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  1. #1
    Kellie19891992's Avatar
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    Disney takes brochures out of hotels, businesses across state

    Disney takes brochures out of hotels, businesses across state

    Decision angers hoteliers and tourism executives around state


    Hotel lobby racks filled with tourist brochures advertising whales, gators and horses are now missing one very significant critter: the Mouse.

    Walt Disney World has pulled its colorful brochures from thousands of hotels, motels, restaurants and businesses throughout the state, maintaining they do little to attract visitors staying at other Florida tourist destinations.

    Disney officials call it a business decision, but the move has angered some hoteliers and tourism executives. They say their guests have been inconvenienced by the absence of information about Florida's most popular attraction.

    "Shock; that was my initial reaction," said Bob Davis, president and chief executive officer of the Hotel Motel Association of Volusia County, which represents more than 100 hotels. "I am questioning why they would not want 8 million visitors who come to Daytona Beach and Volusia County every year. I think they made a poor decision."

    "We made a business decision," said Bill Warren, Disney's vice president of public affairs. "Our research indicated that the brochures that were in the hotels were not the reason for people to come to Disney. We are always evaluating the effectiveness of our marketing, and if something is not effective, it doesn't necessarily make sense to keep investing in it."

    Steve Baker, an Orlando theme-park consultant and former Disney executive, said the move is in line with the company's increased emphasis on getting visitors to stay at Disney-owned hotels and spend several days visiting all of the company's theme parks.

    "A hotel guest is a much more lucrative guest than a day guest," Baker said.

    Disney ordered distributors to remove the brochures by Sept. 30, 2006, and destroy all of the remaining ones to ensure they would not become outdated.

    Brochures remain in the Orlando and Kissimmee areas and at a few tourist information centers throughout the state.

    Warren would not say how much the company spent on the brochures.

    Even with all the information available on the Internet and through devices such as cell phones, PDAs and BlackBerrys, tourism officials say low-tech brochures remain a staple of vacations. They're easy to produce, they can be distributed easily, and they're packed with essential information such as hours and directions. They also save time for busy hotel employees.

    Davis of the Volusia hotel association was so upset at losing the brochures that he wrote a letter to Walt Disney World President Meg Crofton, telling her that he was appalled at the decision and asking her to reverse it. He received a call and a letter from Ed Fouche, a Disney senior vice president.

    "While we value all guests regardless of where they are lodged," Fouche wrote, "we've elected to distribute our brochures throughout the state at venues such as AAA offices, Florida Turnpike Service Plazas and Florida Welcome Centers to accommodate those who need information while they are en route to Florida or traveling within the state."

    Davis is still not satisfied and plans to write Bob Iger, president and chief executive officer of Walt Disney Co.

    "The problem is the hotels are absolutely furious that they can't have Disney brochures," said Terry McDonough, whose company, Brochure Displays Inc. in Port Orange, distributed Disney information to hotels for 34 years. "I have never heard of anything like this. I can't fathom a reason, and I don't even know how to explain it to people."

    The fallout from Disney's move is not limited to Daytona Beach.

    Susan Teller, the front-office manager at a Sleep Inn hotel in Clearwater, said that every week guests ask for Disney brochures.

    "Now that there is no brochure, people are kind of like, 'Could you look this up for me; could you look that up for me?' " Teller said. "As much as I want to help people, it's kind of hard when I have five people standing in front of me waiting to pull this information up on the computer. And the computer is slow. They get frustrated and say, 'We'll just go to Busch Gardens instead.' I've had that happen to me twice."

    Drake Decker, owner of Florida Suncoast Tourism Promotions in Largo, the company that provides brochures to Teller's hotel, said that since removing the Disney brochures from about 1,800 to 2,000 locations on Florida's west coast, his employees have gotten a lot of complaints and questions.

    "As soon as we pulled them from the racks, we had a deluge of calls and questions," he said. "There has been quite a bit of dissatisfaction about not having the materials."

    Rhonda Murphy, a spokeswoman for Universal Orlando, said her company has no plans to scale back its brochure distribution.

    "We think brochures are a great way for Florida residents and day-trippers to learn more about our parks," Murphy said.

    Baker, the theme-park consultant, said although brochures are especially important for smaller attractions such as Gatorland, Arabian Nights and water parks -- they are not essential to Disney.

    "Everybody knows Disney," Baker said. "It's not like a tertiary attraction that has to let people know it is open."

    Warren said Disney is not taking any visitors -- including one-day visitors -- for granted.

    But Davis remembers an era before Disney had very many hotels, when day guests from places such as Daytona Beach were vital.

    "When they first opened up, we had 36 Greyhound buses going back and forth to Disney from State Road A1A," said Davis, who has been part of Daytona Beach's tourism industry since 1966. "When they had [few] hotels, we supplied them with a product, and now they forgot about us."

  2. #2
    GIOny's Avatar
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    They must be tightening their belt, hard to tell yet if a move like this is going to hurt them at all, I know I would always pick up a Disney brochure while visiting Florida, but I was usually there to go to WDW at some point on the trip. If they want to take that money out of hotel brochure racks and put it into the parks, I'm all for it (but I don't know if that's the case). When I say put the money into the parks I mean already existing parks, no new parks please!!
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  3. #3
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    Unfortunately, Disney is in business to make money and I guess this was yet anonther way to satisfy the stockholders, who have pushed the price of stock to new highs.
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