How much do you want 'Big Brother Mickey' watching you on vacation?
Written by Robert Niles
How much do you want Disney, or any other theme park company, to know about what you're doing on your family vacation?Tweet
That's the question raised by an Orlando Sentinel report on what Disney's planning to do with all that data it will be collecting from visitors using its new RFID-enabled wristbands.
From the article:
MyMagic+ will allow Disney to track where visitors go across the vast resort; how they spend their money; and what and when they like to eat. Disney plans to use that information to devise more sophisticated and personalized sales pitches, in which everything from the message to the price could vary from one prospective customer to the next.
Such stories often play on an archetypal conflict: "Big Brother" vs. private citizen. The big company spies on us to collect information it will use to make a profit, while individuals try to protect some private space for themselves.
Photo courtesy Disney
But isn't that just too simplistic? Sure, sometimes people want their privacy, but sometimes they're okay with being watched. If you're Jesse Pinkman on the run from the law, yes, you want your privacy. But if you're hiking through the Rockies and get lost, wouldn't you prefer someone have the ability to track your location and send a rescue?
If I'm reading a magazine or website, I'd rather see ads for travel destinations and products that interest me, instead of offers for cigarettes, hearing aids, strollers, baby toys, or any of the thousands of other products out there I don't buy (or don't buy anymore). If publishers don't have any way of tracking my preferences, I'm going to get a random selection of ads all the time. How annoying.
If Disney can use its MyMagic+ data to tailor its offers to specific customers, fine. Do families whose little girls have grown up really want to keep getting offers for princess-themed attractions or events? Many won't, and Disney serves itself and those customers by shifting its offers as those customers' interests shift.
On the flip side, when tracking is used against customers, they're not going to like it. Do you really want Disney to know when and what you've ordered when you are "drinking around the world" at Epcot? Imagine getting to Italy and having a cast member refuse to serve you because you've ordered too many alcoholic beverages in too short a time, as tracked by your MagicBand (no matter if you bought a few extra drinks for friends). Not saying that would happen, but imagine the possibilities.
Part of the challenge for Disney in rolling out MyMagic+ will be to decide what data-driven actions help it win over more customers, and what types actions creep out those customers and drive them away. Let's help by offering some suggestions, in the comments.
What would you like to see Disney do with its MyMagic+ data, to improve your experience in the park? And are there times when you hope that Disney will "look the other way" and ignore data, or put in protections that help you continue to feel comfortable when visiting?
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