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The Only Thing That Remains Constant is Change

I’ve worked at the WDW Swan and Dolphin since 2003. During this time I have experienced changes to Leadership, vast renovations, and the creation of restaurants, most notably Todd English’s BZ and Il Mulino. We have also re-defined our Banquet Service and reorganized our Catering and Event Management Dept.

I feel quite at ease dealing with changes within a property or throughout the company. In 2016, Starwood Corporation, the parent company of The WDW Swan and Dolphin Resort was acquired by the Marriott Corporation. This is probably the largest change any of us have ever been through. We feel that when this process is completed we will have a better hotel complex, with more resources, more opportunities, an enhanced level of service, and more opportunities to book business.

The changes we are experiencing are of great magnitude, affecting Regional and National Management, Reporting Structure, Software, Payroll, Point of Sale Machines, Space Diary for Sales and Event Management, Human Resource Systems, and many other areas.

From the recent and continuing evolution that is changing so much about our business, I’ve learned some lessons that I would like to share with any manager through a revolutionary change like this:

  • Use your resources – Speak with people in your or a similar position at other properties or branches of the same company, for advice, and ask about their specific software or management procedures. If the company that has acquired you has also acquired other businesses, you may get much needed advice from them as how they facilitated the change-over.
  • Spend time with your team – If you have learned something that can help others with the transition please share the information. If you don’t have new information, just spend time with the team. Team members may get frustrated and/or become isolated in the face of change. You must keep the open communication going. You may not solve all the problems but it’s good for the team to know they are not in this alone.
  • Appreciate everyone’s efforts – This is a very stressful time. Let your team know that you are aware and sensitive to their feelings. Set up things that show you care, an afternoon ice cream break, an outing, handwritten cards that show that you understand and care.
  • People quit a job, they don’t leave their family –  Let your staff and co-workers know all that you know, communicate. Your staff is concerned about restructure “am I going to lose my job, will my job change?” Quash rumors ASAP! People may quit out of fear of the unknown. This is not a good time to lose good people!
  • Restructuring may mean more work for everyone – Let’s face it, learning new systems and software, doing reports you have never done before, etc., will take additional time. Prepare your team for this, and reassure everyone that once we get through the change over, there will be positives.
  • You are Still Running a Business –  While all this is going on, your customers expect you and your team to supply superior customer service and make a profit. It’s important to supply whatever support you can, whether it be emotional, extra administrative help, and other team strategies to get through this period is essential.

Even knowing that this change will eventually be completed, I know there is another change down the road. Not fearing that that there will be changes, but embracing them and figuring out how to work through them is the best way to survive them and to grow from the experiences. For me this change has been an opportunity to grow, yes it’s been stressful, but I’ve gotten to work with a whole new group of people (at other properties) trying to help make the transition smoother for the entire Event Management division. I really like the opportunity that this has presented for me.

Although change is constant, you need to understand that you still have control of your personal outcome, whether you decide to stay and work through the change or to take another course. This decision should be based on facts and your own wants and needs, not fear and what you think may happen.

Ed DiAntonio, CPCE, CMP
Complex Director of Catering and Event Management
Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort
NACE Treasurer

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Ed DiAntonio, CPCE, CMP, is the Director of Catering and Convention Services for the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort. Ed Serves as the NACE National president is a past president of the NACE Orlando chapter.

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