Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Disney ends programme Batswana hotel workers have benefitted from

As the COVID-19 spikes continue to attach themselves to the global economy and suck life out of it, Disney, the world’s biggest entertainment company, has stopped an international programme that some Batswana in the hospitality industry have benefitted from.

“We are saddened that we will not be able to welcome future Disney Internships & Program participants, who were due to arrive through early June,” said Disney in a statement. “These decisions were not made lightly and we are encouraging all participants to keep us in mind should they want to experience our Disney Programs in the future.”

One of those programmes is called the Cultural Representative Programme and through it, representatives from different countries live and work at a resort near Orlando, Florida. For decades now, some staff members at Botswana’s hospitality establishments have been enrolled for this programme – the sneaky ones don’t return home and this problem is said to be rampant with beneficiaries from poor Third World countries who want to take chances with making a better life while playing hide-and-seek with US law enforcement officials.

On its website, Disney says that it recruits “friendly, outgoing, hospitality oriented people to represent their cultures, traditional, and history of the entire country. Participants have the chance to greet and interact with people from across the globe – all while sharing their own heritage. Participants will also contribute greatly to our overall guest experience across the Walt Disney World Resort, including the Kidcot Fun Stop.” From this programme, participants are supposed to “gain leadership, business, and customer service knowledge from seasoned professionals at Walt Disney World Resort.” 

Americans are perfectionists and the programme certainly gives participants exposure to first-class perfectionism that they can’t get here at home. 

“You get to meet customers from all over the world and are required to offer first-class customer service,” says a former beneficiary, a Cresta Hotels employee, who adds that the cultural diversity of the programme also gave her an opportunity to meet participants from different parts of the world and learn about their cultures.

However, some former participants complain of the mental and physical toll this programme can put on one – as when they are required to do the borankana dance for hours on end to help Disney create what it calls an “immersive experience.” At this point, the fun of being in the United States just wears off. Indeed, the language used for the job descriptions of some positions suggests that participants do more than waiting staff at Botswana hospitality establishments typically do. Food and beverage seaters have to bus tables, clean kitchen and counter equipment, empty trash cans and do “heavy lifting.”

Unfortunately, once back home, most beneficiaries of this programme dumb down customer service standards to the Botswana level, essentially cancelling out all that Disney education.

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