This seems to be a topic where a wide range of opinions exists.
Some people assume that for the next ‘n’ years of their membership contract, they will get all the cool things that they heard about during the DVC sales presentation. They might even expect VIP treatment as they visit Disney Parks, including a bunch of member “perks” – discounts, freebies, and special offers not available to non-members. After all, we’re Disney’s best customers – aren’t we?
Well, perhaps not, and many members’ expectations are not strictly true.
ARE MEMBER PERKS GUARANTEED TO DVC MEMBERS?
First off, let’s cover the boring legalese regarding perks. I would think most DVC members would know this, but you’d be surprised!
A “perk” is, by definition, something that is incidental to our DVC membership.
These incidental benefits of membership may be modified or terminated at any time by DVC. The continued availability of these discount programs is not guaranteed. This is all explained in the Membership Extras Acknowledgement and Disclosure Statement (formerly known as the Member Benefits Guide) .
There are three key points I’d like to highlight.
1. The “Membership Extras” are subject to change at any time:
The above also states that DVC contracts purchased on the resale market after April 3, 2016 are not eligible for these perks.
2. These “Membership Extras are not part of your ownership interest and are not paid for by member dues:
3. These “Membership Extras are not transferable upon resale.
To repeat, none of the benefits described in the Membership Extras guide are a feature or component of a DVC Resort real estate interest, and AVAILABILITY OF AND COSTS FOR ALL BENEFITS DESCRIBED IN THE GUIDE ARE SUBJECT TO CHANGE OR TERMINATION WITHOUT NOTICE OR COMPENSATION.
The Public Offering Statement says:
Perks have come and gone in the past.
Important: Effective April 4, 2016, Members who do not purchase their ownership interest directly from Disney Vacation Development will not have access to the incidental benefits (Membership Extras), including discounts on dining, shopping, annual passes, and access to member-exclusive events.
BUT AREN’T PERKS PART OF THE VALUE OF DVC MEMBERSHIP?
“Fine, Mike”, I hear you saying, “The legal documents state that. I get that. But aren’t perks really part of the value of our DVC membership?”.
Why, of course.
Perks are a marketing tactic of Disney Vacation Development. Many of us included the perks, freebies and discounts offered by DVC when considering becoming a member. To many members, it’s just part of the value of the DVC program.
I guess the marketing worked.
As long as Disney Vacation Development continues to successfully develop new DVC resorts and makes money selling them direct, they will have good reasons to continue to offer special programs and perks to enhance the value and appeal of what they are marketing. That’s good news for DVC members!
However, if Disney stops building DVC resorts, especially at WDW, would perks virtually disappear? Perhaps. Luckily, DVC keeps building more resorts.
So, Disney doesn’t offer perks as a “reward” to their “best customers” for forking over so much money to them, but as an enticement to get you to fork over the money to them in the first place.
A FEELING OF ENTITLEMENT?
Are we entitled to special treatment as DVC members? Some folks feel they paid a lot for their DVC membership and perks are part of that.
We guarantee Disney our business for decades. I think we should at least get the same discount offered to Florida residents. Or maybe even a special DVC members dining plan. Something!
I own another timeshare that I bought for 1/8 the cost of DVC. I can stay in over 250 5 star hotels and can vacation anytime a year with that one too. Because it was so cheap I don’t expect anything but a clean room. But for my Disney investment plus fees and such, I’d like to be offered more than I get from my global vacation membership. Why would you buy DVC without the perks?
The only thing that truly bothers me is the perks that are given to non-DVC members. My family and I always get the DDP and pay for it while others get it for free. Disney is always doing some kind of deal with the DDP or with hotel rates. So I ask all of you what is the financial perk of being a DVC member? No one is ever discounting my annual dues.
For what we pay to be a part of DVC, it would be nice if we would get better discounts then an Annual pass holder or Florida resident.
I think DVC members have shelled out a lot of money and we should be recognized for our loyalty.
I’m a bit surprised when DVC members act like they are entitled to special treatment because we paid Disney so much money.
Despite the marketing, I didn’t join DVC with the expectation of being treated as a VIP and getting lavished with a bunch of special treatment.
I’m grateful for the perks we do get as DVC members. The definition of “perk” is an incidental benefit. Nowhere does it say it’s a right or obligation for Disney to provide anything other than accommodations. That’s what a timeshare is – accommodations. The fact that DVC periodically includes extras is awesome in my opinion.
WHY DOES DISNEY OFFER DISCOUNTS?
What are some of the reasons that Disney offers discounts to anyone?
- To entice people to come visit Disney Parks
- To segment the market and offer a lower price to a group that is more cost-sensitive (PIN discounts)
- To fill in lower-demand periods (“free dining”, passes with black-out periods)
- To get people to commit to coming back to Disney sooner than they had anticipated (book your next trip now before you leave)
- To entice people to spend money at less popular shopping and dining venues
- To entice people to spend money on expensive, high-profit items (such as DVC)
Discounts like “free dining” and programs for Florida residents and Annual Pass holders are offered by Disney Parks to induce people to come visit Disney Parks. They are a way for Disney to increase revenue.
What about DVC Members? Well, we have already paid. There is no reason to offer us more inducements to visit. In a sense, Disney already has our money, so they don’t have to entice us with discounts.
Discounts are provided to entice people to come and spend money on site. DVC members are pretty well locked in to regular visits. So, that’s not a reason to give us discounts.
My guess is the perks offered by DVC are a marketing tactic to entice people to buy into DVC – particularly the AP discount.
Most of the perks we get are token gestures, anyway. It’s my understanding that DVD pays some stipend to Parks & Resorts to fund the Annual Pass discount. The AP discount is a nice sales perk and it helps feed add-on point sales so there is a clear benefit to DVD for facilitating that discount.
WHY COMPARE US TO AP/RESIDENT DISCOUNTS?
Why should DVC offer us the same or better perks than those offered to Annual Pass holders or Florida residents? This is a commonly heard complaint.
The same division that runs the theme parks sells Annual Passes. It’s very easy for them to grant discounts on dining and merchandise since it’s all in the same Profit & Loss (P&L) center.
DVC is a separate division. It may seem natural to view Disney as one big organization, but in reality it’s many different divisions looking out for their own P&L center. DVC actually has to negotiate with Parks & Resorts management in order to obtain discounts. They cannot unilaterally decide to offer additional perks.
WHY SHOULD DISNEY OFFER BETTER PERKS?
But the basic question is why do people think DVC members are entitled to more perks? Disney is a for-profit business with a duty to their shareholders. Why should they do it?
I would love better discounts on everything – tickets, food, merchandise and activities. As a member I’d certainly take advantage of whatever perks are offered.
However, the primary reason for DVC to offer better perks is to help improve sales by Disney Vacation Development. Offering perks to current members does increase their goodwill towards Disney and increases the positive word of mouth about DVC from current members to their friends and family. A lot of happy members providing positive word of mouth advertising would be a good marketing tool. So, it’s good for business – to a certain extent. However, I think there are many other things that create a loyalty to Disney than these perks do.
ARE PERKS DECLINING OR IMPROVING?
I see comments all the time about “the constant decrease in perks” and how members are disappointed or dissatisfied with the perks offered.
I think they’ve mostly been as good now as they’ve ever been. Some perks have been taken away, while new ones have been introduced. In general, I think perks are slightly better or at least as good as they were a decade ago.