Free Dining Successes and Failures

Michael

Member
There were no standard Mod rooms available (at least for my dates) before fd offer was released. If they're already booked up at rack rate, why offer discounts? I know it was people booking in hopes of FD but maybe Disney figures it's a safe gamble that they will keep their reservation and forgo "free dining" if it's not available to them??
The place is definitely getting way to crowded, half you folks need to go someplace else, haha
 

BeckyW

New member
Failure for me. I gave been trying to call since 6 am (CST) and actually got thru once. I held for 40 minutes and then got disconnected after about 30 seconds of talking to the CM. I can't book mine online because my family needs 2 rooms on one reservation due to our family size. From what I can tell, it really doesn't matter since there doesn't seem to be any availability for my dates anyway.

I'm frustrated and disappointed. I think it's ridiculous that Disney's system is unable to handle both phone and website volume.
Jenni, just to let you know, if you book 2 separate rooms (so 2 separate reservations) you can call later and have them combined with a "Traveling with" number. I'm sorry I didn't see this post earlier...although calling today would be much easier than yesterday :RpS_cursing:
 

Vhaz

New member
Question. I have a room only on Oct 24 then my package starts on Oct 25 both Pop standard view. Do I need to call and link them or something? The one night is just for me and hubby the package is for all four of us.
 

bridgetnett

New member
Question. I have a room only on Oct 24 then my package starts on Oct 25 both Pop standard view. Do I need to call and link them or something? The one night is just for me and hubby the package is for all four of us.
I have the same situation, I asked in the Split Stay FAQ post and it was suggested that I call and have them make notes to "link" the two reservations.
 

bnoble

he's right
If Free Dining is the moneymaker, or "upsell" for Disney that we suspect it is, why aren't more rooms available for booking?
Who thinks it's an upsell? It's nothing more than a way to fill rooms that would otherwise go unsold, as it has always been restricted to some of the least popular times of year. It *might* get people to move from a Value to a Mod, but that's about it, and even then it's more capacity creation for the Values than a profit-generating upsell given the difference in Dining Plan rates vs. room rates.

But, to answer the question, Disney is setting records. From the 1Q15 conference call (emphasis added):
The Parks and Resorts segment had another great quarter. Operating income was up 20% on a revenue growth of 9% due to continued strength at our domestic operations. Despite the lower results at our international operations, total segment margins were up 190 basis points with major new initiatives accounting for 80 basis points of the year-over-year increase. We continued to be pleased with the performance of our recent major investments that they have contributed nicely to the robust growth of the domestic-based business.

In the first quarter, growth in operating income in our domestic operations was driven by higher guest spending and attendance at our domestic parks and higher passenger cruise days at the Disney Cruise line partially offset by higher costs. For the quarter attendance at our domestic parks was up 7%, with Walt Disney World and Disneyland Resort, each setting an all-time attendance record for any quarter. Per capita spending in our domestic parks was up 4% on higher ticket prices, merchandise, and food and beverage spending. Occupancy on our domestic hotels was up 8 percentage points to 89% and per room spending was up 4%. So far this quarter, domestic resort reservations are pacing up 3% compared to prior year levels, while book rates are up 4%.
Teasing that all out:

The only "major new initiative" in the past many quarters has been MyMagic+. This means that they have increased profit margins by 0.8% across the entire segment (DVC, DCL, ABD, and Parks) on MM+ alone. That's huge, and explains why the brass is so pleased with it, and why investors are no longer complaining about the $1B price tag. In fact, later in the call Jay Rasulo says the following: "I will tell you that the increase in contribution from MyMagic+ this year will outweigh the preopening spending on Shanghai Disneyland in our total numbers for fiscal ’15." So, the extra guest spending attributable to MM+ more than pays for this year's construction costs in the recently-expanded Shanghai resort. (!)

Disney's fiscal year starts October 1, so the "first quarter" is October, November, and December. So, those three months at the end of 2014 saw a higher overall attendance at WDW than *any* prior three month period, *ever*.

An occupancy increase of 8 points is huge, and 89% is just about a full house, so they now have a lot of pricing power. Even before hitting that 89% number, they were scaling back discounts, as the per-room spending increase of 4% counts only spending at that specific resort property. Some of that increase is food and beverage, but that can't account for all of it because resort-specific F&B is a fraction of room rate---some has to be a firming of rates.

The 2Q15 call is coming up on the 5th. It will be very interesting to see if they've kept that momentum. Based on the very slim nature of this promotion (and the larger-than-ever frenzy of people trying to book it) I'm going to guess that they have.
 
An occupancy increase of 8 points is huge, and 89% is just about a full house, so they now have a lot of pricing power. Even before hitting that 89% number, they were scaling back discounts, as the per-room spending increase of 4% counts only spending at that specific resort property. Some of that increase is food and beverage, but that can't account for all of it because resort-specific F&B is a fraction of room rate---some has to be a firming of rates.
Largely concur. I'll be posting about this more later but while you'll see fussing everywhere that "Disney is taking rooms out of inventory and otherwise inflating occupancy" you can figure out from the 10Qs that such is not the real story.

For Q1 2015, 28,789 rooms were available on an average night in the quarter--just 322 fewer than Q1 2014. However, in Q1 2015 it booked more than 2000 more rooms a night than Q1 2014 (25,622 vs 23,580).

