The theme park industry argues theme park apps are a golden opportunity to enhance and enrich visitor experiences. However, limited literature is available that actually substantiates this assumption. The purpose of this research was to explore how an app becomes part of a theme park visit by conducting a case study research. Over 4 million visitors enter the magical world of Efteling each year of which a majority is carrying a smartphone in their pocket and have access to the Efteling-app. Three research steps were undertaken to: identify the promised Efteling experience, determine how the app would feed into this experience, and analyse how this was put into practice. A set of qualitative methods, mainly content analysis, was used to address these three research questions one by one. The findings suggest the Efteling-app does enhance the visitor’s experience by mainly fulfilling a functional role. However, the role of the Efteling-app extends beyond the obvious and some managerial recommendations are in place. First, it is important to keep track of the shortcomings of the app’s usability, as these seem to hamper the enriching role of the app. Second, further development of the app towards addressing hedonic needs might be a good strategy to enhance the role of the app both on- and off- site. Last, it is important for Efteling’s management to consider the substitution effect of implementing such an app.
Author: C. Glazenburg (2014)