unMarketing: A Tale of Two Brands Part 1Hovey
My family and I recently spent a week at Walt Disney World. It was the first time my children have seen the Magic Kingdom and we had a fabulous, albeit HOT time. I really did manage to stay away from work most of the week, regretting the purchase of a large cell phone data plan. The one thing I couldn’t do, however, was stop thinking about the upcoming unMarketing event that I am sponsoring…next week! (If you don’t know about the event all the details are at The Group Halifax.)
See, once you’ve read unMarketing: Stop Marketing. Start Engaging. certain types of things jump out at you like they are written in neon lights, outlined with lasers and punctuated with fireworks. Once you see that all your employees are “marketers” and that you don’t own your brand, you start to notice all the little things. So everywhere I went, and every experience I had I evaluated through my unMarketing lens.
Disney has built a “brand” of magic, fun and fantasy. When you visit you expect everything to be perfect…MAGICAL…that’s the brand they’ve built. We were quite happy with our vacation. My girls, aged seven and nine, had the best vacation ever, even in the hurricane-like rain and stinking heat of late August. We had EXCEPTIONAL service from wait staff, cashiers and front desk staff. But this post is about “disconnects”… how the little things shape what your customers see, think and remember about your brand. Unfortunately, I will forget about the exceptional service from staff because it was expected…however, I won’t likely forget things that didn’t seem to fit the brand.
Second Class Cell Phone Users
My first issue popped up…or rather didn’t, when I tried to download Disney’s Mobile Magic app…which is supposed to be available for Android phones. I wasn’t allowed to download it from Canada, which in itself was troubling… I’m pretty sure Disney’s visitors are from around the world and might like to see the app in action before arriving. Well, I thought, I’ll download it when I get to Orlando. No go. It’s only available for certain carriers and certain models of phones. Mobile app building is not my area of expertise, but it seems to me this kind of segmentation would be a choice and I would have thought Disney would want EVERYONE to have access to this app. Now, as a Canadian Android user with a Samsung phone, I feel like a second class citizen in the eyes of Disney. But really, this is a minor thing…I HAD been to Disney six times previously without the aid of a cell phone, so I was pretty sure we could handle it.
A much bigger issue for me was the Disney Transportation system. Free transportation from room to park is a selling feature for staying on their resort. The idea of stress-free transportation is enticing for sure. Yes, this is a great way to save on parking, but long waits made you wish you’d rented a car! One day in particular we watched six buses go by for two other parks while only one bus came through for the line in which we were standing…and it was so full only a handful of people could get on at our stop. There were a few times when this happened to us and I wondered why one of the empty buses going by wasn’t rerouted to the busier routes. And getting from one resort to another for dinner reservations was a nightmare (you have to go to a park, then wait in line for a bus or boat to the other resort…we shelled out for a cab one night.)
I’m certainly no dispatch expert, but it seems to me that Disney, of all places, should be able to handle their bus traffic better. It was a disconnect from the “magical”, “carefree and relaxing” experience we were promised as we waited in steaming hot sun for the next bus, only to be stuffed in like sardines, standing so that you couldn’t enjoy seeing the “sights” as you passed by.
I could write a whole blog post about the Food Court chaos we experienced at our resort and at Epcot’s Garden Grill. Suffice it to say, if each of your four family members wants a different meal, you could end up standing in four separate line ups to get your main meal, then two separate line ups for drinks, and another for dessert. Just to get good quality cafeteria food (the meals really were pretty good we thought). If you’ve got younger kids, you’ll have to stand in two or three of those lines yourself to get all the meals, meaning the first one will be cold before you can sit down to eat it. I just don’t understand why you couldn’t go through one line and order from the entire menu and then pick up dessert and drinks on the way out. It was chaos. And that’s not even the search to find a place to sit. The Disney Dining brochure didn’t say anything about chaos… it was supposed to be a magical, stress free, “time and money saving” option to be on the dining plan. I know I’m not an expert in restaurant management, but there has to be a better way to do this.
This is the biggest disconnect for me. The other things are all really nitpicky, I know. I’m whining. I see that. This is different. Animal Kingdom and Epcot both feature “save the planet” ideation and encourage visitors to do “one small thing” to make the world better. Animal Kingdom has “Rafiki’s Conservation Station” to teach visitors about saving endangered species, rescuing animals, and animal care at the park. Epcot has “The Land” to teach us about improving crops, reducing waste, etc. I even saw a Dyson-sponsored sign in the Animal Kingdom bathroom that explained “No paper, no waste” as a reason to use Dyson hand dryers instead of paper towel. If saving the planet and conservation are so important, why are there no recycling bins in the food courts and parks? I’ve read that they sort their garbage behind the scenes, I’ve seen posts about their waste reduction, and pics of recycling bins that must have been removed (I didn’t see a single one), but TO ME, THE VISITOR, there was little effort to recycle on the resort. That’s quite a disconnect. My impression is that Disney does not encourage recycling of all the plastic bottles we drank from. Not only is this a brand disconnect, but it seems hypocritical to the naked eye. You guessed it…I’m not a waste reduction expert, but I think recycling and compost stations at the food courts would be a start. Your customers shouldn’t have to research you online to find out you’re making good on your brand promises. THAT is something you WANT to be apparent to the naked eye.
Yes, Disney is a HUGE corporation and I am BOUND to find some fault with any company that large. I get it. I’m sure they are doing many magical things around the world. Through the unMarketing lens, from the perspective of their “guest”, these things just don’t fit. The brand I met at the resort didn’t meet the expectation built in their marketing. Which version of their brand is TRUE?
Now, think about this for YOUR COMPANY. Is your marketing telling a different story than your customer experience? Which version of your brand is the real one?