For Disney, the closer and longer guests stay, the more profitable they will be. The value proposition for Disney is to capture not only theme park visits, but hotels stays, food and beverage spending and purchases of souvenirs and other merchandise. Thus the introduction of Disney’s Magical Express, given the more captive the audience, the better. From Disney’s perspective, giving away an enticing transportation option would more than pay for itself in improved occupancy and spending. From a guest perspective, it represented true savings.
Implementing transformational strategies typically impact many areas of the business and such was the case for Magic Your Way. Breaking down organizational barriers and aligning the company around the transformation is a critical factor for success. IT was tasked with re-designing ticketing systems, introducing biometrics for every ticket purchase, enabling the selling of new dine plans and packages, and tracking millions of bags for arriving and departing guests. Operations were impacted on every front from theme park hours to new and popular dine plans in fast food and sit down restaurants, to an entirely new luggage handling facility and hundreds of buses a day arriving with multiple families ready to check-in – and expecting their bags to be in their room.
What on the surface appeared to be a complex strategy had to be marketed to guests in a clear, concise and compelling way, quite different from the emotional and attraction based efforts typically produced by Marketing. Likewise, thousands of internal sales reservationists and travel trade partners had to be trained on the new strategy. And while not intuitive, back of house operations were impacted as well. Extra theme park hours meant maintenance schedules would need to be redone, and with stronger demand in restaurants and resorts, purchasing and housekeeping were affected as well.
The organizational alignment probably most impactful was the ability to price holistically – to use all products and services to fashion the most profitable strategy. While responsibility for pricing tickets, hotel rooms, merchandise, food and beverage, and ancillary products and services were previously scattered throughout the organization, post Magic Your Way, all were housed in one cohesive Pricing and Revenue Management organization. No longer beholden to independent profit and loss statements, the Pricing organization was now able to price where guests placed value and maintain reasonable pricing or offer free services where it strategically made sense to do so.
Finally, having the courage to take calculated risk was the key to the successful implementation of Magic Your Way. Like many other strategies, this one was hard to test in real time without going all the way. While research and due diligence on the analytics indicated the strategy would be a success, it was easy to become skeptical and leery of such a large scale change. But significant reward is often the by-product of significant risk and Magic Your Way was no exception. Step changes in business usually require more than just a little tweaking and aversion to risk can easily dilute a strategy and its upside potential.
Having courage to execute when the risk is calculated and clear is often what keeps some of the best innovation from being realized. Leaders want assurance the risk being taken will pay off, and pay off handsomely. Embracing research, approaching analysis with rigor, and leveraging the most skeptical of skeptics to find the holes will help ensure success. All that’s left is a little courage.