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Old 03-05-2013, 01:02 PM   #1
Bob Roberts
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Walt Disney World Resort Marketing

Hi everyone,

Now maybe some of you might call me crazy, but I can't figure out for the life of me how the Walt Disney Company markets the Walt Disney World Resort? I would assume that all of us being Disney fanatics have in the past explained to friends and family about all that WDW resort has to offer. The typical reaction is " I thought it only had the Castle there". If you went up to 100 random people and asked them about Walt Disney World, I would think only a handful of people would know that there is more to it then that place with the castle. If you went up to the same random group of people and asked them to list 5 hotels in Vegas, the majority could do it. Heck if you held up a picture of "Atlantis" in the Bahama's I bet the masses could identify it. But if you held up a picture of perhaps "The Wilderness Lodge" people would be totally shocked that it is in Walt Disney World. And who's fault is this?

A typical WDW resort commercial on T.V for the past 10 years has been the same exact thing. A group of parents running up the castle with their 5 year old son or daughter holding balloons. Now I am not a marketing person what so ever, but how in the World could the Disney brass really thinks that these commercial's are any good with promoting their product? Why not show all the beautiful resorts and pools? Why not show the other theme parks and water parks? Why not show all the recreation that can be done on property? I guess it boils down to them not really caring enough to promote the resort properly. I guarantee you if Walt Disney was alive today the average person would know all to well what the Walt Disney World resort has to offer. Its kind of a shame I believe. Whats your opinion?
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Old 03-05-2013, 01:11 PM   #2
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Wow...kind of negative. The place is so crowded already something must be working. I suppose they may be relying on the internet, and the detailed video they will send you for free if you ask. Have you seen it?
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Old 03-05-2013, 01:12 PM   #3
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I'll give you my own (worthless) opinion on why they market it this way.

For a marketer, the idea is about transmitting a concept, an intangible, something to which you can aspire, yet never really know you can achieve. That's the "mystique" factor of Disney. Have a "magic" Disney vacation where you take your kids to the castle and ride the teacups, dance blissfully in Fantasyland, and so on.

The "back-end" vehicle through which Disney rakes in inestimable (okay, not really) piles of cash is the resort/DVC side. But look at how other organizations, like Sandals, et al, market their vacations; swimming, beachside, beautiful resorts, the works. So if Disney starts to market their resorts the same way, they change their market. And lots of places have beautiful hotels with big, beautiful pools and such. They are packaging a value proposition with the "magic" of Disney theming up front and capitalizing it with resorts on the back end.

Disney would never want to advertise itself even substantially as a swim-and-play resort hotel destination, because that instantly makes them like dozens (hundreds? thousands?) of other resort destinations. It homogenizes them. But no one, no one can sell a Disney vacation but Disney. It's their essential market and product differentiator. The resorts are a revenue machine in much the same way the restaurants are, but you never see a Disney ad for, say, "Come eat at the California Grill" (or whatever).

Bottom line - the linchpin in the sale offering is the "Disney Experience" that literally no one else can sell. There's no marginal advantage in trying to sell yourself in any other way.

EDIT: ps: As far as whether Walt would advertise differently, it's my considered opinion you'd never have seen the restaurant/hotel/DVC business become anywhere near as significant a component of Disney as it has. He wanted a fun, family theme park; I could be 100% wrong, but I don't think he was envisioning a locale where timeshare sales and ADR's would become such a big part of the experience Not saying he didn't want this at all, but I think had he lived longer, WDW's direction would have been decidedly different. And I think that's part of why his family had so much frustration when WDW became driven by the corporate mentality rather than the Disney mentality.

Last edited by OklahomaTourist; 03-05-2013 at 01:20 PM.
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Old 03-05-2013, 01:36 PM   #4
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Here are some way better commercials from the 90's that give WDW a little more justice. A nice mix of everything it has to offer.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LRVPO7un6sw

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7xqiD6tEZTo
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Old 03-05-2013, 01:37 PM   #5
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Their balance sheet would disagree with your analysis.

