Friday, April 1, 2016

Disneyland to Incorporate Surge Pricing in Response to High Demand

Nearly 40 years ago, Robert Crandall, the then chairman of American Airlines, first employed a "dynamic pricing" system through which customers could get "super saver" fares, which adjusted based on demand and seat availability, among other factors. Since then, dynamic pricing has spread throughout many markets, which has caused surge pricing to be more of a normal part of the economy. As described by James Peltz, in his L.A. Times article, Disney became one  of the most recent companies to join airlines, online retailers, and ride-sharing applications in employing dynamic pricing.

While Disney's decision to incorporate surge pricing at Disneyland and its other theme parks may have come as a surprise to many customers, business analysts saw it as the sensible move for the company. Airlines are able to fill more seats without becoming overbooked using dynamic pricing because the pricing strategy encourages customers to buy seats on days where demand is usually lower. In that way, both customers and airlines can benefit. Customers are able to get a discounted price while airlines are able to sell tickets and fill seats on an otherwise underbooked flight. In much the same way, Disney will be able to control daily traffic to some extent.

Under the new policy, visitors will have prices ranging from a 4% discount on low-traffic days to a 20% surcharge on exceedingly busy days. This plan allows Disney to follow the same laws of supply and demand that all businesses do. Disney's supply is limited since they can only allow a certain number of visitors at any given time. Very often, especially in the summer months, when many people are out of school or are able to take time off from work, more people want to enter the parks than can be safely admitted, so some have to be turned away. This is bad for business, because it reduces the number of tickets Disney can sell, and it leaves potential customers with a bad taste in their mouth and make them less likely to want to return to the park in the future.

So, rather than turning away potential customers, surge pricing can convince customers that their day of enjoyment at the park might be more worthwhile if rescheduled to a different day. If they visit the park on a low-traffic day, the visitors will not only receive reduced prices, they will also be in a much less crowded park, which will allow them to enjoy more rides and attractions. Dynamic pricing has become more prevalent in the society because of improvements in computing technology. American Airlines was able to employ surge pricing originally because they had a computing system that allowed them to easily compare prices and availability, enabling them to sell seats at competitive prices. For most businesses, dynamic pricing was impossible until their data became much more computerized.

From ride-sharing services like Uber to the stock market to auto dealerships, dynamic pricing has spread throughout most markets. Data is key in determining competitive pricing. Teams use data from previous games and sales of merchandise in order to determine which games will be most in demand, and therefore should have the most highly-priced tickets. Pricing for hotels can be determined based on the events happening in the area and the level of demand for short-term housing. In general, improvements in computing technology have made pricing a huge part of sales and have improved the profit margins of many businesses. In the future, dynamic pricing will likely spread to every business, thus giving customers a choice. A potential customer may not like the increased price, but when it comes down to it, they can either take it or leave it. Every customer has the choice whether to purchase something or not.

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