As founder, CEO and creator of WaitTime, Zachary Klima leads the company’s global implementation strategy, overseeing partnerships with leading national and multinational organizations. From strategy to integration, he ensures the sophistication and seamless design of WaitTime is realized by each and every organization leveraging the technology. Klima concepted WaitTime in 2013 and was selected out of more than 100 applicants for participation in the rigorous Bizdom startup accelerator founded by Quicken Loan’s renowned executive Dan Gilbert. Previous to WaitTime, Klima was in the field of architecture, design and sales engineering.” Under his leadership, WaitTime has forged partnerships with some of the most major sports, entertainment & hospitality organizations in the world that are currently using the artificial intelligence technology to reduce wait times and create better customer experiences, resulting in increased efficiency for the venues. Klima has a Master of Architecture from the University of Detroit Mercy. As an entrepreneur, Klima have taken an idea, carefully constructed a globally connected top of industry team, and has made it into a market force technology.
ES. Please describe your professional journey with us and tell us how you thought up the idea to start the WaitTime.
Zachary Klima. All sports fans have had at least one moment where they miss a game-changing play. Mine was at a Detroit Red Wings game. It was overtime, and for some reason I left my seat to head to the concession area. It was then, as I stood in line, that my favorite player, Pavel Datsyuk, scored the winning goal. Everyone came rushing out, and all I could think was, “If only I knew how long the line was before I left my seat.” That was my lightbulb moment. I’m an avid sports fan, and I never want to miss the action, even when I step away from the game to get food or use the bathroom. Surely, I wasn’t alone. Wouldn’t everyone in the world love to have real-time data about how long lines are, especially in a sports venue?
ES. When tens of thousands of people meet at a major event, reliable safety concepts are essential for the organisers. When it comes to creating traffic and safety concepts for events, what kind of support do you offer?
Zachary Klima. WaitTime has developed the most sophisticated artificial intelligence software solution all around crowd management. We mount cameras over areas of high traffic (Concessions, retail shops, conference hall entrances, etc.) and our patented algorithms interpret the crowd conditions in real-time,
all anonymously. From very accurately counting how many people are in a queue, to how many people are entering rooms, our highly sophisticated algorithms seamlessly integrate into pre-existing infrastructure keeping the cost of net new infrastructure low. WaitTime’s system alerts venue operations in real time on crowding conditions.
How many people are in line?
How many people are in a conference hall?
How many have entered and exited?
What is the occupancy density of certain areas?All of these are reported on to operations based on real-time thresholds that the client custom sets.
ES. What other factors play a role when it comes to developing a safety concept? What is your opinion about the importance of event safety following the outbreak of pandemic COVID-19?
Zachary Klima. The importance of event safety is of the utmost importance. Guests need to be safe and the only way to accomplish this is to accurately know where people are. Operations and guest experience need to undoubtedly work in concert with each other. WaitTime blends those things seamlessly.
ES. Could you highlight your company’s recent innovations in the AI/ML space? What changes have you made to your services to accommodate the new normal?
Zachary Klima. WaitTime now has 4 patented algorithms that have never existed in the world before. Our queue, stanchion, entry-exit and massing algorithms are now all being used across the world with some of the biggest brands in the sports, retail, convention/exhibition center space.
ES. Please share with us your experience of the most challenging show you have managed in the past?
Zachary Klima. One of the most challenging shows that we worked on was over the summer at one of the most iconic exhibition centres in the world located in England. The amount of people entering and exiting all the exhibition halls was extreme. Some of the numbers got to be north of 5,000 people in under 30 minutes just in 1 hall. Although the pure occupancy of the entire show was massive, our software still achieved 96-98% accuracy.
ES. What are your thoughts on digitalization and the potential for using technology to accelerate the industry’s momentum?
Zachary Klima. It is truly the only way forward. The industry needs to keep getting disrupted. Disrupt, innovate, disrupt, innovate, repeat. The days of “if it aint broke dont fix it” are long over. More progressive, technology forward leaders are emerging into the forefront now which is the change needed to spur and breed momentum.
ES. Is there anything you can forecast when it comes to the trends shaping the event industry?
Zachary Klima. Video analytics. Video analytics is the only way to accurately know what is happening in your environment regarding the flow analysis of traffic. The days of beacons or wifi / device tracking are long gone. Operations need accurate analytics on what is exactly happening, in real-time. More granular data is the key result of more precision forward technology.
ES. What are the top three major challenges surrounding the industry?
Zachary Klima. Converged networks. It is the future of cost prevention and device connectivity.
– Monetizing technology platforms
– Non progressive decision makers
ES. What would you say to the industry if you had one message and one piece of advice to give?
Zachary Klima. I would say that everyone needs to listen to client feedback. You may have thoughts or opinions on a technology or a solution, but until you consume the KPI’s and operationalize the data, it is just an opinion. Listen to the thought leaders in the space. They are the leaders for a reason. Don’t be scared of calculated risk.