Saturday, February 18, 2012

Disney Works to Keep Guests Quenched


February 14, 2012

To create a beverage program for more than 130 U.S. restaurants, six U.S. theme parks, 20 resorts, more than 80 hotel lounges and outdoor bars, and three cruise ships is no small feat. Add that almost every food and beverage location is unique and heavily themed, and you need the ultimate coordination.
Yet Walt Disney does just fine thanks to bimonthly meetings in which beverage managers “focus on best practices, new concepts and the latest trends,” said Stuart McGuire, manager of beverage and concept development for Disney Theme Parks and Resorts. And all the hard work has paid off.
“We saw a 4% increase in beverage sales per guest across the board in locations using the base beverage menus,” McGuire said. “We attribute this to the changes in offerings, increased focus on fresh and unique ingredients, and improved menu design and presentation. What makes this even more impactful is that the gains were achieved in a year that we kept all alcohol pricing flat.”
While the same core beverage menu is leveraged through most of the resorts, there is a lot of flexibility for individual locations to support local flavors, which is part of the challenge. “The beverage programs are highly themed to each particular location, and this is especially true for our higher-end, signature-level restaurants,” McGuire explained.
These signature-level restaurants have experienced sales increases in the 2% to 3% range. According to McGuire, this was due in great part to a focus on value wine by the bottle and glass.
For example Jiko, located in Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge at Walt Disney World, keeps to its African roots. It also has what the company deems the largest selection of South African wines of any restaurant in the United States and features an assortment of South African spirits and beer.
At Disney’s Ama Ama Restaurant and Bar located at the new Aulani Resort and Spa in Hawaii, contemporary island cooking is complimented by a high-end wine list that includes the Olelo Cabernet, an Aulani private label wine. The location also offers local brews from the Kona Brewing Co.
The bars take pride in using the finest—and often local—ingredients, many of which are made in-house. Popular cocktails include the KonaRed Lemon Drop ($9), made with Ketel One Citroen and KonaRed Hawaiian Superfruit Juice, garnished with an orchid; and the Blue Hawaiian ($7.75), which mixes Old Lahaina Light Rum, BOLS Blue Curacao and pineapple.
The differences are built into the program meticulously and developed annually. “We develop an annual core list for wine, beer and spirits. Through leveraging combined volume, we are able to secure favorable pricing for many items. We are also able to develop exclusive beverage items with various suppliers,” McGuire said, adding that the individual beverage menus are then developed from the core list.
Despite the differences, he continued, the restaurants also learn from each other. For example, “We found that our guests have similar taste expectations for nonalcoholic drinks and signature cocktails domestically, but beer and wine preferences vary.” These insights and more help Disney continue to coordinate efforts as they roll out new venues.
Copyright © 2005 LexisNexis

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