Waitlist 101

Proper use of the waitlist when reserving DVC rooms is an absolute game changer that a lot of people unfortunately don’t understand and therefore don’t take full advantage of. A solid understanding of it is so beneficial that it could easily result in someone purchasing a cheaper home resort and staying at whatever resort they prefer at the 7 month booking window. Once you’ve mastered the waitlist (as well as a stalking the availability website), you should honestly be able to book whatever room you want at the 7 month window, with a little effort, a good amount of strategizing, and a lot of patience.

I’m going to start with a post about the absolute basics of using the Waitlist feature, followed by a more Intermediate Waitlist information post in a couple days. So bear with me while I get the basics out of the way.

If you are checking the availability calendar and a room shows up as unavailable on the days you are seeking, you have the option to proceed to the waitlist. On the calendar below, you’ll see that the grayed out days are available to waitlist only. If you select one, you have the option to “continue to the waitlist.”

After continuing to the waitlist, you are taken through a few screens where you basically set up your reservation in case the room becomes available. You are given some basic fine print type information about waitlists, as shown below:

Then, you are asked a couple questions to finalize your waitlist set up.

First, you are asked when you want your waitlist to expire. This is basically asking you, if the waitlist does not find an available room, when should they deactivate your search and delete your request for a room? People typically select 31 days prior to their travel, because 31 days is the magic timeframe after which cancelling a reservation becomes complicated due to points being put into holding accounts (temporarily suspended during covid). So people don’t want a waitlist matching after that time frame if they’ve booked another room and switching reservations would result in points going into holding.

Second, you are asked if you want to replace an existing booking if your waitlist matches. Let’s say you own Saratoga Springs points, and book a room at SS, but really you would LOVE to stay at Beach Club if you could. So you book the SS room during the home resort booking window, then at 7 months, you create a waitlist for the Beach Club room for those same nights. In this case, you’d select that you want to replace the Saratoga Springs reservation if your waitlist comes through.

If you don’t have enough points to book both rooms (the one you originally booked as a back-up option, and the one you have waitlisted and hope becomes available), make sure that you opt to “replace an existing booking.” If your waitlist matches, but your points are tied up in the original room, Member Services won’t be able to book the waitlisted room for you, and it will go to the next person.

Lastly, they ask about borrowing points from the next use year. They need your authorization to borrow points if the waitlist matches and you don’t have enough points available in the current year to book the room. They won’t borrow points without your permission, since it cannot be reversed (typically… again, not really the case during covid). You get to select which contract to borrow points from if you have multiple contracts (you lucky duck).

That is really it. You answer those questions, hit continue, and then there is one more screen where you agree to the terms and conditions (make sure you check the box and hit continue again!! Or else it isn’t finalized), and then you are done. Easy peasy. It takes less than a minute typically to create a waitlist request, and there is really no risk because you can delete it at any time. No points are used when you create the request. The points are only used when the room becomes available and is matched to your request.

Waitlists will show up on your Dashboard on the website. When they match, they will show up as a booked reservation. You will also receive an email saying something like “We can’t wait to welcome you home!” similar to when you make any other reservation. When you get that email, that means your waitlist matched, congratulations! Woohoo! I have a tendency of calling Member Services once a day to check on the status of my waitlists, because the matching process is two a step process: first the system automatically detects if a room becomes available that matches your waitlist and you are next in line, this is when it “matches” to your waitlist, then when time allows, a Member Services representative goes through and manually books the matches waitlist reservations. So there is a slight delay between when the waitlist matches and when the reservation is actually booked. 99% of the time I have found out that my waitlists have matched by calling in, and Member Services books the room with me on the phone. If I had patience and waited a day or two it would get booked automatically, but sometimes time is of the essence with my waitlist strategies (which I will get into in my intermediate waitlist post).

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