From the Orlando Sentinel:
Disney Vacation Club, as it attempts to sell more inventory than ever amid a recession that has sapped time-share sales, has cut the base pay of its front-line sales staff by 10 percent.
But the Walt Disney Co.'s Celebration-based time-share unit has also boosted bonus amounts for employees who reach certain sales targets. The shift is an attempt by Disney to make time-share positions more incentive-driven and less hourly based.
The changes, announced to employees last week, affect approximately 100 “advance sales associates” or ASAs. Those are the workers stationed at the ubiquitous Vacation Club sales kiosks scattered throughout Disney’s theme parks and hotels, whose job is to convince prospective customers to take tours in a main sales center.
“We have made changes to the pay structure among our advance sales associates to allow us to provide more reward and recognition to top performers,” Disney Vacation Club spokeswoman Rena Langley said earlier this week. She said the changes are designed to make Vacation Club salaries “competitive in the industry and also to get great results.”
Disney Vacation Club, like other time-share developers, has been bruised by a global recession in which consumers have cut back on big-ticket luxuries such as time shares and banks have become more reluctant to buy up time-share mortgages. At the same time, Disney is attempting to sell interests in four just-opened time-share properties, including three at Walt Disney World and one at Disneyland in California.
Under the changes, according to employees who have been briefed on them, the hourly pay rate for Vacation Club ASAs has been reduced by 10 percent. Employees say entry-level pay for ASAs, before the pay cut, began around $11 an hour.
But those workers are now eligible for larger bonuses based on the number of people they persuade to take full sales tours. Disney also plans to begin paying quarterly bonuses to employees who finish in the top half of their teams in sales.
The problem, some employees say, is that reaching the levels required for the higher bonuses is exceedingly difficult amid the worst economic environment Vacation Club has yet faced.
Another bonus has also been made bigger but harder to attain: Workers say they used to get an extra $100 if 10 percent or fewer of the tours they booked for the main center were “solo” – for instance, a couple where one person decides to take the tour while the other opts to stay behind in a park or at a hotel. Such tours are much less likely to result in a sale.
Now workers can get $200 – but only if 5 percent or fewer of the tours they book are solos.
“They’ve made it more difficult for us to make a living,” said one Vacation Club employee who asked not to be identified for fear of losing his job. “Nobody will ever make back the money they lost.”
Disney says the changes are not designed to reduce overall costs. Langley said Vacation Club’s overall compensation budget has not been reduced.