Directing Good Guest Behavior

In the center of every Disney cruise ship is a statue of a nautically themed Disney character. When the first ship was built, the Disney Magic called upon Mickey Mouse to be garbed as a 19th century mariner.

Mariner Mickey aboard the Disney Magic. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.
Mariner Mickey aboard the Disney Magic. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

Hundreds of photos are taken each cruise with guests posed next to Mickey. It’s an iconic moment. Mickey is posed as if he can take on the most difficult of storms. But is he capable of handling kids climbing on top of him? After all, it’s a family cruise ship. And kids are everywhere.

It would be easy to just put a big sign in front saying “Don’t climb on Mickey.” But who wants that sign in their photo? Fortunately, designers took a more discrete approach:

Two modest signs in back of Mariner Mickey. Photo by J. Jeff Kober
Two modest signs in back of Mariner Mickey. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

Please do not climb” reminds people in a polite way they should not literally “hop aboard” Mickey’s statue. Is it enough to keep small kids from climbing? No. In reality, many toddlers who do try to climb may not know how to read in the first place. For those kids who do know how to read, they will hang off of it anyway, no matter how big you make the sign. For that, a nearby crew member will need to direct those little monkeys. But it is enough to remind a parent not to prop up their kid up on top of the pedestal when they go to take that photo. It’s discrete, but it informs.

That same kind of discretion can be seen on the Disney Dream. Like all Disney ships, there is a section dedicated to those who want to be away from children for awhile. It’s an oasis of tranquility among the vibe of action on the ship’s pool deck.

The adult pool on the Disney Dream. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.
The adult pool on the Disney Dream. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

Signs inform guests it is an adult section when you enter the pool area. But another sign also calls out another important reminder. This sign is found discretely below:

A reminder given with the help of Roger Rabbit and Baby Herman. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.
A reminder given with the help of Roger Rabbit and Baby Herman. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

Actually, the direction to not have swim diapers in any of the ship’s pools is from the U.S. Public Health Service. Only those who are toilet trained are permitted to use pools. And that goes for the hot tubs, spas, and waterslides as well. But rather than some big sign stating the details and source of that instruction, a simpler sign instructs, with the help of a humorous caricature of Roger Rabbit dealing with Baby Herman in what seems to be the aftermath of a little “accident”. It gets the point across really well, without being preaching or dictatorial.

We should also mention that the ship offers an option for those who are diapered and want to cool off:

Nemo's Reef aboard the Disney Fantasy. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.
Nemo’s Reef aboard the Disney Fantasy. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

Nemo’s Reef on the Disney Dream and Fantasy is tailored for children who aren’t toilet trained. On the Disney Magic, there’s the Nephews’ Splash Zone as well as Mickey’s Splash Zone on the Disney Wonder. All offer an option that helps support a rule for not using diapers in the other pools.

That option is at the heart of winning compliance with your Guests. Great guest service involves using thoughtful discretion and options on how to inform, instruct, and even require your customers to do the things you want them to do. Often less is more effective when it comes to directing people on what they should or shouldn’t do. It builds off of what we discussed in this post, which focuses on the effects of too much instructional graffiti, using examples from Harambe Railway Station at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. It also builds off of the idea in this post, which suggested that if you keep a park clean, guests will be more inclined to keep it clean. Regardless of what products and services you offer, saying the right thing the right way creates the right outcome.

Ask yourself:

  • How can we get people to do what we want them to do without coming across as dictatorial?
  • How can we apply a “less is more” philosophy in our signage?
  • Who is our instruction and signage for?
  • How do we use humor and positive communication to encourage enforcement rather than resorting to strong, directive wording?
  • What in our offerings provide choices for those activities we prohibit of certain customers?

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