What Small Business Owners can Learn from Disney

I just returned from taking my teenage daughter to visit Disneyworld and Universal Studios in Orlando. I can’t say I was all excited about going since standing in lines all day in the hot sun was not my ideal vacation. But, I was more than pleasantly surprised, and down right astounded by the marketing and customer service genius I observed.

Universal is not part of Disney of course, but I must say the the new Wizarding World of Harry Potter was impressive—literally like walking into the world created in the blockbuster book series. The lesson there is to give people what they expect and envision—and more.

I’d heard from friends how impressed they were with Disney, and no one seemed to complain about spending time waiting in lines, which was surprising. Now I understand why. The folks at Disney have drilled down into every detailed moment of the customer experience and found a way to make it the best it could be. Imagine that tens of thousands of people from all over the world go through these parks every day, and each one is made to feel special.

We were there in the “slow” season. If that was slow, I can’t imagine what the busy season looks like. Disney has implemented a system of crowd control and customer comfort measures which are unparalleled. Their Fast Pass system means that you can get an express pass to their most popular attractions that allow you to return at a specific time and by-pass the lines—kind of like a call-ahead system that some chain restaurants use. So for those that plan ahead, time wasted waiting in lines is cut in half. The area where the lines form is often covered to protect people from the hot Florida sun and there are fans blowing to keep everyone cool while they wait. They’ve also devised a kind of snaking queue that keeps people walking in an “S” pattern, so rather than feeling frustrated by standing still, you are always shuffling forward, giving the impression that you’re making progress.

These details make waiting in lines very tolerable. No one complains. It’s simply brilliant. Imagine if you really talked to your clients and found out what would make their customer experience the very best it could be and then you worked toward creating that experience? It seems that today, many companies ignore this totally.

Then there was the cleanliness. I never saw even a scrap of paper on the ground. How is that possible with thousands of people eating and drinking? I have no idea, but they pull it off.

And finally, let me share what I observed about their marketing strategy. Each time you (and your children) finish going on a ride, through an exhibit and finish seeing a show, the exit door it located in the inside of the gift shop that sells merchandise related to that attraction. So imagine how many children beg their parents to grab a memento of what they’ve just experienced. Luckily my daughter is almost 16 and a bit past that stage, but even she succumbed a few times! This simple strategy alone must have a dramatic impact on sales.

After clients have a wonderful experience with you are you immediately showing them how they can enhance that experience with a follow up product or service? Is this strategy built into your marketing?

Business lessons are all around us, but it’s such a pleasure to seeing a huge company getting it right.

1 Comment
  • Abi
    Posted at 13:22h, 21 March Reply

    Great article, Janis. Even though it’s been over 20 years ago I remember the lines all too well. You made the transition though flawlessly.

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