From the day it’s announced right up to the moment the red ribbon is cut there is a palpable anticipation in the air. You’ve been blown away time and time again and the thought of experiencing that euphoria is almost tickling. The moment you’ve been awaiting is finally realized: you walk into Disneyland to be greeted by the newest attraction inspired by a Disney film. Everything you loved about the movie and all that you expect from Disney come together to provide an amazing “wow” moment.
In the summer of 2013 my family and I had such a moment. California Adventure’s Cars Land had opened to the public. During our previous trip the construction was barely visible. All you could see were metal beams. The footprint of the construction was so massive you wondered, “What’s really going on in there?” Cars Land is what was going on in there and it did not disappoint. I don’t have words to describe how amazing it is so I’ll just say you have to experience it for yourself.
Disney Holds the Holy Grail for the Wow Experience
Many leaders are well acquainted with the Disney Corporation and their commitment to excellence. Disney leads not only the amusement park industry but they hold the Holy Grail for the wow experience throughout the business world. They know the secret sauce for creating a wow experience and leaders worldwide take their cues from Disney.
Maybe you’ve heard about Disney and hot dogs? It’s said that they measure the amount of time and space needed for a guest to purchase and fully consume a hot dog. When the guest is ready to discard their wrapper a garbage can is waiting at the exact spot it will be needed. It’s attention to these small details that allows Disney to capture perpetual magic.
Previous to Cars Land we had been wowed by Midway Mania, a 3D Toy Story attraction. There are more wow experiences I could share, but rather than tell you what you already know, I’m going to do a 180°. I find it amazing that a company so intentional to provide a magical experience has decided to omit any of that attention to detail you’ve come to expect in a different area of their business.
Wow Is All About Expectations
A trip to Disney presents challenges to parents of young children. If you’re not a parent, hang with me as this will all make sense, I promise. Parents are tuned to the naptimes of their young children. Staying close by is a priority. A 15 minute walk to your hotel beats a 60 minute trip out of Disney. We have an 18-month old son and have stayed twice at the Disneyland Paradise Pier Hotel for proximity convenience. I discovered Disney is far from delivering a wow experience to their hotel guests.
Michael Hyatt in his book “Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World” defines what makes for a wow experience which can be summarized as “that feeling you experience when someone or something has exceeded your expectations.”
Let’s dive further into that definition. Hotel guests have certain expectations. A clean room a comfortable bed, a television, etc.. Most hotels meet these expectations. But Disney isn’t famous for meeting expectations. It’s the exceeding of expectations that keeps millions of guests, like my family, returning to the Magic Kingdom. When you walk into a Paradise Pier hotel room you will find your expectations met. You could swap out that room for one in any major hotel chain and have the same experience. Does Disney realize that their hotel offers no wow factor?
Why Would Disney Not Deliver Wow?
It is difficult to reconcile these two worlds of Disney. The Disney theme parks are packed with so much that you wouldn’t have to spend a dime past admission to have an incredible time. Then you have the Disney hotels which leverage their location as the only high value to a guest. Is it all about money? Is Disney’s cost of business that much higher than nearby hotels? No matter the reason, I am inspired to ask a question. How important is it for an organization to preserve their brand experience across all venues and touch points?
How Important Is Wow to You?
A brand’s interactions with its customers should be consistent no matter how that interaction happens. While certain venues may offer greater depth, the overall essence of the brand needs to remain consistent. Leaders and organizations who do not maintain a consistent experience send a devastating message: they cannot be trusted. In Disney’s case they communicate that the guest is being taken advantage of rather than existing to provide a wow experience, consistent with their brand.
I will admit as long as I have young children we will continue to stay at Disney hotels (unless you know a great alternative within walking distance… if so, use the comments section). As long as people are willing to pay extra to be onsite there is no financial incentive for Disney to change their business model. However, I’ve got to come back to my point in the previous paragraph. As a Disney customer I feel as though I am being exploited. When I walk into my Disney hotel room, I want to feel the exact same way I did when I walked into Cars Land: wowed.
Perhaps if I’m in the mood for a wow experience I should give a Disney cruise a try. I love Disney and I love cruises and just the thought of the two together is tickling. Yeah, I think that’s what I’ll book next time.
Do you believe that creating a wow experience should be on the radar of a leader? Is it a leader’s responsibility to master this sort of challenge?