More Phone-Based Virtual Queue Solutions

Saturday, December 1, 2007 7:08 PM
Lord Gonchar's avatar

halltd said:
Anyone remembering having to withdraw money from the back at a teller? Remember the queue? Where's that queue now?

At the ATM. The wait at the teller window has just been spread among ATMs.


The same could be said about registering for the cellQ system.

Exactly.


The point is, with a kiosk distribution system, your lines are basically nil...

I'm not sure why lines you think lines disappear because of the kiosks. If you put in enough, you may reduce them simply by spreading the same number of people between more purchase points, but there's still going to be lines.

There's usually two, three, four people working the Q-bot sales - it's not just one purchase point. It's one location, but multiple points. (no different than two, three or four kiosks next to each other)

Say there's a 30 minute line for the VQ system at a central point with 2-to-4 employees doing sales - you're going to need 4 to 8 kiosks to cut that wait to 15 minutes. 8-to-16 kiosks to cut it to under 10. 16-to-32 kiosks to get under 5.

Kiosks don't magically erase demand. They simply spread the purchase points.

No matter how you do it there HAS to be a point of sale. Demand remains constant.

You can spread the wait among more points of sales to reduce it, but at what point is that unrealistic?

That's why I say make the user's phone the point of sale - there's NEVER going to be a wait to use that and it's available everywhere at any time. Essentially you're offering a point of sale for every person wanting to use the system.


With cellQ, there's a kiosk within sight, no line, I pop in my $40, get wristbands, send a text and BOOM, I'm in line for Maverick in about three minutes.

Theoretically. As far as we know at this point - those kiosks don't actually exist.


Seriously, you can't get much easier than that.

Yeah I can. Let me do it all from my phone. Everything is exactly the same minus the kiosk...or a central sales point of any kind.


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Sunday, December 2, 2007 1:13 AM

Lord Gonchar said:

halltd said:
Gonch - If you don't have a wristband, how is the ride op to know you actually paid to use the cellQ service?

Because your text message would say you did.


You could easily create a text message on your phone that looks like you are allowed to ride coaster #1 at 3:15pm.

Verify the callback number.

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My questions to that are who (who's going to verify that you have a proper text message sent by cellQ)? where? and how? If the people at the virtual queue entrances are going to be verifying the source and time of text messages, doesn't this create yet another line when several dozen people show up to ride Coaster #1 @ 3:15?

Regarding follow-up phone calls and messages: it may be as simple as getting messages about special events or discounts at the parks, or as extensive as hearing from parks' corporate partners. Nobody here has any experience with using this system, but the site did say originally that the parks would be able to stay in touch with users even after they went home.

I tend to think there will be language included with the registration documents that you will agree to be contacted by certain parties as a condition of using the system. You'll probably also be given the opportunity to opt-out. Again, in the rush at the park, many people won't bother to read everything put in front of them, or know exactly what they're agreeing to.

At one time, you had to take action to opt-in, no action meant no agreement. Now it's the opposite-- you're required to take action to opt-out, no action is tacit agreement unless you specifically state otherwise. And it's legal.

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Sunday, December 2, 2007 2:31 AM

Lord Gonchar said:
I'm not sure why lines you think lines disappear because of the kiosks.

I can't remember the last time I waited more than one person deep to use an ATM or check in at an airline using a kiosk. Kiosks are just more efficient for some reason. Plus, they cost WAY less to install/maintain than a real person. Yeah, as far as I know the kiosks don't exist in the cellQ system. But, we're all talking about theoreticals here anyways. So, why can't a kiosk be a part of that?

You still haven't said how you're going to extract money from the consumer using only a cell phone. Do they call a number and talk to someone and type in their credit card number? More staff. Do they talk to a recording? Ok, where's the control device to check in at the ride and verify the number of people that paid for the system? If you say the cell phone, how do you efficiently verify what's displayed on the screen is authentic?

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Sunday, December 2, 2007 12:39 PM
Lord Gonchar's avatar

I can't remember the last time I waited more than one person deep to use an ATM or check in at an airline using a kiosk. Kiosks are just more efficient for some reason.

Interesting. I can't remember the last time I didn't have to wait in line at an ATM - then again, I'm not one for cash, so I don't use them often. Ironically, I probably use them most at amusement parks. Equally ironic, they almost always have a line.

