This transcript is from Episode 4 of The Savvy Event Planner Podcast
To listen to this podcast, please visit: http://SavvyEventPodcast.com/episode4
Tom: It's time for the Savvy Event Planner Podcast, Episode 4.
Announcer: Welcome to the Savvy Event Planner Podcast, where insightful tips, strategies, tactics and case studies can help inspire you to engage guests and create successful events. And now, here's your host, Tom Crowl.
Tom: Thanks so much, Amanda. I've never met Amanda. She is a voiceover artist that we hired to come in and do the podcast intro. I just think she did an incredible job and I want her thank for it. And I also want to thank you. I want to thank you for tuning in. It truly means a lot to me. I know you're a busy person. You've got a lot of things on your plate and it means a lot to me that you would spend this time with me.
That puts pressure on. I want to provide you with the best content on event planning that I can, and today's guest is going to help me do just that. He is going to not only make you think but, if you follow the insights that he provides, he is going to help you create some truly amazing moments for your guests at your events.
Before we get to my guest though, I want to talk to you about iTunes. We're a brand new podcast on iTunes, only up to Episode 4. And iTunes ranks podcasts based on two things, the number of subscribers and the number of comments that are generated. Honest comments help us rise in the rankings and if you find the content on this podcast helpful, it helps others by leaving an honest comment so that we rise in the ratings. They can find this easier and hopefully, they'll appreciate it as much as I will.
At the end of today's podcast, I'm going to share some news about an exciting new contest where you can leave an honest comment on iTunes and be entered to win a $50 gift card, and you get to choose whether you want one from Amazon, iTunes or even Starbucks. All you have to do is win and then tell me which one you want. But the details on that come at the end of the podcast because I know that you're here right now to learn how to plan a better event.
So I'm not going to hold back our guest any longer. Ladies and gentlemen, James Songster has been a friend of mine since my son was little. He lives in Orlando, Florida and, for the past 25 years, this man has worked for the world's largest mouse. He is going to share some tips and insights that he has experienced to help you create better experiences for your guests. Let's welcome to the show, James Songster. James, before we get started I want to thank you for taking your time to talk with me today.
James: Hey, my pleasure.
Tom: Now I've already told our listeners that you've worked for the mouse, the Walt Disney Company, for 25 years and I'm wondering if you'd share a bit of your background to help everybody understand your practical knowledge of what we're going to be talking about today.
James: Well, two notes there. One, like a lot of people, I thought Walt Disney World. I'm a magician. I can't imagine a better place or a better fit for me. So I made the conscious choice that I wanted to go to Walt Disney World to be a magician. To this day, almost 25 years later, I have done an amazing amount of things for Walt Disney World, magician isn't one of them.
My career at Walt Disney World took a different path. That said, I also think I should make it quite clear that, according to the rules of this game, what's the whole disclaimer? The ideas and opinions expressed by James Songster during this podcast do not reflect those of the Walt Disney World Company, its family of businesses or subsidiaries.
Tom: Can you tell us what you did for Disney or what you do for Disney?
James: When I first walked in, I was looking for any way to get in. I came into audition as a magician. They kind of looked at me and went, “Or” because they didn't need a magician at that time. So I ended up instead going into attractions, ostensibly for the Great Movie Ride, which is a spieled attraction.
So they figured out that they couldn't stop me from talking, so they might as well leverage that skill, and they gave me a script to learn. You had to learn every single word of it down to every single “the” and “and” exactly the way it was written and then they put you on to a vehicle going through these classic movie scenes and you would repeat the spiel every 20 minutes. So that was my entry into Walt Disney World.
Tom: And then from there, where did you end up going? I mean, how long did you do that?
James: Disney World, and the theme park business in general, offers this great opportunity that you can try out and sample a lot of different things, just trying to build your career or find another place where you fit best. And so, over the last 20-something years, almost 25 years now, I have been attractions for the Great Movie Ride, I've been Guest Talent Coordinator for some other attractions, I have been a Park Problem Solver. It was my job or my pleasure to wander around the park and find things that had gone wrong and just kind of jump in and try to solve them.
