On Monday 29th February 2016, hundreds of students arrived at Disneyland Paris for Business Live! Conference held in the Gaumont Cinema. Our chairperson Kate Russell welcomed everyone and introduced our speakers for the day.
Claire Dickson has worked for The Walt Disney Company for over 10 years. She is an Account Manager in which she strategically manages key trade relationships with various types of businesses. Claire spoke about advertising at Disney. She showed us past adverts that were more price based and have since changed their strategy. The company now focuses on the intangible experience gained from a holiday to Disneyland.
Claire then shared her tips for a career in travel. She advised students to start off with a high street travel agent, as an overseas representative, or apply to graduate schemes. She encouraged students to travel and go overseas to experience the world. Promote yourself in a positive light through social media such as LinkedIn.
Q- Adam, Aylesbury Grammar School. Once you’ve established first timers (Guests to Disneyland), what strategy do you use to keep those customers?
A- We use a life cycle of emails, once they return from their holiday they send a survey, then further regular email updates. There is something different in each season and there is always something new or different happening at Disney that they make sure to include in the email updates. Keeping in contact with the Guest and notifying them on what is new in the Parks.
Q- Rosheen, Barton Peveril. When the Paris attacks happened, did it alter visitor numbers?
A- Unfortunately something as tragic as the attacks would affect our numbers. However recently, we have seen booking trends improve around the resort as there is a feeling of safety around Disney.
Q- Rachel, Freebrough Academy. In relation to ‘added value’, the recent adverts you showed us relate to the overall experience, would added value change in the future?
A- We will continue to follow the path of emotional connection and important family connection to show our customers what you can get out of Disney – you’re never too old for a family holiday at Disney.
Q- James, Aylesbury Grammar School. You’ve opened up a Disneyland in Shanghai, what about in the UK?
A- A lot of research was done when choosing Paris for a Disney Location. This was chosen due to its centrality in both to Paris and to the rest of Europe – the UK isn’t as easily accessible to the rest of Europe so it is very unlikely that there will be a Disney in the UK.
Our second speaker of the day was Linda Moir. Linda has extensive experience in Customer Service working at the helm of the team that delivered outstanding front of house services for the London 2012 Olympic Games. She was also Director of In-Flight services for Virgin Atlantic where she overhauled training, recruitment, promotion and performance management, resulting in the highest recorded customer satisfaction scores in the airlines history.
Linda spoke about going into business – in order for people to do their jobs well requires a different kind of leadership style. She spoke about the collaborative Virgin Culture – they allowed the cabin crew to put their own ideas forward on how they can improve the airline. Virgin crew focuses on little touches being ‘low in cost but high in value’ an example being encouraging customers to take a walk before they went to bed so that a virgin crew member could make their bed for them and put a little teddy bear on their pillow as an extra magic touch.
They also focus on the ‘brilliant basics’ which allows the freedom for each crew member to give their own style of good customer service. This highlights great leadership in Virgin, where the staff are encouraged to do the right thing not necessarily by the book.
Linda shared her experience with London 2012, and how she was adamant to make this the friendliest games yet. They decided to train each game maker in many things and every time they completed a task e.g. turned up for a shift, they would get a bronze medal – although the medal may have been plastic, it’s the thought that counts and it made people eager to get more and therefore enriched job perception.
Our final speaker of the day was Joe McEwan. Joe is Head of Digital and Communities at Innocent Drinks, and has been with the company since 2007. He has dedicated his time at Innocent to build a thriving two-way relationship with Innocents community of consumers. Joe Believes good business needn’t be complicated and told us the story of how Innocent came to be one of the tip three fastest growing companies in the UK.
Joe showed us the other side of the business. He was part of the team who created the Innocent unplugged event – a weekend in the woods where around 200 people leave all pieces of technology to enjoy some time listening to music, taking part team building games and exercises etc.
Q- Kate Russell. Is there anything you would tell your younger self if you could?
A- Yes, that no one really knows what they’re doing in life and he would remind himself that you work it out as you go along. You get great by experiencing things, the learning process doesn’t stop when you finish school, its stays with you throughout your life.
Q- Innocent has such an open ethos, do you think it can be a disadvantage as competitors are aware of what you are doing?
A- We live in such a social world, you can’t really stay closed as a business. If you have nothing to hide you can be open from day 1. Overall it’s an advantage in the long term.
Q- Danielle, Freebrough Academy. What inspired you to go into business?
A- Finding a business that connected with my own values, I see innocent as a company that cares about its impact on the world and value its people.
Kate Russell’s prize for best question went to Rachel from Freebrough Academy!
Thank you to all our amazing speakers for making yet another incredible year at Business Live! Thank you to all our school groups and teachers for attending and we hope to see you again in 2017! If you were unable to come to this year’s event, we hope to see you next year!
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