The other thing I was going to question was people's ability to use it. I think the average park guest standing at a kiosk would be less efficient than a trained employee.


You still haven't said how you're going to extract money from the consumer using only a cell phone. Do they call a number and talk to someone and type in their credit card number? More staff. Do they talk to a recording?

Sure I did. If the system is automated and menu based (and it is) then either adding the abilty to process payment or linking it to the central payment system shouldn't be too hard. You could easily punch in the 16 digit CC number and valid CC date on your phone.


Ok, where's the control device to check in at the ride and verify the number of people that paid for the system? If you say the cell phone, how do you efficiently verify what's displayed on the screen is authentic?

Answered that too. Bar code images. If it's secure enough for print-at-home tickets, it's secure enough for this. They system is already validating users on the fly by scanning bar code wristbands - just do the same by scanning images on a phone. I suppose the down side is that the phone has to be able to view images - but again, in this day and age, somebody in the group is going to have one that does.

Would there be an issue in scanning bar codes from an electronic image? (honest question)

If that's not possible - perhaps something like a validation code. The string wouldn't have to be so long that it slowed the process. If you have even 10,000 people using the system they'll be in groups of varying size. They codes are valid for just the a day at a time and refresh for each day. You only need a 6 or 7 character string.

---

Look, I don't know if this is possible or not. If I did, I'd be off making a gazillion dollars rather than debating it for the sport of it on these forums.

Seems to me that with CellQ you already have to send inital texts to get the system going. Just make the inital text payment and group info rather than wristband codes.

I'm not saying kisosks are a horrible idea, but if you're going to take that step beyond the single point-of-purchase system it uses now, you might as well go all the way and make it entirely phone based. Heck, if you want to throw the widest net possible, use all the options together. Guests can buy through a purchase point manned by an employee, they can buy through an automated kiosk, they can buy online or they can buy straight from their phone. Whatever the guest is comfortable with.

As far as validation goes, I have to look at the other sytems in use:

Q-bot is proprietary and displays the info on its little screen. The attendant just reads that X number of riders reservation time is X. They verify the info and let up to that many people enter.

FastPass gives everyone a little slip of paper that they present to the attendant. (this seems the closest to how CellQ works now)

How does Universal do it? They use that on-site resort guest thing where your room key gets you front-of-line access. So how does that system know how many people to let through? You're going to have one room key and multiple users. Anyone able to explain how that works - I've never used it. Seems like the closest thing to what we're trying to work out here.


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Wednesday, December 5, 2007 6:10 PM
Kinda late to the party, but at least I brought some wine (whine?). Let me respond to a few things, in reverse even.

@ Universal, each guest wanting to ride was required to show their own key. The key was labeled with the dates of stay and the guest's name as well (at least this was the case in Sept 2006 when we stayed @ the Royal Pacific).

It is possible to scan bar code images from a screen. We've done it at work, though I dont know if the difference in resolution b/w a computer monitor and an average cell phone would really make a difference.

LG said


The other thing I was going to question was people's ability to use it. I think the average park guest standing at a kiosk would be less efficient than a trained employee.

But how would a full cell-phone-purchase have less problems. In either case, there is not a trained employee there. To me, this is a wash.

I dont really see your apprehension to the 'wristband', aside from the transferability (is that a word) or lack thereof. If, for example, the wristband were removable (and transferable) would that make it better? Personally, going again to the airline analogy, I could see the 'wristband' implemented as just a slip of paper with the barcode on it. However, I think they went with a wristband because it is something that is attached (less likey to lose) and somewhat more sturdy than paper (less likely to damage).

But I completely agree with the decision to separate the alerting device (cell phone) from the verification device ('wristband'). From a park owner perspective, as noted by halltd, you shift a major part of the cost of having the system to the guest. Instead of buying/maintaining/tracking 5000 electronic gadgets you need only buy less complex devices. From the guest perspective, you need not worry about an extra, expensive gadget. Instead, you get a relatively inobtrusive device in addition to the cell phone you were already toting.

