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3 tips to effectively incorporate wearables into your guests’ travel and event experiences

by Jenny McCarthy , 30.03.2016

Nowadays summer vacations can be planned, booked and customized without ever picking up the phone or even logging into a laptop. Hundreds of apps exist solely to create the ideal vacation experience. Smartphones can be used to pay for things while on vacation, but with the advent of wearables, even that may someday seem cumbersome. Some theme parks and resorts are already looking to design a more seamless experience with radio frequency identification (RFID) in the form of a wearable, a technology that promises to streamline everything from reservations and tickets to keeping track of children. But, can hospitality businesses and event organizers increase adoption and comfort level of this technology? How can you make it a competitive differentiator to draw people to your resort or event?

The technology

Disney uses Magic Band technology: a wristband with RFID that stores park tickets, room access (goodbye room keys!), dining reservations, ride tickets, in-park photography and credit card information. The good-old-days of lugging around a camera, cash, credit cards, miscellaneous pieces of paper with reservations - even souvenirs - all over the park, are a distant memory. The wearable is integrated with a mobile app that allows access to park maps, wait times, reservations and fast passes. This leap forward in the theme park experience will soon be typical throughout vacation and event experiences everywhere.

Music festivals are already applying RFID technology. For example, the Chicago festival Lollapalooza mails guests wristbands for admittance. If activated online prior to the concert, credit cards can be linked. At Lollapalooza, festival-goers can simply scan their personal wristband to purchase food and drinks.

RFID also has important safety implications. Gone will be the days of missing children in a crowded theme park, zoo, sporting event or cruise ship; simply scan a wristband to access emergency contact information.

The user experience

This technology is a great opportunity for brands to build loyalty and differentiate from competitors. The wearable’s user experience (UX) from set-up to use should be carefully designed and integrated into the vacation or event. If the following tips are considered, users will be more likely to setup, activate and interact with the technology throughout their stay and have a more consistent, engaging experience as the design intended:

  • The device should be easy to set up. One of our information design specialists, Flori Manning, comments in her white paper, “A good instruction design provides a service that is pleasant, flows well and feels 'very doable' to its audience.” This very important step is critical to users feeling confident that they can use the technology throughout their vacation or event. For instance, allow users to scan a QR code with their phone that takes them directly to an activation page; the easier and quicker it is for users to set up and get started, the more likely they are to actively use the wearable.
  • Out-of-box experience should match the tone of the resort, vacation or event experience. One product experience that is often overlooked is the out-of-box experience. In a recent webinar, we discussed how this important part of the product experience shapes a user’s perception of both the product and the brand. This experience is a huge opportunity for organizations to get users excited about their vacation or event...and, in turn, excited about using the RFID device.
  • Ensure the device enhances – and does not interrupt – the experience. In order to attract users, each part of the wearable guest experience – from acquisition and activation to use – should be seamless. Short and simple communications on using the technology, prior to guest use, as well as knowledgeable staff available to assist throughout, are key components to a continuous guest experience.

The opportunities available for you to connect to your guests through wearables are limitless. At theme parks, vacation resorts, sporting events and music festivals, personalizing and streamlining the experience with integration between apps and wearables will soon be a convenient, commonplace occurrence. Designing the device, packaging and instructions with the audience in mind will ensure your users will embrace the technology and offer a differentiating edge.

Please email me to share your thoughts at jenny.mccarthy@gfk.com (User Experience Specialist at GfK).