By Vanessa Rodriguez, Sophia Lozano, Sophia Good, Janete Por Amacosta
Dr. Andi Stein
Through the rise of their popularity with people, the Walt Disney Company leads in victory in the entertainment industry by building a line of storytelling. Their storytelling has created a gateway to a huge part of people’s lives by implanting their characters everywhere from movies to action figures to theme park rides. Having this impact can shape everyone since childhood to grow from loving the characters to potentially wanting to be part of the fantasy land that Disney has created.
To begin, we as scholars were interested in learning about the marketing aspect in entertainment and tourism, specifically what amusement parks like Disney offer to their patrons to be a successful brand. This “colossal titan” has led to an example of how to become successful in marketing for tourism attractions. Leading expert professor from Cal State Fullerton, Dr. Andi Stein, provides insightful information on Disney’s marketing strategy. Dr. Stein teaches in the Department of Communications and has conducted much research in the Walt Disney Company. Her book “Attracting Attention: Promotion and Marketing for Tourism Attractions” best reflected the authenticity of marketing as a whole. As Stein described, the book examines all the different ways companies in the attractions industry can promote and market to the public using traditional media and social media. Doing things like having events, developing marketing materials, and promotional brochures help in drawing people to their attractions.
A look inside “Attracting Attention”…
Promotion and marketing are essential components of attraction management. They serve as a means of telling an attraction’s story through words, images, and events. One bit of key information that stood out was the use of the Communication mix, a chart that highlights the categories in promotion. It includes the following: public relations, advertising, marketing, sales promotion/merchandising, social media, and special events. Although the landscape for public relations has changed in recent years, much of traditional media is still of use for highlighting what attractions provide. Within the new digital age of technology, advertising has also come a long way. It offers new techniques and methods for creating better ads. Sales promotion and merchandising rely on special incentives, gimmicks, and other techniques to encourage sales. It falls under the umbrella of sales promotion and services to rack sales up through online and in-person shopping. Social media perpetuates the need to “be in the loop” when these promotions and sales go up. It draws the attention of differing audiences with the goal to get their hands on the newest releases. Special events are another means of bringing attention to an attraction. It allow patrons to experience the hype firsthand. When enough people talk about it, the event can bring about entertainment, leisure, and fun.
Just how did Dr. Stein go about conducting her research in the study?
Her research consisted of talking to other scholars in the entertainment and tourism industry. Stein read many academic sources, including newspapers, magazines, and scholarly articles about what was going on regarding companies and their success.
How is Disney able to sustain itself as a colossal in all aspects of entertainment, tourism, and media?
According to Dr. Stein, the Disney company is consistently successful because they understand the steps of successful marketing. First, the team at Disney constructs great ideas and researches them extensively to ensure it has yet to be executed. Then they produce these ideas into products and know how to market them successfully to their target audience. Disney has administered the ability to tell a heartfelt story about likable characters. “They are masters at taking those characters and building empires around them. They build theme park rides, movies, and merchandise.” Disney has mastered synergy; its characters can be found in its parks, on its streaming service, in TV ads, in merchandise stores, and on their social media platforms. Everything they produce connects, keeping their ideas and products in the limelight of people’s minds.
What are setbacks in the theme park industry?
The Covid-19 pandemic caused a significant misfortune loss of revenue to all companies in the entertainment and tourism industry. Dr. Stein stated, “We are now seeing how a lot of these companies are trying to fight their way out of the chaos the pandemic caused. Theme parks have bounced back pretty well; the cruise industry is still struggling, and hotel and restaurant industries are struggling because they do not have the staff they used to have”. Currently, our economy is in a high state of inflation. As a result, Disney raised the prices of theme park admission, parking, merchandise, and food at the parks. Yet, Disney parks are more packed than before pre-pandemic. Stein explained that Disney has ‘magic’ that draws people to them. Interacting with Disney puts their target audience in a fantasy. “Their theme parks create an escape environment. Same as watching a film or attending a Disney cruise line; everything is about fantasy. It makes us feel good consuming and experiencing their brand,” Dr. Stein mentions. Disney owes its extraordinary success to its ability to provide escapism to its target audience, who will pay any price to endure the brand.
Post-Pandemic Theme Park Recovery
When speaking to Stein regarding the effects of the pandemic on tourism, in anticipation of their reopening, Stein believes the closures did more damage from a financial standpoint. These parks have found other ways to compensate for these losses. “Now that the parks are open, people are coming back in droves… some parks have more people than they know what to do with,” said Stein. Since these reopenings, we have seen prices spike for admissions and the cost of food. “We are all paying the price for these companies trying to recover their losses,” said Stein. Despite these changes, Stein still frequents Disney parks but has noted an increase in parkgoers compared to pre-pandemic attendance.
Disney’s marketing tactic is proven to be successful because they understand what consumers want. Through the thick and thin, Walt Disney company has continued to grow during the pandemic. Traditional media, social media, and theme parks have reached many as young as five-years-old to love Disney. Disney’s ability to tell stories through characters is what made them so successful and what sets them apart from the rest of the competition.