Pixie Dust & Profits is a podcast for small business owners who love Disney and want to sprinkle some of that magic onto their own businesses. Join your host, Nicole Boucher and Yasmine Spencer as they explore the mouse’s $12.6 billion operation and break down exactly how you can apply these big scale concepts to your own.
Welcome to this week’s episode of pixie dust and profits. Today, we’re going to talk about something really frustrating, and I know we share a lot of pixie dust moments and all the great things we love about Disney, especially what they do with their operations, but there is nothing that frustrates us more than trying to call them and not being able to get through because we know what we need to do. We know we can’t do it ourselves on the website because that is always the first option retry, and we actually need their support. We can’t even talk to them. So I’ve had this frustration in the past, but he has men’s right in the thick of it. So I thought it’d be fun to do well fun as long as it can be a rant about Disney to do an episode this week. That’s really top of mind for both of us. So yes, we can just share a little bit what we want to do. Oh. Before we start, if you were joining us for pixie dust and profits live, just, just skip ahead or just get to the next episode or the past episode, because we don’t, we don’t want to hear, we don’t want you hearing any of this. Okay. These are surprises for October. If you’re thinking of joining us for a different pixie dust slides, go ahead and listen, because you’ll learn about how we get to treat our guests. So go ahead. Yes, ma’am
All right. So as Nicole mentioned, we have our upcoming pixie dust and profits live event happening at Disney world in October. And we are so excited for it because we have literally been planning this retreat for like how many years, like three years I feel like, and it’s been canceled because of the pandemic. And we haven’t been able to get together with our amazing pixie dust family and see them in Orlando. So we’re super jazzed. This is happening in the fall and the way that Nicole and I like to roll well, we like to sprinkle some pixie dust on everything that we do. So when we found out that Disney is doing away with the you party this year and opt-in into the boo bash, which is an after hours event, it’s very different from one of the typical parties in the sense that the parties typically start earlier, they have like parades and special fireworks shows and all that jazz. The after hours events tend to be more focused on giving you limited capacity access to the park in the sense that there aren’t that many people there. So wait times for rides are really low and they happen late at night. So it tends to start at seven or you get in at seven at magic kingdom, but the event really runs for three hours from like nine to what does that bring us to midnight? 11? Yeah.
I want to say that I’ve only ever done extra hours event. It was the Mickey’s very Merry Christmas party and made some mistakes with the date choice. And it was the day we were flying in. And you know, that parade that they have is really, really fun to watch. But when you’re with kids, there’s just a different strategy to after hours events, you have to watch the first parade. You probably leave before it ends. And this is where the magic comes in when you’re on an adults only trip because the park starts and the park is already pretty empty because it’s an extra ticketed event, but then you get access to all these rides and then the families start leaving because the kids have to go to bed. So if you can make it to midnight, you can probably do so much in the park that you couldn’t do previously. Well, actually we went to an after hours event with one of our clients, and that was our experience. I remember running from big thunder mountain railroad, all the way to the seven doors mine train, just to try and get on everything we could. And we did send the doors, my train twice that evening. Right. Yeah. Which is unheard of during a regular day. Yeah.
It’s, it’s so fun. And one of the bonuses that they have with these events is that first of all, there’s like unlimited like popcorn, frozen treats. So like, if you look at Mickey bar, you can have as many of those as your heart desires. And because this is a Halloween event, they have candy and soft drinks, which is normally included. So when we found out that this was happening on the last, like, sort of full night of the trip, I told Nicole, I’m like, we have to do this for the girls. Like we have to show them what Disney is like after hours. And not just because it’s a cool like, event that gives us access to the rides and everything. But because the business lesson here is that it shows you that you can take your exact same product, package it up in a different way, charge a premium price by limiting access and make a bunch of profit off of it.