I worked front desk at one of the resorts for a while. Most recently, I have transitioned, now by recent, I mean about 15 years ago, I transitioned into a facilitator role. I facilitate educational seminars and content for groups, organizations, be it high school student councils or universities, small organizations that are coming to Walt Disney World and want to sort of learn the inside techniques of how we develop our leadership team, how we build our teamwork, how we have kind of created the culture of what we do, as far as how we handle ourselves, how we can treat our guests. And so I am a trainer and facilitator as well as a coach for the other facilitators for the educational programs that groups can enjoy when they come to Walt Disney World.
Tom: Fantastic. That's a great place to start because an event planner can't work on their own. They've got to form a team.
Tom: So can you give us some ideas, based on your own experiences, of how Disney has created teams?
James: As far as putting the teams together, one of the opportunities that Disney has is sheer drawing power. So, the Disney name, which is world-renowned, is known for a high level of quality, for exceptional experiences and service, is in and of itself a magnet that draws like-minded people. So if you're thinking, “Oh man, I want to go somewhere where people are amazing and do amazing things,” just the idea of being at Disney will draw really good talent.
And then Disney takes a very strong approach to finding out what it is that you're naturally inclined to do. In my own personal case, I've told the story how I walked in, said, “I'm a magician,” and they said, “And?” And I went, “I would be happy to sell popcorn for you,” and they went, “No, you couldn't do that,” because they know that my skill set isn't inclined to want to sit in a small little glass window cubicle, shoveling popcorn into a bucket and taking people's money. It would make me a raving lunatic by the end of the first day.
So they literally didn't hire me for three months until they had that position where I could learn the script and do the spiel at Great Movie Ride. And then, from there, my own inclination was to start looking around at other places where I could have those conversations. I could get to know people. That led me to the front desk and I was pretty good at that and didn't fail at that, and they're like, “Well, we've got these programs that you can facilitate.”
Once I became a facilitator, that really was what I consider the real launching point of my Disney career. And, while I never imagined that I would want to be a teacher or a coach or somebody that was setting other people up, they sent me to their own internal training programs. We have a thing called Disney University, which is internal training, to learn leadership skills, to learn how to build teams, and it's about, again, building relationships with other people and understanding that the power of “We” is much stronger than the power of “Me.” And then using that just to let you know, just because it's not the attention on me doesn't mean that it isn't good for all of us. So it's the old phrase “Nobody ever look bad making somebody else look good” and it's just helping somebody understand that “We” is better than “Me” and we have more opportunity.
Tom: So basically, we're looking at putting people into things where they're going to shine and they're going to contribute to the group?
James: Correct. Now, that's not to say that there isn't absolutely a need for people who are what we would term “individual performers.” There are people who, honestly, if you just leave them alone and let them do their focus task, they're going to be brilliant at it and stop trying to socialize them because that's not going to be their skill set but that's perfect. They're still a valued member of the team. You just wouldn't set them in front of a client because that's not going to be a win-win for them.
So, there's a place on every team for every type of person and recognizing that a team is far stronger when it's made up of people who aren't me. When everybody on the team is exactly like yourself, it means that you're going to have a very smooth, frictionless, pleasant environment that really doesn't ever grow or accomplish anything. Having a diverse an organization of having as many different personalities, of having the different people with different skills and different outlooks and different work styles, while it may be more contentious and it's definitely more challenging to keep everybody together, the output and the potential of that team will far exceed anything the other one can do.
Tom: Now is there a way to make people feel like they're more a part of a team? I mean, you worry about somebody thinking, “Well, I'm off to the side,” or “Nobody cares about what I do.” Is there a way to build that team and kind of build that camaraderie between team members?
James: It's helping everybody understand the big picture and I can give you two really good examples of that. One is the Disney Reservation System. If you could imagine the number of phone calls that come into Disney about wanting to plan our vacation and we want to have theme park tickets and we want to do that. That's great.
