So how is Disney pushing to fill those rooms? We've seen an absolute flood of the infamous Free Dining and other offers to entice people to come to Disney World. This has angered many DVC-ers and Annual Passholders because our loyalty to Disney World excludes us from many of these offers (though in fairness a few things have been done to attempt to make up the gap).
This past week Disney took another step to help expand its room marketing in order to increase occupancy. Disney is now listing its rooms on Priceline.com. According to the story, and common sense for those of us who know Disney, the company has avoided placing its room inventory on Priceline due to the view that it cheapens the Disney brand.
From my Disney soapbox-- I think Disney continues to mishandle the room occupancy issue during the economic downturn. As a stockholder I understand, and appreciate, the desire to get as many people in the resort as possible. But at what long term cost? I think they've now set a precedent with Free Dining that people will expect such an offer the next time they book their family trip to Disney. Opening up Disney rooms to Priceline now puts the company into the market of people searching for a cheap deal for a vacation vs looking to come to Disney itself.
We all know we pay a premium to go to Disney parks, buy Disney merchandise and often times pay more for Disney movies for home. Disney can get away with this because of its brand. We all know that while we are paying more, we know we will get our moneys worth in quality-- that is a rare occurrence in todays marketplace!
I think Bob Iger and the Disney leadership are heading down a slippery slope that could damage the Disney brand. Hopefully when these short term decisions to save the bottom line are made they are taking into account the long term impact.