Even Disney Has Missteps

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Recently Disney introduced their program Give a Day, Get a Disney Day. This is a program where Disney offers a free ticket to one of their theme parks in exchange for volunteering a day to a local organization.

A great idea that has the ability to generate tremendous goodwill for Disney and make a positive impact within local communities.

However, I wonder if they realized the torrent of volunteers they would unleash on unprepared volunteer organizations.

My daughter noticed the ads for this program and immediately wanted to participate. This program will help her earn her required volunteer hours for high school (a requirement here in Ontario), plus, when we travel to Florida for March Break, she would have a free ticket to a theme park

However, when we tried to participate, the following issues arose;

  • The website did not function properly making it difficult to access volunteer opportunities
  • When we were able to access the volunteer sign-up section, they all didn’t work properly and email responses were not received to confirm that you had registered
  • When a couple of the volunteer organizations were contacted directly, they indicated they had been overwhelmed by volunteers — hundreds each day beginning the first week of January. Possibly this is why the website wasn’t working properly
  • When talking to the volunteer organizations, we discovered we were not the only people having difficulty getting connected through the website. They were receiving numerous calls, further increasing their workload.
  • Very few opportunities were early enough in the year to qualify people to have a confirmed voucher to use during the Canadian March Break — a key time of year for Canadian visitors to Florida. This desire to qualify before March Break is possibly a reason for the overwhelming response to the program so early.

My Perspective: It is not my intention to criticize this wonderful program, but to remind us of 3 things;

  1. When evaluating any program, make sure you look at issues from all your customer segments — not just the most obvious. Canadians make up a small percentage of North American visitors, but they are still a large group of unsatisfied consumers.
  2. Bullet-proof your systems. Need we I say more!
  3. Even the best organizations drop the ball from time to time — so don’t beat yourself up, just take the necessary steps to recover

Footnote: I received a prompt email response from the Canadian organization when I sent an email earlier today asking for help. However, this help was simply to provide an email address for the US administrators. It will be interesting to see how Disney handles this situation. I’ll keep you informed.

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