http://articles.orlandosentinel.com/...ue-theme-parks

"Disney's parks-and-resorts unit led the way among the company's divisions in terms of percentage gains for both quarterly and annual profit and revenue. Its fourth-quarter operating profit totaled $497 million, an 18 percent increase from a year ago, on a 9 percent increase in revenue to $3.4 billion. For the year, operating profit jumped 22 percent to $1.9 billion, as revenue rose 10 percent to $12.9 billion."
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Old 03-05-2013, 01:49 PM   #6
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It has nothing to do with how much money they are making . We all know they are raking it in $$$$$$. It is my personal opinion that they could get even more out of it if it was marketed a little better. When you tell the average Joe that Disney has 3 other theme parks other then the "Magic Kingdom" and they have no clue. It seems to me that someone is not doing something right when it comes to marketing. Its like a car company like "Toyota" only advertising they have the "Camry" for sale and nothing else.
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Old 03-05-2013, 01:56 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Roberts View Post
It has nothing to do with how much money they are making . We all know they are raking it in $$$$$$. It is my personal opinion that they could get even more out of it if it was marketed a little better. When you tell the average Joe that Disney has 3 other theme parks other then the "Magic Kingdom" and they have no clue. It seems to me that someone is not doing something right when it comes to marketing. Its like a car company like "Toyota" only advertising they have the "Camry" for sale and nothing else.
Your position is based on anecdotal evidence. The facts are that, as you say, they're raking in a huge pile of money at their resorts. How do they do that? By getting people inside the parks. If their revs had been in decline I'd tend to agree with your position but that's not the case. And MK is the jewel in Disney's Orlando crown, why would they spend money advertising HS, EPCOT or the waterparks? Advertise the one park, get the customer hooked and extract copious amounts of cash once they step foot on the property. They don't even advertise individual properties yet they're filling rooms at across the spectrum of rooms. I think Disney marketing is doing just fine and their investors recognize that.
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Old 03-05-2013, 02:22 PM   #8
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Basically I don't really care about how much they are making, their ads are just plain awful. Simple as that. If their marketing was better then you would never have to see the numerous threads upon threads on this site of people getting heckled by their friends and other family members for going to Disney World on vacation. If the people knew what was there, you would never hear anything from anybody when you say "We're going to Disney World". But due to the message that they present when you stat "We're going to Disney World" you get the typical groans, and "why do you like going there?" type of thing.
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Old 03-05-2013, 02:34 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Bob Roberts View Post
Basically I don't really care about how much they are making, their ads are just plain awful. Simple as that. If their marketing was better then you would never have to see the numerous threads upon threads on this site of people getting heckled by their friends and other family members for going to Disney World on vacation. If the people knew what was there, you would never hear anything from anybody when you say "We're going to Disney World". But due to the message that they present when you stat "We're going to Disney World" you get the typical groans, and "why do you like going there?" type of thing.
As both a stock holder and a fan of their "product" I'm very pleased with their marketing, their doing something right as they're turning in profits and moving the needle to the right. Their ads don't appeal to you, fine. But they're appealing to more than not as people are flocking to their parks which is what drives revenue and profit.
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Old 03-05-2013, 02:46 PM   #10
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Basically I don't really care about how much they are making, their ads are just plain awful.
No disrespect, but they're not designed to make you happy. They're designed to make money, even if you don't care about that. They do.

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But due to the message that they present when you stat "We're going to Disney World" you get the typical groans, and "why do you like going there?" type of thing.
So?

Some folks like to go on golfing vacations, some folks like to snorkle, some like to tour Europe, I like to go to Disney occasionally. Do I care what anyone else thinks? Not really, and surely not any more than they care what I think about their vacations... c'est la vie.
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Old 03-05-2013, 03:06 PM   #11
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Now that you bring it up, their commercials do seem pretty narrowly focused. However, they clearly have done their reseach and know what they are doing.

Yeah, people have said to us things like "you're going there again?" or "how can you spend 10 days there?". And you're right, many of them have no clue, the totality of all the different things you can do and all that WDW has to offer. If I had a 3 week vacation in WDW (and let's assume money was no object), I still could not do everything I would like to do. That's certainly difficult for anyone who has never been to WDW to understand...but who cares? In this day and age, people can get all the info they want or need in a matter of seconds to educate themselves on all WDW has to offer.
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Old 03-05-2013, 03:23 PM   #12
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Its really sad to me how money $$$$$$$ trumps anything now a days. No one can think outside the box because "hey they make lots of money so your argument has no merit whats so ever." Do any of you see the potential of what the Walt Disney World resort really could be? If it was marketed as "The Vacation Kingdom of the World" and everyone knew what was there and what it had to offer, then the Magic Kingdom would not be receiving its first update in over 20 plus years. The Disney Hollywood Studios would not be considered a half a day park. Epcot would have more countries added to it because you know they just added Morocco in 1989.