Well there's somebody on the other end of that phone that's basically just trying to push the right keyboard keys and put together your room reservation and your tickets and all that kind of stuff. But they're nowhere near the parks and the resorts. So they are physically, geographically disconnected from the magic and the Pixie Dust and that kind of stuff.
So one of the things that they do at the Disney Reservation Center is on the walls inside this big office building, they put in giant plasma TVs that show real time images of what's happening in the parks, so that somebody who is sitting in that remote location can look up and see the product of what they're doing. These are families that are enjoying, right now, the stuff that we setup three or four months ago.
Another great example of that is the Disney Costuming Department. There's, again, a very, very talented group of people that sit there and are told, “Let's design a costume and let's make a pattern and figure out how we're going to cut it out and how we're going to sew it and how all that is going to go together,” but they're in the manufacturing side of it. They're not on the delivery side of it.
So what they'll do is they'll bring in, as maybe another show is closed or a parade is retired, they'll bring in some of the retired costumes from past productions and make them display items for them to see, so they can look at it and go,”I remember when we made that ,” and “I know how many families, how many people saw that parade, saw that production,” and it gives them a connection to do it. So they understand that what they're doing is creating the Disney magic.
Tom: Fantastic. Well, Disney is all about experience and let's talk about experience for a second. I'm going to see how many times I can say the word “experience” here. Event planners don't just create events. They create an experience for their guests and I can think of no other entity other than Disney, stronger than Disney, that comes close to creating an incredible experience. Now, based on your experience, what do you feel is the essential element that Disney's done to create their experience?
James: Having been able to watch this organization that's so brilliant at what they do and the passion that it instills in their cast members, the emotions that it keys up, really it comes down to making an emotional connection to something. Now you and I, let's flip the equation for just a second. You and I are very used to having people call us up and say, “Hey, I have been told to put together a Christmas party and we were throwing around some ideas and we thought we would like to have a ventriloquist. So how much do you cost?”
And you can't look at it from that point of view. In my case, if they say, “Well, we'd like to have a magician.” What I don't know, and this is the same that's true for a Disney event planner or an event planner who is trying to work with the Disney product. We would like to have Disney at our event or we would like to have an event at Disney.
Help me understanding what does that mean. Somebody calls me and says, “We'd like to have magic at our Christmas party.” When you say the word “magic,” what are you imagining, because it's been my experience, when I tell people I'm a magician, they think I either do kids' birthday parties or I'm working in Las Vegas with a white tiger and semi-dressed girls. Neither one of those are my reality.
When somebody calls up Disney and says, “Yeah, we thought we would love to have our event at Disney.” They don't really have put together the pieces of what does that mean. When you say “An event at Disney,” are we talking about in-park or out of park? Are we talking at one of the resorts? How many people are you planning to involve? What sort of support? How are you going to move your attendees, your participants, from the hotel that they're staying at, over there on Hotel Plaza, to where is that you're thinking you're going to have that event? Are you going to be providing entertainment?
And every single one of those conversations opens up another layer of a deeper conversation. So, really, it's being able to sit down and having a meaningful conversation on either side of saying, “I want to have this,” and then helping to start with the “what's the emotional context for it? What's the end result?” Explain to me what the end result is. What it is that you want this to accomplish?
And then we can work backwards from there down to all the fine details, because most people, when they're trying to start a project of that nature, think that it's just about, “Well, I need to hire a caterer. I need to hire an entertainment and I need to hire a DJ and we need to have a space to put it.” And if that's all you provided into that room, you're going to have a horrible event and Disney knows that.
Disney knows that it's going to be about the emotional response and understanding what emotional response you want to create for your attendees will then drive the rest of the conversation and the pieces will begin to come together. It's just this conversation's almost always begun backwards.
Tom: Okay. So we're talking about the emotional experience.
