Customer care policy in Disneyland resort Paris

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1. Introduction

In the last 5 years demands for high customer service standards and delivery have increased dramatically. Visitor’s expectations have increased since the living standards have increased as well, and people more familiarity with new technology. Customer care is generally interpreted to mean any strategy designed to improve the quality of customer service to the public.

This report is based on the customer care policy of Disneyland Resort in Paris. In Disneyland Resort Paris, an important quality management in customer care has been set up, especially after their unsuccessful period at the opening of the park in 1992. Customer care is now being seen as the new driving force to win over the customer and remain competitive.

2. Euro Disney S.C.A. operates one of the major tourist destinations in Europe: Disneyland Resort Paris.

Walt Disney Studios Park, the vacation destination, offers guests 2 Disney Theme Parks, 7 hotels, 2 convention centers, Disney Village (restaurants, bars, discotheque…free admission) and a golf course. This diversity of facilities and services attract different type of tourists, from business men to families. Consequently, the policy of the resort needs to be adaptable and to match with all their visitors.

Disneyland Resort Paris is first of all a short stay destination. The average spent since the opening of the second park in 1999, Walt Disney Studio, is 3 days (2 nights).

The concept of the Theme Park was invented by Walt Disney and was a stark contrast to the Attraction Parks of the time. Disneyland Park offers 42 Attractions spread over 56 hectares, throughout five lands, and around a focal point which is the Ch�teau de “la Belle au Bois Dormant”. All the attractions in the Walt Disney studio park are related to cinema, animation and television, thus creating a “Hollywood atmosphere”.

Disneyland Resort Paris does not offer only to guests a different series of services (restaurants, shops, entertainment, shows) but a global experience.

Tourism is a business of both attracting and servicing the needs of visitors. Customer service and hospitality are a way of doing business. Having a positive attitude towards visitors makes them feel welcome and appreciated as guests in the community. This is important, because a happy tourist is more likely to return, be more willing to stay longer, spend more money in shops and restaurants, and to give a positive report to friends and neighbours when they return home. On the other hand, rudeness, price gouging, poor quality and a general lack of hospitality are a sure way of damaging a community’s tourism reputation and its industry. The customer care depends a lot of the level of staff and the customer contact.

3. A deep Customer Care Policy: the strengths

Through the official website and other sources of information (catalogue, leaflets), it is obvious to notice that the resort has got already a good customer care policy.

One of its strengths is the training of the staff. Attractions, to which Euro Disney SCA belongs, that a qualifying professional program has been devised, mainly intended for the less well qualified young people. This consists of exercising, over a period of fifteen months, three different professional activities, each for a period of five months, enabling the young people to develop skills in four areas, reception, entertainment/shows, light, food and beverage, and sales.

The staff is especially trained to speak one or more languages, for the safety and security of the guests, and for appropriate behaviours towards special guests such as children or disabled persons. They have to be “enthusiastic, motivated and well trained”, to achieve a good customer service, and a good general reputation. The customer care policy is mainly dedicated to the importance of trained staff. Having such a policy helps to ensure consistency in the level of service given through training and development, and serves as a benchmark against which customer service standards can be measured, monitored and improved.

The concept of Disneyland is to bring as much as possible the Disney Magic to life for their guests. One of their main objectives is to continually surprise and enchant their guests. Each year, some changes, improvements and innovations are made for the well-being of the guests and their satisfaction. As well, the “Cast-Members” in the parks played an important role to achieve these objectives. For example, they play an important role in the Disney Magic thanks to their Walt Disney’s characters costumes. Throughout the parks, hotels and the Disney Village guests are the focus of “Cast Member” attention.

Having easy access to the park is another very positive point, since a railway station, “Val d’Europe” and a station from the suburban train are near by the park; as well there are motorways with direct access and 2 national airports 30 minutes from the resort.

Disneyland is improving the stay of the guest in the park. For example they create an easy to use and available to all guests at no charge, a “Fast Pass ticket”. This means less waiting in line since guests can reserve their ride time, for 3 special attractions, and be free to enjoy the Disneyland Park before returning to experience the attraction. The service has been extremely well received and waiting times in these three attractions has reduced by almost 50% since its implementation.

