Using Clubs to Reward Loyal Customers: Disney’s Fast Pass

Disney's FastPass

Several month back I had an opportunity to go to Disney World in Orlando, Florida. While there, I posted a quick tweet talking about the long lines. I was there at the height of the tourist season and it was incredibly hot and humid. Standing in lines for hours on end was not my idea of having a good time. Shortly after posting the tweet, I got a response from someone (either a big fan or an employee) talking about how great the whole fast pass thing was. This was some great word of mouth – both timely and an excellent use of Twitter.

I actually went to Disneyland when I was younger when they first started using the fastpass in that park. I remember my dad’s response being something like ‘why in the hell do these guys get to go ahead of us.’ That’s my dad – he’s a bit grumpy and way conventional.

The idea is intriguing – grab a fastpass, come back at your scheduled time and skip the long lines. But as I watched the fastpass in operation while at Disney World, I started to think that my dad was right about this one and yet, Disney still wins this game time and time again. The whole thing is a psychological game. If you “get” the fastpass concept, you are “in the in.” You start early, hit all the rides you want to ride that day and collect fast passes. Then you return at your designated times, jump the lines and ride when “you want to.”

My experience with the fastpass was far from the best. I tried it and yet I still had to wait in long fastpass lines. Even though I had 45 minutes before I could use my fastpass, none of the other rides in the area had lines short enough to allow me to ride something in between.

The fastpass is a club. Good companies use clubs all the time to reward their loyal customers. If you understand how to use the fastpass (there definitely is a strategy to using it correctly) and use it effectively, it is a major convenience. It is a way for Disney to reward all of their loyal fans and guests that return all the time. For those who don’t understand how it works, it is a minor annoyance (unless you are my father, then you get pissed off by all the people who don’t have to wait in the long lines).

This got me to thinking if there is a way to do this same thing in the grocery industry. What if you actually offered some sort of exclusive club and one of the benefits was having the ability to skip long lines or possibly have “members only” check outs. What if these special checkouts were somehow faster, friendlier and/or more convenient? How would regular shoppers respond? I would love to hear your ideas about how the fastpass concept might work in the grocery industry as well as other businesses.

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