[the walt disney co]|
Disney has had so many successful ventures; they never thought a theme park would fail. To this day, Euro Disney struggles to keep its doors open, while the American and Asian theme parks continue to thrive. For years, the Disney “Theme Park Empire” was built upon three crown jewels located in California, Florida, and Japan. Combining the familiar, family-friendly characters and images upon which the Disney reputation was built, with clean and well-operated theme parks helped Disney set new standards for efficient, friendly customer service in the theme park industry, with its parks becoming major international tourist attractions. When Disney expanded its theme park empire across the Atlantic, many expected Disney winning streak would continue. However, when Euro Disney opened in Paris in 1992, the standard model of Disney theme parks, long considered to be a recipe for guaranteed financial success, soon ran into trouble. This is typical Type C decision making. Tackling the many problems faced by Euro Disney operations has posed many new challenges to Disney, forcing them to reconsider their cookie-cutter standard model for success. Early hopes for a similar success soured soon after Euro Disney opened, and the experience of opening Euro Disney delivered unexpected surprises to Disney management. The park soon encountered several major problems: Attendance: Disney’s consulting firm, Arthur D. Little, has projected first year park attendance to range between 11.7 and 17.8 million attendees. To be cautious, Disney used the low range of Little’s figures and predicted eleven million attendees, with seven million of those visitors attending in the six month period between the opening of the park and September 30. While initial hotel bookings at the theme park during the summer looked promising, in the summer months, as the theme park entered its first winter, bookings dropped to twenty percent or less of monthly projects. With the park located near Paris, it was expected that French residents would comprise half of the visitors to the park, helping to act as a “safety net” to poor response from other European nations. However, far fewer French visitors were coming than projected, and it soon became clear this “safety net” was not going to bolster Euro Disney’s sagging customer volume. Staffing: In a service-oriented business such as Disney with very exacting customer service standards, proper staffing is crucial to an organizations success. In spite of the importance of having a top-notch workforce, many considerations, crucial to developing that effective workforce were overlooked, at Euro Disney. Staffing shortages created a negative cycle in which extra workloads on employees resulted in increased turnover, which in turn hurt Disney’s ability to retain and develop its employees. Poor union relations caused by reactions to Disney’s exacting requirements for dress and appearance, such as a ban on facial hair and colored stockings, as well as to Disney’s high standards of customer service, further hurt their ability to attract employees. Seeking to address the shortages created by this high turnover, Disney management accelerated its complex training program. This put more stress on new hires, and left them even less prepared to provide the level of service expected of Disney employees. Communication barriers in the workplace were created by language and cultural gaps between American management and European employees. Also, planners failed to consider the impact of the shortage of housing near the theme park upon their ability to attract workers. Customer Service: Those who visited other Disney parks were used to the clean and well-orchestrated atmosphere of other Disney theme parks. However, those visitors were often disappointed with their Euro Disney experiences. In many respects, Euro Disney was failing to deliver the high level of customer service...