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Conference keynote: Know the value of your customer

ORLANDO, Fla. - What do the marine industry and Disney have in common?

Both make their customers dreams come true.

That was the message from Rob Morten, of the Disney Institute, who presented the Marine Dealer Conference & Expo keynote address on "Leading Through Turbulent Times."

But he also told attendees, "Nobody has to come to Disney World ... how many people have to own a boat?"

There's nothing more important than customer loyalty, he said, noting it's always easier to keep a repeat customer than to try to find a new one. At Disney, Morton said, more than 70 percent of visitors to the resorts and theme parks are repeat customers and a single guest has a lifetime value of $62,000 to Disney.

Morten asked attendees to think about the lifetime value of their customers and discussed the importance of connecting with consumers - something that can cost little, but reap huge rewards.

He emphasized the notion that a customer's experience is related to an employee's experience and a satisfied employee will help leave a customer satisfied as well.

Morten suggested not only studying customers' demographics, but also psychographics - understanding how people think and feel.

"Take care of the wants, before they become a need," he said. "It may not be our fault, but it is our problem."

Morten also reminded dealers that employees take their cues from their employer and it's important to be consistent with behavior in good times and in bad.

"Every leader is telling a story about what he or she values," he told the dealers, before asking, "What is your story as a leader?"

— Beth Rosenberg



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