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  1. #1

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    AP unfriendly policy

    Has anyone seen the 'new' very-unfriendly guest policy for AP resort reservations? Details on WDW.com ... more on Mousesavers.com ...

    It looks like yet again, WDW has decided to stick it to its most loyal guests.

    Here's some lowlights:

    AP ressies now must be made 120 days in advance whether by Internet or travel agent. Apparently, you can no longer call CRO/WDTC and request them.

    They IMMEDIATELY want one night's deposit, which is NOT refundable under any circumstances.

    You may only book one room.

    If an offer to the general public (no definition on what that means) comes out after you book at rack rate, they will lower your rate to MATCH but in no way BEAT that rate.

    I admit, I am dumbfounded by this VERY AP unfriendly policy. It appears the whole purpose is to screw over Disney's most loyal visitors.

    From Mousesavers:

    <<The new program raises many issues:

    The "Best Rate Program" is currently bookable for check-ins from 10/8/05 through 12/19/05. However, no discounts are currently showing up when you try to book any of those dates. I don't know if discounts are coming soon, or not at all.

    This leaves the Annual Passholder in a quandry: do you plunk down a nonrefundable deposit on your room reservation and hope that a discount becomes available later?

    The situation is especially confusing for someone who already has the AAA room-only discount, since if they book the "Best Rate Program" right now they'll lose the AAA discount, but maybe they'll get a deeper Annual Pass discount later. Or maybe not.

    It's unknown what "offered to the general public" means, exactly. Since many of the room discounts that have been offered in 2005 have come through private e-mails and postcards and have required a PIN code, one assumes those may not count as "general public" offers. AAA discounts would certainly fall into the category of "conditioned on group/club membership." In fact, there have been NO "general public" discounts on hotel rooms so far in 2005.

    Since you can only book this program online, and a current, activated Annual Pass is required in order to access the online booking, it appears that you'll no longer be able to book the Annual Pass rate until you purchase and activate an Annual Pass. That means first-time Annual Passholders won't be able to use the Best Rate Program unless they are willing to activate the pass 3 months in advance!

    Strangest of all -- this new system supposedly applies to check-ins October 8 and later, but the first half of October is already less than 120 days away! So how are Passholders supposed to use this new system if they plan to stay October 8-15, for example?>>

  2. #2

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    Nothing they do surprises me anymore.

  3. #3

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    Just seems a little strange to me. I'm a Marriott and SPG rewards member and I don't even pay anything as a member. I get great discounts and extra special treatment. I could even call that same day or even show up and still get a discount and when they realize I'm a rewards member, I'm shocked at the special attention I get. AND I don't even have to pay a dime extra to be a member. I'm just still amazed at this treatment. To me, without APs the parks would be bare. 120 days just seems a little excessive to the point that there is no need to have any discounts. I don't even plan vacations that far in advance.
    Last edited by Mrs.Newseditor44; 06-18-2005 at 09:22 PM.

  4. #4

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    I'm wondering if this is just a 'trial balloon' type of deal since the dates are between October-mid December. But either way, this is just bad, bad, bad, bad, bad policy.
    There are folks that are Pricelining rooms at incredible resorts like the Hyatt Grand Cypress, Gaylord Palms, JW Marriott and Marriott Orlando World Center for prices as low as the mid-$50s range. If I'm going to be 'stuck' with a room I sure won't pay Disney prices, that's for sure. That'll also mean less F&B revenue because if I'm not stuck on property, I'm sure more likely to dine off it.

    And the analogy to the other hotel companies is a good one. WDW has over 30,000 rooms in Orlando alone. They are a MAJOR CHAIN. I have been known to spend up to 40 days a year in their resorts ... I expect better.

  5. #5

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    This actually is NO surprise, these people in Florida have been plaguing the assets that THEY inherited for the last 6 years. Almost every decision they make reeks of incompetence and mismanagement.

    I love the idea of cracking down on the AP rates. AP rates are BAD business and they trash up some of the Deluxe Resorts. I love the step away from Walmarting the Contemporary, especially with the rehab coming up. However, what the heck are they thinking with the 120 day window. How absurd.

    Originally, the whole point of the AP rates where to fill excess capacity AT THE LAST MINUTE.

    These people all need to go back to working for toothpaste marketing firms.