Tom: And can you give me an example of an emotional experience? Maybe let's start with your experiences with Disney. Give me an example of an emotional experience that you've encountered working with them.
James: This is a fun game, by the way. If you ever talk to anybody who has worked in the Disney environment or the Disney Theme Parks and you ask them, “So what was one of your strongest memories?” You'll usually get this long, litany of, “Oh, I met a family one time and this happened,” and we call them magical moments.
I will try to keep this succinct and I've already probably ruined that opportunity but I was once just asked to go out and wander around the park. It was that phase when I talked about my job was to wander around the park and be nice and be approachable and be friendly and find things that have gone wrong and make them better. We call that a greeter. In this instance, it was actually a position, they were calling super greeter. We pretty much had carte blanche.
It was just that. It was going out and looking at people who had this big picture in their mind of what they thought was going to happen when they got here and then suddenly, it's 85 degrees and it's 70% humidity and the place is so much bigger than I ever expected it to be, and just helping them connect back to what did you come here for? What is it that you wanted this to be? And figuring out how to find that moment where they can reconnect with the emotional impact of what's going on.
And that can be as simple as somebody said, “I came here and the lines are long…” and it's like, well, if you could pick one thing, what's the one thing that would make this day for you? And helping them pull the picture back down to something manageable and then going maybe magically facilitating a little bit of an easing of the system so they can get to that one thing that's going to connect for them.
I've had days where I ended up with a guest who came here and had rented a wheelchair and then discovered that the wheelchair wasn't motorized and they just didn't have the upper arm strength to push themselves to where they went. So I would basically become their outboard motor and, not that that's a normal thing. You don't see cast members pushing around guests in their wheelchairs all the time but maybe for that one guest, that's something that we could do. And that requires me having the permission of the rest of the team that's expecting me to do other things to go, “We can cover all of these responsibilities so you can go and connect to make that magical moment for that guest.”
The other day, this is a really weird one. Stop me if this one goes too far off the deep end here. There was a little 4-year-old who needed to go to the restroom. All of the restrooms at Walt Disney World have magically self-flushing toilets and if you're very early in your interaction with potties in general, a toilet that suddenly flushes every time you push the door in front of it, could be a little intimidating, a little scary.
And this 4-year-old was basically losing her mind because she desperately needed to go to bathroom and those toilets were terrifying because they kept making noises and flushing and she was afraid she was going to get suck down into the toilet if she got near to one. And so it was me and several other cast members sitting around brainstorming going, “We know every restroom in this park. Where are the restrooms that don't have the auto flush features? How can we help this poor child get to that place where she needs to so she can have simply a private moment and do what a 4-year-old needs to do without being terrified?”
And as weird as that sounds, the family was so grateful because we made it a priority to solve what most people would consider a “Oh well, get over it” for a 4-year-old. But the 4-year-old had the ability to do what she needed to do because we started brainstorming about where we can take one and find a restroom that wouldn't terrify her. And the family understood that we would go that little bit of extra distance for one single 4-year-old just because that's what we do.
Tom: That is an amazing story actually, because that shows the level of how far you would go to, to help somebody.
James: It's looking at it this way. Everybody has a job, okay. As an entertainer, you have a job. As an event planner, you have a job. As the custodial cast member, you have a job. Your job isn't the same as your purpose. Your purpose is to create wonder, to create happiness, to create joy and that goes the same for any employee at Walt Disney World, what we call the cast members, or any of the travel partners, the event planners, things that we're coming into.
We do tend sometimes to start looking at everything at the micro-scale. “I need to get this done, this done, this done, this done,” and you get lost in the job. You have to remember what was the purpose? The purpose is an end-result. The purpose is a moment, to create this event and the emotional impact that we wanted to have and keep that in perspective. We all have our jobs and if I only concern myself with my job and not my purpose, then we start working at odds to each other.
