Friday, October 21, 2016

A Call To Action

Today in the timeshare blog I’m going to reach out and ask you to do something.

As some of you know, I’ve been splitting my time over the past 3 plus years between my duties here at Timeshare Insights and my role as the Director of Member Services for the National Timeshare Owners Association.

The NTOA has been around for nearly 20 years and continues to operate under its three basic tenants:

·         Educating timeshare owners and prospective timeshare owners
·         Advocating on behalf of timeshare owners
·         Encouraging responsible timeshare ownership and management

I worked hand in hand with the other Executive Team members on crafting both the Timeshare Owners Bill of Rights and the Best Practices for resorts

I’ve also worked extraordinarily hard on crafting an ongoing selection of Member Benefits that center around timeshare and travel in addition to being part of the team to construct educational videos, newsletters and ASK-NTOA resolution center.

I’ve been around the timeshare world for 16 years now and there are a few things that are crystal clear:

·         Purchasing and owning timeshare is NOT easy
·         The number of scams targeting consumers continues to rise
·         There are an increasing number of fake “advocacy” groups out there just waiting to pounce on you
·         No one purchased a timeshare in hopes of having to join an owner’s association to find education, support, attending meetings and/or pay more money to get answers and help.

So, you guessed it…I’m asking you to pay money and join the NTOA.

For those of you who are still reading…thank you.

NTOA has more power and influence that I will ever have and that’s why I’m working with them.

Timeshare Insights is NOT going away.  As an independent, I can voice an opinion that is purely mine and may be the same as some of yours.  NTOA represents our opinion as a collective community.
But NTOA, you and I have the opportunity to create real change.  Change that if not made, could prove to be catastrophic for a lot of people…including you the timeshare owner.

That’s why I’m urging you to join us in our mission.  You’ll save $10 off your membership by using discount code TI545 when you join using this link 
Everything I and Timeshare Insights has achieved to date is because of you.  Thank you.  Continue to write me, continue to guest blog, continue to interact with me on Facebook, on Twitter.  But we need to facilitate change.  Let’s go.


Monday, October 10, 2016

Important News Regarding Timeshare Owners Lists

Reprinting courtesy of TimeSharing Today-Written by Jeff Weir, chief correspondent RedWeek,com and a contributor to TimeSharing Today

State senator blocks industry bill that would have restricted owner access to HOA rosters

A powerful California lawmaker, who also happens to be a timeshare owner, singlehandedly blocked an industry-backed timeshare bill that would have restricted owners' ability to access HOA rosters in order to communicate with each other about board business and elections.

Sponsored by the American Resort Development Association (ARDA) as a means of protecting owner confidentiality, the bill passed through the California Assembly on a 79-0 vote. But it stalled in the State Senate, languishing for months in the Senate Judiciary Committee, which is chaired by Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson, a Santa Barbara Democrat and former prosecutor who was elected in 2012.

Jackson's committee has considerable sway over all bills that have significant legal impacts. In fact, it's a graveyard for any bills that don't pass her muster. According to legislative staffers, Jackson's legal and timeshare experience gave her a unique perspective on the potential ramifications of Assembly Bill 634, which juxtaposed owner privacy rights against owners' ability to use owner rosters for legitimate member-to-member communications about board policies or HOA issues.

The original bill, authored by Assembly Majority Leader Ian Calderon, D-Whittier, set forth procedures for HOA boards to enable owner-to-owner communications. Those procedures, moreover, were designed to prevent membership rosters from falling into the hands of third-party scammer companies who might use the lists to harass owners with timeshare sales-or-transfer solicitations.

According to a Senate committee analysis of the bill, AB 634 also would have repealed key portions of a 2010 California appellate court ruling that upheld owners' rights to access membership rosters for legitimate board business. In that case, Worldmark by Wyndham repeatedly refused to grant an owner's request to access the list to share a petition challenging the board's domination by current or former Wyndham executives. At one point,

Worldmark offered to mail a copy of Robin Miller's petition to Worldmark's 260,000 members if Miller agreed to pay $260,000 in mailing costs. Miller asked the board to provide email lists, to reduce the costs, but Worldmark declined, citing privacy issues.The case went to trial in 2009. Miller's access rights were upheld. Worldmark appealed.
In its ruling upholding Miller's right to access the list, without having to bear a prohibitive financial burden, the appellate court said: "A danger exists in allowing too free an access to membership lists; however, the potential for abuse must be balanced against a member's legitimate needs and rights to utilize lists in election contests and for purposes reasonably related to a member's interest.”

