Walt Disney

Disney may add to its attractions with academy

PUBLISHED : Monday, 31 January, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 31 January, 2011, 12:00am

First there was McDonald's university, now it's Disney academy.

Meet Professors Mickey and Minnie. Last week, the Disney Institute paired with Hong Kong Polytechnic University to offer a two-day course on 'the Disney standard' of quality service.

But the US management consultants, part of the Disney conglomerate, has a more ambitious plan; it wants to expand its presence in China by setting up a branch in Hong Kong.

Since 2008, the institute has been holding courses in the city for multi-national companies' Asia-Pacific offices.

'Asian and Chinese enterprises come to Hong Kong to attend the training,' said Rob Morton, the institute's business programme consultant. 'They have been holding private and public training, which can range from a 90-minute talk to a week-long workshop. Some of their clients come back year after year.'

Disney instructors fly into the city to conduct training courses. But now, Morton said a plan was afoot to train local instructors. 'They are thinking of setting up a branch in Hong Kong and training local instructors,' he said.

More than 50 participants took part in last week's course, including staff members from the Hong Kong Hotel Association and the university, which operates the school of hotel and tourism management.

They were coached on strategies to achieve the 'Disney standard'.

'We try to understand their needs and tailor elements relevant to them. We focus on our similarities,' Morton said

The Disney Institute is a professional development and training arm of The Walt Disney Company and operates in many countries.

It started as the Disney University for their parks' casts in 1968 and was rebranded in 1996 as the institute, offering training in service and people management for companies and organisations.

Two years ago, it started organising training programmes in Hong Kong, mainly for multinational companies. Through presentations, case studies, and discussions, the programme helps managers and service providers develop a strategic plan for delivering and monitoring quality customer service. The institute has been providing courses for all kinds of organisations, from hospitals to airports to even military organisations.

It runs on-going training for people at all levels in the US military on people management.

'The military base's structure is in a way quite similar to our parks. We both have lots of people living and working inside,' Morton said. 'We offer courses for them in many topics, even creativity.'

According to research, visitors to Disney's parks around the world have on average 60 points of interaction with the park's cast a day. Their training programmes are built on this service experience.

Morton said patients in hospitals on average had 100 points of contact a day with the staff. They did training for hospital staff on how to respond to their clients' emotions.

In 2007 they did a course for Miami International Airport. 'Like us, they have to handle people waiting in long lines,' Morton said.

Morton started 32 years ago as a host at the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction at the Florida Walt Disney World Resort and worked his way up the management ladder.

He said the institute might set up branches in different countries and bring in local expertise to provide the training.