Like Disney can have the parks run from the opening time to 11:00 PM on a regular day. But no, those last three hours are just for people who are buying tickets to this or that much. Another thing that we’ll point out before we get to the frustration of Disney call centers is much more expensive than they have been in the past. So yeah. Ticket prices for this event, I think range between like 150 to $200 per person. Now a one day ticket to the park is like, I think $110 right now for like a single, yeah. It’s
More expensive than one day of the park. It’s less time. And I think a lot of that has to do with the fact that they have to extremely limit capacity in the parks, just because of the pandemic and all of that. But it’s definitely the most expensive after our event type scene. And I’ve done some I’ve done some dessert parties, which I mean, and when you think about it, like they’re giving popcorn away and soft drinks and those things are pennies to make. And, you know, you’re paying a couple hundred extra dollars for it. It’s for the access and for, for Halloween, it’s the characters in Halloween costumes that you get to see too, because those, those aren’t out during the regular days.
Yeah. And they’ll have like Calvin kids, but not that the standard parades happening at this event. So it’s a premium experience. We didn’t budget for this, but when it happened, we had to do it. And the only way to get tickets right now they opened up recordings on June 8th is to call member services. If you have a resort reservation, which we do. So member services opens up at 9:00 AM. I’m calling at 8 55, I’m calling at 8 50, 6 57. You get it right. Keeps telling me we’re closed right now, call back at eight fifty nine fifty nine call through busy signal. So I was like, okay, this is normal. Then I call again and again and again. And finally, after like 15 tries Nicole, I get through only to go through the whole rhythm or mall putting like my membership number in choosing which department I want to talk to, to be told that all of their cast members are busy right now.
And I need to call back later. They didn’t even put me on like a four hour hold, which was much more frustrating for me because I kept having to call back. Before we hopped on to record this episode, I call member services like 121 times I just checked my phone 121 times since 9:00 AM this morning. It is 10:30 AM right now. So I gotten through a couple of times only to be hung up on. And this is incredibly frustrating as a member, because one of the things that happened as a result of like the switch and the pandemic is does he have to let go a lot of cast members and getting through to member services in the past prior to the pandemic, like you you’d be on wait, but it was like 30.
Yeah. Yeah. I don’t think that was ever waiting more than like 30 minutes. That would be, that would be because I called on a Saturday morning when no one’s at work. They’re all calling Saturday mornings.
Exactly, exactly. So, you know, that’s a long term I’ve ever had to like wait before, during the pandemic, I have been on the phone literally for two hours on hold, waiting to like combine reservations for this upcoming pixie dust trip that we’re going to do. And thankfully I really liked Disney music. So I just like pop in my AirPods and just like clean or do whatever and listen to it as I’m waiting. But I know some people probably go crazy after hearing VR guests for the 17th time and that’s okay. We can still be friends, but I didn’t get like the luxury of being put on hold. I’d just keep having to call back. And the reason why that’s such a mad rush is because these tickets are limited. I don’t know how many other people are trying to get the date of our event. And we needed like eight tickets for our party to go. So it’s not like we’re trying to get like one or two.
I mean, I hate the way that they just set this up. It’s just, I don’t know. It’s kind of meant to fail, right? Email us. They build all this excitement for this event. They say, oh, tickets are going on sale in June. They don’t even tell us which day. And then they finally tell us which day, and they say, okay, you have to call member services in order to get these tickets. And we can buy it from the website, put them on the website. Yeah, we had to call. But when you call, they don’t have the infrastructure to, and we know this technology exists. And I think this is what is so frustrating as a customer is that we know that there is technology out there that if you call someone, you can leave a phone number and they will call you back. We know that we know that you can have estimated wait times that isn’t even new technology, having an estimated wait time.
It just lets me know like, okay, if this is four hours, I’m going to hang up. If this is 25 minutes, I’m willing to put that time in. Right. And if people are willing to hang up because it’s four hours, then that takes people out of the queue and more people can get through it. Like it’s not new technology. So it’s extremely frustrating. I have the experience about two months ago where I needed to renew my annual pass, but Disney isn’t selling new annual passes because of the pandemic. They S they shut that down, but I needed to renew mine. And so I had to call and all of this stuff, I waited for hours to get through to member services for them to say, oh, we need to send you over here. Then I waited two hours for the other department and then had to go back to member services after.
