I know I did the Disney College Program yesterday.
Okay, so it wasn’t yesterday, but I did do the program yesterday in my mind—even though it was just over 20 years ago. Yes, the time really flies when you’re having fun, and for me, the College Program started all of that fun, and the last 20 years have truly flown. You’ll often hear that when you’re on the program, you make friends that will last a lifetime. This was so true, but even more surprising, were the connections you’ll have with people you meet later in life who weren’t necessarily on the program with you, but who also participated.
It was this type of relationship that has had the helped me become who I am today—a proud co-owner of a vacation rental management company. About ten years ago, I met friends who had also done the program, the semester before me. They worked at Disney’s All-Star Sports Resort during the summer of 1995, and I worked at Disney’s Blizzard Beach Water Park in the fall of 1995. We laughed and thought it was so neat that we all knew about “the Disney two-finger point” and knowing Thursdays were payday and how to stretch one paycheck to another. We often joked that those were some of the best times of our lives, which they are (but you probably hear that a lot when you’re on the program!)
Fast forward about five years ago, and one of those friends, Chad, and I were both living in the Santa Rosa Beach, Florida area, affectionately known as “30A.” There are no major hotel chains, but a plethora of many beautiful, large homes that are rented by families seeking a respite from their busy lives. Chad came to me and said, “We should start a property management company and manage these big, beautiful houses. We can use our Disney background!” I laughed and told him that was a neat idea, but I was not interested. Each year, he would come back to me and say the same thing. I finally told him that I was not ready to start a business, as I had never done that before! He looked me dead in the eye and said, “We will start this business, and it will be us together, and we will be a success together, because of our great experiences in hospitality with Disney, and knowing the fundamental way to treat guests.”
I thought long and hard about that conversation, and also thought about what Walt said… “All our dreams can come true…if we have the courage to pursue them.” All I needed was courage.
I was scared to death, but I finally agreed to help build a vacation rental business with my fellow alumnus of the Disney College Program. And I’ve never looked back. The business is small and growing, and we both couldn’t be happier with our choice to use our hospitality background, marketing background, sales and recruiting background to build the business. We even went so far as to make hospitality part of our company’s motto: “Bringing Hospitality Back.”
So, while you will make relationships that will last a lifetime, you’ll also find that your Disney background will help build relationships you never knew were possible. All you need is a little courage.
Here’s a picture of me and my fellow business owner, Chad, with one of our luxury rental property signs. Come and visit us if you’re ever in the panhandle of Florida!