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View Full Version : Is it "here we go again" !!!!!!with recent low attendance? update 3/11


cindyfan
03-06-2003, 11:44 AM
As rumored on another site... www.wdwmagic.com
Attendance is struggling again, similar to what it was 2 yrs ago.

I do understand alot of what they are doing or thinking about doing.....but some of these listed are IMHO questionable as to how it is really saving anything........

IMHO.....
Fast Pass pretty much works on it's own, I know there's maintanance of the machines, but what would they lose $$ wise if they make people waste time in line as opposed to shopping or eating???
How many payroll hours would be saved by closing the Gallery??? Not enough to warrent losing the money it brings in.
And Downtown Disney is managed like a shopping center, isn't it?? And if park hours are cut, where do people go......shopping. So IMHO....that would be cutting off their nose to spite their face!

I'm just hoping all this isn't going to effect us like it did 2 yrs ago!!

Now, if they decided to give us one heck of a discount on the resort.......I might be able to forgive them.......but right now.....
For goodness sakes.....what are they waiting on for the AP rates!!!!

See my post for 3/11..........:mad: :mad: :mad:

BRERALEX
03-06-2003, 12:01 PM
ahh I'mnot worried they'll bring back character caravan and all will be forgiven.

BrianD
03-06-2003, 12:03 PM
To me, the "potential" cutbacks don't seem that bad. As for reducing FastPass attractions, they're probably talking about attractions like Maelstrom in Norway. I mean, come on, 95% of the time there is no need for a FastPass on some of this one.

These potential cutbacks don't seem as significant to me as the ones that happend 2 years ago.

BrianD
03-06-2003, 12:04 PM
Originally posted by BRERALEX
ahh I'mnot worried they'll bring back character caravan and all will be forgiven.

very funny, BRERALEX :cool:

BRERALEX
03-06-2003, 12:07 PM
I'm just teasing lol

what were the significant cutbacks of two years ago? I'm drawing a blank....et of snow it just doesnt stop here lately!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!

I went 3 times in 2001, 2 times in 2000, 2 times in 2002 but can't think up the cutbacks you are both referring to?

cindyfan
03-06-2003, 12:14 PM
but can't think up the cutbacks you are both referring to?

You are kidding right??

BRERALEX
03-06-2003, 12:52 PM
no im serious like...hours are still down some rides are still closed....do you guys mean certain cutbacks from two years ago that they gave back or you guys just mean you dont want even more cutbacks then ones cut back two years ago that are still going on. seriously

cindyfan
03-06-2003, 01:27 PM
Okay, let's start with cutting park hours....those have improved in the last 8 months.
and....cancelling of EE....."replaced" with the caravan...
and....cancelling of e-nights.
They had cut back on the number of shows and fireworks.
There was a hiring freeze then, and a huge lay-off....which in turn really hurt the quality of guest service.
Actually closing resorts.....PO!

Yes, there are still rides that are still closed or limited, and the hours are not what they were. But things had started coming back these last 6 months.

So let's really hope they won't make even more!!!!!:eek:

As for reducing FastPass attractions, they're probably talking about attractions like Maelstrom in Norway. I mean, come on, 95% of the time there is no need for a FastPass on some of this one.
I always wondered why that had a FP!!:rolleyes:

BRERALEX
03-06-2003, 01:31 PM
Thanx Cindyfan i was just hoping it wasn't something i was missing. i think Norway had a FP not cause it's such a crazy popular ride but it's how long it takes them to board everyone that line may seem short but take awhile from my experiences with it. If i see the line at the door i dont even go in. It took 5 trips with my gf for her to finally ride Maelstrom

raidermatt
03-06-2003, 03:03 PM
Okay, let's start with cutting park hours....those have improved in the last 8 months. One tiny bit of clarification here...:)

Using MK...

"Improved" might not be the right term. When compared to same month from a year ago, every month continues to be lower than the previous year. April has been the only exception recently, but that can be attributed to Easter falling in April this year, while it was in March last year (April is up about 4%, March down over 12%). So even when year over year attendance was rising, as it was in Oct-Dec, hours were still shrinking.

I'll stop now.

DisneyKidds
03-06-2003, 03:16 PM
"Improved" might not be the right term.
Ah, but that was the perception, and you know what they say about perceptions ;) :jester:.

cindyfan
03-06-2003, 03:20 PM
Okay, maybe "improved" needs clarification........
Not an improvement from the previous year....but an improvement from what they started out doing......
example: the hours in Oct.....(we were there then, that is why I'm using that as an example) Mk was initially scheduled to close at 6pm, then then changed it to 8pm. and they added showings of the fireworks and SpectroMagic during the week.

And you are right comparing this year to last......example.....Easter week last year MK open til midnight...this year only til 11pm....but I attributed that to the different month......not as many "spring breaks" from schools in April vs March of last year.

I just hope that come April .......they don't decide to cut back things even more!! That would really ruin our plans for our April trip.:(

raidermatt
03-06-2003, 03:48 PM
Ah, but that was the perception, and you know what they say about perceptions Good point. Why do you think they like to schedule shorter hours, then increase them later? That's managing perceptions. Can be a valuable tool.

But using this tactic to mask reduced value is VERY risky in the long run... Eventually people catch on.

Of course, in this case, the only perceptions being managed are those who check the hours on the Internet two months in advance, record them, and check them again when they go.


Everybody else, (the vast majority...is that what you've said?), just find out about the hours when they get there, and have memories of more MK nightime opportunities, or FW not closing "so early"... stuff like that.

