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?

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Guest Blogger Steve Burton Reviews Hilton Grand Vacation Club in NYC

My partner and I visited this timeshare property in the first week of May and sadly we were unlucky with the weather as the daily highs were in the low fifties which was about fifteen degrees below the usual temperature at this time of year. It also rained on most of the days which stopped us from taking the open top bus tours which is our favourite way of seeing New York city.

I found all the staff to be helpful at all times. I was pleased that I was not bothered by anybody ringing me to attend a sales presentation this can spoil a timeshare vacation if you are contacted on a daily basis which can happen at some timeshare resorts that are in active sales.

We were staying in a studio unit which was effectively a good size hotel room it had a small refrigerator which was helpful for our needs. There are also one bedroom apartments available at this timeshare resort. We were located at the front of the building so we could see lots of typical New York activity. This timeshare development is located just a couple of blocks from Central Park. It is also just a couple of minutes walk away from Carnegie Hall, the nearest subway station and a well stocked but quite expensive grocery store. We visited a number of restaurants which included the famous Carnegie deli where there are numerous photos of celebrity diners on the walls of the restaurant. Such is the popularity of this restaurant that there are usually a long line of people waiting outside for a table. The portions are very large even by American standards. I would also recommend the Brooklyn Diner for good food at reasonable prices this restaurant is located just five minutes walk from the timeshare resort as is the Carnegie deli.

It is of course expensive in terms of the exchange trading points required to book timeshare accommodation in New York city. I needed thirty eight points to make this booking but compared to the Manhattan Club where between fifty eight and sixty points are required this is good value. When I visited the Manhattan Club there was also a thirty dollar a day charge for housekeeping having said that there is not a daily maid service at this development. I had some lap top problems while in New York due to me leaving my charger at Tampa airport so I made good use of their three computers in their computer room. Sadly I made no use of their gym though of course I should have done!!!!!! I found the internet to be fast and reliable which is very important for me as I find it very annoying to be at a location where the internet signal is very weak.

I don't believe I need to give a full list of everything you can do in New York city as so much is well known even to none residents of the city. Perhaps the highlights for us were walking in Central Park, taking the free ferry to and from Staten Island and attending a service at St Patrick's Cathedral. It is always interesting walking down to Time Square not least to see if the famous naked cowboy is performing there.

I hope to return again to New York city but next time I am hoping that the weather will be warmer on my next trip.

Thanks, Steve.  Want to share your thoughts on the timeshare blog?  E-mail me at

Friday, June 3, 2016

Why Did You Buy A Timeshare?

The American Resort Development Association (ARDA) conducted a survey of 1,722 timeshare owners asking for "Reasons For Buying Timeshares".  The results surprised me:

[] Save money on future vacations 44%

[] Resort location 43%

[] Flexible locations, unit types, times of year 35%

[] Certainty of vacation 29%

[] Certainty of quality accommodations 28%

[] Ability to pass to heirs 27%

[] Exchange opportunities with other resorts 23%

[] Affordable price for vacation home 23%

[] Amenities at home resort 23%

[] Affordable financial terms 23%

Here's what I found surprising:

*   Unless you're buying on the secondary market or traditionally spend $300 a night on hotels, an average timeshare will not save money on future vacations...and there's nothing wrong with that

*  Only 23% noted exchange opportunities

*  While the average timeshare is in fact significantly less costly than a vacation home, you can't (and shouldn't) really compare the two

*  Financial terms of 15%, 16%, 17% or more for 7-10 years don't really sound "affordable" to me

What do you think?  Why did you buy a timeshare?