    ----

    I guess Loews and the Portofino will see more of my money! I love the idea of giving less of it direcly to Disney, especially after my last trip to the Wilderness Lodge. My DVC points barely cover a handful of the nights I normally stay on-property. Better yet, maybe I will start looking into Bonnet Creek.
    -Mike

  6. #6

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    On further thought, I wanted to add my support for this program outside of the 120 day window. I even like the AP purchase restriction. This is actually good news as far as I am concerned. I just still can't figure out why they felt the 120 day restriction was the best way to limit AP rate bookings.

    Most of my trips are last minute, so I will be looking at non-Disney resorts much more. Which is really a great thing too. It's like being forced to kick a bad addiction. The hotels lately just really have not been worth the nightly rate.

    Which brings me back to the original point that this thing is absurd. Cracking down on AP bookings is a good thing for the company, but their methods in accomplishing such a thing is going to drive away short-term demand for rooms.

    Lastly, I think it is funny (but still a good move) that they no longer will accept direct calls from a good portion of repeat, hotel visitors when at the same time they are ignorantly pushing their reservation people to hit sales goals.
    Last edited by ChiMike; 06-19-2005 at 09:19 AM.
    -Mike

  7. #7

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    While I agree with the idea the resorts have been WalMarted, trying to have guests kick the heroin monkey of discounting ain't an easy task. Especially because the resorts aren't worth anything close to the rack rates anymore. Then you add in the fact that WDW has added capacity of probably over 10,000 new rooms since 1995 (when discounting really started becoming almost a year-round deal), and it just not going to happen.

    Worse, it seems like they are targeting APers like me, who often plan trips a few weeks in advance. If they want to try and get more people to pay more that's fine. But this just doesn't seem the way to go ... especially when they are massively discounting with the other hand at the same time (the current special from 8/21-10/4 INCLUDING FOOD being just the latest in a loooooooong line of deals). Just appears they are 'going after' a group they shouldn't be.

    And not booking via phone sounds like a typical way to reduce labor at the call centers at the same time they are looking to fire folks who don't meet sales quotas ... again, appears like one hand doesn't know what the other is doing.

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by WDW1974
    While I agree with the idea the resorts have been WalMarted, trying to have guests kick the heroin monkey of discounting ain't an easy task.
    You're right. That's why I think this is, overall, a step in the right direction.

    Especially because the resorts aren't worth anything close to the rack rates anymore.
    And, unfortunately, the only thing that allows for a CHANCE of them getting better is for higher prices. In addition to the need for better upkeep and maintenance, these places are supposed to be RESORTS. Get aways. The trend with lower prices and the idea that the resorts are sights to see in their own right, imo, have hurt the get-away aspect.

    Don't get me wrong, Disney is to blame for the downturn. They built too much, too quickly, and the current guest suffers because Disney won't take the hit on occupancy rates.

    Then you add in the fact that WDW has added capacity of probably over 10,000 new rooms since 1995 (when discounting really started becoming almost a year-round deal), and it just not going to happen.
    Of course. The discounting seemed harmless at first too because it was to bolster last minute visits to rooms that would go unfilled. That is why I think this 120 day window might be questionable. What happens at 2 weeks to go when they still need to fill rooms to meet their numbers? Then they offer discounts to people who HAVEN'T had to wait 120 days and risk deposits? Ludicrous.

    Worse, it seems like they are targeting APers like me, who often plan trips a few weeks in advance. If they want to try and get more people to pay more that's fine. But this just doesn't seem the way to go ... especially when they are massively discounting with the other hand at the same time (the current special from 8/21-10/4 INCLUDING FOOD being just the latest in a loooooooong line of deals). Just appears they are 'going after' a group they shouldn't be.]
    See I don't think they are. I agree they are EXTREMELY inconsistent right now and all over the board. However, I would bet dollars to donuts that the Florida resident rates stay similar to years past. I don't think they want to discourage bookings from people like you and I. They want to discourage our behaviors.

    I think they are trying to unnaturally change the market they created. They want the luxury of people making more long-term reservations to aid in their forecasting. They want the bookings before they have to give out the lower rates. So it isn't Disney basically begging people to come with low rates anymore, it is Disney saying "You must now promise to come and we get to then choose what rate we give you."

