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Shanghai Disney leverages WOM

News, 23 September 2016

SHANGHAI/NEW YORK: Only adverse weather conditions last week prevented Shanghai Disney registering a record number of visitors to a new park in its first 100 days, according to the company chairman who also extolled the power of word of mouth in attracting them.

Speaking at the Goldman Sachs Communacopia Conference, chairman and CEO Bob Iger declined to give actual numbers – although last month he claimed the park had seen 1m visitors since opening – but reported that the initial period of operation had been "fantastic" and that attendance had been "more than most parks that we've opened over the history of our theme parks".

He added that guest satisfaction surveys showed that people loved the park and the experience, confirmed by the fact that "they're staying a lot longer per visit than we expected – by a lot, by almost two hours".

Another unexpected finding was where those visitors were coming from and the role played by marketing.

"Our anticipation when we opened was that the attendance would be dominated by people from Shanghai and actually it was dominated by people from China, but outside of Shanghai," Iger said.

"And what that told us that was really interesting was that the marketing was really effective, and we didn't even market that much outside of Shanghai – meaning word of mouth has been great."

Proximity and pricing do not appear to have been significant factors in the resort's early days, but Iger said the park had moved to off-peak pricing this month. "So it's even more affordable for the local resident and we think that actually will end up serving us really well."

He added that the opening of the Shanghai park had not affected its existing Hong Kong destination, where visitor numbers had actually gone up as political unrest in the autonomous territory died down.

Data sourced from Seeking Alpha; additional content by Warc staff