April 2012: Kudos to the Walt Disney Company on this one: They constantly survey guests, ask what would make them happy, and attempt to make it happen. Critics say it’s a way to make more money because it is. But while most company’s mission statements say something like, “Put the customer first,” Disney actually does it when possible. (Of course, room prices also rose recently.)
In Disney’s case, a cadre of intelligent businessmen see competition from local hotels and even from within Disney as the resort rolls out more than 2,000 brand-new hotel rooms. They need to keep the older properties appealing. But to pull that off, they hire people who actually care about doing a good job – people who see “making someone happy” as a business goal that fits their personality. In Walt Disney’s day, his brother Roy watched the books and kept an eye on profits, leaving Walt free to create fun things for people. Roy kept the company out of bankruptcy; Walt gave it a reason to exist.
The Disney company has a permanent, intricate system to gauge customer satisfaction. In this case, it interviewed 10,000 past guests, according to The Orlando Sentinel, and asked them for a wish list. Employees took the wishes, rated them, created a master list of 32 items, and juggled the order of importance with an eye toward cost. When the pixie dust settled, Disney announced the following planned improvements at Disney World and other Disney properties throughout the world:
- Free Wi-Fi in hotel rooms. While wishes varied among guests in the economy rooms versus the expensive rooms, Disney says this is the one desire that crossed economic lines. And guests don’t want to pay extra for it. Disney says it just finished wiring the last of the rooms.
- Refrigerators in value resorts. One exec said this surprised him, but guests who opt for a least-expensive hotel want to stay on Disney property but are clearly on a budget. It makes sense that they’d opt to have a few meals or snacks at hand, and Disney listened.
- Extra beds in some hotels, notably the mid-priced ones. Guest could already roll a cot in, and many rooms had fold-out beds. But some rooms will now have a hidden bed that appears to be an armoire if not needed. Port Orleans is getting some now; others may follow.
- Other stuff. Disney did not announce the other amenities to be added, in part because they won’t be done right away.
In other Disney news, Starbuck coffee fans can get their java inside Disney’s Florida and California parks soon. It’s not part of the upgrade, however – it’s a marketing deal between the entertainment giant and the caffeine giant.