Disney Turns Queue Management into a Science
Read Service Insights 9.2 and Service Insights 9.3. Describe how Disney decided to deal with long lines.
SERVICE INSIGHTS 9.2 – Disney Turns Queue Management into a Science
Have you ever been in a queue at Disneyland? Very often, we may not realize how long we have been waiting, as there are many sights to see while we queue. We may be watching a video, looking at other customers enjoying themselves, or reading the various posters on the wall. As our waiting time is occupied, we may not realize that a long time has passed.
Disney has taken the management of waiting lines to another level. At Walt Disney World, there is a Disney Operational Command Center, where the technicians are monitoring queues throughout the theme park to make sure that they are not too long and people are moving along. To them, patience is not a virtue in the theme park business. Inside the Command Center, computer programs, video cameras, digital maps of the park and other tools help technicians to spot where there might be queues that are too long. Once there is a wait problem, they will send a staff to fix the problem immediately.
A wait problem may be dealt with in several ways. For example, they may send a Disney character to entertain the waiting customers. Alternatively, they can deploy more capacity. If there is a long queue for a boat ride, then they will deploy more boats so that the queue moves faster. Since Disney World is divided into different “lands,” if there is less crowd in one land compared to another, they may reroute a mini-parade toward that area, so that the crowds will follow and the crowd distribution becomes more even. They have also added video games to wait areas.
With the Command Center in place, they have managed to increase the average number of rides that a visitor to Magic Kingdom normally takes, from nine rides to ten rides. Disney continues to experiment with different types of technology to help them manage customer waiting time. They are experimenting with smartphone technology at the moment to see how it can be used to help them to manage waiting lines. Disney does all this in the hope that customers will not be frustrated by the waits, and will return more often.
Source – Brooks Barnes, “Disney Tackles Major Theme Park Problem: Lines,” The New York Times, December 27, 2010, http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/28/business/media/28disney.html, accessed March 12, 2012.
SERVICE INSIGHTS 9.3 – Waiting in a Virtual Queue
Disney is well-known for its efforts to give visitors to its theme parks information on how long they may have to wait to ride a particular attraction and for entertaining guests while they are waiting in line. However, the company found that the long waits at its most popular attractions were still a major source of dissatisfaction, and so created an innovative solution.
The virtual queue concept was first tested at Disney World. At the most popular attractions, guests were able to register their place in line with a computer and were then free to use the wait time visiting other places in the park. Surveys showed that guests who used the new system spent more money, saw more attractions, and had significantly higher satisfaction. After further refinement, the system-now named Fastpass-was introduced at the five most popular attractions at Disney World and subsequently extended to all Disney theme parks worldwide. It is now used by more than 50 million guests a year.
Fastpass is easy to use. When guests approach a Fastpass attraction, they are given two clear choices: obtain a Fastpass ticket there and return at the appointed time, or wait in a standby line. Signs indicate how long the wait is in each instance. To use the Fastpass option, guests insert their park admission tickets into a special turnstile and receive Fastpass tickets stating return times. Guests have some flexibility because the system allows them a 60-minute window beyond the printed return time.
Just like the Fastpass system, call centers also use virtual queues. There are different types of virtual queuing systems for call centers. The first-in, first-out queuing system is very common. When callers call in, they will hear a message that informs them of the estimated wait time for the call to be taken by an agent. The caller can (1) wait in the queue and get connected to an agent when his turn arrives, or (2) choose to receive a callback. When the caller chooses this option, he has to enter his telephone number and tell his name. He then hangs up the phone. However, his virtual place in the queue is kept. When he is nearly at the head of the queue, the system calls the customer back and puts him at the head of the queue where an agent will attend to him next. In both situations, the customer is unlikely to complain. In the first situation, it is their choice to wait in the queue, and the person can still do something else as he already knows the estimated wait time. In the second situation, the person does not have to wait for very long before reaching an agent. The call center also benefits because there are fewer frustrated customers that may take up the valuable time of the agents by complaining about how long they have to wait. In addition, firms also reduce aborted or missed calls from customers.
SOURCE – Duncan Dickson, Robert C. Ford, and Bruce Laval, ‘Managing Real and Virtual Waits in Hospitality and Service Organizations,” Cornell Hotel and Restaurant Administration Quarterly 46, February 2005, 52-68; “Virtual Queue, Wikipedia, www.en.wikipeidao.org/wiki/virtual_queuing, accessed March 12, 2012.
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