Former Disney executive will talk to locals Thursday |

Former Disney executive will talk to locals Thursday

Scott N. Miller
Vail CO, Colorado

EAGLE COUNTY, Colorado ” When Dennis Snow looks at the Vail Valley, he sees a lot of Orlando.

Snow, a former Disney executive, has spent the last several years as a speaker and consultant to companies large and small, talking about the Disney way of doing business, and how to make it work in other places.

Snow will speak Thursday at the Vail Valley Partnership’s “A View From the Top” speaker series at the Vilar Center for the Performing Arts in Beaver Creek.

The idea, Snow said, is to move companies to an “experience” mentality in which employees are always trying to create a better experience for guests.

Snow, who started with Disney loading tourists into rides, knows how easy it is for front-line workers to slip into just loading people into seats. The way out of the production-line mindset, he said, is by doing things such as giving every guest an honest smile and paying attention to kids.

It doesn’t seem like much, but little things add up, Snow said.

“The overall impression is phenomenal,” he said.

“Disney can’t just be about rides or hotels,” Snow said. “It’s about the whole

experience, so when people go home, they can’t wait to get back.”

Getting employees to adopt those attitudes takes constant work from managers.

That’s part of the Disney way of doing business, something Snow learned in 20 years of work for the company.

“(Disney) is relentless about their focus on the experience,” Snow said. “Without those expectations it would be easy to be robotic.”

Lots of speakers and consultants focus on customer service, and there are plenty of different ideas and methods out there to reach that goal.

Snow said what makes his work different is that he’ll suggest ways to actually achieve those goals.

Looking at the Vail Valley, Snow said he sees plenty of parallels with the Orlando area, home of Disney World and a number of other theme parks.

It can be expensive to live in both places, Snow said. Employers in both places have a hard time recruiting and keeping people, and a lot of people don’t speak fluent English.

That’s where the “relentless” focus on service comes in.

After two decades with Disney, and working his way from the ride lines to the executive offices, Snow started thinking about starting his own business. The idea for his own venture came to him not long after Disney started its “Disney Institute” program for other businesses.

“People would get charged up about what they’d learned, but they’d need help with implementation,” Snow said. He’s trying to fill that niche.

After nine years, it’s looking like a pretty good idea.

“I tell my wife the best decision I ever made was marrying her,” Snow said. “The second best has been this.”

Business Editor Scott N. Miller can be reached at 748-2930, or

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