Sure, I can see transferability as being a possible improvement (removable wristbands *are* possible ya know ;)). And if you can just scan a barcode image off a phone, I think that's fine too. The *only* place where I really see the wristband as being a better option is in the case that someone prefers to put their phone in a locker rather than ride with it. But then I'd wonder why that person even brought a cell phone with them in the first place. :)
lata, jeremy


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Wednesday, December 5, 2007 9:02 PM
Gonch will LOVE this story I found today.

It appears Continental airlines is testing cell-phone boarding passes. It's not a bardcode, but a proprietary "jumbled mixture of boxes".

As far as it relates to cellQ, I still think each person would have to carry their phone with them unless they don't care if people switch off.

The single cell phone and group of wristbands keeps the system fair.

If you could have one cell phone linked to a bunch of people and no other way to tie your group to that phone, you could theoretically sign up for the system multiple times. So, three people could have their cell phone assigned to four people. So, your group basically can "power ride" with the cellQ device.

I know this wouldn't be common. But, I see no reason to thwart any known loopholes in the system ahead of time. I also realize the park could make more money if the same group signed up three times. But, that makes the experience worse for the other park guests. So, I say don't allow it.

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Wednesday, December 5, 2007 10:38 PM
Lord Gonchar's avatar Wow! Thanks for pointing that out, Tim. Uncanny in the way it works:

"The two-dimensional bar code, a jumble of squares and rectangles, stores the passenger's name and flight information. A TSA screener will confirm the bar code's authenticity with a handheld scanner."

Pretty similar to what I had in mind. I guess it is at least a possibility.

As far as cheating the system - I'm sure it would be possible to sign up the group with each phone. (but that just means it's too cheap ;) )

I don't suppose there's anything stopping an entire group from getting a Q-bot device for each member of the group and attaching the entire group to each member's device either. (again, except the price)

My adversion to the wristband is as a guest is partially because of the way it ties the individual to the system. It's shouldn't matter 'who' is riding, but rather 'how many' are riding.


Jeremy:
But I completely agree with the decision to separate the alerting device (cell phone) from the verification device ('wristband'). From a park owner perspective, as noted by halltd, you shift a major part of the cost of having the system to the guest.

But make it phone/PDA only and your only cost is the back end. No devices, no wristbands, no lines to handle, nothing on the front end beyond guest awareness.


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Wednesday, December 5, 2007 10:52 PM
See, that's why I love the wristbands. For the same reason you like it. ha ha!!

For instance, Disney's FastPass system allows everyone with a park ticket to participate. So, if you have to short kids, you basically get two "bonus" rides on all the E-ticket rides because those kids aren't eligible to ride anyways. But, they can get a FastPass. Or, if you have two elderly people with you that have no interest in riding Expedition Everest. Again, two bonus rides. You get the paper FastPasses, give them to the people that are able to ride, and they get two rides instead of one.

Yes, the system is free. But, I don't think that is fair. That's why I really like the wristbands. It adds a control to the equation.

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Wednesday, December 5, 2007 11:35 PM
Lord Gonchar's avatar Well, your example is exactly what I mean. FastPass is a great example.

The deal with our family is that my son is too short for the 'big' rides but the other three of us can ride everything. We still need an adult to wait with my son.

We do exactly what you describe.

With FastPass we'd get 4. Me and my daughter can ride while my wife waits with my son, and then my wife and I switch and I wait with him while they ride.

With Q-bot we'd only put two people on it and do the same thing.

If someone doesn't want to ride, you divvy up the spots available with the want to ride.

Works brilliantly. :)


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Wednesday, December 5, 2007 11:39 PM
Cheater. :)
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Wednesday, December 5, 2007 11:44 PM
Lord Gonchar's avatar Do you think it's cheating, per se?

They account for a number of spots in these systems - I'm not using any more spots than I'm alloted or paid for.

Either way, I'm cool with it.

To me, it makes more sense than tying the system to the individual. I don't see it as paying for people to use the system, I see it as buying a place in the system. I bought a spot in line - it doesn't matter who I have fill that spot.


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Wednesday, December 5, 2007 11:55 PM
Yeah, I think it's "cheating". But, I'm not all that worried about the FastPass example.

When you are taking more spots than you could without the system, it's cheating. I've done it myself a couple times on REALLY horrid days at Disney when my nephews want to ride something twice with me. But, I try to avoid the temptation.

