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Promotions Shake Up Disney Parks & Resorts under Tom Staggs

In a long internal memo today, Tom Staggs made official the organizational shakeup everyone knew was coming after Staggs took over the Walt Disney Parks and Resorts division. It’s nothing earth shattering, but it does flatten some of the levels of hierarchy that were said to have frustrated Staggs since he took over.

In short, current WDW president Meg Crofton expands to oversee all the domestic parks and the two parks in France. Karl Holtz, who a few years ago was rumored to be leaving Disney, is instead adding DVC to his DCL and Adventures by Disney responsibilities. Leslie Ferraro becomes executive vice president, Global Marketing and Sales combining those two closely related departments and Erin Wallace, executive vice president, Operations Integration also adds revenue management to her desk. The move also creates a new executive council under Staggs.

While Staggs’ reorganization did not cut any of the deadwood certain segments of Disney fans wanted to see go, I believe the general movement here is a good one. It will allow for efficiencies where they need to exist and independence, with oversight, as required for the parks. Combining marketing and sales is a no-duh in my book, they are both measured by the same final metrics (butts in beds and asses through the gates), so unifying them is good. The only move that looks questionable to me is giving the extra power of revenue management to operations. However, they are the yin and the yang of theme park operations. Having one person keep a close eye via her myriad of spreadsheets and minions (and I mean that in the nicest possible way), could be very positive.

Let’s keep a watch on this for the next 3-year planning cycle and see if there really is any improvement. Meanwhile, the pressure is kicked up a notch for these people to get things done or they too could be reorganized right out of a job.

The full text of Tom Staggs’ announcement is below the jump:

Over the past several months, I’ve spoken with many of you about the incredible set of competitive strengths Walt Disney Parks and Resorts enjoys – the tremendous power and reach of the Disney brand; our fantastic creative content and expertise; our ability to harness new technology and innovation; our cultural commitment to quality; and our extraordinary cast. These strengths are remarkable assets. Nonetheless, we must continually seek to further leverage, develop and expand on them. To do so, our organization must be integrated, nimble and structured in a way that maximizes our ability to:

  • Understand and productively engage with consumers;
  • Design and create unique and relevant experiences;
  • Flawlessly deliver these experiences to our guests; and
  • Provide the resources, support and shared best practices necessary to operate effectively and in concert across all our businesses.

Today I am announcing the next step in what has been an ongoing journey toward creating a fully integrated global organization. These changes will leverage the talent of our leadership team, support our business priorities and ultimately enable us to better achieve our business goals.

Our operations teams are well-known for delivering an unparalleled guest experience that reflects the high expectations of our guests. It is important that we structure our operations leadership team to help ensure that we remain relentlessly focused on providing a consistently excellent experience for our guests across all our businesses.

To that end, I have asked several of our talented leaders within operations to take on additional responsibilities:

Meg Crofton will now serve as president, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Operations, U.S. and France. Reporting to Meg in her new role will be George Kalogridis, president, Disneyland Resort, and Philippe Gas, president, Euro Disney SAS. Meg also will maintain her current responsibilities as president of the Walt Disney World Resort. Meg’s strong leadership abilities and broad experience make her the perfect person to lead resort operations in our established markets in the United States and Europe. Meg will report directly to me and become a member of my executive committee, allowing us to continue the great work of sharing best practices and leveraging our operational expertise across our properties. Meg understands and respects the unique heritage and characteristics of each of our theme park resort locations, which gives me great confidence in her ability to fulfill this role while preserving and enhancing what makes each of our properties so special in their own right.

Bill Ernest, president, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Operations Asia, will continue to oversee our operations in Asia, including Hong Kong Disneyland, Tokyo Disney Resort and Shanghai Disney Resort. With work beginning on Shanghai Disney Resort, the expansion of Hong Kong Disneyland and the critical support efforts needed in Japan, Bill’s concentrated focus on Asia is crucial to our success in this market.

Reporting to Meg and Bill on a dual solid-line basis will be Jeff Vahle, executive vice president, Facilities Operations Services (FOS), and Erin Wallace, executive vice president, Operations Integration. Erin’s team works to consolidate creative, strategic and technical expertise for operations into a single organization responsible for enhancing our ability to optimize guest satisfaction, revenue and intent to return. Jeff’s team works to drive design, process, system, manufacturing and procurement efficiencies, and focuses on major initiatives such as guest and cast safety and preventative-maintenance processes. Jeff and Erin have done a terrific job evolving their organizations over the past two years, which allows us to formalize this integration across all global businesses and further develop their support for our businesses around the world.

To integrate revenue management across all operations and create a strategic connection between revenue-based lines of business, Erin will take on the responsibility for Revenue Management with Kevin Lansberry, senior vice president, Revenue Management and Analytics, reporting directly to her.

Karl Holz, president, New Vacation Operations and Disney Cruise Line, will take on a leadership role for Disney Vacation Club, in addition to maintaining his responsibility for Disney Cruise Line, Adventures by Disney and Aulani. Karl will be responsible for creating consistent and engaging guest experiences as they expand to new markets and destinations outside the berms of our theme parks.

Jim Lewis, president, Disney Vacation Club, who has helped establish DVC as a highly successful and strategic part of our business portfolio, will continue in his current role, reporting directly to Karl. These operations are an important driver of growth in our segment and a critical part of our efforts to build upon and broaden Disney’s reputation for delivering magical experiences to our guests, both inside and outside the berm. As part of our reorganization, Karl will report to me and also become a member of my executive committee.

Our understanding of consumers and our interface with them is critical to our success. Between our marketing and sales organizations, we seek to understand and engage consumers through insight research and effective, compelling communication. To further these goals, Sales and Marketing will now be aligned under the leadership of Leslie Ferraro, executive vice president, Global Marketing and Sales, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts. Leslie’s strong creative instincts and consumer-centric orientation are tremendous assets to the segment and they make her particularly well-suited for this expanded role.

Randy Garfield, executive vice president, Worldwide Sales and Travel Operations, Disney Destinations, and president, The Walt Disney Travel Company, will now report to Leslie in this newly integrated function. Randy has unmatched experience in all aspects of sales and a deep knowledge of our guests. By bringing together these two world-class organizations, we will expand our understanding of consumers and our relationships with them and increase our ability to convert consumers into guests.

The Walt Disney Imagineering, Business Development and Next Generation Experience teams will continue their focus on identifying, designing, creating and enhancing the great guest experiences that define our segment. HR and Diversity & Inclusion, Finance & Global Business Technology Strategy, Legal and Public Affairs will continue to provide our entire organization with the resources, information, tools, guidance, strategic and analytical insight, and support that is vital to effectively managing our business. The leadership and reporting relationships of these groups are unchanged by today’s announcement.

I am proud of the amazing accomplishments of our organization and look forward to the exciting journey ahead with this talented team of leaders. Please join me in congratulating Meg, Karl, Leslie and Erin on their expanded roles.

5 thoughts on “Promotions Shake Up Disney Parks & Resorts under Tom Staggs”

  1. WDW has gone way down over the last few years- last night, there were so many failures in Illuminations I think even someone who isn’t familiar with the show would have noticed. I don’t know what part the “Pres” plays in simple maintenance of facilities and operations, but I haven’t seen anything in recent years that would inspire me to move anyone UP… maybe OUT…

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