How The Magic Kingdom’s New Magic is Rooted in Loyalty Technology

Jan 15, 2013

Four years ago this month, professional blogger Jeff Jarvis published his manifesto on the burgeoning age of social media and consumer engagement across multiple channels. “What Would Google Do?” argued that the company’s success (and that of others like Amazon) was rooted in hyper-transparency and social networking connectivity on multiple devices, capitalizing on early digital brand advocates. Today the idea of channel convergence and loyalty programs is taken on faith. Consumers and marketers appreciate the need for engagement and genuine loyalty-promoting experiences.

But when it comes to lifestyle loyalty programs and how companies drive changes in consumer behavior, I was left thinking that Google isn’t the only company doing engagement right. Instead, let’s ask “what would Disney do?”

Mickey Knows Your Name and Management Knows What You Bought and Did

The answer, as it relates to loyalty, is quite a bit. Disney’s launch of its new $1 billion MyMagic+ vacation management system represents the ultimate in convergence, loyalty marketing and actionable data analytics, beginning with a new website and mobile app designed to give park visitors more real-time information about their personal Disney experience.

But Disney’s “magic” doesn’t end there. Guests can wear some of it on their wrists. Park-goers will be offered RFID MagicBands bracelets encoded with personal information to make the Disney experience more authentic – Mickey Mouse and other characters will know individual guests’ names and birthdays. Together, the app and bracelet inform management about the minutiae of guests’ theme park experiences: e.g., rides taken,   wait times, food consumed, hotel chosen – while also eliminating the need for cash and credit cards. All transactions are processed electronically. Park-goers can even pre-select which FastPass rides they’d like to go on before leaving their homes or hotels; similar to hotel apps allowing guests to pre-order room service before they arrive.

All of this is done under the accurate premise that a happier guest is a better guest and one that will likely spend more money, come back often and tell their friends.

In other words, be the brand advocates that Disney has long envisioned.

Disney and the Loyalty World of Tomorrow

Of course, Disney as ground breaker is nothing new. The theme park’s 14-mile monorail opened in 1971, carrying some 50 million passengers a year, and is the world’s busiest monorail system. EPCOT, the Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow, opened in 1982 and speaks to a tech-centric future of prosperity driven by technology and information – very much the direction the world outside of Disney is moving toward.

Lifestyle loyalty is all about promoting an image or a way of doing something via technology and how promoting the right behaviors at the right times, incrementally, yields more committed customers. And once again Disney is leading the way in how consumers seek brand engagement. It’s often said that if the world ran as efficiently as Disney, we’d all be in a better place. How true that remains. Brands and loyalty providers that fail to embrace the age of channel convergence (and the management-style convergence of customer relationship management, CRM, and customer experience management, CEM, something MyMagic+ is surely trying to address) will be doing their customers a great disservice.

So maybe the question isn’t “what would Disney do” either, but rather “what is Disney doing now?” Have a look and see.

The world of tomorrow awaits.