The Perfect Lunch

As part of my Disney Institute course on Quality Service, one of the lessons was devoted to Setting and how it is used as a delivery system within the framework Disney uses for their exceptional service. As one of the exercises, our class was offered the “perfect lunch” following one of the morning sessions.

Having just studied what Disney does to emphasize the setting for their guests, we all were looking forward to a lavish meal. One thing Disney is well known for is their cuisine. We arrive in our room and we find . . . in a word . . . chaos. While the selection of food was ample, it was totally out of order. Silverware was located at one end of the buffet line, while plates and food were scattered randomly around the tables. Several themes existed; one was pirate a pirate theme and the other was colonial. Napkins were hidden. Soup bowls were nowhere near the soup. Plates were too small. Get the picture? Little did we know the server was also part of the setting. He was apologetic and through his conversations, he encouraged us to talk about the experience without saying, “How does this make you feel” or “Isn’t this a lousy setup”.

While this “chaos” seemed out of place, it was well thought out. Organized chaos? Aren’t those terms mutually exclusive?

The setting involves the environment and the individual objects within that environment. It should send the right message, guiding your guest through the experience and involve multiple sensory details. How your operation looks, where things are located within your environment, even how your on-stage areas smell, . . . these all have a part in a successful setting.

Are your brochures spelled correctly? Is the lighting correct for the environment? Is there ambient noise that is disrupting the experience? All of these work together to complete the experience for your guest.

We eventually caught on to the lesson offered even though we thought we were on a lunch break. The only time your setting should take a break is when access by your guests is not allowed. Unless your operation is closed, there is no break.

Your guests demand and deserve better than the perfect lunch.

This entry was posted in Design, Disney Institute, Imperfect, Perception, Perfect, Quality Service, Setting. Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to The Perfect Lunch

  1. Donna Flanagin says:

    What a fun lesson. D.I. is so creative, aren't they? I have worked on creating a "feel" when you walk into my business but I struggle with the "smell". (that sounds funny) I would like to have just a subtle scent when they walk in but I don't know what would be pleasant and not overwhelming. Still searching.

    Love your blog.

  2. David Balentine says:

    Thanks Donna for reading and commenting.

    I would create your own experiment. Pick a few scents (think Main Street Bakery or Soarin') and record any feedback you may get from your customers. You could pick from spicy, sweet, floral, nature, etc.

    Ask your team members to name their favorite and have them create the delivery system to help incorporate the scent into the work environment. Make it fun for them (friendly contest) and they may make your decision for you!

    Let us know how it goes!

  3. Donna Flanagin says:

    I might do just that. I think I will ask each one to go out and buy something with the scent they like (pay them back of course) and then start to rotate and see what happens.

    I'll let you know.

  4. David Balentine says:

    Depending on your team, maybe you could have an award for best and worst contribution? It might encourage them and communicate the idea that all suggestions and ideas have merit.

  5. Donna Flanagin says:

    FYI, we are a small operation. Most days we only have 4 people. Even being this small I can still use these ideas to my advantage. It is so fun.

  6. David Balentine says:

    To a one person operation, your company is huge.

    Have fun!

  7. jeff noel says:

    Donna, think of smells you experience when you visit friends' homes or businesses.

    Our home always has a "old fashioned smell". Sorta like Cracker Barrel, but not.

    The future's so bright, we're gonna have to wear shades. 🙂

  8. David Balentine says:


    I like that. Sorta like Cracker Barrel, but not.


    Thanks for contributing!

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