I put together a set of takeaways from our annual trip to Disney World that would actually be actionable in your business…so here goes.

It’s All About Experience – Disney World isn’t known for the tallest or fastest roller coasters, but the theme and the experience they wrap around the coasters they have are what separates them from the rest. It’s really that way with everything they do, from having popular characters in many of the restaurants for visits and pictures to offering ‘Fast Passes’ so you can circumvent long lines to enjoy your favorite rides.

Disney works tirelessly to maximize the guest’s experience – and it’s easily their best selling tool.  Over 80% of guests return – and that’s at a pretty steep price tag. Outside of return visitors, their best source of traffic is referrals – again, based on the experience they provide.

Your Ideal Business Takeaway: Focus on making the experience your clients have with your business stand above the rest.  Remember, they probably aren’t experts in your craft so differentiating you solely by your skill as a professional isn’t enough.  You need to find ways to make certain that they have a more enjoyable time with you than they could with any other fitness solution. Your rewards will be better retention and many more referrals.

Make It Easy – One of my favorite things about trips to Disney World is how easy they make it. From bundling in all the meals into the package and providing transportation to the parks from our resort to picking up our bags from the airline and letting you check in and check bags at our resort for our trip home.

I travel more than most and by eliminating many of the hassles that go along with travel, Disney has really made it seem like a longer vacation for me rather than me having to deal with a bunch of hassles to eventually get to the resort or get home. To me, this is a huge added value because we want to go to the resort and enjoy the parks.  We tolerate the travel – and they make it much, much easier to tolerate.

Your Ideal Business Takeaway: What are the hassles your clients have to deal with to do business with you?  They have to make that first visit where they feel overwhelmed and a little intimidated.  Can you make it more comfortable?  Can you make sure they know exactly what to expect? Can they fill out their paperwork at home and bring it with them to save time?  Have you given them confirmation calls with directions?  Your clients want to get great results and will be fine once they get acclimated – make it as comfortable as you can for them to get started.

Be The Total Solution – For us to go to a theme park like Disney World, it’s not as simple as just showing up at the park.  We have to worry about lodging, meals and travel.  Disney has grown their business by allowing you to bundle all of it in together and stay at their hotels, eat at their restaurants and lean on them for travel. They even offer guides that can go with you around the parks, behind the scenes opportunities and even babysitters if parents want to go out for an evening.

Basically, anything that can potentially help you have the type of experience you want to have – they will provide (at a price.)

Your Ideal Business Takeaway: Your clients want a certain result.  Outside of workouts, what can you provide that will help them get that result?  Supplements?  Nutrition Coaching?  A Kitchen Makeover? A Grocery Store Tour?  Foam rollers? Personal equipment like their own bands or kettlebells?  A percentage of your clients will want the upgrades and some will even want everything you have to offer.  

It’s All About The Details – Disney is all about the details. Every resort, park area and attraction has a theme and the theme permeates throughout every aspect of that Disney experience. From the Cast Members’ clothes to the décor – everything is detailed and consistent.

They also pay attention every detail from making the time spent waiting in lines tolerable to having photographers and ‘photo spots’ throughout the parks to make capturing memories easier.

Your Ideal Business Takeaway: What little things can you do to make your clients’ experience better?  Sweating the details will go a long way.  Is your staff all speaking the ‘same language’ and on the same page?  Is your facility clean?  Are you giving your clients handouts and sending them personal cards to let them know they’re valued?  All the little things that you can do to help clients get results a little quicker and make their experience a little better will go a long way.

Keep Improving: Walt Disney called it ‘plussing’ – the act of continually improving something – and that’s what Disney does.  They’re always evolving, from adding things like airline check ins or Fast Passes to make things a little easier on guests to new marquee attractions and even new venues (what started as 1 park now encompasses 4 theme parks, two water parks and a shopping area.)  Even though we go yearly, there are still noticeable changes on each visit.

Your Ideal Business Takeaway: This should be a no brainer, but you should always be improving at your craft, at delivering the experience and at running your business. Don’t just focus on the big things either.  Every little improvement will separate you farther from the competition.

There are plenty of other lessons that both you and I can take away from Disney World that will help us improve our businesses, but we’ll focus on these for now.

Now you may be wondering why I didn’t talk specifically about money even though Disney makes a mint off of every guest. It’s because without the experience & the details – the money isn’t there.  Without all of this Disney is just another theme park.  But by focusing on delivering an extraordinary experience and sweating every detail Disney can charge a premium, they can have far more stores in their parks than they do attractions and they can get people to happily pay more to them than they would to any other vacation theme park.

So take these lessons and use them in your business.  They’ve helped Disney build a global empire and can help you build a fitness empire of your own.

By Pat Rigsby

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