Universal Orlando begins airport shuttle, no one is sure why

Posted Tuesday, September 1, 2015 9:34 AM | Contributed by Jeff

The Universal SuperStar Shuttle Service begins operation Tuesday, which will cost $35 per person for a round trip from the airport. Tourism experts said they couldn't understand Universal's motivation for starting the service, since companies including Mears, Quick Transportation and SuperShuttle have already taken visitors from the airport to Universal and other attractions at a similar price.

Read more from The Orlando Sentinel.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015 9:30 AM

Chicago07 said:
Yea, because SuperShuttle is getting the entire market now.

Are you really suggesting that UO is going to start turning away taxis or anyone else who wants to drop people off at the hotels? If I want to have a Mears van take me to the hotel, I'm pretty sure they're not going to block me from going in.

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Wednesday, September 2, 2015 9:37 AM

No but if the cost is the same, I would expect most people will book through Universal which will mean Super Shuttle. So Super Shuttle should get more of the business going forward under the new program. How much more and how much that is worth to them only they (and to a degree Universal) would know.

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Wednesday, September 2, 2015 12:09 PM

Jeff said:

Are you really suggesting that UO is going to start turning away taxis or anyone else who wants to drop people off at the hotels? If I want to have a Mears van take me to the hotel, I'm pretty sure they're not going to block me from going in.

Well, the article does specifically state:

Visitors cannot stay with another previously booked ground transportation provider such as Mears or Quick Transportation, according to a "Frequently Asked Questions" page about the service.

"All guests staying at our Universal Orlando On-Site Resort hotels are being transferred to this new service, but you will be receiving more service than your last one with no additional charge," it says.

So yes, it appears that SuperShuttle is the only shuttle company that will be able to access Universal property.

But try to see the forest through the trees.... Even if SS only gets half of the total population taking some sort of transportation to Universal, and Universal gets $10/head.... Universal is looking at an additional tens of millions of dollars straight to the bottom line, with really no investment/cost. And SS is dramatically increasing its' market share which allows them to revenue-share with Universal.... it's a win-win and a no-brainer.

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Wednesday, September 2, 2015 1:11 PM

That's not what I'm reading at all. I'm reading that anything booked through UO's vacation booking service will be transferred.

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Wednesday, September 2, 2015 8:15 PM

It doesn't matter if SS, as the "exclusive provider of Universal Resort guests", as it will be branded and packaged as part of Universal packages only somehow musters to get 10% of the population.... Universal will still get millions of dollars in revenue with no corresponding expenses.

Universal gets $X/head... for doing nothing and making no investment.... outside of only packaging transportation with SS.

I'm still not sure why you think this is such a bad idea, hence the title of your post. No financial investment or operational responsibility, yet revenue-sharing for a service provided by a third-party. Millions of dollars (literally) straight to the bottom line.

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Wednesday, September 2, 2015 8:32 PM

All guests staying at our Universal Orlando On-Site Resort hotels are being transferred to this new service, but you will be receiving more service than your last one with no additional charge

It's that word "transferred" that tripped me up. My first take was that it meant that "All guests" staying on-site were being "transferred" to SuperShuttle; if you stayed on-site you had to use this service.

That said, I don't quite get charging for the service. The beauty of Disney's ME is that it appears to be free and minimizes the hassle for guests: get on the bus, get off the bus on property, your bags are "magically" in your room when you eventually get to your resort.

At Universal, you have to tend to your own bags, go to your resort first and check in, and all at the same cost any other shuttle service will charge you. What's the upside for the guest?

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Wednesday, September 2, 2015 10:35 PM

Exactly... there is no value for the customer. And frankly, despite all of the speculation about what might be an upside for UO, we don't know.

As for the title, read the article. It's not me who is first to wonder why they want to do this.

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Wednesday, September 2, 2015 11:40 PM

I don't think anyone is arguing there is a necessarily an upside for the consumer. I don't think there is outside of maybe the potential convenience of booking it as part of your Universal package.

And there is no might be about a potential upside for Universal. Have you not read any other posts in this thread?

Universal is currently getting $0 revenue from the transportation of airport customers to their resort. Zero. Again, zero.

