This episode is kindly sponsored by Attractions.io, the guest experience platform behind Merlin Entertainments’, San Diego Zoo’s, and the PGA Championship’s branded mobile apps. Like us, the team at Attractions.io are on a mission to elevate our guest experiences and ensure they exceed the expectations of today’s digitally native guests. By combining a branded mobile app with an operator console that consolidates behavioral data from every touchpoint in the guest journey, the Attractions.io platform empowers operators with the tools they need to increase guest satisfaction, spending, and loyalty. To learn more about how Attractions.io can help you connect your end-to-end guest experience, visit Attractions.io/howitworks.
Dan Cockerell is a Disney Keynote Speaker and co-founder of the Cockrell Consulting Group alongside his wife, Valerie. Dan discovered his passion for service while working in the industry during his college summer months. He pursued a degree in Political Science at Boston University and after graduation, he ventured to Florida to work for Disney. Dan began by parking cars at Epcot, and then took the opportunity to open Euro Disney (now Disneyland Paris), also in parking, before returning to Walt Disney World in Orlando. In due time, he was promoted to Vice President of Epcot, and he later held the same role for Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Magic Kingdom. Dan’s most recent adventure has been his consulting business, helping companies worldwide provide more for their guests and reach their own goals. In this interview, Dan talks about marketing campaigns for leaders, applying your passion, and letting go of ego.
Marketing Campaigns for Leaders
“You’ve got to learn to fly at 10,000 feet, and you’ve got to learn to walk on the tarmac.”
Drawing on his experience as a former Disney executive, Dan understands that providing a great guest experience hinges on a positive employee experience. Ultimately, when holding a leadership position at the world’s largest single-site employer, it can be challenging to connect with everyone working the front lines. To overcome this obstacle, Dan devised a strategy to establish his reputation as a leader and to create a friendly atmosphere when interacting with his frontline team.
By allocating one hour every day to walk the park, Dan made sure that he was consistently seen by his team while learning the truth about the operation. Oftentimes, Dan would buy his team members lunch, or offer them assistance if they seem to be in a tough situation. By consistently interacting with his team members and listening to what they have to say, it showed intention and care. Other leadership at the park quickly followed in Dan’s footsteps, helping bring a new level of communication and excellence to the operation.
Applying your passion
“Hire for skills, passion, and attitude.”
Passion is a huge motivator in the attractions industry, and Dan believes in using that passion to achieve goals beyond providing excellent guest experiences. Dan has identified four essential elements to help build a successful operation based on this same passion that drives people to the industry.
The first key is attitude. Dan believes that team members should have the courage to overcome obstacles and keep pushing forward. The second key is relationships. Building strong connections with colleagues and guests is crucial to establish effective communication. The third key is expectations. Setting clear expectations of what greatness looks like and how to achieve it is crucial for a successful team. Lastly, recognizing and reinforcing positive behavior is important to motivate team members to continue performing at their best.
Letting go of Ego
“Just because you’re in a role with a certain title, it doesn’t mean that you’re smarter than everyone else.”
Dan has gained a wealth of experience over the years, and he has learned from numerous mistakes. One of his most significant takeaways from his time at Disney is the importance of letting go of ego. Although holding a special role with substantial responsibilities may be prestigious, the truth is that the person only got to that position due to the support of the people around them. The reality is that you cannot and should not accomplish anything alone, regardless of how insignificant the task may seem.
Dan knows there’s lots of value in effective communication, and he believes that ego can often impede it. Dan stresses the importance of sticking to the basics and being a team player within your operation. By doing so, you can elevate your performance by incorporating the ideas of the people around you. The best leaders keep themselves surrounded by people who are smarter than they are. When leaders fail to take input or advice from their team, it can have a detrimental impact on the operation.
This podcast wouldn’t be possible without the incredible work of our amazing team:
- Scheduling and correspondence by Kristen Karaliunas
- Summary by Mason Nichols
- Video editing by Abigail Giganan
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