    See, everything was right in the world until Mary, Deb and the Disboards, innocently, started broadcasting to the universe how to save money at Disney. Nothing wrong with them doing that, but the AP rates were never meant to be used as they have been. Even after Disney incompetently overbuilt, they were a tool to fill up rooms for people willing to make short term plans. Mary, Deb, Disboards helped change the dynamic and all of a sudden more people were making more trips per year with a shorter booking window and, of course, for less money. Now Disney wants long-term bookings back with higher prices. I can live with that, but they are going to find themselves back in the situation of trying to fill occupancy at the last minute. I'm sure more private postcard/email/pin # promotions will probably go out so they don't have to lower prices on the sure things who are booking 120 days in advance.

    And not booking via phone sounds like a typical way to reduce labor at the call centers at the same time they are looking to fire folks who don't meet sales quotas ... again, appears like one hand doesn't know what the other is doing.
    Agree. Once again, not being negative toward these folks at all, but Mary, Deb, Disboards, etc. started giving out CRO's number like it was on a bathroom stall. CRO was never operated to be a clearinghouse for guests to be calling 5, 6 times a day changing rates, room #s to request, and all that nonsense. I love the idea that that will be limited.

    And the conflict with beating the reservation people like slaves should frustrate me, but like I said, none of this is surprising considering the last 6 years. I mean, you know this, people weren't doing these things in the 70s or 80s, they really weren't doing it in the 90's. Disney needs to exert some discipline in their pricing and their guests booking methods, but the problem is that Disney will start encouraging the craziness shortly thereafter.
    -Mike

  9. #9

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    The reason we call CRO is because the website to make Disney reservations is pure crap. That is why. You can't get the proper discounts, you can't enter discount codes, and it's not very user friendly for the avg. APer or FL Resident.

    This new policy is insane, and to have to pay an entire night's stay 120 days in advance is really not going to work at all. No one is going to want to do that.

    And as far as the resorts being upgraded and such back into resorts... Give me a break!
    Disney does make money on the resorts now, and they just don't want a cut in profits. Well, that's fine and dandy once you the improvements are completed, but with your logic, "we'll charge you extra while we make these improvements that won't be ready untill after you stay here. Oh, and you'll have to deal with ample construction walls and loud noise in areas as well." I'm sorry, you don't run a business like that. You charge more after the upgrade has been completed, not before.

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill
    The reason we call CRO is because the website to make Disney reservations is pure crap. That is why. You can't get the proper discounts, you can't enter discount codes, and it's not very user friendly for the avg. APer or FL Resident.
    It is, it always has been and it probably will be for a while. That doesn't mean CRO was a service intended to help people track Disney's discounts day by day. It simply wasn't. Travel agents are relics, so ideally, an internet site would be the way to fill that need. But, CRO wasn't there so people could keep changing their reservations based on new discounts, etc. I'm sorry if you or anybody else liked that ability, but that doesn't mean it was good business or something that was historically done. To use a M:S analogy, millions and millions of people have had no problem visiting WDW for years and years, way before anyone knew what the heck CRO was.

    Besides, you can still call WDW all you want, they are there to assist you in all of your needs. Just don't expect to get basement bargains by using that service. Normally, people give up things in order to get a lower price, why is this """entitlement""" any different?

    This new policy is insane, and to have to pay an entire night's stay 120 days in advance is really not going to work at all. No one is going to want to do that.
    I agree. I like the direction and motives of Disney on this, but the policy just don't fit. They have to do something

    And as far as the resorts being upgraded and such back into resorts... Give me a break!
    In my previous statement I said ANY CHANCE. I believe that. Is it right? No. Is it fair? No. But I can't imagine any positive things happening or even the return of things like free valet, without price increases. They certainly aren't going to do what they probably SHOULD do at AKL in a few years if they still have to give away Savannah view rooms. My last rate at WL was something like $100 a night, and let me tell you, the place showed the rate. A place like WL should be $200 a night, easy. It can't be however, because Disney were idiots and built way too many rooms in Orlando. Outside hotels didn't FORCE them to build more rooms. They were greedy and now they have to discount rooms.


    Disney does make money on the resorts now, and they just don't want a cut in profits. Well, that's fine and dandy once you the improvements are completed, but with your logic, "we'll charge you extra while we make these improvements that won't be ready until after you stay here. Oh, and you'll have to deal with ample construction walls and loud noise in areas as well." I'm sorry, you don't run a business like that. You charge more after the upgrade has been completed, not before.
    I also agree. 100% agree. Unfortunately that is current reality with Disney. Go or don't go. I am more motivated to start staying at some of the new upscale places that have opened near Disney. I might stay at Universal more. That's what one should do - go or don't go. Either Disney has an acceptable system, or they don't. They have to do something to curtail this AP rate madness.
    -Mike

  11. #11

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    If they had 3 relatively small hotels like at Disneyland Resort, I could see them enforcing such a policy but what about during the "off season". Do they have such a problem with having NO availability of rooms for visitors with no APs?

