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Universal Orlando Executives Apologize for Failed Leadership, Lack of Support

Universal Orlando Resort: VP Fernando Flores and President Alice Norsworthy
Universal Orlando Resort: Vice President Fernando Flores and President of Global Marketing Alice Norsworthy

Senior executives with Universal Orlando Resort apologized to their employees for failing to provide adequate leadership and support for employees in an internal video obtained by West Orlando News. But after months of a “we hear you” campaign from the company, Team Members from that work location are still quitting in significant numbers, staffing is not reaching adequate levels and reports are nothing has changed yet with the management that created the toxic work environment. The full video is included below.

Addressing Team Members who work at Universal’s Guest Contact Center in Orlando, two senior executives admitted the failure in leadership after a “Culture Assessment” from the “Fair Employment Practices Team,” which compiled feedback from Team Members directly, according to the internal video.

“I realize and understand that we have not been providing you with the leadership and support you deserve,” said Fernando Flores, Vice President of Universal Parks & Resorts Vacations and Consumer Sales Operations. “And for that, I am sorry. I know we have work to do and we’re going to do that work.”

The other senior executive in the video is Alice Norsworthy, President of Global Marketing for Universal Parks and Resorts, and she actually filmed the video from Beijing, showing the significance of the Orlando problems. She said in the video she would be visiting the Guest Contact Center office location as soon as she returned from China, where Universal is opening their newest and largest theme park. Flores said in the video an action plan would be created and shared with Norsworthy before being implemented “in the coming weeks.”

“It’s crucial for us to understand your perspective,” Norsworthy said in the video. “Please know that we’re all committed, I’m personally committed, to providing an inclusive environment where Team Members can thrive and where everyone’s proud to work.”

That seems to indicate high levels of Universal leadership admit there was not an inclusive environment at Universal Orlando Resort’s Guest Contact Center and it seems like the senior leadership understands employees are not proud to work there. Universal Orlando declined to refute those claims when asked to comment on the video and aftermath. But months after these executives apologized, as Team Members continue to quit and as Universal continues to advertise for open positions in that office, it also seems like the problem has not been addressed.

The “Culture Assessment” results were shared with Senior Marketing and HR leadership, according to an internal email sent from Flores to employees late last year. A bad work culture in the travel and tourism industry is not helpful, especially in Central Florida, and bad management only makes it worse.

“Thank you for trusting with [sic] us with your honest and constructive feedback,” Flores wrote in an internal email to employees with the video link. West Orlando News also obtained this email from employees involved in the situation. According to those involved, Flores had his office relocated from the backlot of the theme parks to the offsite leased warehouse office location where the Guest Contact Center is located.

Based on the ongoing employment and management situation at the Universal Guest Contact Center, which is led by Senior Director Deborah Colangelo, reports are the company has not acted adequately on that “constructive” feedback. As employees around the country revolt against bad management, this could be bad news for Universal as they look to hire thousands of employees ahead of the Epic Universe opening in Orlando. The Universal Guest Contact Center is home to the company’s sales counselors selling tickets, annual passes, Loews hotels at Universal Orlando, and vacation packages. The GCC also is home to employees who answer general guest services questions for Orlando and Hollywood, among other tasks. Colangelo has reported to Flores for years at the Universal GCC.

Universal Orlando Resort declined to comment to West Orlando News on the video. The full video was posted on a Dropbox link internally to employees in the Flores email, and that file was still available at the time of publishing (update: Universal Orlando has now deleted the video from Dropbox because of this publication). Here’s the video as well:

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