DVC allows members to add and remove days from an existing reservation. While this provides great flexibility to members if their plans change, it also creates opportunities to potentially “manipulate” the system to one’s advantage at the expense of others.
WALKING A RESERVATION
One such potentially contentious practice is called “Walking a Reservation”.
This is a method some DVC members have devised to help secure some hard-to-get reservations, which involves reserving a room days or even weeks ahead of the intended travel dates and then continuing to add and delete dates over time.
This has been a minor controversy for years, but I am still surprised by the number of DVC members who are unaware of this practice.
There are two main groups of thought on this practice:
”WALKING IS UNFAIR”
One group of people states that though the flexibility of the booking rules enables this practice, it is considered an abuse of the reservation system. They question whether it’s fair or considerate to other members to take advantage of relatively unknown “loopholes”, that it messes with the reservation system, and that it seems kind of like cheating or “gaming” the system. The “walker” is effectively blocking other DVC members from booking a room they want, that the “walker” has no intention of using.
”IT’S NOT AGAINST THE RULES”
Others think since that the rules allow these practices, it’s not their fault that not every DVC member isn’t aware of them. The rules allow it, everyone can do it, and walking a reservation is therefore not breaking any rules. It is not illegal or unethical. Others are taking advantage of it, so why shouldn’t they? Is it really a problem, they ask? Or is it just merely a scapegoat for people who are unable to book a hard-to-get reservation? Is it a bunch of hoopla over nothing?
HOW DOES IT WORK?
How does it work? You make the first day of your reservation start earlier than when you really intend your vacation to start. You then call into Member Services every day moving the start date of your reservation back one day and extending it on the end by one day. Eventually, you’ll end up getting the actual vacation dates you originally wanted to book in the first lace. This theoretically gives you a head start on all of the people who were unaware of the “loophole” and followed the rules and waited until eleven/seven months from their actual vacation dates.
This is unnecessary most of the time, but some members feel it is necessary for them to be guaranteed a difficult to get reservation, such as between Christmas Eve to New Year’s Day.
So, let’s assume you wanted to book a Grand Villa from December 24 through January 2. Instead of making the call on January 24, eleven months out, you start calling on say, January 15, booking what you can. Every day you call, you drop the first day, and add another at the end. You get a seven-day jump on the night of the 24th by doing this, and the best chance of getting one of the few Grand Villas during a popular time of year.
There are variations of this method – some call every day, others call every few days, others call every 6th or 7th day. The purpose is to beat other members to the reservation dates. If you wait until January 24 and call and ask for December 24 through December 30, it is possible that the first few days would be booked up because someone called the day before.
IS IT REALLY NECESSARY?
I would challenge anyone who says this is really necessary at the 11-month window for most dates and room types. Frankly, I think some folks are walking reservations where it is simply not necessary.
At seven months, it has a logistical issue – you get the jump on those people booking at seven months – but there is always the chance that an owner has already booked a night in the middle. For rooms where there is a very small inventory remaining at seven months, the chances of a hole in your reservation is pretty high.
So you go through a lot of extra work and tie up Member Services staff (potentially increasing everyone’s dues) to do something that generally isn’t necessary at seven months.
I guess one unintended side effect of this post may be having people who read it begin to believe that it’s necessary to walk a reservation. So let me repeat: walking a reservation is simply not necessary for the vast majority of DVC reservations.
SHOULD ANY CHANGES BE MADE?
Bottom line, the practice most likely does give a person an advantage over those who don’t walk a reservation.
So, should DVC implement more restrictive policies toward reservation modifications? Placing restrictions on booking is going to harm the flexibility of the reservation system, which is one of the things that many enjoy about DVC.
Would added restrictions that would degrade the flexibility of DVC be worth it to fix this so-called “problem”?
Those that see “walking a reservation” as an abuse of the system have called for charging a fee to modify a reservation, or to make every change to a reservation a cancellation and rebooking. Others say a simpler solution would be for Disney to give you a limit to the number of times you can change a reservation (i.e., no more than 2-3 times).
However, most members would most likely not want such limitations placed on them, and they worry about the unintended consequences of these types of changes. They worry that “the cure may be worse than the disease”.
Those that do walk reservations would like to see the ability to modify reservations added to the website, to reduce the volume of calls to Member Services that this practice necessitates.
IN MY OPINION…
Personally, I don’t see DVC taking action on this. Most members are simply unaware of the practice so they’re not going to complain. The practice doesn’t harm Disney, and there’s no reason for Disney to take any action at this point. Placing restrictions on booking is going to harm the flexibility of the reservation system, so I’m not sure I’d want any changes. As I said, “the cure may be worse than the disease”.
I have never walked a reservation, and someone walking a reservation has never harmed me, as I have never been locked out of booking what I want. I get the reservation I want – 100% of the time – because I book my home resort at the 11-month window and I don’t book the hard-to-get types of reservations. So, I have no skin in this game and am fine with the way things work now.