Marco Bernini is a very busy man. Judge for yourselves: for the past 18 months the hotel he is responsible for, Disney’s Newport Bay Club, has been undergoing the most extensive refurbishment in the history of Disneyland® Paris. It is a great opportunity, with a multitude of consequences on daily work and the difficulty of minimizing the effects of the renovation works on the guests’ stay. Today, Marco is preparing the hotel to be upgraded to a 4* institution, and dealing in parallel with new team training processes in service quality. Between two meetings we were able to talk with him of his unusual itinerary and his ambition for Disneyland Paris.
Could you tell us about yourself in a few words?
“My experience at Disneyland Paris started in February 1992, shortly before the opening of the Disneyland Park, and I began my career as an Operational Cast Member on the Big Thunder Mountain attraction. I acquired experience in various fields, participated to the opening of attractions, to the development and implementation of the annual passports for the Paris region, which had a significant impact on sales. In this manner I climbed the various echelons until I was assigned to my first post as Director of Park Operations in 2000. At the time there was only one theme park on the destination.
In March 2002, I was lucky to be part of the opening team of The Walt Disney Studios Park, and in August of the same year I was named Director of Park Operations for both Parks. In 2005, I was put in charge of Disney Village, to implement the new family strategy, which at the time was a radical change of in the venue’s positioning: the street was completely redesigned, flower pots were put in and trees were planted, while the original columns and the star-lit sky were removed.
We also removed the stage that was located near the Sport’s bar and which then hosted outdoor concerts. That allowed us to develop the terrace of the Sport’s bar, which our guests greatly appreciate. All musical events were concentrated at Billy Bob’s. We hosted new emblematic brands, such as the first Starbuck’s Café completely thought over in an environment friendly design. All these changes led to a repositioning of the venue and an important revenue increase. What I most liked in those missions were the will to change things and to aim for the best quality experience. All of this took a new turn for me in March 2010, when I was named Director of Disney’s Newport Bay Club.”
What is the key challenge in your business?
“As a leader, one must integrate the corporate values, the corporate culture in order to make them one’s own and transmit them to the team. One has to know how to listen and take into account feed-back from Cast Members, as well as the remarks from guests, as they generate new ideas. I focus on reaching guest satisfaction as well as Cast Member satisfaction, for the two cannot be separate, there is a reciprocal cause and effect link: in order for Cast Members to bring magic to the guests every day, I believe it is indispensable that the former feel good about coming to work every morning. The first priority is to ensure good work conditions to all the teams, to favor their well-being so they may in turn transmit it to our guests. We have to constantly go forward, innovate, and suggest new projects to improve the quality of the experience. The project of the total renovation of the hotel is the perfect example of this, with the colossal works that impacted the rooms, the lobby, the boutique, the restaurants, the pool, the façades, the roof, as well as the backstage area of the hotel. The aim was to optimize the guest offer and the daily work of our Cast Members: a new restaurant, new kitchens, and a new set-up for breakfast. The direct consequences of this have been improved quality and greater efficiency.”
What is your ambition for Disneyland Paris for the next twenty years?
“My short term ambition is to conclude the refurbishment works of Disney’s Newport Bay Club, to give it the place it deserves right next to the most beautiful hotels. Looking further ahead, at the eve of the 25th anniversary of our destination, my ambition is that Disneyland Paris continue to be the reference in family entertainment, of dreams and of creativity, the destination that innovates constantly and permanently aims for excellence. The Disney theme parks are supported by a unique heritage of incredible wealth, stories to be brought to life daily. I believe it is fundamental to keep them alive. It is the heritage that is familiar to all of us since our childhood that makes the Disney difference and creates a feeling of belonging. Contrary to traditional amusement parks, the Disney parks offer an experience to be lived, with a very strong affective dimension and a unique identity.”