By Vanessa Fagard on 5/6/20 8:00 AM
With the pandemic, various new and complex challenges are surfacing as every day breaks the light. While we are trying to tackle these challenges, governments and society encounter an indisputable void of efficient tools to help get back to “the new normal”.
The leisure market, and all industries, if big or small, have at least two things in common as they are trying to withstand current shortfalls: they collectively experience how traditional operations are not enough to ensure the standards that will be required moving forward.
As a result, everyone appears to require tools we simply do not have yet. Or do we?
If there was ever the time to embrace innovation and new technologies, it is now.
Among us, we already have a technology that, if used correctly, will outshine every other tool in your toolbox: Artificial Intelligence, also commonly known as AI.
With this read, you will learn how your venue can not only successfully survive but also thrive by using Artificial Intelligence.
The past decades have been marked by AI and machine learning being developed and tried in various fields. Some of these applications have been proven themselves as highly effective, whereas others might not have been there just yet.
But let me tell you this: if you weren’t there yet - you are now.
Take, BlueDot, a US company, dealing with disease control. They continuously monitored the spread of the virus and, with machine learning, managed to create flight patterns to predict the spread at a zip code level. Allowing counties and cities to trigger prevention plans and prepare medical supply and support for the specific predicted scenarios.
Meanwhile, in the UK, an AI-based company used social media data instead to predict the spread.
As you can see, these are just a few examples of how data can be harvested in many ways, and its analysis and predictive abilities in many more.
This is the real value of AI: it’s the ability to make reliable predictions.
Prediction as the key to venues
For leisure venues of all verticals, to reopen, the focus will be on adhering to new regulations regarding health standards, social distancing, and, thus, preventing overcrowding.
The first thing that comes to mind are definitely in-venue operations. But what about the steps you can take before your visitor walks up to your venue's doors?
You will need to be in control from the moment of ticket purchase up until they leave your parking lot after their visit.
In a nutshell: you will need to have systems in place to manage and predict beforehand who comes when and how they behave once they are inside.
And as we have just concluded, predictions are what AI does best, so why not use its expertise to find a solution?
As there are two stages you need to consider, and both come with unique challenges, let's start with the first to clarify why control at the start of your visitors' journey is not only just as essential but will also boost the success of in-venue measures.
Who comes When
One thing is clear; soon you won't be able to let your visitors just stream into your venue. And your aim won't be operating at maximum capacity levels. This means that venues should focus on selling tickets primarily online. The day where visitors just showed up at your entrance to purchase a ticket for that same day are long gone.
To ensure safety through social distancing, you will need to restrict the number of people who enter your venue.
This can be done easily by setting capacity limits and generating time slots. However, if this needs to be done manually while, at the same time, keeping prices in mind, this is a hell of a job.
Machine learning comes to the rescue by simply generating your maximum capacity for each time slot based on the data you most likely have already at hand. A smart algorithm can use maximum capacity, peak hours, slow hours, weather, traffic, and current as well as historical data to give you exact predictions of what you can expect at your venue at any given time.
Moving forward, If situations change, for instance, imagine tighter or looser restrictions, you will need to react accordingly. AI systems will be capable of implementing such changes through the data they have been fed and will instantly adjust without any human intervention, ensuring constant prediction and preparation.
AI can also make your worries about prices disappear. With these powerful predictions at hand, an advanced algorithm will continuously adjust and ensure the best offer for you and your visitor at all times, while steering towards reaching the predicted numbers.
With this kind of automated system giving you the ability to predict and control visitor spread, you will always be able to prepare for what is to come properly.
Not to forget, imagine you could also automatically connect each ticket and each time slot to custom upfront check-in and arrival time-frames, and ensure there won't be any queuing in front of your doors.
It is simple: let AI do the heavy lifting for you while not losing any control over who comes when. You avoid unplanned surprises and ensure a safe and responsible experience to your visitor. A win-win situation, don’t you think?
How? Know in-venue behavior
If you have controlled your crowd beforehand, once your visitor walks through your venue's doors, you have already ensured the first steps towards a safe visit by immensely reducing the opportunities of closely running into too many people and overcrowding your venue.
Now, it is time to ensure that the few opportunities that are left for a threat are brought to the minimum and preferably zero.
Next to unavoidable extensive hygiene measures and additional spacing in rides and attractions, there is a lot more that can be done to facilitate social distancing.
Here, Artificial Intelligence comes in a very different format right into the hands of your visitors.
You probably already guessed it right: we are talking about a mobile application.
Imagine an app that can predict and process how your visitors move around your venue's grounds. Sounds amazing, doesn’t it?
Well, you can get excited because AI can make this reality!
By knowing how many visitors will be entering your venue, such an application can generate individual walking routes to remove the chance of visitors crossing paths.
Further, by having access to the visitors' geo-location, it can create heat maps identifying busy and quiet spots as the visitors move around. If this data is then processed in real-time, the machine continuously learns about the visitors and can create new personalized walking routes and offer suggestions for each visitor.
Via the app, you can even implement virtual ques and let your visitors book rides and attractions within your venue to avoid crowds in the front. And technically, through the geo-location, you would also be able to notify your visitor if he is not keeping his distance from others.
Many of these features based on the predictive abilities of AI have already been deployed and available before COVID-19 shook the world. But it appears as if just now, they've bumped up to the top of every venue's priority list as they will be the key to reopening venue doors safely and responsibly.
Luckily, many companies in the US, as well as Europe, already have their eye on these exact implementations and have come up with great solutions to comply with national government regulations.
Now, it is in your hands to employ the right technologies and ensure a safe and secure tomorrow for your venue. Why not do it smartly?