There is now an "exclusive provider" of shuttle service to Universal- SuperShuttle. Universal will get $X per person who uses this. No financial or operational investment by Universal. None. So whether 90% of the Universal airport shuttle customer eventually uses SuperShuttle, or just 10%, Universal will get millions (or tens of millions) of dollars straight to the bottom line, for partnering/marketing one provider as the exclusive one w/ Universal. I'm not sure why we are having this conversation. It's really one of those things that's like a no-brainer.

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Wednesday, September 2, 2015 11:44 PM

Maybe it's just simply keeping up with the Joneses. Perhaps they've had feedback from guests indicating it would be nice if they offered a similar service to what Disney has and they're afraid they'll lose business to The Mouse if they don't. Forget the fact that it's not "free" and has no added service value, at least they can promote it as an exclusive perk available when staying at a Uni resort.

But really, can it possibly be that Harry Potter isn't enough?

Edit to add: what Chicago07 says makes sense. They can now charge unwitting customers while pulling the wool over everyone's eyes.

Last edited by RCMAC, Wednesday, September 2, 2015 11:47 PM
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Thursday, September 3, 2015 9:24 AM

As a matter of principle, I favor ala carte pricing. Pay for what you use. Don't use it and you don't pay for it. I think its difficult to argue with that.

That being said, I understand the impact of the word "free." For many people, you could probably charge more overall by raising the price of one component and "giving" the other away for "free." Word clouds judgment for many. As noted, Magical Express isn't free. And as its not ala carte pricing, you are paying for it even if you are not using it.

Maybe Universal is looking at a two step process. Go with an exclusive provider (at least through their booking process) now. Get a portion of the fee charged for that exclusive arrangement. To the customer, there isn't a real benefit other than being able to book at point of booking rooms/tickets. But its also not a worse deal for the customer. Cost is the same as it is now. Service is the same.

Second step would be rolling it into the cost of staying at resorts making it "free." As part of the process (either before or part of the second step), they could add the "hands free" service that Disney does now. Or maybe they determine their customers don't view that as a big deal.

Seems to me (as noted by others here) there are very plausible reasons that make economic sense for what Universal is doing here. Do we know for sure the thoughts/reasoning behind it? No. But it doesn't take a PH.D. in economics to see it. Seems to me the folks at Universal understand how business works so the notion that there isn't a reason for doing what they are doing isn't likely at all.

And that isn't to say this is a necessarily a slam dunk success for them. Sometimes decisions are made which make sense at the time but do not totally work out in practice. It happens. With this decision we will have to wait and see.

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Thursday, September 3, 2015 10:09 AM

Holiday World seems to be doing just fine with packaging a lot of stuff into the ticket price and then calling it "free."

My rational side would love to be able to enjoy ala carte pricing, but I'm just not wired that way. There is a pretty steep cost for me to make a decision about whether to spend money on something (I'm a pretty severe penny pincher) and so the less times I have to make that decision, the better my day will be. I'm even willing to pay a premium (season pass, RAD wristband, etc.) for something that I won't "get my money back" on, just so I don't have to worry about every time I pull out my wallet. I know it's not rational, but what is?

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Thursday, September 3, 2015 11:13 AM

We each have our own comfort zones. And I think there is value in being comfortable. That to me is rational.

Holiday World is a great example of an out of the way park using the marketing power of the word "free" to its advantage. And I am a water drinker. Lol. But I don't think that approach makes sense for places like Disney or Universal. Or even Cedar Point and Kings Island.

I look at the all in price versus the ala carte price and go with the one that I think is the best value. And then try not to look back second guessing the decision. Sometimes I win as it were. Other times I lose out as an economic matter. On balance I would like to think I am net positive but I have never sat down and done the analysis. Only exception are places I go to a lot. I do look at those for future reference in making the all in or ala carte choice the next time. Sometimes even that can be tough due to changing circumstances. CF Platinum Passes made sense for a number of years. Then one year they didn't because of changing family circumstances. Lost out for at least one year. Haven't gotten them since and this year looks like it will be the first year in a long time with zero CF park visits.

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Thursday, September 3, 2015 2:34 PM

Jeff said:

And frankly, despite all of the speculation about what might be an upside for UO, we don't know.

Very true. That being said, were it not for speculative posts, it would be pretty quiet around here and CoasterBuzz membership fees might have to go up. ;-)

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