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December 30, 2005

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oh man...I only had to get to "It's been" to realize that this was a past tense reference to one of the best things about hanging around disney world...the best? Epcot center...walking around the different "countries" it was always really neat to see those different hometowns and have a reasonable way to open a conversation with someone...maybe learn something new about a different culture. Cruise ships still do it (last time I checked), I wonder what made the guys/gals in the corner offices think that they were making a wise decision here. Sounds expensive and certainly didn't achieve the "oh yeah, the happiest place on earth! I needed another spot for my eyes to remember that's where I am!" effect they were probably hoping for. Yikes...

Having spent a whack 'o time with Mouse People over the years, I can totally see why this happened (btw there's a well known travel industry saying: "You Don't F*** With The Mouse." Moving on...). So, why? The root cause is that these "Celebration" promos work. Big time. Ever notice how pretty much every year Disney has a heavily promoted "X Anniversary of Y" or some such thing? This is not coincidental. Research has shown that people love the "join the party -- don't miss out!" idea, and it has the handy (and intended) side effect of creating a shiny new PR/promotional angle to talk up. And *nobody* does PR like the Mouse. In this case, my guess is that in their zeal to immerse park goers in the Joyful Celebration Of Whatever They Came Up With This Time (tm) they swapped in new badges, and somebody just made a poorly thought through call on the re-dos. What's even more surprising though, given the in-park buzz you say this is creating and given their ninja PR skills, is that they didn't replace them again right away. Could be saying that there's more to it (e.g. complaints from some staff about being harrased or getting negative comments based on their hometowns or some such, leading to a change in the policy).

M-I-C... you later.

- Stuart

Simon Cooper, a (now Marriott, former Delta) hotel executive whom I met through a couple of MBA alumni events, would give talks on managing in the hospitality industry. When asked "What was his biggest fear and frustration?", he would respond that it was the fact his lowest paid employees were the one most in contact with the customers. When I used to stay at Delta Hotels in my travels it often showed up in the way I was (respectfully) treated whenever I raised an issue; everything from an immediate response to free meals, and even once a free night, in the hotel. By the way, he made sure those lowest paid employees were empowered to make these decisions.

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