Tom: Great, great advice right there and I'm in all that. Now, you're a corporate trainer. You're a speaker. You're a magician, we've covered that. Can you share an example of how you've maybe incorporated some of the concepts that you've learned into your own programs or into your clients' programs that could maybe inspire our listeners to try some of the same?
James: I'm going to try to build a bridge across all three of those for you in one quick sound bite. Well, it's not going to be a quick sound bite because I tell stories and those aren't quick.
So as a Disney cast member, I've had years of training on how to approach guests, how to engage guests, how to make them feel this is personalized for them. As a magician, I was asked one time if I could come and visit a senior home. It was a home for retirees that needed not necessarily nursing care but at least supervised attention.
And I went in there and the audience is being brought in with walkers and being brought in with wheelchairs and being seated, and I started the show. And everybody was looking at me sort of not really engaging. I might as well be the television. And then I started talking directly to each participant. I didn't talk to the room. I would single out and talk to one person who was sitting in front of me and begin to have, even if it was just a momentary conversation, a personal moment with them and suddenly the entire room lit up. I don't want to use the term “came alive” but you get the idea.
They suddenly walked on, they engaged because what they realized was that I wasn't performing at them. I was performing with them. And the context for that, for me was I suddenly realized that, in that environment, they were experiencing something that so many of us experience when we look for services or people that do things for us, which is the person in front of me has an agenda. The person behind that counter has to run a register. The person who is serving my food needs to get me processed. They can turn their table over and they can get the next customer in there.
And while we're all trying to provide customer service it really is just about going through the motions of how do I take care of this person as quickly and as efficiently as possible so I can go on to the next thing, the next person that needs to be done? And that was what the life of somebody in one of these nursing homes was. Somebody walks into your room and says, “How are you doing today, Mr. Crowl? How are you feeling?” The answer actually is irrelevant. It doesn't matter because they come into your room because they need to do something. They need to get you to the shower or it's time to take you down to the lunch room or there's your physical therapy that you need to go to or whatever it is. So you could be happy, sad, grumpy, doesn't matter. They're there to take you or do with you whatever it is the next thing that needs to be done. So they had learnt. They had been trained the answer doesn't matter.
Tom: Thanks for putting me into the home there, James.
James: You're welcome. When I broke that mold, when I suddenly asked them a question or engaged them in activity and then waited for their response and gave them the time to process that, it broke the standard or the mold of how they had become conditioned to the way people interact with them.
So based on it, I was like, oh wait, if that's what's happening there, how often do we do that basically in all of our endeavors? And we built, for my group, Magical Mayhem Show or Magical Mayhem Productions, we built a seminar that we call the Five Basic Keys to Guest Service, because everybody thinks that guest service is about providing quality merchandise and guest service is about having multiple choices. That really isn't what guest service is. Guest service comes down to five basic steps.
Step number one, look at me. Make eye contact with me. Somebody walks in and they walk up to the counter and there's somebody talking on the phone or running the register. How often have you eaten at a fast food joint, you go up to the person at the counter and they're talking to you or at you, but they never actually make eye contact with you? They couldn't describe you afterwards if they had to. So step number one, look at me. Actually acknowledge my presence by seeing me.
Step number two is then smile at me. Let me know that I'm not just another thing that you have to do or the inconvenience that you need to overcome so that you can go on with whatever it is. I heard a joke one time that customer service would be so much easier if we didn't have to deal with the customers. So look at me. Smile at me.
Step number three, listen to me. Many, many times when somebody walks up to you, they engage in a conversation with you, you're already processing. You already have jumped to, “Oh, I've heard this request. I've heard this situation. I've heard this before,” and you preemptively jump to what you're going to do that's going to take care of whatever it is that they need, and you stop listening to what they're asking, or that they've had a concern and you're not listening. You're already trying to figure out, “Well, whose fault is this and how did I get put in this? What am I going to have to do? What are they going to…do I have to apologize for this?”
