Recently, the Los Angeles Times published a damning opinion piece that exposed the homeless people currently working for Disneyland. And, at last week's annual meeting of stockholders, someone posed an uncomfortable question about the low wages Disney pays most of its employees.
Robert Iger responded by saying that the interests of the shareholders are at odds with those of the employees.
While that answer is commendably straightforward, it is based on a common assumption that is flawed. The parties to a transaction are not necessarily adversarial. The best deals are those where 2+2=5.
By devoting one's own creativity and resourcefulness to bettering the position of the party with which one is doing business, oftentimes extra profitability and productivity can be uncovered for oneself. Michael Eisner clearly did not understand this principle; under him, Disney was known for never leaving any money on the table. A party to any of his negotiations was an adversary to be squashed and pummeled into obeisance, never a partner or an ally.
Now, Iger is having to question whether or not his former superior was wrong about many of these ways he did business. And, the area of employee compensation is one where he, indeed, was mistaken.
Marginal increases in compensation, in the form of well-designed packages of wages, bonuses, and benefits, for certain strategically-selected roles have the potential to increase guest satisfaction to such an extent that guests may be willing to accept larger price increases at the admission booths.
Showmanship is the key. People spend around a hundred dollars for many of Walt Disney Theatrical Productions' shows, but Disneyland's daylong show is not perceived the same way.
With a cast of thousands and Disney's unique use of interactive and improvisational theatre, truly talented performers on Disneyland's grand and elaborate stage have the potential to add value and perceived value to the guest experience and to, in turn, elevate The Magic Kingdom from being the common amusement park Jay Rasulo thinks it is.
The performers on Disneyland's stage are cast members. It's about time that the company treat them that way and require them to perform.
Undertaking such a repositioning so that the Disneyland experience can charge ever higher premiums is a better option for everyone involved than using Zenia Mucha to try to manage the public perception of Disney as the company persists in following the strategies of Eisner.
Former political hatchet-mistress Zenia Mucha was brought into the company by Eisner in 2002 to create a smear campaign against Roy E. Disney and Stanley Gold. But, since she was unsuccessful, since the person who hired her has since resigned, and since her character-assassinating skills are no longer of use to Robert Iger, I think it's time for her to spend more time with family (or, in this case, Mucha can return to the pod from whence she emerged.)
In the meantime, keep a look out on MiceChat and in other Internet forums for more of Zenia's pod-people to try to manage this negative publicity with glowing reports of Disney's happily-underpaid serfs who should just be grateful that they aren't digging ditches someplace.