the growing significance and use of artificial intelligence. According to the research, 85% of UK businesses plan to invest in AI by 2020.

The report, questioning 51 organisations with a combined market value of £229bn, saw 73% say they will invest in robotics, 63% in AR and VR, 62% in wearables, 54% in biometrics and 43% in blockchain. While current investments remain low, with only a fifth saying they have already invested in the sector, and of this fifth, only a third will spend more than £1m in 2017, 77% of respondents expect AI to disrupt their industries.

One of the industries we at Omnico is sure will be disrupted is the theme park and resort sector. In research we conducted in November 2016, we found that 65% of global respondents from the UK, US and China (who had visited a theme park in the previous two years) expect virtual reality experiences and guides within the next three years, followed by 41% who believe voice-activated mobile apps will be within parks in that time frame. 33% felt augmented reality games would be implemented (increasing to 49% in China), while 31% think robots as personal assistants would be installed.

Following our first Theme Park Barometer report, we conducted a further study in June 2017 and delved further into visitor expectations of these advanced technologies. In the second of our reports we expanded to include respondents in Japan and Malaysia as well, who had also visited a theme park in the previous two years, and found that overall 85% want theme parks to use artificial intelligence for ID verification so their visits are as trouble-free as possible.

Chinese visitors were keenest, with 92% in favour of allowing AI systems to recognise them using physical attributes. Although fingertip recognition is the most popular individual method of verification across the five countries (selected by 32%), China is the exception, with facial recognition being the number one choice among visitors (41%). Palm-recognition was favoured by only 15% overall.

When questioned further on the specific use of VR within theme parks, 37% of overall respondents said they would use the technology to choose which ride across the park to go on, based on a VR test. Too often queues deter people from waiting to go on one ride over another (57% said queuing for rides / attractions was the main frustration they face), so the ability to ‘test’ the ride beforehand via VR would help people confirm if the queue was worthwhile. This was followed by 36% who would use VR to gain a birds-eye view of the entire park upon arrival, to help manage their experience, with 35% even using VR to choose which restaurant to go to. The possibilities of the technology within parks, when not limited solely to the rides themselves, is endless.

Mel Taylor, CEO of Omnico Group commented: “Theme park visitors want to be part of the revolution in technology. Everyone can see how AI and other advances such as virtual and augmented reality will take the hassle out of visits. It’s time for operators to recognise that technology is essential to giving visitors the enjoyable, all-round experience they now demand.”

To understand more about today’s theme park visitor expectations download our research, sign-up to receive the latest newsletters from Omnico, or contact us now to discuss further.

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