I love it when you're in a restaurant and somebody will come up and say, “We sat there for 20 minutes and nobody came over and asked us what we wanted to drink or nobody was waiting on,” and invariably the first thing that that person you're talking to will say is, “Well whose station was that?” They don't look to help you. They look immediately for who should be blamed for this. Where is the assignment of blame instead of listening to the person in front of them and finding out what it is, and not just at the beginning of the conversation, the whole conversation. Listen to what this person has to say because that right there is 80% of everything that you'll ever need to do.
Let them know that you're listening by A, telling them back what you heard them say. Don't presume you know what they said. Communication means that the message isn't message said, message is message received. Make sure you received the message that they were trying to deliver by telling them what you have heard. Listen to them.
Step number four, thank them. Let them know that you are glad that you had that opportunity to meet them, to talk to them. And then step number five, they weren't just a random event in your life. They weren't just another number or statistic, which means we need to remember them.
And if you just keep those five simple steps in place, look at me, smile at me, listen to me, thank me and remember me, your guest service will increase exponentially because you're no longer treating somebody like a task. You're now treating somebody like a valued person and that's what happened to me when I was engaging with these guests in the nursing home, and I realized it was because that's the way we expect our cast members to treat each other and their guests at the parks.
So all of that 20 years of experience that I had had in meeting, literally, a million people or more and treating them individually and creating a magical moment for each person, was bleeding over into how I was performing with people that other maybe performers had sort of written off as a viable audience because they expected them to come in and just sit there and be passive, and I didn't. I expected them that this was something that we were going to do personally with each other. And then that led me to, so what does that mean to guest service in our industry, in our associations, in our engagement with each other all the time, and that became a cornerstone on one of our seminars that we found to be incredibly powerful.
Tom: I was going to say that's an incredibly powerful share right there and I thank you for walking us through that. Now obviously the Disney experience begins long before anybody actually gets to the park. I remember seeing it when I was a little kid. I remember folks, years ago, my wife Deirdre, my son Cameron and I went down to Disney and James showed us around the park. And we had a great time. Again, I want to thank you for that. I'll never forget that day.
James: We had a blast.
Tom: It was fun. But I had been dreaming about visiting there since I was a little kid. Now, obviously, Disney was on television and everything else but part of the experience was the anticipation of actually getting there and most event planners are not going to have that type of coverage, that type of ability to woo their guests prior to actually arriving, and this may be way outside of your scope but do you have any ideas of how, well, in your own business, how you get somebody excited about your performance or your speech in advance, or how an event planner could get people excited about coming to their event?
James: In our world, as a service provider, whether it's a juggler, whether it's a caterer, whether it's me as a magician, we're a service provider and if all I do is I tell you I'm going to do a 45-minute magic show that will include trick A, trick B, trick C and at the end, somebody is going to get sawed in half, there's nothing in that that's going to excite anybody. That's what you expect to happen in a magic show.
What you have to do as an event planner is, you have to show what you will benefit from that and I think we're all pretty familiar now with the “don't sell the services, sell the benefits.” As an event planner, I'm going to help you create a memorable experience that will leave your guests singing your praises and I will do this by connecting you with proven elements. Then you can start listing that we will start our day with the magical opening of the theme park. We will end our day as we all gather together watching the fireworks as the perfect kiss goodnight to a fantastic day.
What I tell you is that I'm going to make sure that you get to the park on time and I'm going to make sure that we all get viewing for the fireworks but I've told it in such a way that it's you're going to feel. You're going to experience. You're going to remember because nobody is going to remember what you did. They're going to remember how you made them feel. That's what we want.
So when you are that service provider or that event planner, that's how you frontload it. Tell them these are the feelings. These are the emotions. These are the connections that you'll have by this engagement as we put this package together for you.
It took me a long time as a magician to realize that nobody really cared what tricks I was going to do, as much as that damaged my ego. Nobody cared how good a magic trick. They presume, if I'm a professional magician, I can do magic tricks. What they cared about was how do I engage their guests? How do I build as part of their evening? How am I going to make this a memorable experience? And that's what event planners are struggling with all the time. It's easy to put up a Chinese laundry list or a menu of “I provide this service, this service, this service, this service.”