And it all got sorted through, but that was with like six or seven hours of my time. I usually tried to call him a Sunday, just so it wouldn’t interrupt my Workday. And I could have one earbud listening to be a cast, but it’s extremely frustrating. And I think that this is just a lesson in your business. That what experience are your people having? If you’ve drummed up all of this excitement for something, or even if you haven’t, what frustrations are they hitting when they interact with you? Is that so difficult to get their email address on your email list? They don’t get their thank you confirmation email, whatever it may be. I mean, I help my customers day in and out with this with client experience management. And, you know, we’re like on top of answering emails within 24 hours, even when we have an event with 50,000 people going on and it’s live and we’re broadcasting and streaming, we are still responding to requests within minutes of getting them.
And we have a small team of one, and I’m not saying that like Disney can’t like Disney has to do this, or I expect a response right away. But with the amount of money they have and the amount of capital they have, the amount of technology they create, like they’re not even like buying other technology. They probably have the expertise to create something that works. And instead you’ve got every single person calling at the same time for limited event tickets. And then on top of that, this really hurts the people who are currently on site who need help right away. You know, especially with the pandemic. People are canceling their trips last minute. If someone, you know, has the sniffles and they decide, oh, you know what? I don’t want to come. It’s not safe for me to fly or whatever. Maybe they need to get through immediately, like I’m onsite now.
And I know from calling their other 800 lines that they do have that question. When you call dining reservations, it says, are you in Florida right now? Press one. So you know that it exists in other parts of their business, but it doesn’t exist over here. And that makes it extremely frustrating. I also know because I’m going to an event that is hosted at Disney it’s through their, you know, their corporate event area that I could call and get an instant pickup from an actual person. When I call about that event that I’m attending. So on the one hand, you know, I’m waiting five, six hours to spend. I don’t know how much is it like $200 times, eight, $1,600. I’m waiting four hours to spend $1,600. And then the other hand I’m like, Hey, I just need the name changed on my reservation. Again, an instant pickup, because it’s a corporate event that doesn’t feel very good as an everyday person. I understand why the corporate events need that, you know, white glove service. But gosh, just tell me the wait time. Yeah.
And like, I would argue that in some cases we can be Disney apologists because we understand the difficult decisions that come into like certain business practices. Like sometimes you have to like weigh the, you know, the pros and the cons. And it’s not ideal for everyone, but we can understand what the logic behind that. So I took a second to think, Nicole, like, why would they even do this? Like I know that they can estimate, wait times, I’ve heard that before, like your call will take 45 is relatively
New because I had a concert earlier this year and they didn’t have that. Exactly.
And I think they incorporate that as a result of the increased wait times. But one thought I had is maybe it’s because they know the wait time is going to be so long and people are going to get so off that it’s easier to just like, hang up on you, then tell you you’re going to have to wait like five hours to get through to someone. That’s the only thing I can think of, but still either way, it’s a frustrating experience. And I think I would rather hear that it’s going to be a long wait time and understand knowing that if I didn’t want to listen to be our guests 271 times,
I could, well, it puts the choice in your hands exactly. Then taking the choice away from you. Right. And I don’t know about you, but it doesn’t matter if it’s about the iced tea that I’m drinking or the phone way at time or the clothes I’m wearing. Like the choice is mine. And I want that choice to walk away to be mine. And it’s extremely frustrating if you’ve entered digits, you know, it’s one thing, if you get the busy signal, okay. Too many people are calling at once or you get the busy signal or pre recorded message. And it says, you know, we’re, we’re currently fall hang up. But when you sit there and you tap two and you listened to this and you’ve tapped for, and you get to the place you’re going to be like, it’s just very frustrating. And on top of this, we are Disney vacation club members.
So we pay dues. So every single point we own has a dollar value associated with it. And most of that goes to the upkeep and maintenance of the resorts, but a piece of that is for operations. And so this entire section of the business, it’s not like we’re freeloaders. We spend lots of money at Disney and we’re trying to buy tickets to a private event that is not very cheap and we pay dues. So on top of that, you’re you have this feeling of like, they’re taking our money and they’re, they’re doing something with it that isn’t benefiting us. And it’s, it’s kind of a phrase in the Disney vacation club community, whenever something looks a little like suspicious, my dues, you know, like that’s where our money is going. And you know, I’m not here to nickel and dime it, pick how they spend the dues, because I do think there’s a lot to operations that, you know, that aren’t public facing.
