Dear Disney – Here’s how to fix it

Yesterday, I went off on Disney. Rightly so. They hurt a lot of really hard working people who pour their lives into promoting Disney, loving Disney and helping Disney every day.

No, I’m not talking about me or any other blogger type. I’m talking about the wonderful Travel Agent community that Disney “says” they want to be partners with.

No, this is not going to be another rant about how bad Disney failed, but I want to talk about how Disney can fix the problem so it never, ever happens again.

So, to the powers that be in Disney Management here are some suggestions.

Make up with the Travel Agent Community

The very first thing you need to do is to apologize to the great PARTNERS that you wronged yesterday. I don’t know how you are going to ever be able to, but, in the immortal words of the great Santana “You’ve got to change your evil ways, baby!” That song should be playing in the Disney Travel Agent Department right now. It should be the ring-tone for all DSM’s for the next 6 months or so.

You have never been good at working with Travel Agents. You’ve never really wanted to. You make a nice show of it, but you just never quite get it right. Either value them, honor them, work with them or completely do away with them like the airlines did.

My Suggestion would be to make them priority Numero Uno! Do you really want to spend time talking to millions of people every year individually who can’t make up their mind on dates, don’t have a clue about the dining plan, don’t know a park hopper from a water ride? Or would you rather work with a Trained (by you), Skilled, Professional who has already weeded out the information, have it all nicely and neatly organized, and who can do 3 reservations with your agents in the time it takes most guests to do 1? Seems to me like a pretty easy choice.

For the next promotion, let your Ear Marked Agencies start booking/modifying reservations 24-hours prior to the general public. Let the non-Ear Marked start 12-hours prior. Yes, open you call center for 24 hours the day before the promotion. Ease into it.

A couple more for Travel Agents. FIX THE TRAVEL AGENT PORTAL. It’s an absolute mess. Also, FIX YOUR TELEPHONE LINES. When a travel agent calls the Travel Agent line they shouldn’t hear “Oh, let me transfer you to the Travel Agent line” where they are promptly, or not so promptly hung-up on. FIX IT!

Oops, venting again. Sorry.

The bottom line is value your partners or move on. You have some serious damage control to do.

Roll out the promotion in waves

Here’s a novel idea. Break the promotion up. Why on earth did you do from August to December in one promotion? You know this is the biggest promotion you do every year. It’s been happening for 6 or so years now.

Why not roll out the August through October dates, wait a couple of weeks, then roll out November and December? Take the pressure off the call center and the web pages that obviously can’t handle them.

Find ways to take the pressure off. Like I said before, give Travel Agents a heads up. Let them go first. Value them!

The Year of Jubilee

This one is free and if you do it I won’t even take credit for it. (Much.)

Declare a Year of Jubilee. Maybe you’ll have to call it “Rollback Year” or “Dreams Come True Year” or something, but go back the the biblical concept of the Jubilee.

Next year the only promotion you will run is the “insert catchy name here”. The gist of this promotion is for the whole year the only promotion is a 10% rollback on hotel and ticket prices. I’ll bet you will net more income than if you do the big hotel price increase that’s coming and do a slew of promotions next year.

You could also reduce a bunch of overtime in the call centers for all the promotions. You can fire your whole promotions team who cooked up this lousy Free Dining promotion. And you can finally, as Bob Iger said 3 years ago, wean people off of promotions.

During the “insert catchy name here” promotion year you bring back the Dream Teams in the parks. Give away a bunch of great gifts to the guests. Bring some extra magic to the experience especially in the ghost town, I mean Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Turn up the fun quotient.

Yes, a few weeks will be pretty slow, but you need that. Your Cast Members are stressed, your guests are stressed out with the crowds.

Every living thing and even mechanical things need rest periods. I know you would like to see 92% occupancy every day of every year, but it’s not practical. Quit trying to fill every room, every day. Your product is suffering from overuse. It needs some recovery time. Hence the year of Jubilee.

Kill Free Dining

If you decide not to do the “insert catchy name promotion here”, at least put an end to Free Dining. I know. It’s extremely popular. Too popular. You should have done it 2 years ago. This year you’ve created more animus than good will. You’ve burned your best partners, you’ve frustrated thousands of guests. Yes, a few were happy, but it’s not worth it.

I know that I’ve been predicting the end of Free Dining for years. You should have listened. Listen now.

You have some technology problems – FIX THEM

I’m not going to rant here. I did that yesterday. This one is simple. Fix the phones, fix the website. Walt was a genius with technology. He was the master of finding solutions to problems. Honor his legacy and fix this.