Well yeah, so does everybody else. What I want to know is how are you going to not provide me with those services, how are you going to facilitate the experience for me? I was just sitting with a corporate client of mine who asked us to put together their holiday party for their company and we know it's going to be high-end. It's very expensive, yada, yada, yada.
My question for the person that I was interfacing with were, “What are some of your treasured childhood memories? When we say ‘holiday' what do you remember?” And literally, the words that I wrote down, I actually got them here on piece of scrap paper beside me right now, was that they always associated that time of the year with generosity, thoughtfulness, sharing, memories. So I know right now that's where I need to come from when I'm putting together the elements of what we'll do for them at that show. I'm not there to perform magic. I'm there to share with them the feelings of generosity, thoughtfulness, sharing, memories, because we're creating those for the attendees that they will then cherish in the future years as they're going ahead.
Tom: Again, incredible advice. Let's take it to the other end now. Disney's experience doesn't end after you leave the park. Do you have any insights on how somebody could continue that experience following an event?
James: This is going to sound odd but it's making sure that you didn't leave empty-handed, and I mean physically don't leave empty handed because, when I sit in my office and I look over and I see the snow globe of Cinderella's castle, I don't see the snow globe. I see the memory of when my wife and I were there at Cinderella's castle.
When I took my child into bed and I put down their little Dumbo plush toy beside them, I don't see the plush toy. I remember that moment when my child acquired that Dumbo and was hugging it walking through the park. Disney refers to this take away element, the merchandizing, if you will, as tangible memories.
I know that in a lot of instances we refer to them as upsells. I needed to get a little extra padding into my budget right there, so I upsold the client on having this, this and this and this. But did you create any tangible memories with that? If all you did was figuring out how to get a little more money out of their pocket, then you haven't earned their repeat loyalty. You've figured out how to separate them from money.
What Disney's gift is, what they're so good at is, they don't sell stuff. They sell memories and getting those tangible memories. Now that might be making sure that you have the perfect photo taken. One little thing that Disney does and I think it's brilliant. Everybody goes into the park and is taking pictures. Tom, if you flipped through your photo album, how many of the photos are you in?
Tom: Most of them.
James: Okay, so who isn't in that photo?
Tom: There's nobody in our group that wasn't in that photo. I mean…
James: I'm talking about your family photo album.
Tom: Oh, my family photo album.
Tom: Okay my family. I was thinking about when I was in Disney, and you're right, but because most of the family photos, I'm taking them of other people, of my family and I'm not in them, or if I'm in them, my wife isn't in them.
James: Correct. What happens at Disney is, every cast member sees people taking pictures. The cast member walks, someone says, “Hi, can I take that photo for you so that the whole family will be in that picture?” Now they've also got what they call their photo pass and memory makers options, which is they've got photographers all over the parks that are taking pictures, but they put them up on a web page. You can go look at those pictures on that web page but the photographer who took that professional photo, will also take one with your camera. Disney doesn't make it a stipulation that our photographers only take pictures that you can purchase at the end. You want to take it with your camera? Sure, let me take one for our photo album. Let me take one with your camera.
Now you're going to have the little extras if you buy the Disney photo. They're going to digitally put Tinkerbelle into your photograph. They'll digitally put Stitch coming up out of the concrete there at the feet of your children kind of thing, so they can add magical touches to those photographs but they make sure that everybody leaves with their memories captured, whether you buy them from Disney or they're only on your own camera because everybody was in that picture.
Tom: Very cool. That is some great stuff, James. James, I'm not going to hold you any longer. I know you're a very busy man. You've got things to do today but I do want to thank you. Thank you so much for your time. Thank you for your generosity sharing with our listeners and I hope we can have you back again sometime because I'm sure this is going to be a popular episode. No doubt about it. And like I say, I'd love to have you back some time. We can talk further, a little bit more about Magic and Mayhem show, which by the way folks, if you're interested in getting in touch with James and learning more about his services, it is MagicAndMayhemShow.com. Is that correct?