The Calderon bill, drafted by ARDA, attempted to balance the two competing owner rights cited by the appellate court -- preserving privacy while enabling communication. But Jackson's team did not like the details.
The Senate Judiciary Committee analysis of AB 634 said: "While this bill would help protect the privacy of timeshare plan members and could potentially shield them from unwanted marketing, it would also remove the ability for members to identify and communicate with each other except in very narrow circumstances."

"As drafted, the analysis continued, "this bill arguably favors the interests of the management of a timeshare plan and of a timeshare association too heavily. With this bill, management or an association may be able to effectively prevent the delivery of messages it does not agree with by denying owners -- who likely will never meet each other --- the resources they need to contact each other."

Fast forward to late June, when the bill is finally subjected to a public hearing in Jackson's committee. Calderon testifies that the bill will protect owners from being preyed upon by predatory transfer companies, but does not offer one concrete example where an HOA roster was either sold or given to a third party company for commercial purposes. (ARDA did not provide a single example of this purported abuse, either.)
Jackson, without discussion, declares that the bill will be amended, with the author's consent, and recommends a "do-pass-as-amended" vote by her committee. The amendments are not discussed or distributed. The bill is approved unanimously and sent to the Senate floor for further consideration. One month later, the amendments surface. They strengthen the ban on distributing HOA rosters to third parties, but strip out all prohibitions on sharing lists with owners.

What happens next? Calderon, the author, doesn't like the amended bill because it still authorizes sharing ownership roster-information with other owners. ARDA, the sponsor, abandons the bill.

"The amendments were prepared by the committee at the direction of the chair (Jackson)," said Peter Roth, ARDA's vice president of marketing and communications and industry relations. "We did not agree to the changes as the goal for us remains the protection of the owner's personal information.”

Under current California law (and the amended AB 634), Roth added "this provides the opportunity for anyone who acquires one interest to then sell the list or use it to attempt to scam or simply solicit owners.”
Facing the Legislature's imminent adjournment on Aug. 31, Calderon gutted AB 634 of all timeshare language on Aug. 18 and, overnight, turned it into a measure dealing with digital assets in probate.

Both sides, meanwhile, said they would consider reviewing the timeshare issue as new language emerges to solve the dual claims of owner privacy and disclosure. For sure, the issue is not going away, because California is a national bellwether for consumer protection AND privacy issues.

One silver lining for ARDA as AB 634 succumbed to Jackson's amendments. Three similar prior bills, starting in 2012, died in various committees. AB 634 lasted longer than any of its predecessors.
One last word: Sen. Jackson's office declined to answer any questions about her timeshare experiences. 

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Full Bundle of Rights? Not So Fast.

It seem every day another timeshare developer puts restrictions on anyone who purchases their timeshare on the secondary market.

I'm not talking about the awful transfer companies that "own" the timeshare in name only and have no intention of using it or more importantly, paying dues.  I'm talking about your neighbor who finds a great deal through a legit secondary market platform.

They can only trade to a handful of resorts  They don't qualify for discounts.  In some cases, they can't trade at all.  Their "full bundle of rights" ain't so full.

Instead of coming up with new ways to piss off annoy consumers who actually want the product, why not spend some time looking of ways to develop a clear differentiation between owners and renters?

Why would you pay upwards of $20,000 and annual fees of nearly $900 to own when you can get all the great timeshare experiences by renting for less than the annual fees?

Renters stay in the same accommodations as owners.
Renters have access to the same pools, spas and restaurants.
There is no restriction on how often renters can stay at a specific resort.

It seems clear that by limiting the resort to people who own it, no matter where they purchased or how much they paid, instead of treating secondary market purchasers like trash, they could get in everyone's better graces.

But then again, when did anyone ever listen to me?  Or disgruntled owners?

