Do It Like Disney

August 29, 2012

Lisa Apolinski

Lisa Apolinski is a professional speaker, blogger, and digital strategist. With her company,, she works with event managers to get their message to attendees, particularly through digital channels, on and off the show floor.

I was recently at the Disney parks and the atmosphere and genuine happiness made me think – wouldn’t it be nice if my trade show can run like this? So let’s see if we can take away any insight from the Happiest Place on Earth for our next trade show.

1. It is all about the experience. Disney is set up where everything, and I mean everything, is about having the greatest experience possible. Whether you are waiting in line for a ride, or waiting in line to buy food, or waiting in line to purchase something, you still feel like you are experiencing Disney. Every section of the park is an experience, including the shows, parades and staff.

2. Everyone is on board and happy. I have never met a happier bunch of people, even if they are cleaning the bathroom or sweeping the Disney streets for trash. Even the people hired to direct traffic for the parade, or put up the rope to guide traffic, are happy and are a part of the action. Those people were dancing and singing along with the parade (and I am sure they have heard those songs about 10 times a day every day) – they act like they are just having the time of their life and this is the first and only performance.  That energy is contagious for sure.

3. Each worker wants to help out the park-goer. Each worker seems invested in doing all they can to assist the park goer, and so it should be for your trade show. They could be at the ticket booth, or working one of the rides, but they all seem to care about each visitor. Can you imagine if each of your booth members acted as if the one attendee they are currently speaking with was their most important attendee?  What a great experience that would be for your booth-goers.

4.  Each worker has something unique. I noticed for the name tags, it shows what city they are from, so if you are from that city, you are more than likely going to strike up a conversation. The unique characteristic of each worker adds to that specialized experience (and that cannot be faked). By having that focus and being able to be personal, each visitor has a memorable experience (and will return again and again).

5. They are a united front. I think many of you know I also blog for Yahoo on doing trips, food, and entertainment on the cheap. So, I was also at the park do to a blog on how to do theme parks a bit cheaper. I was hoping to get even a tour of the hotel where we stayed, and a lot of times, you can find someone who, even after the request has been denied, to give in. Not at Disney. They were a completely united front, and I could not find one person who was going to make an exception. I point this out as a tool for your trade show – everyone should be sticking to the same message and same experience, and not run rogue on you.

Take some lessons from Disney, since those parks have two things we want for our shows:  lots of attendees and repeat visitors.

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