I’m a platinum traveler at the hotel I was staying in so I first asked if they had any comp tickets they give to valued guests. They didn’t.
Unfazed, I walked over to EPCOT and planned to ask at the entrance gate. I approached one of the “cast members” who was greeting park-goers at the entrance. I very nicely began, “I’m here on business and stole some time for myself to spend at Disney. I only have this evening and would love to have dinner at the Japan pavilion inside EPCOT. Because the tickets are expensive, I don’t want to have to buy a ticket just to have dinner. Is there any type of discounted admission you offer for someone in my position?”
The cast member quickly said “we don’t really do that.”
Knowing from Getting More that persistence is key, I asked “what do you mean by ‘really’?” I valued him, adding, “Any direction you can give would be much appreciated. I’ll probably buy gifts for my family once inside to show Disney my appreciation through commerce!”
He softened a bit and told me my best bet would be talking to the people at “Guest Relations.”
I continued, “I appreciate the advice. However, you are the expert. Any thoughts you can share on how I should approach them?”
I think it was then that he finally warmed up to me and realized I was being genuine.
He said, “Follow me- I’ll help you.” He took me to the Guest Relations booth and did all the talking. He explained my case as though it was his own. He had become an evangelist for my cause! This was great because his words held a lot more weight as a Disney employee than mine would have.
The young lady at Guest Relations thought for a moment and then happily complied. I was escorted to the gate and walked through without having to pay a penny of the admission price. I expressed my extreme gratitude and headed off to eat some of my favorite sushi.
What made this negotiation a success was 1) I was transparent by being open about my motives and goals, 2) I made a personal connection with the cast member (literally, the gatekeeper!) and valued him by acknowledging he was the expert, 3) I used important 3rd parties. Ultimately it was the cast member with whom I had made a connection who convinced guest relations to waive my admission fee.
In the end, I happily spent $60 on dinner at one of my favorite restaurants and $120 on gifts for my very appreciative family. I saved $82 on park admission and Disney received $180 of my dollars that they wouldn’t have gotten otherwise. Thanks for these tools!-Rich Meene, Manager, Advisory Services, PricewaterhouseCoopers, New York, NY.
SD Comment: SD Comment: Excellent! This is the way it should be done. It is exactly the same process you would use to get approvals for a billion dollar deal, or to close a sale. Turn someone on the other side into an advocate for you by being real. Terrific in picking out the subtle signal in “really.”