Pretty difficult to manage those perceptions.

raidermatt
03-06-2003, 03:50 PM
I just hope that come April .......they don't decide to cut back things even more!! That would really ruin our plans for our April trip. Well, NEVER let it ruin your trip. Just make the best of it, if it happens.

But feel free to vent when you come back here!;)

Another Voice
03-06-2003, 04:08 PM
"I just hope that come April .......they don't decide to cut back things even more!!"


Let's just say that things like the number of chicken fingers you get won't seem like much of an issue in comparison.

BRERALEX
03-06-2003, 04:19 PM
So then AV that is an admittance that Ei$ner really is Sauron!!!!!!!!!! HA I KNEW IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

come on man spill the beans. i just reshovled again!!!! give me the bad news now!!!!

All Aboard
03-06-2003, 05:16 PM
As a hockey fan in the mid 1990's, nothing scared me more than sitting in the stands and seeing Jaromir Jagr come over the wall of the player's box.

Now, nothing scares me more than one of AV's "just wait" posts.

cindyfan
03-06-2003, 06:34 PM
Let's just say that things like the number of chicken fingers you get won't seem like much of an issue in comparison.
LOL........
But it will be an issue if Casey's gives me a bun with NO DOG!!
LOL!!:jester:

HB2K
03-06-2003, 06:52 PM
Originally posted by gcurling
As a hockey fan in the mid 1990's, nothing scared me more than sitting in the stands and seeing Jaromir Jagr come over the wall of the player's box.

Now, nothing scares me more than one of AV's "just wait" posts.

Not only am I laughing out loud, I'm nodding my head in agreement.

Planogirl
03-08-2003, 12:28 AM
Now what? Closing parks? Closing resorts? Rides? Even fewer chicken fingers? Coin operated restrooms? Bringing back the coupon books? I can't wait. :rolleyes:

KMovies
03-08-2003, 09:51 AM
What business isn't cutting back?

It's like a movie theatre...

LOTR plays on multiple screens, largest theatres.

Attendance goes down.

You drop a couple of prints, move it to smaller theatres.

Attendance goes down.

You go to one print, small theatre.

Attendance goes down.

You play it a couple times a day.

Attendance goes down.

LOTR ends.

When attendance drops - you adjust park hours. you adjust entertainment. It only makes sense.

We want 100% of the Magic all of the time. We all do. It just can't happen with today's economy.

Even if attendance is the same - is spending the same? Not always - more local discounts may keep the attendance the same, but spending still dips.

Why keep the cart that sells ice cream open if it isn't selling enough ice cream. It isn't the only place to get ice cream.

If the park closes an hour early - big deal, if the lines are shorter, you still have plenty of time to do everything that you wanted to do in less time.

20 attractions in 9 hours
20 attreactions in 10 hours

Gee - what day is more enjoyable. If the extra hour was spent in lines, it wouldn't be that day.

If you want longer hours - go in the summer - take the heat - take the lines - buy more Coke to make it through the day - and have great memories of your longer day at Disney.

Chip 'n Dale Express
03-08-2003, 09:59 AM
A few folks mentioned the Character Caravan... just a random tidbit... at the time, the CC was actually more popular, and well liked than Early Entry. It gave guests a more personal time to interact with the characters, and the kids especially loved that. I always loved when they'd come visit me on the Monorail platform... that was great. Or when Pluto came to catch a ride on my train. The memories :)

Early Entry is great, but all to often, I encounter folks who accidentally slept in (It's a vacation, you should sleep in anyways), and ended up missing it. The Caravan was available as late as 9:45... giving those folks plenty of time to take advantage of it.

All things considered, the Caravan (imho) was not a cutback, but rather the introduction of a different Resort Perk.

All Aboard
03-09-2003, 07:28 PM
If the park closes an hour early - big deal, if the lines are shorter, you still have plenty of time to do everything that you wanted to do in less time. I was at the Magic Kingdom today. During Early Entry I was able to do one attraction - it took me almost 50 minutes to get through Space Mountain. I arrived 5 minutes before 8:00am. Shortly thereafter, Pooh had a 90 minute queue, Space was nearly up to that in the afternoon. Splash was up to 60 minutes. Town Square was shoulder to shoulder when the characters were out with roughly 30 folks waiting for each. Oh the crowds were there, the lines certainly weren't short, and the park closed nice and early at 7:00pm.

Another Voice
03-09-2003, 08:27 PM
You know, there may be many reasons to close a park for a day.

I wonder how the economics work out - is it better to have one park open with 30,000 guests and a second with 15,000 guests (both moderatly busy crowds for their respective park), or is it more economical to have the just one park open with 45,000 guests (making that park busy)?

Perhaps it's not so much the size of the crowd that matters as the cost structure they require...

Atlantis~crystal
03-09-2003, 09:13 PM
:D :( :o :) ;) :p :cool: :rolleyes: :mad: :eek: :confused: :bounce: :jester: :smooth: :Pinkbounc :mad: :confused: :eek: :rolleyes: :p :bounce: :jester: :smooth: :crazy: :earsgirl: :sunny: :earsboy: :wave: :earsgirl: :tongue: :earsboy: OIY VEY!

HB2K
03-10-2003, 04:38 AM
Originally posted by Another Voice
You know, there may be many reasons to close a park for a day.

I wonder how the economics work out - is it better to have one park open with 30,000 guests and a second with 15,000 guests (both moderatly busy crowds for their respective park), or is it more economical to have the just one park open with 45,000 guests (making that park busy)?

