Sunday, October 3, 2010

Experiential Marketing and the Negation of the Braess Paradox with the Wisdom of Crowds

I enjoyed reading the recent blogpost by the Texas-based marketing firm, bloomfield knoble, that discussed how waiting times during events such as visits to museums, amusement parks, and even to Vegas casinos should be manipulated to garner the best experiences for customers/clients. And speaking of Las Vegas, Adam Nagourney writes in the NYTimes that it needs help!

bloomfield knoble connected waiting times (think of standing in line to get to what you really want to do) in the context of marketing experiences with the Braess paradox, which identifies a situation where a new route, when added, under user-optimizing or selfish behavior, may result in an increase in travel time for all.

I was pleased that in bloomfield knoble's post my most recent work on the subject proving that the Braess paradox will be negated under a suitably high demand was also noted so that there is a wisdom of crowds phenomenon taking place.

The post also recognized that such paradoxes can occur in other types of networks (and not just in transportation ones), a related topic that I have done a lot of research on.

Coincidentally, recently, while teaching my Management Science graduate class I shared the story with my students about how one can reduce the perception of onerous waiting times by making the experience of waiting more pleasant. Those of us in this area of research and practice enjoy recalling how the waiting times for elevators to arrive can be reduced -- just add mirrors to the outer doors so that people can admire themselves and, perhaps, one another, and time will go by "faster." The same holds for how queues in banks or amusement parks can be designed or in playing music while customers are waiting for some service (but recognizing that not everyone has the same taste in music).