Sunday, November 13, 2011

Tokyo Disneyland

Yesterday I attended a lecture for convalescent home workers. Obviously it was Tetsu who steered me to the lecture. He wanted me to hear the speaker who is a representative of Tokyo Disneyland. It was a fascinating lecture! Although Disneyland and convalescent homes don't seem to have much in common, the speaker's point was that as a "service", customer satisfaction and employee satisfaction need to be equal for an organization or business to run well.

Anyway, I gleamed tidbits from the lecture. The training of employees (called cast members in Disney language) in greeting people, smiling and making eye contact. All points that I have found lacking in regular Japanese society but that I strive for myself. The importance of hospitality... making guests (of the Disney park) feel welcome, happy and safe, this so often gets lost in the regular running of a business or in daily life.

Did you know that Tokyo Disneyland "cast members" were lauded for their calm crowd control during the earthquake of March 11 and immediately afterward? That story has become somewhat of a mini-legend already in Japan. 30,000 "guests" were at the park that day. 3,000 "cast members" were working. However, there was very little panicking even as the Haunted House swayed and the Monorail shimmied much like a snake above the parking lot. SMILINGLY the "cast" directed the crowds to sit along the streets while areas were cordoned off. (picture off the Internet)

In one shop a child was crying from fear and one of the "cast" offered the child a large Micky Mouse doll and told her to hold it over her head as protection from things falling.

"Micky Mouse will protect you."

The other "cast members" began the same action and throughout Disneyland, soft animals and dolls were passed out to the children until the shelves all over Disneyland were bare. Large Disney bags and garbage bags were made into makeshift ponchos to keep in body heat and the "guests" spent the night in the park instead of trying to make their way along roadblocked highways. When the kitchens were reopened, food was provided for the guests.

From a business standpoint, the earthquake was devastating to Tokyo Disneyland. The park closed down for two months because the parking area buckled and liquefied during the earthquake. I first became aware that Disneyland was back and running when the TV was announcing in June that Tokyo Disneyland had reopened and was welcoming in Easter. Easter? In June?

What must have happened was that Disneyland had planned to introduce Easter into Japan. (15 years ago they had successfully introduced Halloween to Japan) but the earthquake foiled those plans in March. Disneyland decided to go ahead with the Easter parade and decorations when it later reopened. (I took this picture off the TV in mid June.)

Anyway... though I haven't been to Disneyland in years, it was nice to hear yesterday of Disneyland's policies and successes. According to yesterday's speaker, Disneyland's success isn't due to huge business know-how. It is because of people and how they interact, how they respond to needs, and how they care about others. A good thing to note in any type of organization.

In Walt Disney's words.

"It Takes People"

Sort of makes me want to visit Disneyland...

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