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 Pixie Dust & Profits. We’re so excited to bring you season three of the podcast. And this week’s episode is all about the lifetime value of a customer and how Disney convinces us to keep coming back for more and why that’s so important for them and also for you and your business.
So when Nicole and I were playing this episode, I had to ask her, what was your first exposure to Disney? Like, how did you become my Disney obsessed BFF that convinced me to buy DVC? And I thought back to my experience, I distinctly remember the commercials that they would air back in the day. Like I’m talking like maybe late nineties, early two thousands. And I just, I wanted to go so, so bad. It just seemed like the most magical place on earth. I love Disney movies. So naturally I would have loved the parks and back then, you know, my parents weren’t the most like tech savvy people. They’re kind of still a lot, but don’t tell him, I said that, sorry, mom. And I actually called the line put on like my most grown-up voice. I talked really low and I ordered the DVDs to come to my house that would help you plan a trip. And I remember, you know, rehearsing for days waiting for them to come to be like, Oh, Hey mom, like let’s sit down and let’s go through this presentation. So
Of currency or would have a presentation deck or did it
Yep, yep. Back then my PowerPoint skills weren’t at the level that they’re at now, but you know, I had rehearsed everything. I actually wrote notes. I remember having like flashcards and the DVDs came and I convinced my parents like sit down with me one afternoon and I put them on and we went through everything and I tried to explain like why it was so worth it to go and how, you know, we can stay at a budget resort and it would only cost, like, I think it was like $999 or something for a family of three back then. It was like crazy cheap compared to what it was now. And I was kind of devastated when it never really happened because just being real here, I immigrated to Canada with my family, from Iran when I was like a toddler, we left everything behind and really started from scratch here.
And financially just like wasn’t in the cards for us to go to Disney World and stay onsite. And back then, I didn’t know about, you know, how you can stay offsite and other ways to make it work. And in my mom’s eyes, we would go to Disneyland every time we visited family in Los Angeles and that, you know, one day trip to Disneyland made up for the immersive experience of Disney world. I never thought so, but anyway, that was how my mom justified not going. And it really wasn’t until years later. And I’ve told this story before on the podcast, when I was in my late twenties, I went back to Disneyland with some friends and it’s just like sparked the love of just Disney in general. And it was along until I convinced my then boyfriend now has been Dylan to go to Disney world with me. And that’s what really got me to where I am today, where I record Disney podcasts with a coach every other week.
I have a produced similar beginning experience as a customer of Disney. You know, growing up, I think my first visit was probably around nine years old. I remember my brother was still in a stroller. It might’ve been like eight or nine somewhere around there. And I was from a very working class family. And this was back in the early nineties, like 94 ish and a trip to Disney world was like, you’re doing okay in life. It’s the once in a lifetime trip for a family to take. And my parents had gone there for their honeymoon and 85. So they had gone, I know my mom loved Pluto. We owned every single Disney VHS. We would be the people who would put the new movies on layaway at the Disney store. And if you put them on pre-order, you would get these like gorgeous art prints that came with them when you picked them up.
And so we were pretty immersed in that side of Disney and you know, the first time I went, I was almost 10. And I remember we drove down. I can’t remember a lot because I was so young, but I remember driving down in a minivan and staying at a place that was site and just doing like one or two of the parks. I don’t even know if there were many parks back then. We probably skipped Epcot because I was so young, but that was the start. And it just kinda grew from there. It really was high school for me that I really became the lifelong customer because we had a trip with my physics class where we got to do all sorts of behind the scenes stuff at islands of adventure and also at Epcot. And you know, after that, going with a cousin who went the year later, I brought my family down there after graduating high school.
So that way it was our last U hurrah before I went to college and I would take trips with my mom in between high school and college, my mom got diagnosed with usher syndrome. And so it really affects her vision and her hearing. And I’ve talked about this before on the podcast, but Disney is so accommodating to those with disabilities, that it just became our favorite vacation. And so we would all save up me and my brother and my mom. And every two years we would go to Disney together. And it was our vacation that was stress-free for, you know, accommodating my mom’s needs. And stress-free for us. We knew that she would be taken care of, and that’s just kind of how they want us over. And then over the years I started finding ways of, you know, how can I keep coming back here and making it as economical as possible, but also, you know, as I grew in my business and even before my business and the roles I was taking on in my corporate life, w where can I splurge a little bit? What things were important to me? What can I, what can I do to get a little more out of this? And so this episode, we’re really talking about how you get that hook in for someone being there your first time customer, like, how do you get them coming back? Essentially, I am 34 now. I think don’t quote me on that. So this is 24 years later and I’m spending more money than ever with Disney. So, you know, how do they convert someone from that first time, buy her all the way up to decades later?
