Disney Customer Service or Invasion of Privacy?
There are moments at Disney that are TRULY magical but they’re not always about rides or characters.
Case in point, one of my sons dropped a beloved souvenir into the water on the Friendship Boat dock at the Swan & Dolphin. The captain of the boat saw the tears and quickly and quietly “radioed ahead to Mickey.”
When we arrived at Disney Hollywood Studios, there was a certificate — from Mickey Mouse (himself) — made out to Jack, good for a new toy.
I mean, is that the definition of customer service or what?
Disney’s Sixth Sense
However, I will say that it rocked the whole family – in a good way; not knowing that the cast member had noticed, we were not expecting the surprise.
And I guess that is the kind of “sixth sense” Disney is looking to incorporate into their CMs.
But what if that sixth sense was in a computer and it tracked your every movement in the parks.
Well, “Golly!” Disney is already doing that.
In a fascinating article entitled, “Data-driven Disney monitors your every move” E&T (Engineering and Technology) writer James O’Malley posted:
[O]nce you cross the border into Disney’s domain, the company is closely monitoring your every move.
“This is to try to really personalize what is pretty much a very mass experience and make sure that people feel welcome,” explains Eddie Sotto, a veteran Disney ‘Imagineer’ who was responsible for drawing up the masterplan for Tokyo Disneyland. Today he runs his own experience design consultancy, working on attractions all over the world.
Sotto likens the tracking to the experience of a good butler, who will anticipate a person’s need and provide it at just the right moment. “Real luxury and real service is frictionless. And that’s what you’re really trying to do.”
Frictionless Service or Fruitful Spying
But that frictionless service comes at a cost to privacy.
“I think the Magic Bands cover 99.9 percent of what’s interesting,” says Jegar Pitchforth, a data scientist who specializes in theme parks. “I can see, at any moment, what makes someone spend money. What ride did they go on just before they came and bought a bunch of expensive drinks? What are the patterns that I’m seeing that tell me where they’re going to spend their money?
“Yes, they’re looking to make money,” says Pitchforth, “but they’re also looking at how to create a user experience that is 10 times more valuable than that piece of data I just gave away.”
Fascinating stuff, especially when the article reminds readers that for Disney, this is nothing new. Walt Disney often surveilled the park, himself.
“He would put a pair of sunglasses and an overcoat on and would sit at the exits to his own attractions and look at the people and listen to them,” Sotto explained to E&T. “And if they were happy, [the attraction] stayed.”
Seriously, though, read the whole piece. It’s amazing the kind of technology being deployed, not just in Disney but everywhere!