business news in context, analysis with attitude

The extent to which consumers can talk to each other about their experiences – good and bad – is made clear in a WallStreetJournal.com piece looking at a site called Twisney.com, which gives people the ability to file real-time stories and pictures about their experiences at Disney theme parks.

Now, for the most part these reports are positive – designed to share with family and friends (even those you've never met) what is going on in the parks that particular day. It even allows people in the park to read the stories on their PDAs or cell phones, and get information about what lines are longest or shortest.

The Journal writes that for the moment the site is fairly unsophisticated, but it points to reality that is looming like an oncoming train: "For Disney and other companies that see such services evolve, there’s a potentially valuable opportunity to encourage passionate customers and even participate directly in the electronic conversation. But there are headaches looming as well–such as when the in-the-know park customers converge in one place after reading that 'No line at Space Mountain' message."

And while the story focuses on Disney, there is no question that similar sites could be devoted to retail chains or even just the supermarket down the street. The message could be "no line in the deli department." Or, it could be, "don't buy the grapes, they're soft and sour."

KC's View:
The additional – and frankly, quite bigger – headache is that shoppers/consumers can post messages that will be critical of how a business conducts itself. It doesn’t matter whether a retailer likes it or not – the technology exists, it is a growing presence, and companies will have to deal with it. In fact, they ought to find ways to embrace it…because to do otherwise is both pointless and potentially damaging to its relationship with shoppers.