Perhaps it's not so much the size of the crowd that matters as the cost structure they require...
If the 45,000 all accept this and show up to the one park. It's a risky assumption I'm sure Ei$ner is oblivious to....

P.S. I'm sure there was sarcasm in your post AV. I was just astounded at how upper management thinks thier customers are all brainwashed and will go with whatever is demanded of them....

crusader
03-10-2003, 06:42 AM
I was just astounded at how upper management thinks thier customers are all brainwashed and will go with whatever is demanded of them....

You mean like rush to the ee park or buy a furby or spend $130 for a pair of sneakers. Funny!

Not those Disney consumers though, they're much too smart for any marketing ploys. Magic and pixie dust are real!

HB2K
03-10-2003, 12:45 PM
Originally posted by crusader
You mean like rush to the ee park or buy a furby or spend $130 for a pair of sneakers. Funny!

Not those Disney consumers though, they're much too smart for any marketing ploys. Magic and pixie dust are real!

No, I'm not referrencing pricing....I'm talking about a magic Kingdom customer buying EPCOT since it's open and MK isn't.

I don't think 100% of the MK customers will just take what's open. That's my point.

raidermatt
03-10-2003, 12:54 PM
Kmovies- That LOTR analogy is just plain off. If one chooses to see LOTR at any point in its run, they get the entire movie...same as those that went opening weekend.

The don't shut the movie off 10 minutes early.

A few folks mentioned the Character Caravan... just a random tidbit... at the time, the CC was actually more popular, and well liked than Early Entry. Again, Tyler, thanks for the info, but I really having a hard time reconciling this statement.

If EE was a big enough factor in resort bookings that WDW was forced to bring it back, why would they then discontinue the even more popular CC? After all, it was apparently a business decision to bring back EE...why would they then cut a CC program that was even more popular, and therfore, profitable?

Further, we know that Guest Relations received quite a few complaints about EE going away...judging by the lack of chatter about CC complaints, it would seem there are much fewer. Is that a misconception? Are there really just as many, or even more, complaints about CC going away than EE?

airlarry!
03-10-2003, 12:57 PM
We want 100% of the Magic all of the time. . .It just can't happen with today's economy. . .If the park closes an hour early - big deal, if the lines are shorter, you still have plenty of time to do everything that you wanted to do in less time. . . .If you want longer hours - go in the summer

M. KMovies,

The cuts in hours, as documented by Friends of Full Day Parks ;) goes well before any trouble with 'today's economy.'

During the busy season, which as a regular I am sure you know that from President's week/Mardi Gras through Easter is one of the busiest, there is no excuse for shorter hours, because for the most part, there are no shorter lines during this time.

And going in the summer? Comparatively speaking, there is less time there, too. More crowds, and the cutback in hours since way, way before 9/11 make it tough to understand your argument.

Chip 'n Dale Express
03-10-2003, 01:05 PM
Originally posted by raidermatt
Again, Tyler, thanks for the info, but I really having a hard time reconciling this statement.

If EE was a big enough factor in resort bookings that WDW was forced to bring it back, why would they then discontinue the even more popular CC? After all, it was apparently a business decision to bring back EE...why would they then cut a CC program that was even more popular, and therfore, profitable?

Further, we know that Guest Relations received quite a few complaints about EE going away...judging by the lack of chatter about CC complaints, it would seem there are much fewer. Is that a misconception? Are there really just as many, or even more, complaints about CC going away than EE?

The NUMBER ONE complaint that Disney has gotten in the past few years is not enough characters. That's why the Character Caravan was brought into place. As for why EE returned, and CC stopped... well... the only thing I can think of is that the Squeaky wheel gets the grease. Also... you are correct, Early Entry is a perk that draws people to Disney Resorts. Of course, that doesn't mean they'll actually get around to using it.

While EE may be a more sellable perk, the CC was more popular in actual attendance.

raidermatt
03-10-2003, 01:13 PM
You mean like rush to the ee park or buy a furby or spend $130 for a pair of sneakers. Funny! Not sure who's buying furbies at WDW for $130, but maybe I'm just out of the loop...

As for EE, since its included in their park admission and resort price, why shouldn't they take advantage of EE? That's taking advantage of what you paid for, not paying the same for less.

Not those Disney consumers though, they're much too smart for any marketing ploys. Magic and pixie dust are real! Just like anything else, some are sheep and some are not. The sheep will flock to the Disney name no matter what, the rest look at the value they are getting.

raidermatt
03-10-2003, 01:20 PM
As for why EE returned, and CC stopped... well... the only thing I can think of is that the Squeaky wheel gets the grease. While EE may be a more sellable perk, the CC was more popular in actual attendance. Ok, makes sense. Since the CC characters are in the lobby, its going to get a lot of spontaneous attendance, making it possible its more heavily attended. But the lack of "squeaks" at its demise, coupled with the impact when EE was taken away, makes it clear which has the higher value to guests.

Another Voice
03-10-2003, 01:47 PM
Hmmmm.....

Actually the number one complaint is "you guys charge too much!!!", but that question doesn't make it onto all those PowerPoint presentations used in the budget meetings. What people really say, and what they say in answer to a structured quetionnaire, are very different things.

The sad "rumor" is that very little actual guest serveying is used to improve guest statifaction. But an awful lot of it gets used to justify why my budget cuts should be smaller than your budget cuts. When waging a corporate political battle you reach for all the ammo you can.

