Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Disneyworld: Not Just a Vacation

As soon as you become a mom and start envisioning the first family vacation, most women start to envision the Magic Kingdom and their children being swept away with the fairytales and fun of Disneyworld. I was no different. Last month, we finally got the opportunity. Four days of relaxation, a commitment to leave the smart phones and laptops at home and connect to the magic of my kid’s first vacation with Mickey Mouse. Terrifying, I know.

My intention was not to work one iota, and I tried, I really did, but being the founder of a national entrepreneurial magazine and the owner of a PR firm for small businesses, I couldn’t help but notice the perfection of the Disney business model. So I decided to do a little case study on the happiest place on earth and bring it back to my network of entrepreneurial moms.

Opportunities for the Small Business:

Multiple Streams of Revenue: I know many of you are a bit jaded when discussing the amount of shopping opportunities at Disney, but from an entrepreneurial perspective, we can all learn something. Obviously Disney’s streams of revenue focus on the park tickets, the accommodations (I am still jonesin’ for the Mickey shaped ice creams), and the souvenirs, but if you look closely, there are opportunities to purchase so that you can stay longer at the park. They sell raincoats, rainboots, socks, sweaters, coats, everything so that your magical moments are not disrupted by inclement weather. A girlfriend mentioned “ I didn’t care if that stroller cost $100/day, I would have spent it to stay longer at the park”. (Actual cost is $15/day) What new products or services can be added to your business model to increase your total sale per client?

Customer Service: I don’t know of any other corporation who handles customer service better than Disney. From the moment you arrive on the grounds to the moment you leave, you and every member of your family is treated like royalty. You don’t realize how uncommon this is until you can see a contrast. I have to admit, it started to fascinate me – I began to test them. I watched every person from the housekeeping staff to their national directory of media relations with my family and with other guests at the parks - it never changed. It became obvious the focus of their training was on creating magical moments, not closing sales.

Website Marketing: Next time you are thinking of planning a vacation or just hanging out with your kids on the computer, visit www. ( is where you should go for Canadian travel specials) and see how you can duplicate some of their ideas to keep people on your site longer. I could spend hours on the site alone, from Mommy blogs, to vacation planners to video games for every age group, Disney’s ability to capitalize on online marketing is like no other. You cannot get better top of mind awareness then when your 4 year old asks hourly to play the new Alice in Wonderland game.

Media / Public Relations: Okay, I have to admit, it would be hard for the small business owner to be able to compete with Disney in sending a group of Canadian media families for a one week vacation at your place of business, but what we can learn from is the pieces that made me as a media member want to write about that business. Disney has been around since 1955, you have to admit, it is hard to continue to write press releases each year – the media and the public needs a new story, something we have all experienced.

This year Disney launched the “Give A Day, Get A Day, volunteEarism campaign. This was an initiative that gave one free Disney park pass in return for one day of volunteering at registered charities. It encouraged families to volunteer and give back to their community’s together and encouraged travel to the park –brilliant in terms of a campaign to drive traffic to the parks as well as the media attention it garnered. It is also something most businesses can do in their own special way, find a charity in your area that relates to your target market and find a way to partner with them so that you both benefit. The leverage this kind of campaign could potentially have makes it a marketing model we should all look at.

When looking at our business models, sometimes, we don’t need to re invent the wheel, only add our personal or, dare I say, “Magical” touch.