There aren’t fun things. So, you know, you don’t want to talk about investing and inbox management. You know, that’s not something like people find interesting, but it does improve their experience and makes them happy to be sending you their money every month or year or however you pay your dues. So anyway, we thought we’d share this episode because there are things about Disney that frustrate us, and it’s not all pixie dust at all times. And we just want you to take this away and think about, you know, what points do I have we say this all the time? What points do I have with my customer and where are they experiencing frustration and how can I make that better? And, you know, in this perspective, we are long-term customers. You’re going to continue being customer. So they probably did a cost benefit analysis. Does it make sense to spend money, to get more cast members, to help these phone lines for vacation club members?
You know, they’re really frustrated, but we know they’re going to keep coming back. They have 50 year contracts with us. So we know that the bottom line, I think maybe it frustrates us even more because we do understand the bottom line and that we, that we probably aren’t a return on investment for them compared to hiring people in other parts of their business. So we understand, and I think that also leads to some of our frustration, but think about that in your business, you know, are you setting aside or treating your existing loyal customers differently than you are the brand new person? Are you constantly chasing that new lead or that shiny new product or whatever it is that you’re, that’s new and bright to your business and leaving aside, these people who have been with you for years and, you know, are the ones talking about your offers or sharing them, or, you know, buying any of the things you put out there.
We have super fans like that. Every single client I’ve worked with has a couple of people where you can just blurt out their name. Yeah. This person, she buys all my stuff and she’s great to have in my programs. I love her, you know, are you hurting those people in favor of new people? And you know, yeah. There were waves of your business. You’re sometimes you’re going to focus on new clients and centers. You’re going to first focus on your existing audience, but you know, think about it intentionally, maybe every single month. It’s like, what’s the one thing I’m doing for new people. And what’s the one thing I’m doing for existing people or thinking about it quarterly if monthly is a little bit too much.
No, for sure. And a great example, like just to a real life example of this, like if you have a membership, which like we do, and we try our very best to take good care of the people in it. And as a result have like a really low churn rate, but I’ve had clients who’ve just been focused on like just growing memberships, growing memberships, growing memberships, without thinking about the infrastructure challenges and what they need to do to keep their current members happy. So every time they added a member, it was to replace like 1.5 that was leaving and their numbers never rose because they weren’t addressing the core issue. So take a look at those trends, take a look at that data. And before you start like chasing new members, because you’re having a churn problem to refill you know, the capacity that you lost in your membership, see if there’s anything you can do better to serve those people because, oh, it’s more
Expensive to bring you in than it is to just treat your existing people. Well, and I think, and this online industry, I do think that there’s a certain level of I’m bored of the product that I’ve put out there, or I’m bored of the people I’m serving or the thing I’ve been talking about these things for so long, I’m bored of it, that they just kind of abandoned the thing that they created in favor of getting new people in or starting something new. And, you know, that’s an, a good place to be an either. I mean, imagine if I say Nike a lot, but like, imagine if like McDonald’s got tired of serving hamburgers and fries every six months, like, you know, they probably go out of business because that’s what they are. So, you know, at some point it’s not always fun and it’s not always going to be like thriving and personal fulfillment in your business. And I think there’s just some toxic messaging out there that if you don’t love it, you, you shouldn’t do it. And that doesn’t necessarily build sustainable businesses, but we could have a whole other episode on all of that.
All right. So if you’ve been with us this long, thank you for joining us on our little vent session about wait times at Disney. If you are interested in maybe joining us in person at an upcoming pixie dust and profits live event, because, you know, we like to sprinkle pixie dust on our people just to make the experience oh, so magical. Then you can sign up for the firstname.lastname@example.org/live. We haven’t announced the dates for the next retreat, but it is in the works. And we are excited to get together again in 2022 to enjoy Disney and talk biz strategy. All right.
And if you aren’t already following us on Instagram, follow us @pixiedustandprofits, and you can text message us. I promise there isn’t a wait time for that. We will actually respond to you. It’s 2 0 7 2 0 3 6 7 6 9. It is us answering no wait times. We’d love to hear from you. CRLT.