10 Best Business Practices I Learned From A Disney Cruise

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    Being Disney, I don’t want to repeat what we all know about their customer service and excellence in the experience. It’s not a surprise that they work to exceed your expectations. Disney is famous for it. There are books, no textbooks on the subject.

    For you, I thought I would talk a bit about some of the smaller things I learned during my two-week cruise on a Baltic trip aboard the Disney Magic back in 2019. 

    Business lessons from a disney cruise

    1. Customer Service

    At every stage of your stay, the customer service exceeds expectations. But it seemed that they took it to the next level. Our room hostess took care of a set of guests and families and was responsible for more than just your turndown service. She or he made sure that you had the next day’s itinerary. They knew your names and learned your habits, so she knew the best times to clean our rooms. For a price, there was internet access. I had trouble with it and thought for sure I’d have to call tech support but not with Disney! There was a tech support person on the 3rd deck waiting to help you in person!

    Application: How can you provide next-level customer service? What are some subtle details that you can give your customers that will give them a sense that you provide a 5-star level service?

    2. Friendliness and Personalization

    Each night we had a wonderful dinner and were served by the same two people who waited on us each night. They got to know us and we… them. We knew their names, where they came from, their jobs, and their own families. In turn, they knew that our daughter preferred Mac & Cheese but would still tease her to convince her to try something new hopefully. They knew that my husband and I preferred to share a dessert. The biggest surprise was when we missed two nights in a row, and the maître d’ called our room to express concern and check if everything was all right. We assured him that everything was fine. I found out later that they did this for everyone. 

    Application: Anytime you can make a personal call to your customers will help them feel special. I would think about how you can help your customers feel special.

    3. Helpful Transitions

    No matter what the event, from disembarking to dinner service, a person was at each stage to guide you to the next step. As you left the ship to explore a city, there was, quite literally, a person at each turn to tell you to turn right or left at the dock. If you needed to go through customs, there were 3-4 people to help answer questions, so you were not confused. Because transitions were smooth, lines were few, and frustrations probably non-existent.

    Application: As your customers move from one stage to another in your process or buying cycle, whether you clean teeth, mow lawns, fix plumbing, always give them some guidance on the next step. This could be a simple handout, a quick video, a postcard, or an email. 

    4. Daily Guides

    Each day we got a sheet of paper on what to expect at each port and any embarking or disembarking checklists. If you attended the daily Walt Disney show, you also got an announcement on the next day’s itinerary and expectations. When you arrived back to your stateroom, you were greeted not only with a character made out of towels and blankets but a sheet of paper with 

    Application: Try to be transparent as you can be in your process. Never leave your customers guessing as to what to expect. 

    5. Organization

    Rather than simple numbers that grouped your luggage, they used color and characters. It’s easier to remember where your stuff sits, not only for guests for the crew. Matching colored luggage is far easier and quicker for staff to group luggage with a section marked by color than to look at a tag’s number or title. Dinners were organized and staged into 2 different sittings in 3 other dining rooms. This allowed for the process of providing 5-star meals, hot and ready, for 2000 people in an orderly manner.

    Application: For the sake of your staff and your customers, being organized is essential within any growing business. Your process is the core, but you build on it using organization. How will your staff know where to find the tools they need to provide excellent service if they can’t find the device? 

    6. Highest Quality Experience


    When you entered your room, the quality touches were very apparent. From even the cheapest rooms to the larger staterooms, you were left feeling special. Instead of a single white, plastic curtain, the shower had a lovely blue, cotton curtain with a white rope that held them back. The beds all had high-quality comforters. Your dinner had cloth napkins, and there was unlimited soft ice cream for the little kids (and the big ones). You could stow your stuff away easily with multiple, small drawers that closed slowly, and the top of furniture had small rods to keep your stuff from rolling off, something important on a ship as it rocks on the high seas.

    Application: Your services should reflect the highest, blue-ribbon experience with the extra touches that your customer might find unexpected.

    7. Employee Training

    Each person has a specific job that they strive for excellence. I noticed that each staff member kept meticulous notes on their respective customer or goes. No doubt, each stateroom, and family had their dossier with their names and small details. 

    Application: Take note of the small things your customers tell you like birthdays, anniversaries, hobbies. 

    8. Safety and Security

    From the first day onboard, you had a safety briefing that all guests had to attend. There were signs on railings and constant reminders for you to wash your hands to keep everyone healthy. 

    Application: How are you keeping your customers safe and making it a priority. In my business, I may not physically have to keep them safe. Intellectually, security is just as important. We do our best to keep that information secure.

    9. Maintenance


    Every day, something was either fixed, painted, replaced, lacquered, or scrubbed. The maintenance crew had a schedule that followed. Being that it’s a large ship in the ocean with over 2,000 guests, you can imagine the level of wear and tear. 

    Application: What is your daily plan or schedule to maintain your business and your relationships?

    10. Whimsy

    Lastly, each business should try to emulate something that adds a little bit of whimsy or something unexpected. Each night our room hostess would leave us a folded towel that looked like some sea creature. It was something we would look forward to seeing each night along with chocolates.

    Application: When was the last time you surprised a customer?

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    10 Best Business Practices I Learned From A Disney Cruise

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    Christina Hawkins

    Christina Hawkins is CEO of GlobalSpex, Inc. and a Fractional CMO for her clients. A seasoned digital marketer since 1999, Christina has designed and built exceptional websites partnering with small businesses to help them grow and increase revenue. She understands that digital marketing is a constantly evolving technology and works to stay on top of the latest changes. She is always looking for the best route for clients' lead generation needs and revenue. In addition to her ability as a digital marketer, Christina is a coach and mentor with Agency Mavericks to other digital marketing freelancers, helping them grow their businesses. She is also a sponsor and co-leader of Houston's WordPress Meetup.

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