The chances of anyone actually answering the question: "Which do you prefer more, Early Entry or the Character Cavalcade" is really remote because that question was never asked. Instead vague responses to "would you like more opportunities to see the characters" (without any hint of the trade-offs involved) got graphed in multi-colored bullet points on meeting handouts across the property.

dahess
03-10-2003, 02:01 PM
Maybe it's just my family planning a trip. Last time we went to WDW, parks closed at 7pm & there were major cut backs.

All Aboard
03-10-2003, 02:55 PM
The funniest thing about the whole CC for EE thing is that while "You spoke and we listened and took it as a wakeup call" was the single deepest load of BS ever attempted to be delivered; it would have been absolutely dead-on accurate as a description of why it got reversed.

Chip 'n Dale Express
03-10-2003, 02:57 PM
Originally posted by gcurling
The funniest thing about the whole CC for EE thing is that while "You spoke and we listened and took it as a wakeup call" was the single deepest load of BS ever attempted to be delivered

I wouldn't say that. Guests wanted more characters. They asked for it. Disney responded. Character Caravan gave them that.

All Aboard
03-10-2003, 03:40 PM
I WOULD say that. I guess I should not have neglected the other half of the message: "You spoke and we listened. Many of you weren't using EE and many of you said you wanted to see more characters. So, we took it as a wakeup call. Suprise Mornings have been replaced by a new kind of Magic. Now the characters you've come to love, come to you for a visit!"

What a downright patronizing (and quite honestly insulting) spin to put on such a thing.

How about, "Many of our guests were not using the resort pools and we sure have gotten a lot of complaints about the roughness of the toilet paper. So, we listened. We've shut down the resort pools and are now providing a new kind of Magic - Charmin in all the resort bathrooms!"

WDSearcher
03-10-2003, 03:44 PM
Originally posted by Another Voice
Actually the number one complaint is "you guys charge too much!!!", but that question doesn't make it onto all those PowerPoint presentations used in the budget meetings. What people really say, and what they say in answer to a structured quetionnaire, are very different things.
Yeah, but isn't that the number one complaint everywhere? How many top tourist destinations do you go to where you don't cringe at how much you have to spend for stuff? And honestly ... how much would someplace like Disney need to cut their prices for people to think it was significant? If Disney said, "Hey .... park passes are 5% lower this year!", that would be pretty major for a company like Disney. But there would still be a raft of complaints that started with "Oh ... wow ... big deal ... 5%." And it's not like the shareholders are clamoring, "Gee ... people think we charge too much. Let's cut prices." Honestly, it just doesn't happen. So, they go down to the next thing on the list, which is "More Characters." Or whatever.

The chances of anyone actually answering the question: "Which do you prefer more, Early Entry or the Character Cavalcade" is really remote because that question was never asked. Instead vague responses to "would you like more opportunities to see the characters" (without any hint of the trade-offs involved) got graphed in multi-colored bullet points on meeting handouts across the property.
But it's not like those in-park surveys are the only way that Disney is gathering information about what Guests want. There are focus groups and comment cards and other means of Guest feedback. Not to mention all the guest letters and Guest Relations complaints and comments and even the message board complaints or comments. Did you follow any of the threads that were online when Early Entry first went away? Do you think Disney doesn't read that stuff? The people who write those letters or leave those comments aren't reacting to a series of yes / no questions on a survey.

:earsboy:

airlarry!
03-10-2003, 04:48 PM
I see your point, M. Travis.

But I see it two ways.

One: People want to see more characters. Let's save some money, cut out EE, and give 'em characters at the resorts. They'll learn to love it, we can get out 10/10 again, and Cou$in Mike is happy!

Two: People want to see more characters. I'm worried that people won't want to come back if we cut out magical perks. Let's bring all those people who sleep in and miss out on EE (and maybe even skip a park that day or head to Seaworld or Universal) a van with characters right at their door...for free!

Hmm.....

raidermatt
03-10-2003, 06:09 PM
But it's not like those in-park surveys are the only way that Disney is gathering information about what Guests want. Wherever they got their info on EE from, it took them down the wrong path.

If the decisions to add CC and cut EE were unrelated, why did the announcement read like it did (see gcurling's post), and why did CC go away when EE came back? After all, guests still wanted more characters, right?

Chip 'n Dale Express
03-10-2003, 06:36 PM
Originally posted by raidermatt
why did CC go away when EE came back? After all, guests still wanted more characters, right?

Characters were moved to the theme park itself. If you notice, there are tons more characters in the parks at opening. In addition, Pluto, and Chip & Dale ride the MK Ferry in the morning.

DVC-Landbaron
03-10-2003, 07:00 PM
Extra!! Extra!!
Read all about it!!

LandBaron Praises Disney!!

Characters were moved to the theme park itself. If you notice, there are tons more characters in the parks at opening. In addition, Pluto, and Chip & Dale ride the MK Ferry in the morning.Yep!! That is one of the very, very, very nice recent additions that I have noticed that added gobs and gobs of pixie dust on our recent trips!!

These characters are all over the place!! And at all times of day and night (assuming there is a night!!).

I commend Disney for doing it right in this regard and not just having "meet & greet" areas!!

THIS IS WHAT I'M TALKING ABOUT!!!!

It's not about E-Ticket necessarily. It's this kind of stuff. But there's got to be a whole bunch of them to make any sizable difference. And this alone doesn't even come close to comparing to the slashed (MURDERED) hours!!

But it is a start!!

cindyfan
03-11-2003, 07:49 AM
I'm just hoping all this isn't going to effect us like it did 2 yrs ago!!

