Friday, July 19, 2013

Four Keys Cards

Disney is unlike any other company I have worked for before, I don't know if you have noticed but the people who work here truly love their job. Morale is very high at Disney and I think it is because Disney has several ways to recognize their Cast Members who are excellent.

One of these ways is a Four Keys Card. This is about the size of an index card and you can receive one for a variety of reasons and from a variety of people. Most people will receive them from their leaders or coordinators but they can also be given to you by fellow Cast Members or even by Guest Relations for getting a guest compliment. The cards have written on them what you did that demonstrated one or more of the 4 Keys service basics (Safety, Courtesy, Show, and Efficiency) So if you have a fantastic CM that really went out of their way to help you or make your day a little better, stop by Guest Relations and let us know! All you need to remember is the name and the location where they were working. CMs love to receive these cards, and we get to keep a copy, its nice to look at them from time to time or when you've had a rough day to remember that you can make a difference.  Additionally they get added to our record card which potentially could help us move up in the company.

Here is the card I got yesterday!

So you are probably wondering what I did to get this? Well this came from one of my Leaders. I had a guest who came and said she had lost a small black bag containing her ID, wallet, some cash and medication. It was near park closing but we still did not have the item. Sometimes lost and found doesn't come back to us at Guest Relations until after the park is closed and then those items are sent to our central lost and found location. We explain this to the guest and give them the lost and found card with the number on it to call the next day. The guest looked more concerned as I spoke and asked if she could wait around for a while and see if it turned up or if she could leave her information. We don't take guest info and we don't call guests telling them we have their item. I started to realize that the guest probably really needed the medication that was inside this bag and could not wait until tomorrow to retrieve it.

I went back to talk to the help desk and my leader. I explained that this woman was very concerned about this medication in the bag, and that she did not think she could wait to retrieve the bag tomorrow. She was staying at one of our resorts so I asked if it came in if we could bring it to her. This is not something we normally do because we simply do not have the man power to do so, also there is always the small chance that it is not the guest's item. My leader said this would be okay to do, and provided me with some other solutions for the guest such as getting her the phone numbers of local CVS or Walgreens to get it refilled. We also sent out an email to all areas describing the bag and where she thought she lost it. I explained to the guest that there might be a possibility that we could either return it to her at her resort or call her and she could return to the park to get it. She was very thankful and left me her name and phone number. Sure enough about 20 mins later the bag shows up with everything inside it. I called the guest and she was still inside the park so she came right over! The guest was very relieved and thanked me for helping her.

The next day I got the card from the leader who had been assisting me. It was not expected, which is the best part about these cards. I thought that interaction was simply me doing my job and what I could to help this guest so it was a nice surprise to get the card and be told that I had done a great job.

Monday, July 15, 2013

No Rainchecks!

I've been starting to feel more comfortable in my Guest Relations role, and I don't feel the need to ask people for help with everything. My first few days without my trainer I was a little nervous but all the other Guest Relations CMs were more than happy to answer my questions or show me how to do something I had forgotten. There is still a lot of things to learn and everyday I encounter something that we didn't go over in training.

A few days ago was a real test of my knowledge and skills! I was working a closing shift, 3 to 9pm and it starts raining at 3pm. Typical for FL, but this was not your ordinary rain shower. This was practically a MONSOON! It was heavy downpour and thunder and lightning. Because the majority of our attractions are outdoor many had to close. Our Safari actually began to flood in some places so we needed to close that attraction too. And as if that wasn't enough, Everest was not only closed but actually had guests stuck on the ride in the pouring rain and thunder and lighting. Sounds like a great day to be at Guest Relations huh?

Many people wanted refunds for their tickets or rain checks and unfortunately that is not something Disney does, as it rains every single day in FL. We advised many guests who had Park Hoppers to visit another park as their attractions were indoors and up and running. Other guests who did not we offered to set them up with fastpasses for tomorrow to try to make up some of their lost time.

The rain did not let up until around 6:30 pm and the park was closing at 7pm. Most of the guests were understanding of the no refunds but some were very angry. I was able to help a few guests out who had only entered the park at 3pm but one man wanted a refund even though he had been in the park since 9am! He declined the fastpasses I offered him and walked away angry. I felt bad that the options I gave him were not suficent to solve his issue.

The shift went by so fast because we were so busy! We constantly had a line out the door and people were also lingering around inside the lobby to avoid the rain. Once all the guests had gone I felt pretty good about the day and while I felt a little overwhelmed I also felt that I had been well prepared!