My point is that they have not presented the product properly and if they did, we would have 7 theme parks by now and countless additional themed resorts to relax at. But as long as stock holders and corporate are happy nothing will ever change, and it will never live up to what it really could be. I bet some of your buddies who go on Golf Vacations would be shocked that they could go on a golf vacation in Walt Disney World. But once again Disney is known as the place with the Castle and the tea cups so it would never come across their minds. Its called hitting a broader market segment.
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Old 03-05-2013, 03:31 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Roberts View Post
Its really sad to me how money $$$$$$$ trumps anything now a days. No one can think outside the box because "hey they make lots of money so your argument has no merit whats so ever." Do any of you see the potential of what the Walt Disney World resort really could be? If it was marketed as "The Vacation Kingdom of the World" and everyone knew what was there and what it had to offer, then the Magic Kingdom would not be receiving its first update in over 20 plus years. The Disney Hollywood Studios would not be considered a half a day park. Epcot would have more countries added to it because you know they just added Morocco in 1989.

My point is that they have not presented the product properly and if they did, we would have 7 theme parks by now and countless additional themed resorts to relax at. But as long as stock holders and corporate are happy nothing will ever change, and it will never live up to what it really could be. I bet some of your buddies who go on Golf Vacations would be shocked that they could go on a golf vacation in Walt Disney World. But once again Disney is known as the place with the Castle and the tea cups so it would never come across their minds. Its called hitting a broader market segment.


There would never, ever, under any circumstance, be 7 theme parks - in the real world or even in this dream world you're imagining with countless additional resorts.
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Old 03-05-2013, 03:47 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Roberts View Post
Its really sad to me how money $$$$$$$ trumps anything now a days. No one can think outside the box because "hey they make lots of money so your argument has no merit whats so ever." Do any of you see the potential of what the Walt Disney World resort really could be? If it was marketed as "The Vacation Kingdom of the World" and everyone knew what was there and what it had to offer, then the Magic Kingdom would not be receiving its first update in over 20 plus years. The Disney Hollywood Studios would not be considered a half a day park. Epcot would have more countries added to it because you know they just added Morocco in 1989.

My point is that they have not presented the product properly and if they did, we would have 7 theme parks by now and countless additional themed resorts to relax at. But as long as stock holders and corporate are happy nothing will ever change, and it will never live up to what it really could be. I bet some of your buddies who go on Golf Vacations would be shocked that they could go on a golf vacation in Walt Disney World. But once again Disney is known as the place with the Castle and the tea cups so it would never come across their minds. Its called hitting a broader market segment.
The Magic Kingdon has been averaging approximately 17M visitors/year. I don't think they have a visibility in the market or name recognition issue. I'll take the suits and imagineers at WDW and Disney Corp vs. 1 man's opinion on how to run a MNC.

And at the end of the day, as a publicly traded company, their #1 responsibility is to the shareholder. It's wrapped in providing the #1 vacation and entertainment experience to the consumer, but that's secondary.
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Old 03-05-2013, 03:52 PM   #15
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I agree that the average person has no idea what Disney world has to offer. Everyone thinks we were crazy for staying a week last year, even people who had been to Disney. One guy my husband works for has been a few times recently and never knew about animal kingdom or Hollywood studios or the water parks. I also think disney is losing some of its significance among kids these days. We had a photo book printed with all our pictures and my sons 5 cousins didn't recognize a lot of the characters like chip, dale, and goofy. My cousin talked about taking her kids, ages 6 and 8, and they just were not excited so they picked another vacation destination. I think disney is hanging a lot onto their reputation from the past as a "must do" for American children and that idea fading away in our culture. Look at all the guests that come from overseas these days...bringing people in from other countries is what's keeping Disney World going. It offers an all in one option for overseas guests, that is attracting people much more than the "magic of Disney" that was so prevalent in the past. The days of Disney Characters being a significant part of childhood is fading away and I do find that sad cause even as a 90's child Disney movies/shows were huge and the idea of Disney world fascinated us kids back then. Now...not so much.
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