|Ed Fouche, senior vice president, travel industry sales, Americas, Disney Destinations // All photos by CruiseOne and Cruises Inc.|
Disney typically talks about guest visits to its destinations and theme parks, vacations onboard its cruise ships, and participation in its family friendly tours in a broad-based, multi-generational context. In the past, the promotional hook might have been about making memories or celebrating a themed anniversary year.
But new research is now giving the company and travel agents who sell the product more targeted marketing information in identifying six distinct guest groups for whom a Disney vacation (www.disneytravelagents.com) may be a good fit based on the seasons of their lives, said Ed Fouche, Disney’s senior vice president, travel agency sales, North America.
Fouche offered a snapshot look at the research highlights for 785 agents attending the first general session of the CruiseOne and Cruises Inc. conference at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort in Orlando, FL on Monday. The agents are spending four days at the resort and will head Thursday morning for a three-night cruise on Disney Dream.
"Whatever season of life you’re in, you have to make the most of that moment,” Fouche emphasized to the agents. He said that, in thinking about how those windows open and close throughout a lifetime, Disney has always been guest centric and strived over the years to exceed guest expectations and deliver a vacation of a lifetime.
But now, Disney is broadening its focus to make sure the company and agents who sell the product, understand who the customers are, who they are not, what’s important to them, and what type of vacation fits best for the current season of their lives.
Fouche gave “an early look at what we’re learning” to the agents, noting that understanding these six Disney client groups “it will help you market and sell better to clients.” He said the categories are "working categories" but they provide insight into those guests who provide the greatest revenue opportunities for the company and agents.
Fans: This group is comprised of travelers who already have a strong and emotional connection to Disney. They typically have a higher income. They are willing to spend more than other travelers on premium vacations and spend approximately $7,000 a year on a vacation.
They typically spend a lot of their vacation time with Disney, using the brand as a backdrop for a birthday, graduation, family gathering or so on. Fouche urged agents to find these clients and “hang on, because not only fans willing to pay a little more [for the Disney experience], they’re also likely to visit multiple Disney destinations.”
Fans know so much about the Disney product that they want to be the first to experience what’s new at Disney such as the major renovations at Disneyland Hotel, the newly re-imagined Disney's California Adventure with the new Cars Land or the new Fantasyland at Walt Disney World with a grand opening in December.
Agents might check out our story earlier this year about some of the major Disney updates: www.travelagentcentral.com/multi-generational-travel/disney-redefines-fantasy.
Travelers: Travelers are not as interested in the theme parks as fans. Instead, Fouche said this group will focus on many different types of vacations in their lifetime, including Disney. However, this is also a group agents want to hold onto, as it’s made up of families or experienced travelers who spend about $8,000 per year on vacation.
“They're ideally suited for an Adventures by Disney trip," said Fouche, in discussing the escorted vacation offerings in Asia, Africa, Europe and the American west. The diverse hands-on, immersion experiences provide the type of experiences these travelers seek.
Savers: These people focus on family time, have less money to spend, have a moderate income and are more budget conscious; they spend about $3,000 when they take a vacation. These are the traditional summer vacation travelers who plan a big trip when the kids are out of school. They may not travel every year, but may go every few years.
The good news with these people, Fouche said, is that they understand “when it’s gone, it’s gone,” in terms of the experiences to enjoy together as a family.
He said the new Art of Animation Resort at Walt Disney World offers themed family suites that sleep up to six. Guests stay immersed in the Disney theming even after they’ve left the theme parks, which is a good fit for such travelers.
From a strategic standpoint, agents need to promote to this group with communications and options that are full of emotional experiences. “Walt Disney built Disneyland with these families in mind,” Fouche stressed.
Actives: These people are typically on-the-go, active parents. While they value family time, the adults also want to spend time together alone without the kids. They spend $8,000 a year on a vacation.
While they vacation with Disney primarily for their kids, they choose flexible options that provide entertainment for every member of the family. Disney Cruise Line, with its supervised children’s programs and distinct options that cater to adults, tweens and teens, as well as younger kids, plays well in promoting to this group.
Another Disney option that works well for these travelers is Aulani, the line’s new Hawaii resort, which Disney is already expanding. Guests are immersed in the beauty, culture and heritage of Hawaii from the moment they arrive.
The contemporary Hawaiian art, the adult and teen spa programs, the children’s program, Water Wonderland, Volcanic tube slide, private snorkeling lagoons and other perks make it a good fit for this group.
Friends: This is the younger crowd; these people travel together, spend about $4,000 on vacation, and they grew up watching Disney. They have an affinity for the brand, but haven’t traveled to all the Disney destinations.
A theme park vacation, with dining, shopping, entertainment, rides and activities for different interests, works well. This group also just likes hanging out together, said Fouche, and noted that special events such as the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival and Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party are appealing to groups of friends.
Friends particularly like shopping, dining and nightlife, so Downtown Disney is a good option; it will soon feature Splitsville with bowling lanes, food, drinks, dancing and live music.
“This is a huge opportunity for friends to become repeat Disney guests,” Fouche said, urging agents to get this group engaged with the brand now, before they move onto the next season of their lives. They’ll engage in different ways as they age.
Grandparents: These people grew up in the golden age of Disney, the era before theme parks existed. They remember going to the theater to see Disney movies.
And, in perhaps the most engaging moment of the first day at the CruiseOne and Cruises Inc. conference, Fouche asked agents if they remembered all the words to the Mickey Mouse Club theme song. As the familiar logo from that old television show appeared on the big screen, many agents clearly did remember. As Fouche swayed from side to side singing it and directing the audience, everyone chimed in, and then cheered and clapped.
“Grandparents [with such pleasant Disney memories of their own past] want meaningful roles in the lives of their grandchildren,” said Fouche, talking about his own granddaughter Juliana and his experiences with her at Disney parks and onboard Disney Cruise Line.
People who want time with their grandchildren will both plan, and “well, you know pay…and then pay again for a multi-generational family vacation,” Fouche stressed, as the grandparents in the audience chuckled. He noted that grandparents often have both the time and means to do so.
Theme park vacations and cruise vacations both work well for this group. Fouche stressed that he bought all the pictures onboard Disney Cruise Line when he sailed with his granddaughter. It’s a season of his life that he is savoring, and agents can find similar grandparents eager to get their kids and grandchildren onboard.
In Disney fashion, Fouche ended his trade talk by greeting "Captain Mickey," who strolled through the conference hall to take the stage and wave goodbye to the CruiseOne and Cruises Inc. agents.