Since 1995, the Euro Disney S.C.A. shareholder’s club has offered a host of special services reserved for members, who benefit from significant reductions on admissions and passports for Disneyland Park and Walt Disney Studios Park. There are also discounts at all Disney’s Hotels and a priority booking service to organize their stay to Disneyland Resort Paris.

For all the guests staying overnight in the Disneyland’s’ hotels, some shuttles are available every 30 minutes for a lift into the Disney Park. To facilitate the booking and the stay of the visitors, some packages are existed, including night(s) and pass tickets for 2 days access or more in the parks. Disneyland offer to their visitors the possibility to stay overnight in a hotel of the resort, or in a hotel in central Paris, or in a hotel a bit outside of the resort. Thanks to these possibilities, the visitors can enjoy the park, Paris and the surroundings in the same stay.

In terms of “access for all”, Disneyland Paris allows disabled guests, visiting them, such as guests with hearing impairments, with mental disability or with visual impairments. Special provision, for example, special signage and information are existed for the attractions’ use, the facilities and services available in the park. For example, there are special menu’s “in Braille” in some restaurants and special entrances are provided.

For booking, the guests have got several possibilities, internet booking with secured payment (7:00am-12.00pm) or by phone, a special phone line is provided with wide opening hours as well (8:15/9:15am-7:45/8:45pm). Also, bookings can be made through travel agencies, Walt Disney owning its tour-operators.

4. Some weaknesses in this policy

For the complaints procedure or complaints-handling system, the guest service team offers the possibility of sending a letter or e-mailing them with the matter. But no telephone line is provided to complain. It would be better for an unhappy customer to speak with someone real on the phone, rather than writing their complaints. To improve their quality, it would be better to talk with guests directly. Indeed, the feedbacks of the visitors should probably be more complete on the phone rather than by e-mail. Using the feedbacks of the visitors is crucial to improve the quality of the customer service.

Another negative aspect in Disneyland Paris are the prices. Especially nowadays, visitor attraction is facing severe challenges from both activities outside the Tourism industry and the changing of consumer leisure patterns and from inside the attractions sector with heightened competition from non-admission charging attractions. Indeed, spending a stay in Disneyland resort Paris remains quite expensive, especially for the persons provincial, who need to pay for transport and accommodation. Special prices for students or unemployed person do not exist. Special prices exist only for young children, under 12, and during specific period of the year like winter time, their admission can be free.

That means that Disneyland Resort needs to constantly reinvest and endeavor in their attraction to improve standards of customer service to meet rising visitor expectations.

The Tourism industry by definition is renowned for low salaries, long hours and use of seasonal staff, which makes the issue of a good customer care service a major challenge. A positive point is that Euro Disney S.C.A. employs more than 12 500 persons, of which 82,7% are in full-time employment. Euro Disney S.C.A. offers to the staff, called “Cast Members” the opportunity to undertake a wide range of jobs such as entertainer, attraction operator, hotel staff, cook, acrobat, dancer, gardener, landscaper, firefighter, cleanup crew, show technician, sales assistant, marketing specialist, financial analyst, legal or information technology assistant… Collectively more than 700 professions are represented at Disneyland Resort Paris.

5. Conclusion

Customer care is important because the most important person is the customer, in any kind of organization. No organization can survive without customers.

Consequently, a good CC must exist and includes: focusing on the customer, putting the customer first, establishing customer wants and using feedback to improve customer service, looking after the internal customer, meeting customer needs including provision for children, families, the elderly, the disabled, the visually/hearing impaired and foreign visitors, exceeding customer expectations and giving attention to detail are essential for a successful customer satisfaction and a successful total quality management. For best practice, a need of continuous training and development is required. This implies a necessity of policy, training, monitoring and reward mechanisms. Customer satisfaction is especially imperative for visitor attraction, which generally rely heavily on word of mouth recommendations and repeat visits. Customer service is the most important competitive difference for any business interested in gaining and retaining customers and in fostering a valuable word of mouth reputation to enhance marketing effectiveness.

In the case of Disneyland Resort Paris, the customer care policy is very deep. It has been reviewed each year since their unsuccessful time of opening. The quality of the park is remarkable; everything is thought to make the visitor stay a magic one!

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