walkitout (walkitout) wrote,
walkitout
walkitout

Tokenization: DVC Part 3

There's a lot of parenting and management theory that revolves around token economies. Think gold stars, demerits, "earning" a class trip or other privileges. There's a fair amount of commentary on why tokenization is a bad idea (as parenting, as management), in that when people are focused on "extrinsic" motivators, it tends to destroy their "intrinsic" motivation, and "intrinsic" motivators are far more powerful than "extrinsic" motivators and blah blah blah.

Basically, my sister D. would spend _hours_ on calculus proofs that weren't even assigned because she got a huge payoff for figuring one out (as in, felt really good). Theory says that if you paid her for each proof, she'd decide at some point that it wasn't worth the money and it would stop feeling really good. This is the same basic argument against turning hobbies into careers and paying your kid to do chores around the house that they "should" do as a member of the household. It's also part of the argument against certain kinds of clauses in prenups.

Of course, there is sort of the whole thing about money.

Disney is about "magic", and if ever there was a company that existed on creating and/or exploiting "intrinsic" motivators (do this because it makes you feel good), Disney would be that company. Dollars definitely have an impact on "intrinsic" motivators. What I'm about to say is not entirely true, but it's true a lot of the time.

Let's say you find something really amazingly cool (great house, awesome car, chocolate cake, private school for the kiddies, a Bugaboo, whatever) that does something really nifty (stores your stuff, goes real fast, tastes awesome, promises a perfect life, converts 9 ways from Sunday, whatever). You're like, all right! Wait, it costs _how_ much? There _are_ people who just ignore cost, but they are actually fairly rare, _even with people who could afford to_. This is (part of) where buyer's remorse comes from (the dang, I'm done shopping and it was so much fun accounts for a bit more) -- you have it, it's not quite what you thought it would be, you don't have that money, and you're not totally certain the trade was worth it.

There are several ways around this particular problem if you want to sell something that people aren't quite sure is worth what you are asking. (1) Ask less for the same good. (2) Offer less for less and hope that trade is perceived differently. (3) Make a strong case that your good is REALLY REALLY GOOD. (4) Make it really hard to compare the two.

If you can take a trade out of dollars (because we're saturated in dollars, we all have a pretty rock solid assessment of what a dollar is), you can have all kinds of fun with (4), and potentially exploit the hell out of (2) as well. Ideally, you can do a combination of (4) and (2) and make it look like (1). Financing is a really common way to get around things. While legions of advisors say you shouldn't shop by payment nevertheless, there's a group of consumers who _will_ shop by payment anyway. Fuck around with the term enough and you can get that group to pay an arbitrary amount for an arbitrary "good" -- at least for a while.

A slightly less common way to get around this is to tokenize. And the entire travel industry is built upon tokenization: "floating week(s)" in a timeshare, DVC points, frequent flyer miles, XX% off if you listen to our sales pitch, discounts for members of organization Y and/or individuals above or below certain age limits, some of which are combinable and others of which are not, and all of which have mysterious small print about deposits and cancellations and refundability that will only begin to make sense in the distant future under unpleasant circumstances.

My first husband was a huge believer in frequent flyer miles (his family, at the time, were commercial fishermen who were back and forth to Alaska a couple times a year) and "credit card miles". I tend to be suspicious of anything I can't understand or suspect isn't worth the trouble of figuring out -- especially if the rules can be changed unilaterally at any time by the other player. When I saw the expectable outcome of believing in "credit card miles", I ran away. Fast.

DVC is tokenization taken to a breathtaking level. You buy points (possibly with incentives). The points chart is changed annually (and has become finer and finer grained by date every year). Privileges associated with DVC appear and disappear periodically (like: discounts on annual passes, member-only activities, whether you can buy the Disney Dining Plan). If used, some discounts, like buying an Annual Pass, lead to further, variable privileges: dining card, free parking, etc. You cannot devise any kind of analysis based on this stuff, because while there is some history (percentage increase in cost of points, dues), a lot of the additional privileges, while _clearly_ worth a chunk, are specifically not to be relied upon in the future.

Like marriage -- or just having sex with someone -- DVC provides no reasonable basis for assessment. Is it worth it? You won't know until you've committed to it for a while (unless you decide this is _clearly_ undesirable_), and by that point, you'll be working so hard to convince yourself it was a good deal to justify it to yourself, you'll never really know whether it was (monetarily) worth it or not.

Married to the Mouse indeed! DVC is perhaps the most brilliant marketing scheme I've ever encountered. But then it should be: it is the current, ultimate form of Florida Real Estate.
Tags: disney, dvc
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