Disney World wristband could make IT efforts easier for retailers

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By Frank Hayes

Retailers have been trying for years to implement systems that use loyalty cards or smartphones containing radio-frequency chips in order to track in-store customers and speed up the checkout process. Customers mostly haven't been willing to participate, but that situation may improve soon. A similar system is being rolled out for tracking visitors to Walt Disney World, reports Brooks Barnes in the New York Times.

The MyMagic+ "vacation management system" will embed a chip in a wristband that Disney World visitors will be able to use, starting this spring, as a combination ticket, hotel key, credit card and tracking device for Disney's customer relationship management, or CRM, system. The wristband itself will contain no personal information, with CRM data stored in a private cloud, and the wristbands will be optional for park visitors.

Readers throughout the park will use a wristband's unique code to retrieve and use whatever data a visitor has revealed to the CRM databases, ranging from a child's name (for a personalized greeting from Mickey) to a credit-card number (to pay for lunch and souvenirs).

That means it's essentially the same approach used for digital wallets, such as Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) Wallet, and loyalty cards from some retailers, where customer acceptance has been low. But those retailers aren't Disney World. "When Disney makes a move, it moves the culture," Steve Brown, chief operating officer for British theme-park supplier Lo-Q, tells the Times.

If Disney's investment, estimated at between $800 million and $1 billion, can convince park visitors to use the chipped wristbands, that could go a long way in helping to advance retail IT efforts ranging from mobile payments to near-instantaneous checkout.

For more:
- see the NYT article

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