No system is ever perfect, but if I was designing it, I'd try to eliminate these loopholes.

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Thursday, December 6, 2007 12:02 AM
Lord Gonchar's avatar But again, it's a very grey area to me. I understand the "more spots that you could without" thing and that makes sense. But when they offer FastPass access to everyone with a ticket, they're offering me 4 FastPasses 'slots' at a time. Does it really matter who's filling the spots they gave me?

Essentially, by paying for four to enter the park, I also 'bought' four spots in the FastPass system. I'm not using anything I wasn't either given or paid for.

(I'm just repeating myself aren't I?)

It's a close one. I could argue for or against either side. Is the glass half empty or half full?


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Thursday, December 6, 2007 12:24 AM
Yeah, I agree with you there. That's why I've used it a couple times in that regard. But, I still felt dirty doing so. :)
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Thursday, December 6, 2007 12:33 PM
ApolloAndy's avatar

Lord Gonchar said:I could argue for or against either side. Is the glass half empty or half full?

Well, the line is full....because of YOU! ;)


Hobbes: "What's the point of attaching a number to everything you do?"
Calvin: "If your numbers go up, it means you're having more fun."

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Thursday, December 6, 2007 1:05 PM
Lord Gonchar's avatar Ha! Nice. :)

Is the queue half empty or half full?

That should be the new pessimist/optimist test for enthusiasts.


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Thursday, December 6, 2007 1:38 PM
Would that be the "real" queue or the "virtual" queue?
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Tuesday, January 8, 2008 2:43 AM
Lord Gonchar's avatar Guilty of bringing another one back from the dead, but I couldn't help it.

Bill Gates talked about some stuff at CES earlier today that instantly made this thread pop into my head.

He spoke a bit about visual recognition technology.

From an article I found about his keynote:


"This is just the beginning," he said. "The trend here is clear. All media and entertainment will be software driven. The second digital decade will be more focused on connecting people. It will be more focused on being user-centric."

A Microsoft Research-developed visual recognition technology demonstrated during the keynote represents perhaps Microsoft's best example of this vision. The phone software, which Gates said would someday be included in Windows Mobile Devices recognizes people, for example telling Gates that his co-star on stage, Robbie Bach, president of Microsoft's entertainment and devices division, owed Gates $20. Pointing the device at a theater in Las Vegas allowed Gates to buy a ticket to a show, and the phone used a three-dimensional visualization to guide Gates toward a restaurant where he had reservations.


Of note, the final sentence.

Apply that to the many wild ideas in this very thread and what do you get?

A personal device (read: cell phone) that recognizes the ride you want to reserve a ride on. No text message, no silliness. Point your phone at a coaster - it recognizes the ride, reserves a time for you and not only alerts you when it's time to ride, but can also direct you to the ride's entrance.

I figure by the time this becomes mainstream and then in turn by the time the endlessly backward amusement industry adopts it - I might still actually be alive to see something like this in use at the parks. ;)

Seriously though, the tech dork in me thought it was cool - especially given the discussion in this thread.


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Tuesday, January 8, 2008 11:35 AM
I don't have a cell phone, I feel so... free of all of this complexity lol.
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Tuesday, January 8, 2008 2:28 PM
So you mean the time you wait to ride a coaster becomes dependent on how much money you give Bill Gates?

I think I need this pointing concept clarified. When he "pointed at" the theatre, you mean he was in physical proximity to it (like standing right outside)? Or does it mean an image on a map, or did he just point in the general direction of Vegas from Seattle and imagine the theatre where he wanted tickets?

Taking this concept to parks, how would you point at the coaster you wanted to ride? Tilt your phone towards the top hat of Storm Runner and hope the thing doesn't register you for Sidewinder instead? Depending how close you had to be to point, would you really need directions to the ride entrance?

Not against technology, but once upon a time technology was used to solve problems and make a difficult task easier (don't drag your clothes outside and hang them on the line all day in the wintertime, use this thing called a clothes dryer).

Nowadays it seems technology is taking simple tasks (that may seem mundane) and making them more glitzy, but more complicated and more expensive (hey hon, look, I just bought this Microsoft device and with the low monthly subcription price and 27 steps later, I can make reservations at a restaurant). Yeehaw!

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