Emotions, humanity and convenience. What SBB can learn from amusement parks.

Emotions, humanity and convenience. What SBB can learn from amusement parks.
8 January 2019, Bruno M. Lochbrunner

Emotions, humanity and convenience. What SBB can learn from amusement parks.

Day after day, we strive to make our stations more attractive places to be. Specifically, we want to continuously improve the quality of time spent at the station and increasingly develop into “destinations”. The aim is for customers to not just be able to change trains here in two minutes, but also to be able to do their most important shopping and run errands in no time at all as well as visit the dentist or get a haircut.

Emotions and experiences: more than just core services.

We are making progress. Our stations are safe and clean. The range of services at most stations is well developed and is continuously adapted to customer needs. We’ve got the core services right. Our customers also attest to this in regular surveys. However, we want to, can and must become even better and we can’t do that with core services. We can’t create positive customer experiences with clean and safe stations – this is a basic service which we are expected to provide; one that goes without saying and does not stir up any emotions.

To surprise customers in a positive way, we need to pay more attention to emotions, humanity and convenience. The
station piano and the “Artists on Tour” are the first successful steps in this direction. On top of this, there are of course also new services such as SBB FastLane, which significantly simplify the commuter experience. We have mapped out all of our measures to boost the quality of stay at stations at www.sbb.ch/deinbahnhof.

SBB meets Europa-Park.

To gather inspiration for this area, we started talking to experts from Europa-Park at the beginning of December 2018. With some 5.6 million visitors in 2017, it is the most visited amusement park in all German-speaking countries. Europa-Park has been the recipient of the Golden Ticket Award in the “Best Amusement Park” category every year since 2014. The team was able to defend the title in 2018 too, making them the winner of the world’s best amusement park five times in a row.

As well as information on how Europa-Park enchants and entertains people, we collected various ideas around the theme of creating green areas, colour, light and how digitalisation can be used to arouse emotions. Storytelling, for example, is a promising way of getting information across. Stories facilitate learning and serve as entertainment and distractions from everyday life.

Woman with child

Mickey Mouse has some good suggestions.

The experts at Europa-Park gave us an insight into how and from where they gather inspiration for new attractions, for example at the IAAPA Attractions Expo, the world’s largest amusement park conference. While looking for more information on the requirements an amusement park should adhere to, we stumbled across “Mickey’s 10 Commandments” by Disney. Out of the ten commandments, the following three inspired us in particular:

  • Wear your guest’s shoes. Insist that designers, staff and your board members experience your facility as visitors as often as possible.
  • Communicate with visual literacy. Make good use of all the non-verbal ways of communication – colour, shape, form, texture.
  • Avoid contradictions. A clear institutional identity helps give you the competitive edge. The public needs to know who you are and what differentiates you from other institutions they may have seen.

(from English, abridged, Martin Sklar, Walt Disney Imagineering, Education vs. Entertainment: Competing for audiences, AAM Annual meeting, 1987)

Of course, you can only compare a station to an amusement park to a certain degree. However, when taking a closer look and going through Mickey’s “10 Commandments”, it becomes clear that we too should heed some of these points so that we can become even better in the future and offer station visitors a unique and positive experience.

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Bruno M. Lochbrunner
Bruno M. Lochbrunner
Bruno M. Lochbrunner has been at SBB since 1996 and is currently working as an intrapreneur on the development of new mobility services and the further development of stations into mobility hubs, particularly with the optimisation of parking and the SBB P+Rail app.
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