Monday, July 8, 2013

Assesment Day and First Day on my own!

On Sunday I had my Assessment! Even though I had gotten one less day of training than everyone else, the manager and the trainer felt that I was ready to take it anyway. This time my trainer was Lynda and she went over a lot of the assessment questions before we took it. There was a written part that was mostly multiple choice or true and false, then there was a section where Lynda would watch me interact with guests and see how I handled certain situations.  I only got 4 questions wrong on the assessment which was very good! After that we actually got to spend a little bit of time in the Window location, we did mostly ticketing transactions there and it wasn't too bad. Later on they will actually train me for that location.

I have been wearing our "Summer" option for my costume. This costume is not as fancy looking as the one with the vest, but so much more comfortable. Firstly, girls don't need to wear pantyhose, and second the shirt is untucked. A lot of women in Guest Relations don't really like the costume but I think it is okay. The skirt is actually a navy blue skort.

Today was my first day alone without a trainer. I was a little nervous but as the day went on I felt more confident. I did have to ask my fellow CMs for help or just to check to make sure I was doing the right thing, but they were more than happy to help. I also finally got to talk with one of our other PIs, Mehlanie as we were working the same shift. Later on in the shift our manager brought us our D-Pins! These are the gold pins that Guest Relations cast members wear on their costumes and is a long standing tradition at the Walt Disney Company.
So now it is official! I am a Guest Relations Hostess at Disney's Animal Kingdom!

Saturday, July 6, 2013

OJT Day 2 and Day 3

The past two days I have had more on the job training at Animal Kingdom. During these days we have focused a lot on being in the lobby and assisting guests. My trainer was there to jump in whenever a situation came up we hadn't covered or if I was unsure of something. Most of the day was filled with lost and found items, making dining reservations and converting tickets from the paper style to the new RF chip ones.

One guest we helped was a family who traveled from Europe. They felt that the FastPass policy was not clear and was confusing to figure out how it operated. The guest wanted to ride Kali River Rapids which is a raft ride. She wanted to put belongings in a locker, but was told by a cast member that the lockers were at the front of the park. By the time she walked across the park to the front, got a locker, in the pouring rain, and walked back she had missed her FastPass return time. Then she discovered that there were lockers at Kali River Rapids and she was more upset. To assist her we explained how the Fastpass system worked in detail, then provided some extra pixie dust she could redeem when visiting Epcot and Studios over the next few days. We also talked about the best way to experience each of those parks, what attractions we recommended for her children and set her up with a dining reservation. This is just one example of Guest Service Recovery where the guest was able to walk away happy.

I feel like I have a pretty good understanding of all of the policies, computer systems and what I can do, but where I struggle is communicating with the guest. I haven't yet developed what we call a "script' for what I will say to guests in different situations.

Today was my Day 3 of training and we are supposed to have 4 days and then an assessment day. Because of scheduling problems with my medical restrictions I missed a day. They decided that I knew things well enough to just take the assessment on day 4 instead of 5! Mark, Macky and I played a Jeopardy type game with our trainers and I won. (The secret is to get all the 800 point questions!) Tomorrow is my assessment!

Friday, July 5, 2013

OJT Day 1

Yesterday was my 1st day of on the job training at DAK! I was incredibly nervous and unsure of what to expect, or even where to really go. Backstage of DAK is very confusing! after making some educated guesses I found where to go for Guest Relations! I was relieved to see Mark and Macky there waiting to clock in.

The next few minutes was a whirlwind of people shaking my hand, introducing themselves, asking me questions! Everyone was so nice and welcoming. I met my trainer Zackery and we got started right away.
Since is was my first time being there for opening we went and did Lost and Found. All of our stuff was presorted from the night before and we had it in these really big canvas bags. We also stopped at Blizzard Beach to get their lost and found and took it all over to the Central Lost and Found. And wow are they ever organized! I've never seen so many sunglasses before in my life, but they have a system to keep track of them all.

On the way back Zack let me drive and we drove all around the backstage areas of DAK, he pointed out different areas we might have to drive to or park at for various reasons. Once back at Guest Relations he gave me a tour of the area and we checked to make sure my computer logins worked. The area for CM's is probably one of the smallest I have ever worked in. It was not uncommon that there would be 7-8 people in one small area at once. I constantly felt like I was standing in front of something someone needed or in the way!

