It's no secret that Disney is one of the most famous, profitable, and beloved brands in the world, selling millions of dollars a year. Its movies, its characters, its parks, its hotels, its cruises, and its streaming platform make its fan and customer base bigger and more loyal, which translates into more and more sales every year.
But Disney not only sells because of its huge number of fans and customers around the world, but it sells a lot because it implements many strategies and actions that make its sales grow every year.
Practically all these strategies and actions carried out by Disney can be adapted and used in any type of company that sells consumer products and services, such as a hotel.
So, what are the secrets of this great company? What strategies and tactics does Disney use to make it difficult for its customers not to buy?
Marketer, consultant and web TV host Andrew Lock published a book in which he mentions many marketing strategies that Disney has used over the years and uses today. Most of this blog is based on Andrew Lock's great book.
Here are five secrets that make Disney sell millions and millions of dollars every year that you can use to increase sales at your hotel.
- 360º Marketing
- Special events
MARKETING IS EVERYTHING
Disney's first not-so-secret secret is that the company understands that every action its employees and managers take is marketing. Every product or service they sell is marketing. Every movie is marketing. Marketing is everything, and everything is marketing.
Disney understands that every moment of customer contact with its brand is marketing. Therefore, the company strives to generate a totally unique experience every time a person encounters the brand, every time a person is in its parks, in its hotels, on its cruises, and watching a movie.
The moment any company, in this case your hotel, understands that every activity done by every person within the organization results in a marketing activity, which can positively or negatively affect the consumer's perception of the brand, it will begin to generate better user experiences, a better company image and more sales... many more sales.
Marketing is not just a task for the CMO, it is a task for everyone in a company, from the board of directors to the operators; and all marketing starts with the customer. You must know and understand who your customer is, what he likes, what he doesn't like, how he buys, what he is looking for... for this I recommend you to make a Buyer Persona. Once you understand your ideal customer, you must do everything possible to help him and generate the best experience. Many times, we believe that the one who should help the customer should be the customer service agent, the waiter... in Disney everyone's main task is to help the customer, regardless of the position in which the collaborator is. Everyone must help the customer. Marketing is everything, and everything is marketing.
To increase sales, Disney uses an up-selling, which means that, whenever it has the opportunity, it will offer you a larger quantity of something you are buying or it will offer you a premium or improved version of the product or service you are buying, in order to increase sales.
For example, at food carts in parks, you can buy a drink for $4.99 (as a hypothetical example), but they will offer the same drink in a special movie-themed cup for $9.99 (as a hypothetical example). Suddenly, sales could increase substantially just by offering the same product but packaged differently. The same improved product.
This can be seen in many, many restaurants, food carts and food stand throughout the Disney parks, hotels, and cruise ships.
They will always offer you the same product, but improved, to increase sales by a few dollars (which, if you multiply it by millions of fans visiting the parks, hotels, and cruises... becomes a huge amount of money in up-sells per year).
At the same time that Disney's partners offer you up-sells, they can also offer you products or services related to the one you are buying, or what is known as cross-selling. The company will try to offer you another product or service that is relevant and related to the one you are already buying.
You've probably already witnessed the cross-selling process if you eat fast food on a regular basis... "would you like to pair your burger and drink with some fries?" Sound familiar? Well, Disney also uses this sales strategy every chance it gets, every time you're about to buy something, especially food.
It is important to mention that for your hotel to be able to up-sell and cross-sell successfully, there must be a system behind them. You don't just tell your employees that from now on they are going to offer the improved product or a related product. It must be a formal, written, and thought-out process, with a dialogue already prepared so that your employees do not improvise now of offering the product.
Another important aspect for these two strategies to work is that your collaborator must offer the up-sell or cross-sell just before the person finishes ordering and paying, since it is at that moment when he/she is more ready to buy, since he/she is in "buying mode".
Disney takes this to heart, as it is a very distinct brand, leveraging storytelling, characters and customer service. Being such a distinct company gives you the opportunity to charge a premium price for your products or services.
This is an extremely useful and profitable strategy, because if you are different in what you offer and how you offer it, you can avoid being compared to other hotels. By avoiding any kind of comparison, you can charge a premium price, because against what other product or service is your customer going to compare what you are offering and its price? If you are different enough, with no one else.
What other parks, hotels and cruises can you compare Disney's to? Against none, since this company leverages on its own characters, its own movies, stories, and music to develop the products and services it offers and generate unique and different experiences for which it charges a high price.
This differentiation strategy not only allows you to sell more, since many people will want to consume and buy products and services that generate a different and unique experience, but it also allows you to charge a high price for offering it.
Special events are a great way to attract new customers, but also to make old customers want to keep coming back. If your hotel offers special events periodically, many people will want to come and be a part of them. Whether a band is going to play, a theater group is going to perform, a person is going to do a stand-up comedy show, or something special is going to be celebrated, this attracts a lot of people, new customers, and old customers. Disney has a lot of special events and celebrations for all its guests, fans, and customers. This started since Walt Disney opened his park, as Walt started to call singers and bands so they could perform live in his park.
Today, Disney leverages heavily on this special events strategy, especially at Epcot, with the International Festival of the Arts and the International Food and Wine Festival. Some other examples of special events are: Star Wars Weekends, After Hours BOO BASH y Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party.
Special events are a great opportunity to stimulate additional sales, since customers will arrive for the event and will most likely consume products and services offered during the entire period of the event. So, it is a good "hook" to attract customers and increase your sales.
It is important that the event is good enough, attractive enough and important enough that many people want to be part of it. Therefore, it must be planned well in advance. It is extremely useful to make a calendar at least four months in advance, to be able to organize and plan each event with as much time as possible.
If a customer went to one event, they would probably want to go to another, so this is a great way to give people a reason to come back to us.
Now that you know and understand how Disney uses 360 marketing, designs up-selling and cross-selling systems, uses a differentiation strategy by exploiting it to the fullest and holds special events not only to attract new customers, but to give old customers one more reason to come back, you will be able to apply these five secrets in your hotel, with the possibility that you can greatly increase your sales.