Yeah. When you look at all the work that Disney does to acquire customer, it’s pretty expensive. Like, just keep in mind all the marketing that they do to get you to go on that trip. There’s the DVDs. They still send those out, believe it or not. And think of all of the, you know, kids who put on grownup voices to order them who never ended up going like that was sort of yeah.
And just forge their signature on a Google form or something. Yeah,
Exactly. You can order it online. You don’t really even need your parents’ approval. No voices to put on when you call. But I mean, kids, if you’re listening, always ask a parent before you order anything online, you know, be safe, but it’s expensive. So there’s a DVDs to plan your trip. Now you can obviously watch those videos instantly, but they give you that option still. They run commercials. I think of all the times you’ve seen those commercials of like people’s magical experiences in the parks, and it just seems like so great. And it is and nowadays are partnering with influencers. So it’s not just you know, the fashion influencers who go to Disney wearing their like Gucci handbags and their cute ears. It’s moms on Instagram, on blogs, sharing their experience with their families. Like, heck they have the what is it like from a Disney moms?
The mom panel I’ve applied twice and I’ve never been chosen one day. But essentially it’s a panel of moms who volunteered to answer frequently asked questions, and I don’t even think they get gift cards out of it or anything. That’s, it’s very minor that what they get. So this that’s the ultimate super fan where they’re willing to work for you for free.
And doesn’t he cultivates this by creating not only a magical experience upfront. And, you know, we’ve talked in episodes about what they do to get you excited before the trip. And we’ll link those episodes down below in the show notes. But once you’re there, they really create this incredible experience. That’s really unique and different from really any other type of vacation you would go to like Nicole, you went to great Wolf lodge with your family. And they sort of have sort of elements that are Disney apps, but it’s not the same. Right.
And not even close. In fact, whole time we were there. We were just like, it’s not as clean, it’s louder. It’s more compact. The flow of traffic was one of those things that actually overwhelmed us because there were so many people in such a small space, it’s an indoor water park. And it just was not a really great experience for us because of some of these things. And we just really, it made us appreciate even more that Disney has engineers, who their job is to look at traffic flow of pedestrian traffic, which rides people are trying to hit up versus others and were strollers get parked. And there are engineers for this. And obviously that’s a level of commitment to the customer experience that most places can’t afford. But it’s just an example of, it’s not just a luck that they have gotten to this point with their customer experience.
Absolutely. So just to recap, Disney spends a lot of money trying to acquire a customer. And for the most part, it pays off. I mean, obviously you go there, you have your trip. And there are so many families that do that once in a lifetime trip and may never go back, but they definitely try to get you to go back there. Nicole, do you want to cover off some of the strategies that Disney implements to get you to book another trip?
Yeah, definitely. When you get into the park and you see how clean everything is and how unlike the great Wolf lodge it is they just do everything they can to make a pleasant experience while you were there. So you feel good. And then while you’re feeling good before you even leave with your trip, they have what is called a bounce back offer. And usually these are on the table in your hotel room, if you’re staying on property and it just says, book your next trip before you leave and save 20% or 30% whatever specific offer they have going at the time. And so you can go to the front desk or call the number and you can say, you know what? I had a lot of fun here. We’re going to come back in 14, 15 months and save that 30%. So before you even leave, they’re trying to collect that PLAs to dollar.
So those are really popular. And then after you come back home a few weeks later in the mail, you’ll get this little, it’s just a little art print. And we have so many of them now that we have the same characters, but we’ve gotten Dumbo and Minnie and Mickey. And it’s a lot of fun. It just says like Bouschet family on it. And it’s just a nice little memento and memory, and that doesn’t come with an offer to come back. But it’s another feel-good point afterwards. Like, you know what, I’m back into real life. I’m back at my desk and we have so much work to do vacation sounds good. You know, it starts getting those gears turning. And then a couple of weeks after that, you’ll probably in the mail or in your email, get what they call a pin code. And a pin code is something that’s very specific.
It’s targeted directly at you. If you try and use with someone else’s last name, it will not work. I know this from experience because for some reason my mom’s name is tied to my account, but only sometimes. So if I try to use a pin and it’s really her pen we get into this kerfuffle with the it department. But these pin codes are generally a specific offer to you and they’re very targeted. So they know that I usually stay at a moderate level of resort if I’m not staying on vacation club. And so they will send me something specific to a place that I’ve stayed a few times and they kind of just entice you to come. And the other thing that they kind of do is try to word everything in a way that makes it sound like it’s really easy to come. You know, it’s like $49 a night per person, which $49 is $50 per person per night. And you go for many nights and it adds up to a bigger number, but they’re very smart about the ways that they advertise to you. So those are a couple of the ways that they try and get you to come back. And then once they see that you’ve come a few times, that’s where the Disney vacation club offers starting.
