Contemporary Performance Measurement Systems Based on Disney's Contemporary Resort

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Contemporary Performance Measurement Systems Based on Disney's Contemporary Resort

Disney's Contemporary Resort is an ultra-modern Disney Deluxe Resort, made up of a towering A-frame high-rise building—the iconic Contemporary Tower—and complemented by one garden wing annex. This lakeside Resort is the only hotel in Walt Disney World Resort to have the Walt Disney World Monorail System pass through the main concourse. When Disney's Contemporary Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., set out to revamp its business performance reporting process in 2006, a high-performance dashboard is exactly what financial managers had in mind. "We wanted an automated system that would give resort managers the information they needed at their fingertips when they needed it," explains Jeffrey L. Hall, business manager. But Disney, being the creative, customer-driven company it is, didn't stop at a simple dashboard. In fact, the colorful, online performance system the company developed looks more like a video game. When chefs want to know weekly food costs, they click on a graphic of a slice of pizza. When desk managers want to know the hotel occupancy rate, they click on a well-made bed. And when recreation managers want to know their profits for the previous week, a pinball machine icon will take them there.

1. Financial measures
The performance of those mangers may have been evaluated using financial such as sales revenue and profit. Disney's system is so meaningful and user-friendly that managers without even a passing interest in financial data are now using it to make revenue-generating business decisions. "In the system's first year of operation, profits for the resort were up 25 percent," Hall says. Not bad for a system that cost less than $1,000 to create and took six months to implement. Furthermore, because the online system replaces the resort's old paper-based financial reports, the company's financial managers now have more time to serve as business coaches instead of number jockeys. Because of Disney's foresight and creativity, Controller Magazine, along with 2007 co-sponsor Hyperion Software, awarded the company the first annual Vision Award in the $100 million to $1 billion category. The Vision Award was created last year to recognize outstanding achievement in business performance reporting as demonstrated by its impact on the organization and its people. Other 2007 award winners were El Segundo, Calif.-based Northrop Grumman Corp. Military Aircraft Division and the American Petroleum Institute, Washington, D.C. How did Disney's Contemporary Resort create such a valuable, automated system in such a short amount of time for such little money? According to Hall, the company's financial managers started throwing away all the old paper-based financial reports. Why? Because they were time consuming to compile and managers rarely read them. "Think of a chef, wearing whites, running around a hot kitchen," Hall says. "You can't give a chef a stack of paper reports because they have no place to put them. There aren't filing cabinets in restaurant kitchens!" Because chefs, restaurant managers, front desk supervisors and other members of the resort's operations team don't work in traditional offices, they would frequently misplace the weekly financials. Not only that, but conversations with managers revealed that even when they did manage to hold on to the reports, they rarely understood them. With the decision made to automate the performance reporting process, Hall and his team of financial professionals began by conducting one-on-one meetings with all 80 resort managers to amount of time for such little money? According to Hall, the company's financial managers started by determine what metrics they needed to make more profitable business decisions. These managers included chefs, food and beverage managers, merchandise managers, front desk supervisors, and the heads of recreation and repair and maintenance, among others. Hall's team...
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