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Empathy and Inclusion in Digital Design: Interview with Yas Inukai, Director of Digital Business at Tokyo Disney Resort

Shelli Weinstein

by , Communications Specialist for Disney Parks, Experiences and Products

As cast members across Disney Parks, Experiences and Products bring magical experiences to life around the world, we’re pleased to share their stories and perspectives. Today, we’d like to introduce you to Yas Inukai, director of digital business at Tokyo Disney Resort, as he shares his thoughts on digital design and what it means to bring the Inclusion Key to life as one of our core guiding principles.

Yas began his Disney journey in 2006 and has worked in various roles around the world in digital services, marketing and more. After leading digital design teams creating mobile apps and websites for Disney Parks in the U.S., Yas returned to Japan in 2017 to lead digital experiences with the unique needs of guests at Tokyo Disney Resort in mind. This work was in close collaboration with Oriental Land Company (OLC), as Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea are owned and operated by Oriental Land Co, Ltd. One of his first projects was designing the Tokyo Disney Resort mobile app, a brand-new offering for the resort at the time. 

“We started a digital transformation connecting two cultures, two languages and often multiple time zones,” he said of his early days back at the resort. “My job was not to bring the app as it is to Tokyo, but to focus on the unique needs of our guests at Tokyo Disney Resort.”

Tokyo Disney Resort App

To make these digital experiences intuitive and seamless for local guests, Yas and OLC teams focus on empathy-driven design. He believes this meshes well with Japanese culture, which places a high value on consideration for others, and Disney’s legendary guest service. The team starts by asking questions about how to make guests’ experiences even more special through technology. Together, Yas and the team of designers and technologists explore how and where guests find value using the mobile app to plan and navigate their visit, whether purchasing tickets, booking dining reservations or finding the next magical moment to experience.

“Empathy is the first step of the design thinking framework. It helps to put the focus on guests,”

-Yas

He explores how digital tools can add convenience and flexibility, allowing guests to enjoy more time with their friends and family. “It starts with knowing your guests.”

Yas Inukai

Prioritizing empathy and inclusion in the design process of digital tools also encourages collaboration across several teams, he said, by bringing diverse perspectives together. Working alongside different partners across the resort and globe helps the team develop a deeper understanding and appreciation for the diversity of our guests and reflect that in the digital experiences we offer. “Regardless of guests’ needs or origin, our job is always to walk in their shoes first. We all bring very, very valuable learnings and experiences together. That helps formulate a clear image of our guests and their goals.”

In April, we introduced a new key of Inclusion, as part of a reimagined 5 Keys, the blueprint our cast members use to interact with guests, collaborate together and imagine new products and experiences. For Yas, the Inclusion Key also has a very personal meaning. “I love the Inclusion Key. I have a son who is on the autism spectrum, and I see our guests around the globe, who all have their own personal relationships to our brands. To me, Inclusion includes neurodiversity. It includes understanding different guests’ Disney memories and the diverse experiences that they have in different regions.”

Ultimately, Yas says he’s excited about the future of technology and how thinking inclusively can create powerful collaboration and great experiences for our guests. “It’s worth celebrating how much technology has become a user-oriented industry in the last decade,” he said. “Diversity enriches our perspectives. The more diverse we become, the more inclusive products we can provide to our guests with various needs and backgrounds around the globe.”

For more stories about our cast members, follow along with @DisneyParks on all social media channels, and stay tuned to Disney Cast Life!

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