The rest of the day was filled with meeting more people, discussing ticket issues, services for guests with disabilities and balloon daycare. Yes you heard right, balloon daycare. You see for the safety of our animals we cannot allow balloons in our park, and sometimes guests don't know or they are park hopping and bring one with them. We hold onto their balloons for them while they can enjoy the park. But many kids are very upset that we have to take their balloons, so we tell them it is balloon daycare and that we will be doing very special activities with their balloon all day!

After lunch, Zack took Macky and her trainer and I on a park tour. He really pointed out a lot of cool things about the park that we hadn't learned at DAKlimation. We even went into a few of the shops and restaurants to talk about the decor and theming. Something that I found hilarious, although it could have been from the heat is that the bridge that you walk under as you enter Dinoland is called the "Oldengate Bridge"

My first day was very good, and I feel that I am really going to like this GR location. Also since it was 4th of July I was glad to have an early morning shift. Mark, Macky and I made plans to head to Hollywood Studios to see the 4th of July fireworks there. And let me tell you, they were AMAZING. Don't let people lie to you and say MK or Epcot were great. Yes they both have fantastic fireworks displays for the holiday, but the one at Studios is definitely the best. Additionally Studios only does fireworks on the 4th and on New Year's so it is something special to see.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

ATS Training

For the past two days I have been at Disney University learning the ATS or Automated Ticketing System. This is the current system that Disney uses to sell its seemingly endless combinations of tickets. The class had a lot of information as well as what will be happening in the future with the new RF tickets and MagicBands.

We learned how to sell tickets, upgrade tickets, reissue lost tickets and a number of other functions. I thought the class was actually pretty easy and straightforward. I felt like the system was relatively user friendly. I'm sure there will be things I have forgotten but once I start training in my area and get more practice I am sure I will have no problems.

Tommorrow is my first day of On the Job Training at DAK and I get to wear The Plaid for the first time! I have training from 7am to 3:30pm and later on in the day I have plans to go to Studios to see the 4th of July fireworks.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

DAKlimation and Days off before final training!

On Saturday I had my property tour of Animal Kingdom. Here it is called DAKlimation. The orientation group was very small and was mostly new full time cast members. Mark and Macky who are also doing GR at DAK were also on the tour with me. The facilitators were very good and I would said offered unique backgrounds and information to the tour. The one worked in Animal Programs and was an Animal Trainer, she is currently teaching a pig to paint for a new show at Rafiki's Planet Watch. The other was a Performer at the Festival of the Lion King show. They both had unique insights on how different areas of the park operated.

The class started with a tour of Animal Kingdom. At first I was worried because even though it was around 9am it was already incredibly hot out. The tour was about 2 1/2 hours and we were allowed to have a water bottle with us. Additionally we tried to stand in shaded areas as we walked around the park. We talked about the backstory to each of the areas at Animal Kingdom as well as the attractions and animals that could be found. After the tour we took a well deserved break and then started some classroom type stuff.

We went over the 4 Keys of Safety, Courtesty, Show and Efficiency and talked about how we could demonstrate each in our area. Then we talked about conservation and how they take care of the animals at the park. It was pretty interesting.

At about 12 it was time to break for lunch. It was supposed to be 1 hour and then we could meet at costuming at 1pm to find our costumes and finally clock out at 2pm. Since we already had our GR costumes Macky, Mark and I decided to just clock out at 12. We decided to eat at the Flame Tree BBQ at DAK because we had never been and decided it would be good product knowledge to share with the guests. Personally I thought the food was okay, one of the reasons I had never eaten there is because no one really feels like eating BBQ when it is 100 degrees outside and because it is outdoor seating. The seating area is covered and overlooks the water, so it isn't really that hot to sit there.

Later after taking a very nice nap I set out to meet up with TJ, Sal and Macky at Studios. We went on a few attractions and then decided we needed to try one of those Macaroni and Cheese Hot Dogs. After getting our food we just sat around and talked for a few hours. Not really about anything in particular but just getting to know each other.

I spent my next two days off doing nothing but watching Netflix and relaxing. On Monday night a few of us met up at MK because we wanted to see the special 4th of July fireworks that they happen to be showing all week long. It was really cool to see them without having to actually go on the 4th when there will be literally 75,000 people there. Not sure what plans I have for the 4th. I have seen Epcot's a few years ago so I am thinking about going to the Studios.