Well, it happened!!! They messed up this vacation just like they did 2 years ago!!!!!!!

They just cut hours DRASTICALLY for the week we are there!!! Giving us only ONE chance to see the MK fireworks (the previous schedule had fireworks every night!!!!!) And only one chance to see Spectro Magic!!!!
AND shortening MGM hours by 1 1/2 hours!!!!!
But it is the shorter hours at MK that is really getting me ANGRY!!!!!!!!!!:mad: :mad: :mad:
It means they will be closing even before the sun goes down!!!!
And I am paying PEAK prices !!!!!!!!

AND........they cancelled our character lunch at MGM!!!!!!!!
AND ........the PS we had a MK for one of the evenings that just got CUT!!!!!

Okay....I'm calling and emailing!

THANKS for letting me vent!!!!!!!!!!

WDSearcher
03-11-2003, 07:59 AM
Originally posted by raidermatt
Wherever they got their info on EE from, it took them down the wrong path. If the decisions to add CC and cut EE were unrelated, why did the announcement read like it did (see gcurling's post), and why did CC go away when EE came back? After all, guests still wanted more characters, right?
I didn't say they weren't related. I was just commenting on your post about guest surveys, since you were implying that they were the only way Disney was getting feedback.

As for how the announcement read .... I would imagine that the announcement was written by a PR or Communications Department, and it's their job to put that kind of a spin on things. You certainly didn't expect Disney to release an announcement that said, "Hey y'all ... we're seriously trying to save some money here and we discovered that it costs way less to put characters on a bus and drop them at a Resort for a few hours than it does to open a park 90 mins early every morning, so here's the plan." The bottom line is that guests wanted to see more characters, and Disney needed to save some money. So they tried something. It didn't work. People complained, so EE came back. AND more characters were put into the parks. So ... in the end, the Guest got what they wanted. Isn't that kind of how the system is supposed to work?

:earsboy:

All Aboard
03-11-2003, 09:35 AM
in the end, the Guest got what they wanted. Isn't that kind of how the system is supposed to work? No, it shouldn't require letter writing campaigns, thousands of posts on message boards, and visits to Guests Services and City Hall. And, the PR folks should have known that the readers of their spin weren't idiots.

WDSearcher
03-11-2003, 10:41 AM
Originally posted by gcurling
No, it shouldn't require letter writing campaigns, thousands of posts on message boards, and visits to Guests Services and City Hall.
Well, yeah. It should. If a company tries something (whether it's bringing back Cabbage Patch Kids or developing New Coke), they try it so they see what kind of reaction they get. Will people spend money on their experiment, or not? Will people be incensed that they changed something, or will they accept the new product? Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't, but stuff gets tried because you want to see what will happen. You NEED that feedback -- good, bad or ugly. Even if the feedback proves that you're wrong.

I would pretty much bet that, at the time the substitution of CC for EE was implemented, it was done so as a short term solution. A knee-jerk reaction to needing to quickly cut budgets, but to also develop something that could help take care of the "not enough characters" problem. My guess would be that the plan all along was to cut EE for a while to save some cash and put a short-term character solution out there. That gives the Character people a little breathing room and a chance to figure out a real plan to increase the character presence in the parks. And then, when the time was right budgetarily, they bring EE back with fanfare PLUS they add all this new character presence in the park. Thereby creating a new marketing hook.

But whether that's the case or not, the letter writing campaigns and the message board posts and the visits to Guest Services and City Hall are exactly the reaction you want to see, because it gives you the feedback you need to preserve the program in the long term.

:earsboy:

HB2K
03-11-2003, 10:53 AM
Originally posted by WDSearcher
Well, yeah. It should. If a company tries something (whether it's bringing back Cabbage Patch Kids or developing New Coke), they try it so they see what kind of reaction they get. Will people spend money on their experiment, or not? Will people be incensed that they changed something, or will they accept the new product? Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't, but stuff gets tried because you want to see what will happen. You NEED that feedback -- good, bad or ugly. Even if the feedback proves that you're wrong.

I would pretty much bet that, at the time the substitution of CC for EE was implemented, it was done so as a short term solution. A knee-jerk reaction to needing to quickly cut budgets, but to also develop something that could help take care of the "not enough characters" problem. My guess would be that the plan all along was to cut EE for a while to save some cash and put a short-term character solution out there. That gives the Character people a little breathing room and a chance to figure out a real plan to increase the character presence in the parks. And then, when the time was right budgetarily, they bring EE back with fanfare PLUS they add all this new character presence in the park. Thereby creating a new marketing hook.

But whether that's the case or not, the letter writing campaigns and the message board posts and the visits to Guest Services and City Hall are exactly the reaction you want to see, because it gives you the feedback you need to preserve the program in the long term.

:earsboy:

I'm running a business. One day, my shop has 100 happy customers. Fast Forward a year. I'm still running the same shop, but I've only got 25 customers since I stopped my frequent buyer club discount. I've heard from 50 of my customers telling me they didn't like the change, so I bring the discount back. Only problem once I make the change back, I only have 75 customers in my store.

Is that a successful way to do business? What happened to the other 25 customers? They found somewhere else to go, but they didn't bother to tell me why they left.

Running a successful business means you provide products the customer wants, BEFORE they enter your store. Making them tell you what they want back means your business will never be the same.

All Aboard
03-11-2003, 11:12 AM
What I meant was that it shouldn't take all of that to reverse a stupid decision. The stupid decision should not be made in the first place.

