6 Business Lessons From My Trip To Disney World

They say it’s the happiest place on earth.

And I guess they’re not half wrong. We had a blast.

In May 2017, I visited Disney World along with my parents, my brother, my sister-in-law and their three little boys. It was a mildly exhausting, but incredibly fun vacation.

There was excitement… frantically waiting in line wondering if you’ll actually make it to the ride before your vacation is over.

There was relaxation… taking a wonderfully restful nap during that animatronics show about American history.

There was intrigue… wondering how Epcot’s World Tour (which included areas representing fascinating countries like China, Germany, Italy and France) chose to omit representations of exotic places like Polynesia, Australia, eastern Europe and South America… yet still managed to fit in Canada.

(No offense to my Canadian friends, but that just seems like an odd choice.)

Of course, the entrepreneur in me couldn’t just relax and have fun without also simultaneously noticing, admiring and storing away some excellent business tactics.

Here are a few strategies, I observed in the place where dreams come true, that we would be wise to copy:

I suppose I enjoy standing in line for six hours in order to go on a 13 second ride as much as the next guy. But, the kids do tend to get a little restless after a while.

If you go to a place like Disney World, a decent chunk of your time is going to be spent waiting in line. Unsurprisingly, having to wait in line seems to be one of the least popular things about theme parks.

So, what does Disney do?

They make the lines for many of their rides and other attractions as interesting and fun as possible.

For example, I remember a Toy Story ride where the waiting area was surrounded with life-size models of toys and games that brought back a rush of nostalgia from my childhood.

Try to identify which parts of the buying process are awkward or frustrating to your customers or clients. There’s a decent chance that this frustration is preventing a certain amount of sales.

After you’ve identified these problem areas, take some time to brainstorm ideas for how you could make improvements.

For example, maybe your customers or clients don’t like having to call or fill out an online order form every time they want to purchase something. What if, your company created a system that allowed repeat customers (i.e. customers whose payment information is already saved) to order new products or services with a simple email or text message?

(Note: A system like that may indeed create security concerns. But, depending on your industry, the reward may be worth the risk. And there might be extra steps you could take to help decrease that risk.)

For the most part, the film industry seems to be content with making movies that generate a lot of ticket sales and Blu-ray purchases. Occasionally, they’ll have a blockbuster that presents the opportunity to sell T-shirts or action figures… or maybe even pajamas and underpants.

But, Disney does something more.

They don’t just try to make great movies that sell lots of tickets. Their profit journey extends to parades, theme parks, cruises and souvenirs.

How do they accomplish this? The way I see it, they don’t just try to sell products.

They try to create experiences. They try to create memories. They try to create magic.

As a result they are able to come up with fun new ways to drain my wallet while receiving my sincere thanks.

There’s more than one lesson to be learned here.

Number One: I may be a chump.

Number Two: Don’t just sell products. Sell experiences.

How could you infuse more emotion into your customer experience?

You may not have the powerful brand equity or name recognition that Disney has. But that doesn’t mean that this strategy is beyond your reach.

You could create a more uplifting, emotional experience for your customers with something as simple as advertising that’s designed to elicit certain emotions, such as motivation, humor or nostalgia.

It could even be as simple as going the extra mile in your interactions with your customer. Go far out of your way to make them feel comfortable, liked and respected.

On the shuttle back to the airport, a video was shown that thanked customers for their visit while also talking about future visits as if it were obvious that these visits are going to occur.

This may seem trivial. But, the tactic was more effective than you might expect. While watching that video, it was hard to imagine not coming back soon.

(I can neither confirm nor deny that this counts as evidence of lower than average willpower and/or intelligence on my part.)

I’d like to point out that this was my first trip to Disney World. I had waited more than 30 years to go there. And somehow I had managed just fine in life… for the most part.

But, now at this point, it’s nearly impossible to imagine waiting that long to go back again.

Of course the fun experience in the Disney Parks is much more responsible for this reaction than seeing that video. But, I believe that message of “See you real soon!” noticeably strengthened my resolve to go back in the near future.

So, when dealing with your customers look for ways to subtly send the message that you fully expect repeat purchases from them.

But, most importantly, make sure that your products, service and customer experience are so good that your customers can’t help but agree with this expectation.

One of the familiar aspects of attractions in Disney parks is that they very frequently have you exit the ride or the show through a gift shop.

The timing of all this is significant. They’ve just gotten you excited about a certain theme, whether it’s Finding Nemo, The Little Mermaid or Star Wars.

Then, after they’ve built up that excitement, they offer you (and especially your children) a bunch of cool, overpriced souvenirs.

(Note: What’s genius, about this tactic is that you don’t necessarily mind paying three times the price you might be charged by Amazon or Walmart.

Purchased anywhere else for $6.99, that plastic sword would be just another toy. But, if you buy it right here for only $485, it’s a souvenir and a special memory of when you went on the Pirates of the Caribbean ride.)

