Posts Tagged ‘Disney Theme Parks’

Ever since I began this blog 3 months ago, I’ve been waiting for an excuse to do an entire post on a new innovative idea from one of my favorite organizations: Disney. Fortunately for me given Disney’s innovation and creativity it didn’t take long. This week Disney began testing their high-tech FastPass (part of their NextGen project) at their Magic Kingdom park.

The current system: Since 1999 Disney theme parks have offered a virtual queuing system through use of a FastPass. Guests insert their park ticket into a machine at one of the busiest attractions and receive a ticket to return later in the day and skip the line. Typically guests can only get one FastPass every two hours and only a certain predetermined number are issued each day. FastPass holders cannot use their FastPass prior to its listed time, but in spite of its one-hour time slot it is unofficially (based on my experience as a cast member and guest) valid at any time throughout the rest of the day. The FastPass is essential for some attractions such as Soarin’ over California which in my experience typically has long lines.

The proposed system: Disney’s NextGen project is a “next generation experience” technology project rumored to cost over $1 billion. Part of this project is expected to result in the creation of guest wristbands implanted with RFID microchips. Prior to arrival guests may be able to pre select a number of attractions for FastPass, reserve show seats, book character-greeting slots etc. This information would then be downloaded into the RFID microchips, to interact with sensors located throughout the Disney parks and resorts. Additional attraction interaction features may also occur based on the information obtained on the chip on the guest’s specific interests.


The “test sensor posts” and the current FastPass

The current test: This week at Disney’s Magic Kingdom park in Orlando, FL blue RFID sensor posts with a Mickey mouse symbol have been temporarily installed throughout the park. A small number of selected guests have been given bands to scan and test. As they scan their band, reservation data is sent to a cast member’s iPad. The bands are intended to provide faster access to attractions than the current FastPass system.

The full extent of what Disney’s NextGen experience could be, is still under wraps. But one thing is for sure the scope for what RFID technology could do to enhance the Disney park’s experience is potentially endless. I know I would love to test this technology, but what do you think? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.


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After college I participated in the Walt Disney World Cultural Representative program training new cast members on Disney’s guest service. It’s rare to find companies that deliver customer service at the level of Disney, however online shoe, clothing and accessory retailer Zappos may be that exception. In 2008 Zappos hit $1 billion in annual sales, a success they attribute to their customer focus. Here are some of the features of Zappos’ customer driven business strategy:

  • Every customer contact is an opportunity: Zappos view every phone call and e-mail as an opportunity to make a lasting impression on their customers.
  • Investment in customer service: The company allocates a large amount of the money that they would have spent on advertising on customer service. If the customer service is perfect, word of mouth will make up the difference.
  • Keep core competencies in-house: At one point Zappos outsourced their warehouse and shipping. This sourcing strategy did not work as Zappos quickly learned that you couldn’t trust a third-party to care about your customers as much as you do.
  • Make customer transactions as risk free as possible: U.S. Zappos customers benefit from free shipping both ways. Customers have 365 days to send back the items that don’t fit or they don’t like. Zappos returns run high (accounting for approximately a third of gross revenues) but they have learned that the lower the transaction risk, the happier the customer and the more likely they will buy more.
  • Make contact information easy to find: Zappos list their 24 hour telephone number on every page of their website, so that customers can easily contact them if they need to.
  • Evaluate customer interactions from a branding lens: Zappos evaluate their customer service staff on their ability to go above and beyond. Zappos do not require their staff to up sell as such a practice can irritate customers. They also do not measure call center staff on average call handle time as they don’t want them to rush through calls damaging customer service experience. One member of Zappos’ Customer Loyalty Team (the name of their staff) once spent 6 hours on a phone call helping a customer find the right pair of shoes. 
  • The lifetime value of a customer can grow: In contrast to traditional marketing ROI calculations, Zappos believe that a customer’s lifetime value can grow if loyalty is developed and expectations are exceeded.
  • Surprise your customers: Surprising customers goes hand in hand with exceeding expectations. One such example at Zappos is their surprise shipping upgrades for repeat customers.

What do you think? Have you ever ordered from Zappos? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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There is an Irish folklore from the 5th century, which tells the story of how St. Bridget negotiated with St. Patrick to allow women to propose to men on February 29th. Her argument was that since February 29th had no legal status, traditions should have no status on this day either. Today leap day is not just about folklore and can represent a great opportunity for businesses to create innovative marketing strategies to attract their customer’s attention.

While not suitable for all types of businesses, many restaurants, hotels, theme parks, car sales companies, radio and TV stations and others are taking advantage of this one in a 1461-day opportunity. Organizations of all sizes can take advantage of leap day by offering sales promotions such as 29% off, flash sales, discounts, coupons, contests, birthday offers for leaplings and other promotions.

Below are some examples of my favorite 2012 innovative leap day campaigns:

Honda’s “2012 CR-V Leap Year Contest”

Honda has created a leap year themed advertising campaign to promote the 2012 CR-V.

Honda’s website for this campaign enables people to create lists of goals they hope to achieve before they take the next major leap in their life. To inspire you to get your list started, Honda is hosting a contest where all lists submitted will be judged on their activity, variety and feasibility. The grand prizewinner will win a 2012 Honda CR-V and free gas for a year.

Disney Theme Parks: “One More Disney Day”

My favorite of all the leap day campaigns is one more Disney day. On February 29th for the first time ever both the Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom in Orlando, FL and the Disneyland Park in Anaheim, CA will be open for 24 hours.

The campaign’s big question: What would you do if you had one more Disney day?

If I had one more Disney day I would head to the Walt Disney World Resort and relive some of my memories from my days on Disney’s Cultural Representative Program. I would head to the Disney Studios and ride Rock n’ Rollercoaster and Tower of Terror, before heading to Epcot’s World Showcase to walk around my old workplace and buy some overpriced but delicious British chocolate. I would then head to Animal Kingdom to ride Expedition Everest and watch the Lion King show. Once the other three parks were due to close I would head over to the Magic Kingdom where I would stay until the early hours of the morning hitting all the mountain rides and watching the incredible 3D Mickey’s Philharmagic.

Also on leap day Disney will be offering free “one more Disney day” mouse ears to the first 2000 visitors at both Magic Kingdom and Disneyland. In addition, there’s a sweepstake to win a trip to either resort but as you can probably tell I would really like to win so I’m not going to share the details, though they are really easy to find!

Anabella Hotel’s “29 $29 rooms” 

Located in Anaheim, CA the Anabella hotel were quick to react to Disney’s “one more Disney day” announcement by creating a complementary offer. Through their Twitter and Facebook accounts the hotel offered 29 $29 rooms for the night of 02/29, which went on sale at 10 a.m. on February 7th. The Anabella hotel’s leveraging of their social media platforms, helped make their promotion a big success. All 29 rooms sold out in less than 15 minutes.

WIRK Radio: “Take Leapers to Lunch”

Southern Florida’s country radio station 107.9 WIRK has offered to take anyone whose birthday is on February 29th to lunch at Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse on leap day (a cap may be imposed at some point). Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse in North Palm Beach will open specially for this lunch. No doubt the radio station will include this event in their broadcast and this promotion seems ideal for radio or TV stations.

So what do you think? Could your business take advantage of leap day by creating an innovative marketing campaign? Share your thoughts below.

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