Alibaba Cloud enriches visitors experience Genting SkyWorlds
Augmented and virtual reality technology have been present in theme parks for some time. But there is still one big problem in most theme parks around the world – long queues. Indeed, wait times for rides can be hours-long for a five-minute experience, especially for popular rides. Now, Alibaba is enabling theme park visitors at Genting Skyworlds by leveraging what they call a virtual queue.
Theme parks like Genting SkyWorlds were part of the tourism and hospitality sector that was hit especially hard by the pandemic and the resultant loss of revenue. While many industries managed to revert to digital alternatives to preserve business continuity, most theme parks and many tourist attractions throughout the Asia Pacific (APAC) were entirely footfall-dependent – a source of income that dried up as quickly as the visitors were barred by stay-at-home orders from physically going to attractions.
Perched atop a highland range in Pahang, Malaysia, the Genting SkyWorlds outdoor park had been hit by repeated opening delays, even before multiple lockdown orders over the last couple of years. Park management had been nervous if the crowds would still come, and entered a lengthy soft launch phase, opening its doors with little fanfare and a number of rides and interactive exhibitions in February this year.
They needn’t have been concerned – guests have been streaming to Genting Highlands, both local and international visitors ever since lockdowns were lifted and borders were opened. As any successful theme park operator would know, though, excess visitors can be great for the bottomline and having exciting attractions can’t hurt, but long wait times to get on rides and keep park attendants circulating in a ‘flow’ that utilizes park resources efficiently, can be a challenge that might prevent guests from making return visits.
Genting SkyWorlds is combating long queues and dreary wait times by partnering with APAC’s leading cloud solutions vendor, Alibaba Cloud, to deploy an AI-enabled Virtual Queue and crowd management platform, the first for a Southeast Asian (SEA) themed location.
Visitors can plan their park visits even before entering the park, by accessing the Alibaba Cloud-powered Virtual Queue and itinerary planning service via the graphically-pleasing Genting SkyWorlds app. By reserving their slots for rides and attractions in advance using Virtual Queue, visitors can literally and figuratively ‘jump the queue’ and book spots for their most desired rides, even before reaching Genting Highlands.
The Virtual Queue capability harnesses powerful artificial intelligence algorithms and real-time data fed from sensors in the park to dynamically manage ride waiting times and queue overflows, causing more even crowd distribution throughout the park and ensuring peak operational capacities for different attractions – making sure the most popular rides are not constantly overburdened, for instance, or channelling foot traffic to other parts of the park at congested periods by making certain rides only accessible by Virtual Queue as opposed to lining up in person.
Wait times are displayed dynamically at each ride, so visitors know what they will be in for, and can plan their visits accordingly, in real-time, using the handy itinerary planning service to create a personalized agenda for each user – even allowing for group planning, so that no family member or friend is left behind. The itinerary planner makes use of a gamified token system to keep track of the frequency an app user Virtually Queues for different attractions – eventually rewarding said visitor with a free ride, or in the future, perhaps a meal or gift shop coupon.
The Genting Skyworlds management is using Alibaba Cloud’s capabilities as a test bed to eventually use the pre-booking and gamification aspects of the platform for the rest of its resort operations, according to Resorts World Genting’s Vice President of Theme Park Operations Greg Pearn, which also comprises restaurants, retail outlets, and an indoor theme park, Skytropolis.
Data gathered from this inaugural application of Alibaba Cloud technologies (a first for Alibaba Cloud too, according to Kun Huang, the General Manager of Alibaba Cloud Intelligence in Malaysia) will not only be used to optimize crowd and machinery efficiencies at Genting Skyworlds, but provide insights into how crowd traffic management can be efficiently carried out at scale for future integrated locations as well.
“With the VQ system integrated into our mobile app, guests will have access to some attractive features, including the ability to reserve preferred rides, attractions, and entertainment based on their preferred time slots, create groups for multiple ticket holders, view recommended itineraries and receive real-time alerts for VQ reservations.” Pearn confirmed.
Pearn pointed out that in light of recent world events and the fact that the technology was readily available, it was surprising that other theme park operators in the region have been slow to adopt AI- and real-time data-powered systems like Alibaba Cloud’s, noting that “the vast majority of theme parks are still very traditional in how they operate and manage visitors.”
And while implementation on this scale was new for Alibaba Cloud Intelligence in SEA too, Malaysia GM Kun Huang was quick to highlight how excited they were to see a broad application of their key data-driven technologies play an integral role in providing real-time visibility into park and crowd density management.
“Alibaba Cloud has been recognized globally for its technological innovation, and we are truly excited now to travel on this adventure with Genting SkyWorlds,” Huang enthused. “The VQ Solution, which was specifically designed for Genting SkyWorlds, uses our advanced, robust, and secure cloud technologies to complement the theme park’s exceptional offerings to the guests, who can expect an efficient and seamless experience, while enabling them to safely maintain social connections.”
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