Bstanley
03-11-2003, 11:14 AM
But whether that's the case or not, the letter writing campaigns and the message board posts and the visits to Guest Services and City Hall are exactly the reaction you want to see, because it gives you the feedback you need to preserve the program in the long term.

Any company that relies on it's customer's to pro-actively tell it what they want is doomed to failure because the simple fact is that 999 out of 1000 customers are NOT going to do it. And in addition the 0.1% that do pro-actively contact the company do NOT significantly represent the opinions of the other 999.

The biggest single differentiator between successful and unsuccessful companies is their abilities to identify what their customers want and understand what their customers might say.

WebmasterCricket
03-11-2003, 11:19 AM
Originally posted by gcurling
What I meant was that it shouldn't take all of that to reverse a stupid decision. The stupid decision should not be made in the first place.

So which is worse, doing something wrong or not doing something right? I'm sure their stupid decisions sound good to them before they do it. I doubt there is a meeting where they TRY to figure out how to upset guests while spending MORE money.

WDSearcher
03-11-2003, 11:44 AM
Originally posted by gcurling
What I meant was that it shouldn't take all of that to reverse a stupid decision. The stupid decision should not be made in the first place.
Yes, in a perfect world. But the decision that looks stupid today might have been the best solution at the time. If you've got a director or a VP telling you to cut expenses and you know from your own view of the finances that this has to be done, you have to come up with some cuts somewhere. You don't want to, maybe, and you know that people are going to be mad at the decision, but you do what you can because that's your job. And you hope that the guests will be out there to complain because you want and need a reason to bring that program back. I'm not saying that always happens, but it's not like cuts like that are made on a whim.

:earsboy:

WDSearcher
03-11-2003, 11:56 AM
Originally posted by HB2K
I'm running a business. One day, my shop has 100 happy customers. Fast Forward a year. I'm still running the same shop, but I've only got 25 customers since I stopped my frequent buyer club discount. I've heard from 50 of my customers telling me they didn't like the change, so I bring the discount back. Only problem once I make the change back, I only have 75 customers in my store. Is that a successful way to do business?
I can't answer that without knowing WHY you stopped the frequent buyer club discount. Presumably you had a reason, and didn't just do it on a whim. You didn't just wake up one day and decide to cut a successful program. You did it because, at the time, it seemed like a sound decision and the solution to a problem you had. And even if the only reason you did it was "to find out what would happen," you've done that.

What happened to the other 25 customers? They found somewhere else to go, but they didn't bother to tell me why they left.
So you either track them down and find out, while reminding them that you have this "new and improved" buying club discount to offer them, or you count on new customers coming in. Maybe you get those 25 back, maybe you don't. Either way, it was your decision to cut the program in the first place. You knew there were risks, but again ... you took them because it seemed like a good idea at the time.

:earsboy:

raidermatt
03-11-2003, 01:22 PM
There are time when I really wonder...

So you either track them down and find out, while reminding them that you have this "new and improved" buying club discount to offer them, or you count on new customers coming in. Maybe you get those 25 back, maybe you don't. Either way, it was your decision to cut the program in the first place. You knew there were risks, but again ... you took them because it seemed like a good idea at the time. How much did it cost you to try to get those 25 back? And no, you never get them all back. Walt said it, and its a tried and true business adage...It costs a heck of a lot more to bring a customer back than it does to keep him in the first place.

Seemed like a good idea at the time? Who cares? As has been pointed out, this is the real world, and ALL that matters is the results. In the above scenario, 25 customers are gone.

In Disney's case, those customers are gone because they abandoned the successful business model that built their empire, and instead are using the same practices used by many other companies.

If doing things just like everybody else is good enough, why aren't there dozens of web communities for other companies?

And even if the only reason you did it was "to find out what would happen," you've done that. Now we're stepping beyond "like everybody else" and into plain suicide. A service company doesn't cut services just to "find out what would happen." At the very least they need to accurately do their research and be confident of what the overall impact will be before they make the cut, for the costs of being wrong will outweigh any benefit from the cut.

Not only did Disney not make the decision using the DISNEY business plan, they didn't even do a good job of being like everybody else.

No, it shouldn't require letter writing campaigns, thousands of posts on message boards, and visits to Guests Services and City Hall.
Well, yeah. It should.
No, it shouldn't. For if this does happen, you've messed up royally. Again, real world here, you've lost customers and you've lost money. That's a much more serious problem than you seem to realize. Disney made this cut even though it flies in the face of everything they were built on, and they made it worse by not understanding what they true impact would be.

Its not like they came out with a new product or reintroduced an old one and the public didn't respond like they hoped. This wasn't the good old college try at innovation. This was an attempt to see how much they could get away with. You will get burned more often than not when you follow this strategy.

HB2K
03-11-2003, 03:40 PM
I can't answer that without knowing WHY you stopped the frequent buyer club discount. Presumably you had a reason, and didn't just do it on a whim. You didn't just wake up one day and decide to cut a successful program. You did it because, at the time, it seemed like a sound decision and the solution to a problem you had. And even if the only reason you did it was "to find out what would happen," you've done that.

Fair enough.

Since my business of selling computer programs was so successful, I decide to start selling computers. I have no idea how to build a computer, but it can't be that hard....I can buy non brand name parts cheap, and noone will know the difference....they buy my software, they'll buy my computers.

So I finish my first model, and all of my customers buy it. I then make another, and another, and another, all the while people keep buying my software as always...