They have DVDs for that too, by the way. I know, because even before I met Nicole and Roger’s new vacation club, cause I was just like, Hmm, that could be fun. But yeah. So Nicole, you joined Disney vacation club because after attending Disney so many times and trying to make the most budget conscious trip, you were all about having a better experience with spending that money more efficiently. Right. And that’s what does the vacation club sort of allows you to do if you go back frequently now?
Yeah, well, with my mom, we were going every two years, the week of her birthday, which as a recording right now, her birthday is actually this week. So all the memories keep popping up on Facebook, but we would go every two years and it got to the point where we were coming often enough that I heard rumblings of vacation club, but I thought it was a scam. You know, when you walk past these signs at the parks, it’s like, find out how you can stay for free or stay for 50% less. And you know, it just sounded like a scam. So I never really took them up on the offer to learn more. And then I met some friends who actually own Disney vacation club and they were explaining how it worked to me. And one of those friends essentially rented her, her points to me.
So I paid her and she made a reservation for me so that we could try animal kingdom lodge. And we tried a studio and that was so inexpensive to us because we were paying the same amount we would’ve paid if we, you know, outright booked a value, but we were paying it to my friend. And so this seems like win-win when I was like, Oh my gosh, I’m paying the same price to a friend that I would’ve paid to Disney and I’m supposedly getting a better room. And then we went and we stayed and we loved it, but my husband was very sick on that trip. We were waiting for some test results back to find out what was going on, but essentially he did not get to enjoy that first trip of his very much because of how sick he was. So we went back to the friend and said, Hey, do you have more points?
Can we, can we rent a room next year? We really liked it. And we think we might want to buy DVC, but my husband really wants to try it again and understand it. So we booked a one bedroom, you know, and the second we walked into the one bedroom, my husband was so old. He was like, okay, if you’re gonna like have me come to Disney every two years or every year or whatever it is that, you know, the cadence has been set, it needs to be in a place like this. It had a full kitchen. And for him, like he, it just gets to the point where you just don’t want to eat theme park food every single day. And the paying the a hundred dollar bills to eat at a table restaurant every day, we’re willing to spend our budget in the living situation and save in making some peanut butter and jellies or tacos in the hotel room or something like that.
So that’s our choice. Other people choose to splurge on food and stay somewhere more inexpensive. And there’s no right or wrong answer, but for us, that’s where we like to spend our budget. And so he saw that one bedroom and he was sold and we went to the presentation and sat there and I ended up coming home and making the decision to buy off the resale market. And haven’t looked back really. We have you know, a hundred points at Bay Lake and I think 25 at Animal Kingdom. And it serves well for us to go every other year
And you’ll know how I ended up buying Disney vacation club. Nicole and I were at Disney for a business intensive with a client. And after that had wrapped up, of course we extended our stay to be on parks and to actually plan for the podcast and do more work on pixie, dust and profits. And when we walked by the DVC booth at the Polynesian, Nicole was like, do you want to like, you know, do the tour? And I was like, yeah. And you know, we left the next day with a contract enhanced and now we have 75 points at copper Creek. And I’m like eager to add on because I anticipate needing more points in the future. Just trying to wait for like the whole situation with the pandemic to sort of ease up and for my daughter to be a little bit older, because I feel like she will get so much more out of it. Next year.
And the reason we’re talking about vacation club here is when you think of that scale of acquiring a customer and how expensive that is to turning them into something like a DVC member, the lifelong Disney spenders are going to bring in so much more money than the marketing to the once in a lifetime family. So their entire, well, I don’t know their insights, but I would say that their, one of their major goals is to turn those once in a lifetime families, not necessarily into vacation club owners are at the highest lifetime value, but to make sure that they’re getting the value they can get out of that family, whether it’s in one trip that is once in a lifetime and upselling them into, you know, the Cinderella dinner or the fireworks parties or you know, we went to a Star Wars fireworks party, like the little things like that, that they have available to them, just increasing that lifetime value of the once in a once in a while families or once in a lifetime families.
And then also working toward the other end of the spectrum where you’re convincing me that I shouldn’t be making peanut butter and jellies and should be, you know, eating in the newest restaurants site. So this is really like the entire goal of their marketing team is how can we make the lifetime value of one customer goes so much higher. And the reason this is important for you is of course, it’s so much easier to resell to someone who’s already in your audience who already trusts you, who has already bought from you. And so anything you can do to convince them, continue this journey with me, even if it’s as simple as you know, I’m running the program again, come join me again. Do you have some sort of free thing that you do? That’s a challenge. You might’ve done it before, but come do it again.
