What can sports organisations learn from Disney?

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This summer we went on a family holiday to Florida, USA, visiting the main Disney World Parks in the Orlando area. As I spent several days in the parks I was impressed with how Disney run their operation and this got me thinking how sports organisations can learn from this entertainment giant.

The following provides a number of areas were I think the sports industry can learn from Disney.

1. They know how to make money – ticketing, parking, merchandise, food etc. they have it all covered! Disney is a revenue machine who know how to get guests to spend more dollars with them outside of the standard entry ticket fee.

As a sports organisation are you seeking additional revenue streams outside of ticketing/merchandising/food/beverages/sponsorship? Are you maximising the revenue per fans during key events? Have you conducted a review on how to increase revenue around games and outside of game day? Can you serve food quicker to the fans during breaks?

2. Customers are known as Guests. The Guest experience was fantastic, and included:
– the ease of parking
– entry to the parks
– the quality of the shows
– clean and well maintained parks
– knowledgeable and friendly staff.

All come together to make the guest experience great and make the Disney ‘brand promise’ come alive. Yes, like any brand they have to keep improving the guest experience and don’t always get it right (such as exiting the Magic Kingdom at the end of the day which was not a great experience!) but in general they know how to treat their customers: as guests!

As sports organisations how do we treat our fans? As customers or guests? Do we look at the fans journey into and out of the stadium and seek ways to improve it? Are we offering an excellent product or service on match day? Is the stadium well maintained and clean? Do you provide great entertainment around games? Do you employ knowledgeable and friendly staff?

3. Building on from the guest experience, their brand is consistently applied across all their parks and marketing channels: Where dreams come true.

As a sports organisation have you clearly defined a unique brand message and strapline? Is this message in line with your clubs image and history? Is the brand message consistently applied on all marketing channels or is it changed every year?

4. Data capture – This was very evident when downloading the app, purchasing tickets or when entering the parks. Guests could purchase wristbands which contained key data such as ticket information to capturing photos from the official Disney photographers to gaining access to the ‘fast pass ‘ queues in key rides. We even saw a photo of family members pop up on screen during a fast pass which showed us casually walking around the park! All this data is helping Disney to fine tune their products and services.

As a sports organisation have you have a clear strategic plan on data? Why are you collecting it, how, what for and how are you using all this data for the benefit of your organisation?

5. Clear signage around the parks. We found the parks easy to get in and out of mainly due to the excellent signage around the Disney complex.

As a sports organisation have we clear signage on where the toilets are, merchandising stalls and food counters? Have we tested how a first time fan can find their seat?

6. Wi-Fi access across all the parks. Free wifi is available across all the parks which is convenient for not only posting photos on social media but for using the Disney app. The App is simple to use and can be used to book fast passes, identify waiting times for shows and attractions and to even order food within the parks. While at times the Wi-Fi connection did drop in and out, it is impressive that the Wi-Fi does cover a vast area in each park and is accessed by most guests for internet use. The bandwidth and speed is good considering the number of concurrent users online at any one time.

As a sports organisation have you identified the need for a wifi solution in your stadium? Is it free? Have you a club app? How interactive and functional is it? Can it help to generate revenue or deliver unique content to fans mobile screens?

7. While the range of food is predominately fast food and limited in range, it is served very quickly.

As a sports organisation you may have a small window which to serve fans food ie half time at a football match. Are your food outlets capable of serving food quickly and at a high standard? Have you conducted research with fans to gauge their feedback on your food offering in terms of quality and range?

8. Staff in the Disney Parks are knowledgeable and friendly. Staff are well versed in knowing where each ride is located in the park, location of the restrooms etc. In addition, staff are polite and do smile! They even have temporary staff from Brazil who are specifically employed to help any guests from Brazil (Disney is a popular holiday destination for Brazilians).

As a sports organisation what training do you give staff in terms of providing excellent customer service and dealing with complaints in a professional manner? Are staff given training on all your products and services?

9. Use of the latest technology to engage guests. In one of the parks I was sent a Facebook messenger bot for finding out information on an educational element within the park. The bot used AI technology depending on the reply I gave. In addition, Disney are using AR within a merchandising shop in Disney Springs.

As a sports organisation have you researched the latest technology advancements that could help you generate revenue or engage fans in a deeper way?

10. Research. While in the parks, I was approached by researchers who recorded my email address and sent me an online questionnaire regarding my experience at the park and identifying ways to improve the overall experience.

As a sports organisation, are you conducting research on a regular basis regarding match day and non match day experiences with your fans?

There are many other areas where sports organisations can learn from Disney, so I would be keen to hear from you. Leave a message at the end of this blog or drop me an email to geoff@geoffwilsonconsultancy.com

Geoff runs his own Sports Consultancy, working with clients such as FIFA, UEFA and FIBA across the world. He is also on the board of Tourism Northern Ireland. You can follow Geoff on twitter @geoffwnjwilson or connect on Linkedin at linkedin.com/in/geoffwnjwilson

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