But it's a funny thing, I keep hearing I'm not that good at making computers. People start buying less and less of em....It can't be the computers that are the problem, so I decide I need to hire some flashy marketing guys, etc....but the money's got to come from somewhere....oh I got it, the software business! It's still making quite a profit (although I wonder why it's not as much as last year). I'll take the profit from the programming business and buy advertising & hardware for my computers...So now I've got a well advertised product....I'm so smart.

But funny thing is, now noone's buying the computers. I'm starting to barely cover costs from both businesses....the bill collectors are going to start circling over head....gotta get more money, but where?

I know, I'll eliminate the frequent buyer program from the software store. Those 100 customers I have will just have to pay full price for my programs. I know they're more expensive than my competition, but by cutting out the 10% discount, I'll save $50K a year! I'm so smart.

But then as word gets out about my change, I see fewer and fewer of my 100 customers. I call a few to take some orders, but they tell me that while they loved my program, Microsoft is offering a similar program for 20% less....so they are going there.

Now I've got two train wrecks on my hands. Not only is my computer business a bust, my meat and potatoes software business is sinking....

I GOT IT! I'll bring back the discount! Then the money will flow in like a tidal wave, and I'll be able to buy more marketing guys for my computers!

I'm so smart...

So I call the customers who bought software from me before, and tell them that I've brought back the discount and ask what they need...and some come back to me and start buying my software again, but there's quite a few who tell me that they're happy with Microsoft and if I want the business back I'll have to beat their price....

So what do I do? I need these customers back....but if I cut my price by 25% I won't make anything?

What do I do?

HB2K
03-11-2003, 03:46 PM
P.S. Wasn't Disney a pretty profitable & successful company when they were building attractions and giving you the "extra" chicken finger?

What changed?

HINT: The chicken finger didn't hurt nobody....

WDSearcher
03-11-2003, 04:11 PM
Originally posted by raidermatt
There are time when I really wonder...
Seemed like a good idea at the time? Who cares? As has been pointed out, this is the real world, and ALL that matters is the results. In the above scenario, 25 customers are gone.
No, that's not true. The results are not all that matters. What also matters is why the other 50 came back, and why the OTHER 25 stayed even after the program was cut. You want an accurate idea of what your customers want, you need to care about what's behind all of those motivations.

Can you honestly say that you've never made a decision that you thought was warranted at the time, only to discover later that you screwed up? Or that you've never made a bad decision and then tried to defend it to someone else? It happens. In business, in life, in relationships. And you can go until the cows come home about how it was a bad decision and that's all that matters. But in the real world, people screw up. Or they're put in a position where they have to make a decision that they know isn't the best case scenario. To imply that Disney should somehow be above all that is unrealistic.

Now we're stepping beyond "like everybody else" and into plain suicide. A service company doesn't cut services just to "find out what would happen."
Geez Matt ... it was just an example. I wasn't implying that Disney would ever do that. I was listing a possible motivation for why HB2K might have cut his frequent buying program, per his example.

At the very least they need to accurately do their research and be confident of what the overall impact will be before they make the cut, for the costs of being wrong will outweigh any benefit from the cut. Not only did Disney not make the decision using the DISNEY business plan, they didn't even do a good job of being like everybody else.
Unless you've got an in at corporate planning, we don't know what kind of model or research they used or why.

Its not like they came out with a new product or reintroduced an old one and the public didn't respond like they hoped. This wasn't the good old college try at innovation. This was an attempt to see how much they could get away with.
But they did come out with a new product. The early morning character greetings in the resorts. Maybe it wasn't cutting edge, but it was something that had never been done before. In the process, they took something else away. Like taking away Mr. Toad and replacing it with Pooh. Some people liked it. Some people hated it. In the case of CC vs. EE, more people hated it than liked it, so EE came back.

:earsboy:

WDSearcher
03-11-2003, 04:22 PM
Originally posted by HB2K
So what do I do? I need these customers back....but if I cut my price by 25% I won't make anything?

What do I do?
Oh man ... this is too much like school! What do I know? My training is in the non-profit sector! :p

In this scenario, though, you've realized that you made the mistake and you went back to the original plan. Now, chances are you knew you were going to lose SOME customers. Even if you didn't change the discount program, attrition is going to count for some losses. But in this case, you write off the loss as a tax deduction and vow to learn from this experience. Or ... you go back to the basics and just sell software again. (And you give all those computers you made to non-profit organizations like mine, become philanthropist of the year, and win an all-expenses-paid trip to Disney World!)

:earsboy:

All Aboard
03-11-2003, 05:37 PM
Like taking away Mr. Toad and replacing it with Pooh. Some people liked it. Some people hated it. In the case of CC vs. EE, more people hated it than liked it, so EE came back. Great example Searcher. Replace an attraction with the shortest queues in Fantasyland [that is based on an obscure Disney animated feature which (at the time) had not even been released on video and few people had any idea about] with an attraction based on a hugely popular story and set of characters that can easily be revived and made current (the book of Pooh). {geez, what a run on} The payback in terms of attracting new guests, generating return guests and generating the sale of Pooh stuff would seem to make it a no brainer. Take a relatively unpopular attraction and replace it with a winner.

What I'm trying to get at is that I don't think anybody within the Disney organization thought CC for EE would go over well with guests. And if they did, I wonder how that's possible. Think about it, when you go to the Disney resorts portion of the WDW website and click on "resort benefits" the first thing listed was Early Entry. It was noted on the planning video. It had a fairly promenent place in the literature given to you at check in. In short, it was used as a big selling point. They SHOULD have known that there would be a great deal of backlash if it was taken away. They HAVE to be sophisticated enough with their research to know. The questions have to be direct. Survey the guests DURING EE, they are the ones to be impacted. Surmise the relative value.

