In the past, season-pass holders at Six Flags amusement parks received a coupon book with a plethora of discount offers.
Using bar codes and fingerprint identification, the parks now consolidate those coupons digitally and track customers’ use of them throughout their parks.
“Now, when you scan in at the front gate, all of your coupons are now electronic. You can see them on your app, and more importantly, to use them, you have to scan your bar code,” said Michael Israel, senior vice president and chief information officer of the amusement park company. “So now I know not only are you in the park, but what offers are you using, how often are you using them, and lo and behold, you’re not sharing them with the guy on line next to you.”
Israel spoke at Fordham University’s CIO Roundtable, a gathering of technology officers and professionals held monthly on campus. The roundtable is organized by Gabelli School of Business Associate Professor Aditya Saharia.
Israel discussed the increasing role of technology and data collection in the operations of Six Flags, from electronic coupons to energy management.
As a seasonal business, Six Flags technology operation faces a number of challenges, Israel said. His operation must be very agile, reacting quickly to what stakeholders desire. Fast decisions must be made on staffing at weather-affected sections of the parks.
“That is one of our biggest areas, having to deal with labor management and shifting of labor. That is very unique,” Israel said. “Actually, the closest models that we have are triage stations in hospitals. How do you deal with peak times … and shift people around based on their certifications?”
Israel said Six Flags is in the process of adding wifi to their parks, not simply because customers want it, but because it is crucial to the seamless operation of the parks’ new app.
He also gave the roundtable a peek at Six Flags’ new attractions and expansions. New parks are planned for Mexico, Dubai and China, though those locations will be operated with licensing agreements. In addition, the company is unveiling a new rollercoaster at Great Adventure in Jackson, N.J. “The Joker” is billed as a “4D” experience that includes weightless flips and better-than-90-degree drops.
The executive even broke a little news: Virtual reality rides are coming to Six Flags parks.
Israel said the technology infrastructure is consistent throughout all Six Flags parks, spread over nine states and two countries.
“We never make a change for a single park,” Israel said. “If something makes sense at one of our sites, it has to make sense at all of them.”