  12. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mrs.Newseditor44
    If they had 3 relatively small hotels like at Disneyland Resort, I could see them enforcing such a policy but what about during the "off season". Do they have such a problem with having NO availability of rooms for visitors with no APs?
    That's a good comparison. WDW is now in a position where they have to discount. Absolutely. Especially in the off-season. My points are to what extreme and quantity.

    The 120 day policy is going to really be counter-productive to dealing with off-season crowds and I think it is probably a trial. It's not like it is set in stone.

    If it works for Disney, then I would be concerned.
    -Mike

  13. #13

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    Quote:
    Originally Posted by WDW1974
    While I agree with the idea the resorts have been WalMarted, trying to have guests kick the heroin monkey of discounting ain't an easy task.

    <<You're right. That's why I think this is, overall, a step in the right direction. >>

    I am very conflicted. I agree that discounting has gone way overboard, but I don't like seeing APers (who visit more often) paying for bad business decisions by greedy execs who thought they could build hotel rooms like they were chocolate chip cookies. Now, many of the rooms are stale because of it.


    Quote:
    Especially because the resorts aren't worth anything close to the rack rates anymore.

    <<And, unfortunately, the only thing that allows for a CHANCE of them getting better is for higher prices. In addition to the need for better upkeep and maintenance, these places are supposed to be RESORTS. Get aways. The trend with lower prices and the idea that the resorts are sights to see in their own right, imo, have hurt the get-away aspect.

    Don't get me wrong, Disney is to blame for the downturn. They built too much, too quickly, and the current guest suffers because Disney won't take the hit on occupancy rates.>>

    Yes. And while I would pay MORE IF Disney were to return quality (everything from restaurants being reopened to beds being triple sheeted to REAL cleaning by QUALITY housekeepers to semi-quality soap and shampoo etc ...), you and I both know this won't happen. Once companies take things away, they don't turn around and return it even if their profits shoot up. You shouldn't have to go through 3-4 or more rooms at a WDW resort before you find one that is acceptable.


    Quote:
    Then you add in the fact that WDW has added capacity of probably over 10,000 new rooms since 1995 (when discounting really started becoming almost a year-round deal), and it just not going to happen.

    <<Of course. The discounting seemed harmless at first too because it was to bolster last minute visits to rooms that would go unfilled. That is why I think this 120 day window might be questionable. What happens at 2 weeks to go when they still need to fill rooms to meet their numbers? Then they offer discounts to people who HAVEN'T had to wait 120 days and risk deposits? Ludicrous.>>

    Well, the discounts weren't always last-minute. And as a Florida resident, you always knew they would have them at least three months a year (January, May and September) even in the late 70/early 80s. But the trend since the 25th Anniversary (not coincidentally when the Internet started being a force) has been to have year-round discounts.


    Quote:
    Worse, it seems like they are targeting APers like me, who often plan trips a few weeks in advance. If they want to try and get more people to pay more that's fine. But this just doesn't seem the way to go ... especially when they are massively discounting with the other hand at the same time (the current special from 8/21-10/4 INCLUDING FOOD being just the latest in a loooooooong line of deals). Just appears they are 'going after' a group they shouldn't be.]


    <<See I don't think they are. I agree they are EXTREMELY inconsistent right now and all over the board. However, I would bet dollars to donuts that the Florida resident rates stay similar to years past. I don't think they want to discourage bookings from people like you and I. They want to discourage our behaviors.>>

    I wonder if they will start making Fla. residents jump through the same hoops too.
    I don't really care whether I get an AP rate or a Florida resident rate because they are almost always the same. But if their goal is to discourage my staying on property, they'll succeed by pulling crap like this. Especially when I can Priceline a place like Gaylord Palms for $85 a night.

