This past weekend, we returned from a family vacation of nearly two weeks in Florida, a week was spent at Disney in Orlando and a week on the Gulf Coast on Sanibel Island. Sanibel is a place that I’ve been visiting with my family since I was a kid. It is probably one of the few places that I know as well as my own hometown of Chicago, and a place frozen in time.
Each afforded a different set of experiences; the first was focused on keeping you immersed in a brand and experience, the second just a relaxing island on Florida’s Gulf Coast, doing nothing but listening to the waves, hunting shells and watching storms materialize overhead. Not content to just turn my brain off while traveling, I took away things from each stop that I think are worthy considerations for businesses and the brands they represent.
1) Every show needs a diverse and talented cast.
If you’ve never been to Disney, for no other reason than respecting what they’ve built, it’s worth the visit. Everyone, and I mean everyone from Chairman Bob Iger on down, are all “cast members”, and they all get name badges. Why do I mention this? Because until you’ve seen the live shows, stunt spectaculars, had tour guides lead you through the movies and the African jungle or seen the detail with which they manage the guest experience, you cannot stop to realize just how many different people and different skills it requires.
The takeaway? You cannot succeed with a homogeneous team of clones who all can and want to do the same thing. You need diversity, you need operators, managers, planners and leaders. All these people come together to make it happen.
2) Nostalgic brands must limit their failures to zero (or find a way to recover during the freefall).
There are shops and restaurants that have been on Sanibel since I was a kid. Places like The Mucky Duck and The Bubble Room, neither of whom were the impetus for this observation. We did, however, go to a burger joint that had one failure after another through dinner. A shake came out too liquid, side items came out soggy and lukewarm, the staff just didn’t seem to have a sense of urgency, despite my allowance for a variance for “Island time”. In short, we won’t be going back. New restaurants that have cropped up in recent years now have a chance to break into the limited rotation of dining out lunches or dinners we elect to enjoy during the week.
These places rely on the returning visitors who carry a memory how a place exists at the moment in time they are there, every time they are there. Drop the ball and you risk losing that person as a customer forever.
While it’s unreasonable to expect perfection (which, in fact, sets you up for abject failure), it is not unreasonable to expect that a company can make amends and make what I once heard famously called a “mid-course correction” to save their reputation.
Think about your brand and how people perceive it with each interaction, whether frequent or occasionally. And think about the cast that’s delivering the experience.