Tom Skaggs, Chairman, WD Parks & Resorts:
At Disney Parks, we are known for the iconic assets that we build -- our castles, hotels, cruise ships… but at the end of the day, these aren’t our core products. We aren’t in the attraction business, the hotel business, the cruise ship business… we are in the guest experience business.
The great shared memories that guests cherish and create every day at our parks help keep people coming back year after year. Understanding that is essential to understanding how Disney’s unique assets and competitive strengths set Parks and Resorts apart. So let me briefly touch on four of these key strengths.
The first is, of course, the Disney brand. In the Family Travel and Leisure business, the Disney name truly stands apart. It’s uniquely powerful, is synonymous with quality, it evokes trust and it generates loyalty. It allows us to establish a connection with our consumers unlike any other company. We have the extraordinary benefit of having customers who actively seek a relationship with us, a relationship that is based on emotion and trust. And we understand that we must be relentlessly consumer-focused to sustain and grow those relationships.
Our second major differentiator is the incredible wealth of fantastic intellectual property and creative talents available to us. At Parks and Resorts, we bring the company’s creative content to life in an immersive and tangible way. Many of our properties are evergreen, as Jay pointed out. They provide an ongoing source of strength and relevance for us. At the same time, the constant flow of stories, characters and music generated across the Disney company allows us to infuse our parks, resorts, cruise ships, etc. with vibrant new content on an ongoing basis.
The third competitive strength I want to touch on is our long-standing focus on leveraging technology and innovation throughout our business. While it may be chic to talk about innovation these days, it’s been a key focus at Disney since Walt famously said, “It’s kind of fun to do the impossible.” Trust me, if you spend time with our Imagineers, you’ll see that the drive for innovation is still inherent in everything that we do. And it’s inspiring because our opportunities to leverage technology and innovation are greater now than they’ve ever been.
The fourth strength I’ll highlight is one that I’m not sure we talk about enough, and that is our incomparable cast. It might surprise you, but in our research, people cite interactions they have with our cast as the single biggest factor in their satisfaction and intent to return. The excellence of our cast members is borne out of a deeply-rooted cultural commitment to quality and service that has been part of the organization for over half a century. What I’ve really come to appreciate this past year is that our cast’s commitment to guest experience is holistic – from designing our parks, attractions and resorts, to creating our entertainment offerings, and even down to the food that we serve - we want to wow our guests with every interaction.
Maintaining this culture of excellence across all the various disciplines required in our business is extraordinarily difficult, if not impossible, for others to replicate. The guest service orientation of our business does require a significant labor commitment, and operating labor comprises about a third of the segment’s cost base. But when so many of our guests single out interaction with our cast as the most important part of their visit, we know this continued investment is worth it.