In my previous article in this series, titled ‘Revisiting Quality Standards for Customer Service in the Events Industry’, I shared my perspective on what the tradeshow industry can learn from Disney’s overarching philosophy on the customer journey. Today, I’d like to delve deeper into my own experiences as a long-term Disney customer as well as a 2016 CX Summit attendee and share my personal takeaways on how this entertainment giant makes every guest feel special and privileged.
Personalization – From branded, personalized swag to allowing attendees to plan their agenda based on their individual interests, Disney gives its customers many moments and opportunities to build emotional connections with its brand. Every staff member at the event, from caterers to the facilitators, treated every single attendee as a VIP (very important person). Making each person feel valued created an open and interactive community in a very short span of time. s at any other event, we were wearing registration credentials to help us learn about each other. It was always so nice (and surprising at first) to be addressed by my first name by the Disney team members. “Good morning Rich, what would you like in your omelet?” A simple gesture but most attendees noticed and remarked on it.
Food and Beverage – Event planners know that that food creates lasting memories. At Disney, each meal, break and reception had creative choices showcasing the talents of its banquets team. The dishes served were themed around the day’s events and included classic Disney memorabilia as a subtle reminder of where we were. At the end of each day, how they would top the day’s experience next morning – but they somehow always managed to do it. The final meal of the event was to be the most memorable. Disney transformed an ordinary ballroom and gave us the experience of being invited guests to the dress ball of Belle and the Beast for their first dance. There were moments when one would simply forget that one was not in a fairytale.
Technology – Disney has taken to technology in a big way to ensure that they can bring new age personalization to their guests’ experiences. The company is beginning to use state-of-the-art projections and motion capture technology to create wow moments for the audience and to differentiate its content and services. At the CX Summit, the event’s mobile app provided live and updated information to keep the group connected and moving.
Showmanship – Disney, of course, is not only a theme park but an entertainment company. They made use of resources from the location-based field experiences to having Mickey and Minnie (and other characters) show up to events. The line to meet the characters was always longer than the line for the bar!
Front/Back of the House – Walt Disney himself was a strong believer that ‘Show’ was a critical component to the experience. During one of the field experiences, we were able to go ‘under’ the Magic Kingdom. Walt during the early years of Disneyland once saw a Frontierland cowboy walking through Tomorrowland during shift change. He felt this broke show and built Disney World to have an underground complex so that this would never occur again. Every cast member understands once they are on the ‘stage’, they most only break ‘show’ in an emergency. As event organizers, we could learn a lot about what we say or do on-stage in the front of the house versus backstage.
Flexibility – Though it must have been a challenging exercise, Disney worked hard to incorporate attendee feedback (from social media channels) and adjust its program as necessary. For many attendees, tasting a Dole Whip (a Disney classic dessert) was high on their agenda while attending the conference. As the not-so-subtle hints started buzzing on social media, Disney worked with their culinary team to provide everyone not only a Dole Whip but also a Dole Whip inspired cocktail at the end of the event. Needless to say, attendees were quick to post appreciative comments in follow up comments on social media!
Disney Magic – Disney is quick to say “It’s not magic that makes it work, it’s work that makes it magic”. One of the memorabilia Disney gave to attendees were Mickey Magic ears. These ears light up, change colors and interact with various nightly shows at the Disney Parks. Having a six-year-old who had just started the first grade while Daddy was at Disney, these were going to be a great re-gift when I got home. Unfortunately, between two flight changes and a stopover for a long meeting during my return journey, I somehow managed to leave them behind on an airplane. I made a Facebook comment on how disappointed I was in losing the ears. Like magic, a few days later a Fedex box arrived at my office with a new set of ears! That is the level to which Disney wants my last memory of the brand to be a resoundingly positive one.
The attention to me as individual to the experience of the group is the intentionality all event organizers (and indeed all companies) should strive for year after year. Most of the tactics employed by Disney were not complex, expensive or time-consuming. Disney educates and trains its staff to live the brand in every action. Seeing key leaders of the Disney organization complete the same tasks as an entry staff member sets a great example for the team. We need to always remember that our events are titled trade ‘shows’ and we are ‘event’ professionals who should work to make every attendee experience a memorable one.
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