James: That is.
Tom: Okay, fantastic. James, again, thank you so very, very much.
James: It was a pleasure, Tom.
Tom: During our interview, James mentioned that you can do seminars at Walt Disney World. If you're a corporate group and interested in something like that, you can contact DisneyInstitute.com. If you're a school or university, they have Disney's Youth Education Series and for that, you'd contact DisneyYouth.com/education.
One of the biggest take aways I got was James' perception that people remember how you make them feel. So to create a truly memorable event, you need to delve down into the emotions that you want your guests to experience. We have all the show notes over on the SavvyEventPodcast.com, that's SavvyEventPodcast.com/Episode4.
We also have a download of James' five basic keys to guest service. It's an infographic that would be great to hang on your wall or keep in front of you as you're planning events or even to share with your team. So head on over to SavvyEventPodcast/episode4 to download that infographic and to get all the show notes. Plus, all the links that we've mentioned during the program are right there in the show notes.
On our next episode, we've got a very special guest who is going to build on one of James' five basic keys to guest services. It's not just a pillar that's going to help you with your event planning but it's something I think you can use in everyday life as well.
Before I share who our guest is, I'd like to go back to the beginning of the show when I mentioned that we were holding a contest. We're a brand new podcast on iTunes. We're only up to episode 4 and iTunes ranks podcasts based on the number of subscribers and the number of comments that the podcast generates. So to help us with search rankings, if you're enjoying the show or even if you're not, what we're going to ask you to do is head over to iTunes, search for SavvyEventPlanner Podcast, click on comments and then leave a comment. That provides a social proof to tell other people whether we're worth listening to.
We want your honest feedback. If you love the show and you rave about it, it really helps and it makes me feel good because I'm going to be reading all of these, and it makes me want to work harder for you but if you have constructive criticism, don't be afraid to leave it because I want this podcast to become something useful to you. So, constructive criticism helps me to tune the show to your needs. So go over to iTunes, do the search, leave a comment and, before you submit it, take a screen capture. I understand that the comments disappear for a brief period after you submit. So make sure you take that screen capture before you submit it and then head over to Twitter and tweet the photo, along with the hash tag #SavvyEventPodcast.
If you create that hash tag and tweet your photo, you're automatically entered into the contest. I'll find the photo. I'll thank you and respond to that and then you're entered into the drawing. And at the end of October 2015, that will be October 31st, we are going to have a drawing of all the entries and whoever wins is going to get a $50 gift card. You can choose whether you want an Amazon gift card, an iTunes gift card or a Starbucks gift card. It doesn't matter to me but you have the chance to win a gift card just by going over and leaving us an honest comment, and that, again, helps other people to find the show and for that I thank you and hopefully if you're finding this helpful, they'll thank you as well.
So who is my guest for next week? It's international memory expert Brad Zupp. Brad's going to be sharing tips and techniques on how to improve your memory, which is going to build on James' pillar five of his keys to guest service. We're going to talk about how improving your memory can improve every phase of your event planning and your life. So you don't want to miss this episode.
If you haven't already subscribed, make sure to head over to iTunes, find the Savvy Event Planner podcast, subscribe and then leave a comment, share the screenshot on Twitter and get a chance to win $50. If you'd like to jump into the conversation and share your opinions and your thoughts on creating memorable events, go on over to the savvyeventpodcast.com/episode4 and join in the conversation there.
You can find us on Facebook by doing a search for Savvy Event Podcast and if you'd like to connect on Twitter, it's my regular account @TomCrowl. Thanks again for hanging with me. It really means a lot. My name is Tom Crowl and, as always, I'm wishing you an incredible event.
Announcer: Thanks for listening to the Savvy Event Planner Podcast at SavvyEventPodcast.com.
To access the show notes, listen to the podcast or download the bonus files, click here.