A Deep Dive Into Disney’s Competitive Position In Travel

by Jared Wein + Skift Team
Destinations
Hospitality

Skift Research Take

Disney’s success with its theme parks, hotels and cruise products is directly attributable to a highly-sophisticated marketing program that leverages cross-monetization of its different media businesses. It’s a case study for travel and hospitality companies on how to think and look outside of travel, when building globally successful businesses and brands.

Executive Summary

Disney is by far the largest entertainment conglomerate in the world, with its parks and resorts unit representing its travel footprint. This segment generated more revenue than industry powerhouses like Priceline, Expedia, Marriott, and Hilton. Parks and resorts may represent less than a third of Disney’s sales directly, but it’s a crucial consumer touchpoint facilitating Disney’s cross-monetization of content.

This report takes a deep dive into Disney’s entire travel business, spanning theme parks, hotels, the Disney Vacation Club, cruises, Adventures by Disney, conventions, and athletic events. We provide strategic and financial analysis for each unit along with the segment as a whole. The Walt Disney Company serves as a case study on how a travel company can use technology and data, best practices in customer service, and storytelling to gain competitive advantage.

While the Walt Disney Company as a whole has been analyzed by media analysts and a number of well-respected equity research analysts covering the traditional media sector, Skift’s expertise and sole focus on the travel industry uniquely positions us to provide a comprehensive and independent view of the travel business housed within Walt Disney. At close to 30,000 words, we offer our readers a complete analysis of the parks and resorts segment while addressing the interplay with the studio and consumer products businesses.

What You'll Learn From This Report

  • How Disney has been able to maintain pricing power at its U.S. parks, raising admission prices above the cost of inflation, while still generating steady attendance gains.
  • Attendance, spending, and revenue trends across all of Disney’s theme parks individually and in aggregate.
  • What the new expansion projects are at the theme parks.
  • The likely steady-state financial impact from Shanghai Disneyland and how the ownership contract is structured.
  • How the recent debt recapitalization and increased Disney stake in Disneyland Paris will help alleviate the paradox of high attendance, but limited economic benefits.
  • In what way Walt Disney is expanding and improving Hong Kong Disneyland to combat the impact from slowing tourism to the island from mainland China.
  • An understanding of how the owners of the Tokyo Disneyland Resort (Oriental Land Company) have positioned its Disney-themed assets and the economic and strategic impact to the Walt Disney Company under the fee agreements.
  • How the company uses behind-the-scenes tours and special events to enhance revenue via high-margin add-ons at the parks.
  • The competitive advantage of Disney’s immersive hotel portfolio.
  • Why the cruise business is different, and more profitable, than pure-play competitors.
  • The impact of the Pixar, Lucasfilm, and Marvel acquisitions on the company’s cross monetization of content.
  • How the MyMagic+ technology improves the guest experience while providing Walt Disney with crucial data.
  • The impact of the Imagineering team.
  • That theme parks attendance is less cyclical than many believe.
  • Relationships with third party distributors.
  • Insights from retired executives.
  • Airline booking trends and forward outlook for Disney’s key markets in partnership with ForwardKeys.

Executives Interviewed

  • Randy Garfield - Retired President of Walt Disney Travel Co. & EVP of Worldwide Sales & Travel Operations for Disney Destinations
  • Professor Duncan Dickson - Professor at the Rosen College of Hospitality Management, former Director of Casting at Walt Disney World

List Of Figures

  • Walt Disney Segment Breakdown
  • Disney Park Attendance Numbers
  • Admission Price Increses Outpace Inflation
  • Disney Competition in Florida
  • Domestic Travel to Orlando
  • International Travel to Orlando
  • Domestic Travel to Los Angeles
  • International Travel to Los Angeles
  • Travel Trends Paris
  • Japanese Economic Overview
  • Hong Kong's Gross Domestic Product
  • Domestic Travel to Hong Kong

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