The moral of the story is to first of all, offer good upsells.

And, second of all, make sure to offer them when your customer is most likely to buy. This might be while they’re already making a purchase. It might be while they’re using your product. It might be when they’re feeling especially frustrated about not having a certain product.

When offering upsells, timing is a critical factor to which you should give serious thought.

(PS. I still can’t believe my mom wouldn’t buy that plastic sword for me.)

While waiting for my parents and nephews to finish up with the ride inside Epcot’s big golf ball (i.e. the big silver dome that is synonymous with Disney World), my sister-in-law, Emily, took a moment to point out one of Disney World’s private tour guides.

Apparently some people enjoy being guided to the best attractions at the right times. I’m also told that people with tour guides get unlimited access to Fast Pass (i.e. shorter) wait lines. And, supposedly some rich people just want someone to push their strollers.

According to Emily (who, as far as I know, planned the entire trip and worked hard to stake out the best deals) these personal tour guides cost $4000 a day.

(I haven’t done any research to confirm this number. But, given the often inversely proportional relationship between wealth and commonsense, it’s not too hard to believe.)

I believe our park tickets were about $100 per day per person. If these figures are correct, that means that with each person who hires a personal tour guide, Disney receives the amount of revenue that they would get from 40 tickets…

… or, in other words, as far as Disney’s revenue goes, a customer that hires a personal tour guide is worth 40 regular customers.

(By the way, I doubt that those tour guides are getting paid more than $200 a day, probably less. This means that the overwhelming majority of that $4000 revenue is likely pure profit.)

There’s usually a certain percentage of customers who are able and willing to pay more than regular people, sometimes A LOT more than regular people.

Give them that opportunity by offering them something that costs significantly more than your core product. I’m thinking of a price tag in the ballpark of 10–50 times higher… maybe even more.

(Note: Some people call this type of product a “Slack Adjuster”.)

This could be some type of done-for-you service. Maybe it’s high-level consulting. Another possibility would be to partner with a company that offers high ticket items. Depending on your situation, this would probably be a company that serves a similar demographic, without competing directly with you.

Obviously, the prepubescent crowd is an important demographic for Disney. And they do a great job of serving that group.

As a result, they don’t just gain the loyalty of children. They also gain the loyalty of parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and so on.

They also have the loyalty of adults who grew up watching Disney fairytales.

Serving or helping a person’s child is an excellent way to establish a powerful bond. This is true whether you’re selling to children or adults.

(In reality, you’re pretty much always selling to adults, because they are usually the ones that make the decision whether or not to buy something for their children.)

Put simply, we often care more about our children’s well-being than we do about our own. So, if you can do something to improve a child’s well-being, you’ll likely gain the loyalty of that child’s parents even more than you would by trying to improve the parents’ well-being.

With that kind of loyalty, selling becomes much easier.

Even doing something nice or helpful for children in general (as opposed to doing something specifically for the children of your customers) might be useful in generating goodwill among adult customers.

The good news is that you don’t have to be a company that primarily sells children’s products. After all, only so many companies can do so.

But, there are other ways to serve children.

For example, you could host parties or carnivals for the children and families of your clients.

You could run a special promotion during which you donate a certain percentage of your profits to combat child hunger.

You could occasionally have your people leave the office for an afternoon to go volunteer at a children’s hospital.

You could host a video game convention for millennials still living in their parents basement. (In case you see me there, be advised it is strictly to gather research for future articles or books. It has nothing to do with wanting to show off my borderline-superhuman Legend of Zelda skills.)

There are plenty of very simple possibilities.

Whether you’re a B2B or a B2C company, whether you sell products for children or for adults, finding ways to serve and help children can be an excellent strategy for building a powerful emotional bond between you and your customer.

Conclusion

Disney World really is a magical place. If you can afford a trip, I would highly recommend it.

It’s not just a place to have loads of fun. It’s a great place to have loads of fun while observing a ton of great business strategies that you should totally steal.

Companies like Disney don’t dominate industries for decades by accident. It’s worth taking some time to study and learn from the Masters.

PS. Dear Disney,

The Pixie Dust I bought from the shady looking vendor in front of your park is totally bogus. I haven’t even been able to hover, let alone fly.

Any chance I can get a refund? Let me know.

PPS. I’m a reasonable man. I will accept a store credit.

Important: Want to talk about other marketing and/or business growth strategies that can help your company rapidly increase profit? Then let me hear from you! Send me an email at: seth.e.coyne@gmail.com

I look forward to discussing some innovative strategies you can use to grow your business! (It doesn’t matter if you own the company or if you’re trying to improve your career by helping your employer increase profit. I’d love to talk to you either way!)

Talk soon!

About The Author

Seth Coyne

Seth Coyne prefers to be addressed as Jedi Master Seth. He is the founder of Rapid Company Growth. He’s also a surprisingly handsome business advisor. Feel free to connect with him via LinkedIn or Facebook Messenger.

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