Monday, August 29, 2016

All That Matters To Your Customer-By Dave Thackeray

I cannot begin to describe how great this post is.  From my wise friend, Dave.
I've been doing a lot of reading lately. Perk of a bank holiday weekend. I enjoyed a long-anticipated epiphany at the pages of a Harvard Business Review article about identifying your best professional self. I learn best when reading and afterwards expressing myself through writing.
Here we are.

Backstory to this article

Together with the discovering of my optimised learning style I recently found where I can do my best work. Marketing communications. It suits me, and from the look of the growth we at my health charity have been experiencing through digital channels, it works equally in a commercial capacity.
Marketing communications is an area most companies overlook. Because it means nothing but to practitioners.
Marketing communications is the intersection of expression and entrepreneurialism.
I do quite well presenting ideas. I'm expert in triangulating systems and environments and opportunities. It makes sense that I do my job well in marketing communications.
Rationalising what we marketing communicators do involves the tabling of three elements powering successful organisations. Please don't me offput by the previously incoherent ramble. This is where the rubber hits the road.

The three to thrive


Look around and how many of your peers make it their duty to tear apart the rule book of business to rationalise the value of their product portfolio.
It takes nerves of steel to redefine your existence through utility. Jay Baer wrote a book about the importance of utility. He called it Youtility. I don't know why, but there are probably some great points in that book. I don't read marketing books. I read customers.
Most overlook this critical exercise. Because what, really, is utility?
Utility isn't a commodity. The context of your usefulness to one customer will be radically different to another.
One of your clients may endure self-esteem issues. Your making them feel important by reaching out to them on their favourite social platforms increases their perception of worth, and emboldens in they untold impetus and fortitude for their talents and compassion to permeate their communities and networks.
Another may struggle to grasp how your service makes them more efficient doing their job. Your reaching out to them with an explanation, something none of your competitors took time to do, is all it takes to create a customer for life.
Usefulness to another is being entertaining, enlightening, educational and empowering.
To most of our customers, being useful involves us tailoring lifestyles with our Martini moments - activities at the right time and place, matching their mood.
The highest paid marketer will define your utility quotient. Extend it. Understand what usefulness and your brand means to all your customer audiences. Because your utility is the difference between thriving and merely surviving.


How many companies make it genuinely easy for us to become a pleased customer? Most product development teams think first about how things work, theoretically - but not in practice. This is in part why I believe every organisation's highest-paid marketer needs to concurrently be that entity's most passionate customer. How can you possibly create a voice of the customer system when you don't know what that customer thinks and wants?
Simplicity is where it's effortless to enjoy your wares. Where the user guide is common sense and intuition. Where every touchpoint involves frictionless interaction. You understand the customer, and they you.
Do modern organisations also have to be their own best customer? You bet they do.


The best brands know when to fade away and let their customer enjoy the experience on their own terms, free of distraction.
The only time I ever think of Braun is when I reflect on how utterly inspirational they have been to thousands of other companies in how they conceive devices and manipulate their supply chain.
Yet I imperviously operate daily about a dozen of their products. I never look at the handle or the backside for the Braun marque in validating my choice of weapon. They have done their job in converting me from looker to booker. Every time I want a product connected to personal hygiene or timekeeping, Braun is my number one choice. But it's not like they harangue me. We together have heritage, and that's enough.
Same rules for Logitech. FitStar. In many ways these guys need to recalibrate their email marketing with segmentation for existing users. Their marketing to me needs to be 100% focused on retention and referrals. But they don't have the sophistication at the marketing level to accomplish this. Yet.
On a local level, Bury Council lets me pay my council tax annually. I see my bins collected. Don't get me started on the potholes - but what I'm saying is once a year the money collector comes in the post, and for 12 months I don't have to invest time in them depriving me of my hard-earned coin.
Utility. Simplicity. Invisibility. Plaster your walls with them. Persuade your executive team that they are all that matter. Products come and go. Disruption and innovation take care of that.
What endures is your moving the needle in your customers' lives. And then fading away.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Steve Burton Reviews Burnside Park Owners Club

I recently had the pleasure of staying at Burnside Park Owners Club through an exchange with Dial an Exchange. It was a very enjoyable stay not least because of the very friendly welcome I received from the staff who were Lisa the resort manager, Elisa the front of house manager and Susan and Emily on the front desk. If you ever stay at this resort try and go to the resort welcome meeting late on sunday afternoon. Elisa takes the meeting which is highly informative and unlike many other welcome meetings it is not about trying to sell you additional weeks. It is the most interesting welcome meeting that I have attended in my thirty six years as an owner of timeshare since I first became an owner back in 1980 at the Osborne Torquay the first timeshare resort in England.


