Sunday, April 21, 2024

Semnox: Eliminating the queue, simplifying the process

Semnox Solutions teams with The Experience

by Joe Kleiman

A few years ago, I was interviewing the general manager of a major regional theme park when they were undergoing a major effort to synch their box office and food & beverage software through a specially-written program. “I hope this works,” he told me. “Up until now, we’ve gone through a number of owners. Each owner wants to institute its own software and we’ve never been able to integrate it with what we already have. We have close to a dozen different software systems, from box to food to photo and none of them communicate together. Everything has to be reconciled by our accountants, which is a lengthy process.”

Over the years, the needs of theme park operators have changed. With greater emphasis on season pass holders, festivals, enhanced dining options, virtual queues, festivals and the expansion from parks into resorts, there’s a need to streamline the process, improving both the guest and operations experience. Semnox Systems, through its Tixera division, has devised such a solution. Now, in partnership with The Experience (TET), they plan to revolutionize the park experience altogether.

Semnox – Tixera

Semnox is best known for its product suite for family entertainment centers, centered around the Parafait group of integrated ticketing and cashless solutions. Semnox systems oversee almost all front-of-house operations, including ticketing, games redemption, RFID cards for games and attractions, reservations, digital signage and food ordering. Corresponding services are offered for back-of-house, such as inventory and stock control, along with kitchen ordering systems.

Recently, Semnox created its new Tixera division to offer similar services on a larger scale to theme parks and waterparks. The Tixera system is comprised of thirteen main components:

  • Entry ticketing and access control
  • Deducting systems for cashless transactions
  • Online ticketing
  • Self-service ticketing kiosks
  • Locker management
  • Numerous systems for cashless transaction management
  • Food & beverage sales
  • Retail and merchandise sales
  • Inventory and recipe management
  • Digital signage
  • Loyalty program management (360 CRM)
  • Annual and season pass management
  • Maintenance tracking and reports

Tixera has added an app called BizInsights to assist with reporting. According to Ashish KS, Parks Division Head for Semnox: “We had several clients speak to us about the challenge of staying on top of what’s happening at the venue when they are on the move. There is no time to do a detailed analysis, they just want some quick views. That’s why we created BizInsights – it’s a dashboard app because it gives you a quick summary of what stakeholders need to know. This includes sales, operations, attractions and sales trends.”

They sought to add a virtual queue component to Tixera as well, which led to TET. According to Ashish KS, “Our vision is to offer our clients a platform that has all the features integrated. We wanted to have a virtual queue system built in-house, but when we went over the solution that TET offered it seemed the next step in queuing solutions. It was a perfect fit.”

The Experience (TET)

About five years ago, park and attraction operator/designer Kees Albers was looking for a reservation system for his Unlimited Snow indoor snow parks. “There are inherent constraints on the number of people who can use the attractions at an indoor facility as well as limited space for queuing,” explains Albers. “Then I learned about The Experience”

Based in The Netherlands, The Experience, as its founder Peter Rødbro explains, “is essentially a reservation system.” Albers was impressed with TET and ended up investing in the company. Soon after, Rødbro and Albers began discussing ways to apply TET’s technology to other types of LBE venues, including theme parks and waterparks.

Rødbro and Albers are very adamant in pointing out that within the park environment, TET is not a virtual key system. Rather, the guest and their party plan out their days in advance – choosing which rides and attractions they want to experience. Typically, a guest using the system is able to experience a minimum of seven major attractions each day with plenty of together time in- between the rides and attractions.

A simple solution

Under the new partnership, Tixera and TET work together as joint IT suppliers, offering a comprehensive package and custom webpage to the client. To support this, the partners have implemented a simple solution where both systems remain independent but communicate together via Application Programming Interface, or API.

When an online ticket purchase or reservation is made via Tixera’s interface, the guest is given a confirmation code to access the TET online portal for ride reservations, allowing the guest to schedule their entire visit before even leaving home. As Albers points out, “Coming out of COVID, many operators began instituting reservations to attend the parks. This actually makes it easier for us since people are now used to reserving in advance.” To access their reserved attractions and shows at the park, guests can either use QR codes on their phone or RFID wristbands provided by the facility.

Advantages for guests

To the guest, the combined systems are never seen, as they appear to be a single system branded to the park. The TET softwareis able to determine the popularity of each attraction and route different parties to different parts of the park at the same time of day. Through crowd management and scheduled entry, crowding and queue lengths are reduced drastically. If a guest wants to re- visit an attraction or visit one that was not on the itinerary, they can request it be added via their mobile phone, at which point TET will modify their plan.

If the reservation is not available, they can join a standby line, which, according to Rødbro and Albers, averages only 20% the wait of a standby line paired with a typical virtual queue. Albers points out another advantage: “In some virtual queue systems, the virtual line bypasses the preshow, while the standby guests experience it. Because backed-up lines are not an issue, everyone can experience the preshow with the system, which often gives important backstory for an attraction.

“Sometimes when a family goes to a park,” continues Albers, “the queues are endless. Parents are not willing to wait two hours in a queue with their children. If the visit is preplanned, they know they will experience what they want. There’s no disappointment.”

Advantages for operators

Park owners receive their own advantages from the system. According to Albers, “Having a system like this is as much a marketing advantage as it is an operational advantage.” The system is adaptable. If a ride is down for the day, the park can change guest agendas to reflect the closure and suggest other attractions nearby. Because the system’s algorithm routes different parties to different parts of the park at the same time, the dispersed crowds allow for an increased park capacity of 15-20%.

As Semnox and TET have learned through their current installs, when the guest experience is improved and queues are eliminated or drastically reduced, guests tend to spend more money on ancillary expenses such as souvenirs, games and food.

Pass holders and other venues

The biggest growth factor in the international theme park market has been with membership and pass programs. While Tixera is able to manage sales and loyalty programs for this sector, TET adds another element in keeping track of which rides each pass holder prefers. This simplifies the reservation process each time a guest decides to revisit a park.

TET is also working on integrating the TapeMyDay off- and on-ride photo/video components to tie in with the reservation system and Tixera’s cash-free purchase system. This new level of integration will be the standard for the Miko’s World IP snow parks currently in development by Albers’ Unlimited Snow. Even beyond snow parks and theme parks, the combined Tixera/ TET system is designed to meet the needs of waterparks, standalone attractions and even museums. Albers points out that the system can be used for reserving access to a museum’s most popular galleries or special exhibitions.

That theme park manager I interviewed years ago shared an observation: “If we get everything to work together, my staff will be happier and will be more productive.” The Tixera/ TET partnership has the ability to do this by simplifying and integrating its solutions and to dramatically improve the guest experience as well. • • •

Joe Kleiman
Joe Kleiman
Raised in San Diego on theme parks, zoos, and IMAX films, InPark's Senior Correspondent Joe Kleiman would expand his childhood loves into two decades as a projectionist and theater director within the giant screen industry. In addition to his work in commercial and museum operations, Joe has volunteered his time to animal husbandry at leading facilities in California and Texas and has played a leading management role for a number of performing arts companies. Joe previously served as News Editor and has remained a contributing author to InPark Magazine since 2011. HIs writing has also appeared in Sound & Communications, LF Examiner, Jim Hill Media, The Planetarian, Behind the Thrills, and MiceChat His blog, takes an unconventional look at the attractions industry. Follow on twitter @ThemesRenewed Joe lives in Sacramento, California with his wife, dog, and a ghost.

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