    <<I think they are trying to unnaturally change the market they created. They want the luxury of people making more long-term reservations to aid in their forecasting. They want the bookings before they have to give out the lower rates. So it isn't Disney basically begging people to come with low rates anymore, it is Disney saying "You must now promise to come and we get to then choose what rate we give you.">>

    Yes. That is it. It's also done because the small-minded execs who run the WDTC want to make their quotas so they can attain their bonuses. Despite what people may think, even when Disney hits rock bottom on price (say $49 for a value resort) they are making a profit on the room. (although likely declaring a tax loss since they aren't getting rack rate.)

    <<See, everything was right in the world until Mary, Deb and the Disboards, innocently, started broadcasting to the universe how to save money at Disney. Nothing wrong with them doing that, but the AP rates were never meant to be used as they have been. Even after Disney incompetently overbuilt, they were a tool to fill up rooms for people willing to make short term plans. Mary, Deb, Disboards helped change the dynamic and all of a sudden more people were making more trips per year with a shorter booking window and, of course, for less money. Now Disney wants long-term bookings back with higher prices. I can live with that, but they are going to find themselves back in the situation of trying to fill occupancy at the last minute. I'm sure more private postcard/email/pin # promotions will probably go out so they don't have to lower prices on the sure things who are booking 120 days in advance.>>

    I agree completely. It's like Disney has been a decade behind in figuring out the power of the Internet. Whether it was Al Lutz bringing attention to the damage being done at DL by Pressler, Harriss, Irby and Co. ... ebay reselling of tickets and merchandise ... 'news' coming out on fan sites that Disney would rather have kept in house ... AND definitely sites like Mousesavers that list every discount and loophole right up to the minute ... Disney has been way behind in realizing the power.


    Quote:
    And not booking via phone sounds like a typical way to reduce labor at the call centers at the same time they are looking to fire folks who don't meet sales quotas ... again, appears like one hand doesn't know what the other is doing.

    <<Agree. Once again, not being negative toward these folks at all, but Mary, Deb, Disboards, etc. started giving out CRO's number like it was on a bathroom stall. CRO was never operated to be a clearinghouse for guests to be calling 5, 6 times a day changing rates, room #s to request, and all that nonsense. I love the idea that that will be limited.>>

    That's true. You have people calling at 6:57 a.m., pre-programming the number into phones, calling and making multiple ressies for the same time etc ... and it all is a result of the web, no doubt. But again, Disney also perpetuates this itself by sending emails to APers telling them a day early and putting them out in the Mickey Monitors ... and, frankly, by being different than EVERY other hotel chain in that they will NEVER offer you their best rate or tell you about discounts UNLESS you ask for something specifically.

    Not like calling Marriott and asking for the lowest rate for a mid-level property in Chicago from July 23-26. Disney tries to play games in order to make you pay as much as possible.

    <<And the conflict with beating the reservation people like slaves should frustrate me, but like I said, none of this is surprising considering the last 6 years. I mean, you know this, people weren't doing these things in the 70s or 80s, they really weren't doing it in the 90's. Disney needs to exert some discipline in their pricing and their guests booking methods, but the problem is that Disney will start encouraging the craziness shortly thereafter.
    __________________
    -Mike >>

    Absolutely agree.

  14. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by ChiMike
    I also agree. 100% agree. Unfortunately that is current reality with Disney. Go or don't go. I am more motivated to start staying at some of the new upscale places that have opened near Disney. I might stay at Universal more. That's what one should do - go or don't go. Either Disney has an acceptable system, or they don't. They have to do something to curtail this AP rate madness.
    Hmm, I realize that my comment might have sounded like it was aimed at you personally, and that is not the case. I'm sorry if you took it that way.

    Anyway, Disney should change their policy, and they should also be aware of the quality of a guest's experience while the rehabs are going on.

    Part of Disney's Polynesian Resort's Main Building will be in a major rehab for a while soon, with even the quick service eatery being shut down for a time. This is a major deal for many guests, and hopefully they will be able to help guests out for a quick service choice at 2 am. (Captain Cooks is open 24hrs normally)

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    Aps having to pay 120 days in advanced.. wait.. many of the bookings (besides DL's) I have done with disney are 30 days in advanced.. (once a week advanced..)

    thought i am not an AP I do live close.. heck I got my rooms for Riverside 25 days ahead of time.. 2 rooms... (family was comming down for graduation.. why not take them to WDW.)

    I do not see this being popular at all.. and they say they are having problems filling hotel rooms??

    (make it different the for levels of hotels... premium.. this time.. modetrate.. this time.. value.. this day....

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