This resort is in part owned by Hapimag they own nine of the forty six units. The resort has twenty five two bed units, twenty one bed units and one studio. The units are maintained to a high standard and while staying at the resort you can use the facilities of the nearby Burnside Hotel which includes an indoor swimming pool.


I believe in being honest in my timeshare reviews and because Burnside Owners Club is located in the English Lake District in Cumbria and due to its location it is in the wettest part of England with an average of over seventy inches of rain each year. In fact there are around two hundred days each year when rain falls for part of the day in this region on average there are one hundred and forty five dry days and twenty days when it snows. Many people come here for the walking  with Scafell Pikes, Helvellyn, Skiddaw and Langdale Pikes being particularly popular. I like Tarn Howes as its very scenic and not too difficult a walk.


It is a matter of personal choice as to which of the nearby towns and villages are best to visit. My personal favourite is Grasmere which is a charming village right in the heart of the Lake District National Park in Cumbria. It was once the home of the world famous poet William Wordsworth. If you go there it is possible to visit two of his former homes Dove Cottage and Rydal Mount. Other places that are worth visiting include Ambleside, Windermere, Hawkshead, Bowness and Coniston. Lake Coniston is famous for the lady in the lake mystery and back in 1967 the untimely death of Donald Campbell who died in his boat Bluebird when attempting to beat the world speed record on water. The towns of Windermere, Coniston and Keswick are all located by lakes Windermere, Coniston and Derwent water. Windermere is the largest lake in the Lake District and for me it is more pleasurable now that there is a speed limit of ten miles an hour for craft using the lake. It is much quieter now that there is a ban on jet skies using the lake. Derwent water is easy to get to by bus and you can purchase a combined bus and boat cruise ticket but please check it as our driver issued me with a ticket for a cruise on Lake Windermere not on Derwent water.


Beatrix Potter the childrens  books author who was famous for the tales of Peter Rabbit lived in the Lake District for much of her life. She left her substantial estate to the National Trust which helped in keeping the Lake District as a National Park.


This is a much sought after timeshare resort so my advice would be to put on a search as early as possible if you wish to obtain an exchange to this wonderful resort which is located just a few hundred yards from Lake Windermere in the Bowness district of the Lake District.

Friday, July 1, 2016

Things to Know Before Buying a Timeshare

Delighted that the good people at the Finn Law Group used my points to illustrate the need for consumers to ask questions...pertinent questions...before buying a timeshare.

WAY too much emphasis is placed on nice beds, good views, full or partial kitchens and the number of swimming pools and not enough on the basics of owning.

Here's the link to the blog post:

What questions do you wish you had asked before buying your first timeshare?

Friday, June 17, 2016

Timeshare Trial Program...A Taste of What?

Think back to the last timeshare sales pitch you went to.  If you said no...well, after the third or fourth time you said no, chances are someone tried to sell you on a trial program.

These trial programs vary from resort to resort and each uses a different term; trial program, taste of so and such resort, exit program, etc.  And while they also vary in what they offer to the consumer, they have 2 things in common in my opinion:

1)  they are designed to get the consumer back to the resort within a 1 or 2 year time frame in an attempt to sell them a timeshare again

2)  they are not a good indication of what timeshare ownership is really all about...pros and cons

What should a trial program look like?  Glad you asked!

Why not offer all the benefits and responsibilities of one week of timeshare ownership---or the points equivalent---but for a 2 year period.  Assessment of fees and responsibility to pay them. Membership to exchange company and full use of exchange possibilities---or lack thereof.  All the perks of exchange company membership.  Notification by the board and/or management company of meetings and other information.  Ability to serve on the HOA.  In short, the whole ball of wax with the stipulation that at the end of the trial program, the owner can upgrade to standard ownership at the current cost giving them a 100% credit of the money they have already paid, OR be done with it and owe nothing more.

The cost of this trial membership?  Should be no more than $1,500.

What do you think?