What Disney World Taught Me About Pricing

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Like many families do every year, my family and I packed up and headed for a week long trip tothe most magical place in the world, Disney World!

This was the first spring break vacation I have taken in 15 years, and while I did look forward to spending quality time with my spouse and kids, I was also looking forward to observing the pricing practices of an organization that is not shy when it comes to price increases.

With that being said, here are 3 thoughts on pricing from my experience at Disney World:

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1. The customer will pay more to have a better experience

It wasn’t long ago that Disney included their “Fast Pass” system with the regular cost of a Disney Park ticket.

For those of you not familiar with the “Fast Pass” system, it gave ticket holders the ability to reserve a spot in line at 3-4 rides during their park visit so that they could skip the line and only wait a few minutes to get onto the attraction.

Not only have regular ticket prices gone up, but this “Fast Pass” system has now been replaced with a “Genie +” system where you have to pay an extra $15/ticket to have the ability to reserve your spot in line at certain attractions.

And for the biggest attractions, you have to pay $15/rider!

For a family of 4, this would be an extra $60/park day, plus another $60 if we wanted to skip the long 2-hour line for rides like Star Wars Rise of the Resistance.

While there are still many families who would rather save the money because they don’t mind spending their time together waiting in a line, many families, like mine, opted to maximize the number of attractions we could ride in a single day.

How can you apply this tactic to your business?

Some of your customers are not pressed for time and are okay with waiting to receive their benefits from you.

Other customers would prefer to pay more to “skip the line”.

If you only offer one format of this to your customers, I suggest you take a step back and look for a way to employ this strategy to your customer base.

2. An oldy, but a goody: Eat the costs that matter to the customer, and get them to buy more from you at a price they are willing to pay 

Disney, like many others, sells the soda cup with unlimited refills.

While I despise this tactic because Americans do not need more sugar, it is a great business strategy that many in the amusement industry utilize.

It gets customers back in line for a refill, where there is more food for them to purchase.

More food consumed means they will drink more, which then means they will get back in line for a refill…

Somehow it doesn’t feel so bad to pay $7 for a pretzel if the drink was free, right?

What have you done – or what can you do – within your business to give something away to your customers to make them get back in line at your company, as opposed to one of your competitors?

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3. Stop eating the costs that don’t impact the customer’s buying decision

For years, Disney offered a wonderful free service called the Disney Magical Express.

It was truly amazing.

If you were staying at a Disney resort and were flying into Orlando, Disney would “magically’ take your checked luggage and have it waiting for you in your hotel room when you arrived.

I loved this service.

It made traveling with young kids so easy.  And no other place we know of imitated this service.

Effective as of January 1, 2022, this service was canceled.

You can still get bus service from the airport, but you have to pay extra money now and have to take care of your luggage.

What is the lesson here? While this was a great service and experience for the customer, at the end of the day it did not impact the buying decision.

If this service did not exist, it would not impact the decision of the customer to buy tickets, travel via plane, and stay at a more expensive Disney resort.

People make all of these decisions based on other factors, not on whether or not their bags magically appear in their rooms for free.

Always look at your customer experience and areas where you are unnecessarily eating costs, and assess whether it impacts the customers’ current and future buying decisions.

If you have employed a tactic for many years, and no other business out there has imitated it in some way, just like the Magical Express, it may be time to assess if what you are doing is really necessary.

While there are definitely many more pricing lessons to take away, these are the ones that stuck with me the most.

Matt C

By MATT CIANCIARULO

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