But, that's not what Disney wanted to do, because they knew the answer. So, instead they concocted a survey that would result in information that they could use to try to convince the public that it was their idea. Again I ask, did they think we were idiots?

In my line of work, we conduct surveys and focus groups anytime we are considering a change that is likely to generate negative customer reaction. Four years ago we eliminated our Sunday magazine. It wasn't supported by revenue and was very costly. We knew in advance what the reaction would be, and roughly how many subscribers we would lose. We asked the right questions because we wanted to KNOW what the impact on our business would be, not develop a spin plan. Because in the end, what mattered was the potential for loss of revenue.

This was a costly debacle for Disney. Thing is, most of us knew it early on, how could they not?

raidermatt
03-11-2003, 06:59 PM
No, that's not true. The results are not all that matters. What also matters is why the other 50 came back, and why the OTHER 25 stayed even after the program was cut. Yes, you obviously should learn from your mistake, but in Disney's case, the mistake wasn't so much the mis-judgement itself. No, the mistake was the deviation from the successful business model they employed to build the Disney we know today. That's the root cause, and they didn't learn a thing.

Further, in the above example, you are out 25% of your business, plus the extra expense of getting the others back, and that is enough to take many businesses down. It is inexcuseable to make mistakes of that magnitude.

Now, we don't know for sure what % Disney lost from the EE decision, but we know they lost enough to get them to bring it back. Unfortunately for them, some will never return.

Can you honestly say that you've never made a decision that you thought was warranted at the time, only to discover later that you screwed up? Or that you've never made a bad decision and then tried to defend it to someone else? It happens. Of course it happens. The key is the methodolgy behind your decision. Did you really try to do the "right" thing? Did you make your decision with the goal of helping the company meet its goals? In Disney's case, the answer is yes, but only because the goal has essentially become "let's see what we can get away with". They, think the mistake was that they didn't get away with it, when the real mistake was the goals were messed up to begin with. Those goals have not changed.

Unless you've got an in at corporate planning, we don't know what kind of model or research they used or why. It really doesn't matter. The reasoning behind it was faulty to begin with, and on top of that, whatever research they did led them to incorrect results. Ill-conceived and poorly executed. A bad combination.

But they did come out with a new product. The early morning character greetings in the resorts. Great! Wonderful! Beautiful!

Unfortunately, they took away something of far greater value at the same time, and told the public this is what they wanted.

To use the example you and gcurling were discussing, this wasn't replacing Toad with Pooh. This was replacing Toad with a character meet and greet, then telling folks they asked for the change. It was not an attempt to innovate, it was a money grab, pure and simple, and they got caught with their hand in the honey pot.

rwodonnell
03-12-2003, 02:23 AM
Is there anywhere online where we can actually see attendance figures? It would be interesting to see the raw numbers.

WDSearcher
03-12-2003, 06:32 AM
Originally posted by gcurling
This was a costly debacle for Disney. Thing is, most of us knew it early on, how could they not?
And my point is ... they probably did. But when you're faced with needing to make cuts -- when the edict from upper management is to make cuts, save money, lower expenses, you do it. But at the same time, you're working to find something else that you can introduce to sort of make up for what you have to cut. But whatever you develop still has to be within the new financial structure you find yourself in.

So ... You cut EE and bring in CC and then put the most positive spin possible on it. And you go in knowing that it's probably going to tank, but you do it anyway because it's the best decision you can make at the time, considering all the factors around you.

You guys seem to be looking at the one single decision to cut EE and bring in CC as if it were made in a vacuum. It wasn't. That's all I'm saying.

:earsboy:

crusader
03-12-2003, 07:33 AM
Actually the number one complaint is "you guys charge too much!!!", but that question doesn't make it onto all those PowerPoint presentations used in the budget meetings. What people really say, and what they say in answer to a structured quetionnaire, are very different things.

Exactly -

There is a problem with the 4 park ticket pricing structure; the food costs; and the taxes. The resorts do have pricing discounts which a smart traveller can take advantage of. That just will not be enough to get someone down there.

The real strategy here is shifting the sales pitch from: "look at all we have - for that heavy price tag" which appears very hectic and expensive to: "look at how relaxing and affordable it can be for you and your family". I have yet to see a great promotional ticket pricing campaign. As long as it costs hundreds of dollars per person to go to these parks it will deter visitors.

raidermatt
03-12-2003, 12:09 PM
But when you're faced with needing to make cuts -- when the edict from upper management is to make cuts, save money, lower expenses, you do it. Maybe this is where the disconnect is...

From a guest and/or shareholder view, it doesn't matter if the edict came from upper management. I'm sure this was WDW management's way of trying to meet the demands of corporate.

If so, yeah, WDW had to do SOMETHING. And yes, they messed up, but at least one can understand what they were being forced to accomplish.

But in the big picture, that doesn't really matter. We're not evaluating the perfomance of individual managers here. We're talking about the overall philosophy used to run the parks and make its decisions. So in looking at this ill-conceived and poorly executed plan, you could, I suppose, cut WDW management some slack on the poorly executed piece, since they were likely under tremendous pressure to reduce costs. But there can be no slack given for the ill-conceived portion, which begins with ordering cost cuts within a service company, with no regard to how those cuts will impact the long-term health of your most reliable assets.

When plans like this actually make to implementation, there is a problem or problems in the methodology, no doubt. The only real question is where the problem lies.