There were some drivers in 2014 (and thus Q1 2015) that won't be repeated in calendar 2015--opening the Mine Train, and the Harry Potter opening spillover effects. The spending per room increase was also affected by the 2014 resort price increase.

But overall, yes, a lot of pricing power! And since Disney does not increase current year resort prices mid-year, the way to get more revenue out is to reduce discounts...
 

Leahc

New member
Started calling yesterday morning, finally after busy signals, getting disconnected and a two hour hold I got through around 5 last night. But I got what I was after, a room only reservation at Pop Dec 14th. and free dining at Pop, Dec 15th - 20th.
 

Mrs. Potts

Member
Jenni, just to let you know, if you book 2 separate rooms (so 2 separate reservations) you can call later and have them combined with a "Traveling with" number. I'm sorry I didn't see this post earlier...although calling today would be much easier than yesterday :RpS_cursing:
Thanks Becky! I doubt I would've been able to get 2 rooms at CSR for dates in November even if I'd gotten thru on the phone at 7. It's ok, I think we're going to have a low-key (lower cost) trip closer to home. I'm actually looking forward to a spontaneous trip without the hassle of ADR's 6 months out! :)
 

smile750

New member
What was especially frustrating to me (I'm a Disney TA) was that the Disney TA system we book through kept crashing, incurring errors, or just plain not working. I could log in as a regular consumer and get a reservation if I wanted. Guessing they run on two different servers...

Many people think that you just get the discount applied to your current booking - they don't realize they are checking their finite inventory of rooms for each particular discount including free dining. If there are no rooms, your reservation can be "switched" or the discount "applied". I was talking to a friend of mine that told me that she knew of many people booking up their rooms in anticipation of free dining and that they could just simply get the promotion applied. Unfortunately I told her... it doesn't work that way :)

I wound up booking the other late summer discount or late preschool summer offer for my clients in late August through September. Saved some of them a few hundred dollars for those booked at deluxes. Was glad I could help some ....

Jen
 

BeckyW

New member
Thanks Becky! I doubt I would've been able to get 2 rooms at CSR for dates in November even if I'd gotten thru on the phone at 7. It's ok, I think we're going to have a low-key (lower cost) trip closer to home. I'm actually looking forward to a spontaneous trip without the hassle of ADR's 6 months out! :)
Sounds great! :)
 

keeks

Member
Many people think that you just get the discount applied to your current booking - they don't realize they are checking their finite inventory of rooms for each particular discount including free dining. If there are no rooms, your reservation can be "switched" or the discount "applied". I was talking to a friend of mine that told me that she knew of many people booking up their rooms in anticipation of free dining and that they could just simply get the promotion applied. Unfortunately I told her... it doesn't work that way :)


Jen
I think some TA's think this as well. I have a friend who was planning a fall trip and wanted free dining. When she spoke to her TA she told her to book then (I think it was December) and then the TA would just 'apply' the discount when free dining was offered. She also told her that she'd save money on the tickets since she'd get them before the price increase. I was the one who had to tell my friend that it wasn't so easy to 'apply' free dining and that if she changed her package she'd pay the increased price on tickets anyway.
 

sheilashoelady

New member
I managed to book a suite at AoA for September 22-29 initially, but kept using the "modify reservation " later in the day, and switched to CBR for September 18-26, for about $1000 less.
 

Goofballs

Member
I too have had luck with checking, booking and rebooking for combinations of FD for all or 90% if the stay. Just this morning my "first choice" opened up.

So keep trying!

FWIW, the cost of "Free" dining is about $25 per day per adult for my dates vs. Bounceback room only and UT tickets. This does not include the cost of the park hopper because we were already planning. So definitely a value for my trip, even though not really free.
 

bawatso

New member
Disney released many more dining reservations. I was able to move from Boardwalk to the Poly for the 3rd week in November and my neighbor moved from Music to POP for the first week in November. We have been watching every day. Today there were so many resorts available that have not previously been present. Yay!!!

Just wondering how our forum members are doing trying to book "Free Dining" for the dates that opened up today. Let us know if you got what you wanted or had to make some modifications!
 

annie g

New member
Wow they released a lot more free dining rooms. Standard rooms as well as preferred. I wonder if people started cancelling rooms they had hoping to get free dining, Or if they were just holding back rooms.
 

bawatso

New member
I think they released them because a whole bunch popped up all at once. People are figuring it out though because they are starting to disappear again.
 

BeckyW

New member
Wow they released a lot more free dining rooms. Standard rooms as well as preferred. I wonder if people started cancelling rooms they had hoping to get free dining, Or if they were just holding back rooms.
I think it's a combo of people who had over-booked or double-booked during the mayhem of Free Dining that are now cancelling/updating, all of the TA's 7-day holds that didn't turn into a reservation, and over all just a reassessment of what's still available.
 

sheilashoelady

New member
I just managed to switch us from CBR to POR. I had checked everyday this week and it finally opened up tonight. Got a Garden View for $78 more, but better transportation.
 
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Mrs. Potts

Member
I got a Pin code and was able to switch from POR to CBR. It ends up saving us $2000! That makes me happy, although I'm a little apprehensive about CBR.
 
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