It’s fun. You already know what you’re going to get. So there’s no worry or anxiety around, you know, what’s going to happen next, but you trust me. So you’re, we’re going to go through this together again. And maybe there’s another sale at the end of this, but convincing that person who already knows you and trust you to spend more with you is going to be so much easier than, you know, troubleshooting Facebook ads, you know, AB testing a sales page trying out a new product line and figuring out which ones sell and which ones don’t, they don’t want the yellow one. They want the pink one. You know, all of these things that go into planning for new sales and just use the customers you already have because they love you. And they want more from you.
Yeah. You can sell them into your new experiences. That’s why we have cold and warm audiences. Your warm audience already has that trust. And there’s so much more likely to buy more for you. So really it’s a lot less effort. But when we say it’s a lot less effort to get that sale, you still have to nurture them. You still have to create a great experience for them. It’s not a matter of like, Oh, they bought from me once. I’m not going to talk to them at all. And then once I have something ready, I’m going to sell them an email and they’re going to buy no, that’s not how it works. You still need to engage, but it’s a lot less costly to get them to purchase from you once more. And the thing that we want to note here is like the goal isn’t necessarily to make a zillion dollars off of one customer, right? It’s just to get them to come back. So key way to do that is obviously to have a diverse product portfolio that meets customers at different levels. We’ve talked about Ascension models before and why it’s so important. We go into a lot of detail that episode seven, which we’ll link below, but it’s all about meeting clients where they’re at and giving them more from you and growing with them when it comes to giving the product offering.
Yeah, I love that point. You made about it still means a work. It’s not an easy sale, but it is easier to sell it with someone who has more trust with you. Assuming, which is, I guess the part I kind of left out was assuming that you have delivered upon the promises that you made. So Yasmine getting those DVDs in the mail, saying this is the most magical vacation you could ever hope to end dream of. And then what happens when she gets there and it’s dirty and messy and the food is terrible and the lines are so long and in the sun, she gets sunburned. And you know, that’s not delivering on the promise of having the most magical vacation ever. And so she’s not going to buy from you. So when we talk about this concept of selling to those existing customers, it does come with that very strong caveat that they have trust in you, that they can expect that what they pay for, they are going to get, and that you have surprised and delighted them along the way. So keep those things in mind, as you think about your Ascension models, as you think about your product spread and how you support your community, because how you treat them, they’ll definitely notice and they’ll show you what their dollars. So if you’re looking to grow the lifetime value of your customer, make sure the things that you’re delivering are, you know, of quality
Before we wrap up this episode, just to make it really tangible for you guys. We’re going to go through some of those strategies that Disney uses to get people to come back and break down a real life example of how you can implement it. So the postcards that they send afterward, that’s a followup email that you sent to check in about their experience and to survey, ask them how they enjoyed the program or the product. And, you know, at that point you can even offer them a little bit of a discount code to get them to come back or let them know of another product that they might want to try next with the bounce back offers, you see this a lot on live events. Yeah.
And with like the pin codes, this could be something like, just making sure you have semi-annual big sales in place, you know, black Friday’s coming up, come back and get this item you’re left in your cart almost. So you can definitely do things like that. A pin code can also be something as simple as sending out an email to people who have only purchased a certain thing from you saying, Hey guys, I’m rerunning this program, or I’m updating this program and I want you to come back. So it’s really, you know, speaking directly to that audience, segmenting them a very specific way. So it’s like, I know that you’ve, you’re interested in this. We, we did this together before, but I have this new thing that’s slightly related and I’m only offering it to you because you did my previous program with me. So that could be something that you’re doing in terms of pin, because it is very
Exclusive and targeted. And you know, it doesn’t work if your name doesn’t match the number. So make sure you replicate that in some way with the marketing you have for this new offer that you’ve got going. And remember all of these strategies only work. If you deliver on your promise. We had 80% of the women who joined Pixie Dust & Profits Live, sign up for the profitable and productive party because we created such a great experience for them that they wanted to continue working with us. If that didn’t exist, there’s no way that we could sell them into that other offer that we had ready and available for them. So make sure that as you think about these promotions and strategies to increase the lifetime value of your customer, that you’re still focusing on the experience that you’re delivering with your original product. Well, thank you so much for joining us for this episode and season three, if you can’t wait for our next episode to come out, you can join us in the profitable and productive party where we share a monthly, quick trick tool that you can use in your business to help grow your leadership skills, your operations, your profits, and we would love to see you there.
You can get there from pixiedustandprofits.com/party. Thanks so much. And we’ll see.