Wednesday, December 28, 2011

What is the Value of a "Used" Timeshare?

Yeah, I hate the term "used timeshare" as much as anyone, but for now, it will have to suffice.

If you spend any time reading timeshare group forums or any of the so-called "consumer experts'" columns out there, you would think that a "used" timeshare is worth next to nothing and that they are next to impossible to sell.

Wrong on both counts.  I'm talking about an "average" timeshare here, by the way not some renovated motel on the East Coast of Florida that hasn't been properly maintained in 10 or 12 years.

Many years ago when I was a salesperson and blissfully naive in the ways of timeshare, I held fast to the thought that "if you bought a timeshare 10 years ago for $15,000 and then sold it to someone 10 years younger than you, the timeshare should still be "worth" close to the $15,000 because they will get years of vacation out of it."

Naive perhaps, but when you look at what a timeshare is and how it should be used, there's nothing wrong with that logic.

Somewhere in the history of timeshare, it was "decreed" that timeshares don't hold their value and that they aren't worth anything on the resale market. 

I have yet to figure out who "decreed" that and more importantly, why everyone today clings to that decree.

Everyone in the industry; developers, government agencies, legitimate resellers, owners groups, HOAs, individual owners and writers and bloggers need to band together and come up with a new "decree."

Who is with me?

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Hello, Diamond...Are You Out There?

I'm all for timeshare developers to do something to their product to hold its value and differentiate "new" timeshare from "used" timeshare.

But it seems to me that if the story I heard about Diamond is true (Diamond, please contact me to confirm/deny/enlighten), this is NOT the way to go about it.

The story as I heard it was that Diamond was going to charge consumers who purchased their timeshare on the resale market up to $8,500 in order to use any of the benefits of Diamond.  Sure, this will effectively the Diamond resale market, but I have a nagging suspicion that it will stop anyone from buying Diamond on the primary market as well.

Can you imagine what would happen if Ford or GM came up with a policy that stated that they would charge $8,500 to anyone who bought a used Ford or GM in order for the car to be serviced by or with genuine products?  Insane.

Certainly we can do better, can't we?

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

How Many Points for A Purple Week?

Just wanted to clear up a few things today as I've received some emails recently from some very confused timeshare owners.

1)  RCI and II no longer use colors to designate various weeks.  IMHO that's a great thing, because as we all know, no resort or location is "all red, all the time."

2)  Points are NOT the same across the board.  82,000 RCI points aren't the same as 82,000 Disney Vacation Club points, Marriott points, etc.  IMHO that's a horrible thing as the consumer as of this writing really has no basis for comparison.  I'll be addressing this issue in my new book which will be available next year.

3)  Just because your resort is now offering points, or has switched to points, doesn't mean you need to/have to.  It's best to work with someone who isn't trying to sell you something in order to determine what's the best way to proceed.

Keep the questions coming.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Calling Mr. Trump and Mr. Branson

Ah, the end of another year...time to reflect and time to look forward.

What does timeshare need?  A kick in the ass, that's what.

So I'm calling on both Donald Trump and Richard Branson to give it the well deserved kick in the ass.

I'm not a big fan of Donald's politics nor his "I'm king of the world" stance, but the guy does know real estate and he knows how to keep things holding value.

I am a big fan of Richard's showmanship, marketing skills and sense of fun.

It's time to throw EVERYONE and EVERYTHING out and start fresh and these guys could do it.

Make timeshare fun, make it valuable, make it something that people and media talk about in a good way, make it something that is desired, make it something that holds its value, make it something that doesn't need smarmy marketing and sales techniques.

Let's face it, there hasn't been anything new or interesting or revolutionary in timeshare in, well, since it started.  Let's shake things up.

Donald and e-mail address is  Talk to you soon.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

A Blue Light Special Waiting To Happen

This blog and many other blogs talk a great deal about the plight of the timeshare owner, for good reason.  However, there are other people that are hurt a great deal by the marketing and sales practices still employed by timeshare resorts worldwide---the timeshare salesperson.

I wrote the following piece many years ago, while I was still a salesperson and it unfortunately is still as timely as it was back then:

If K-Mart Were a Timeshare

In reading the gory details of K-Mart's recent bankruptcy filing, I am struck by the similarities to the situation that many timeshare resorts find themselves in.

K-Mart executives were quick to blame their financial collapse on just about everything other than what it was… poor marketing management. However, I would bet that if K-Mart were a timeshare, K-Mart executives would have written a memo to all of their employees and blamed the debacle on them.

See if this ficticious memo doesn't sound familiar to those of you in timeshare sales…

To: All K-Mart Employees
From: The Big Boss
Re: The End

K-Mart will be filing for bankruptcy today. That means that all of you will be out of a job. You are free of course to go to WalMart or Target to see if things will be any better there. You will find however, that things are just the same, the customers are exactly the same.

The reason for your being out of a job is simple… you, the stockers did not keep the right merchandise in stock. You, the cashiers did not meet your sales quota. Simply put, you didn't sell enough.

Remember that we in upper management did our part by bringing you the customers. It was your job to sell them merchandise. You didn't do your job. It is never, ever the fault of the customer. It is always your fault. Perhaps if you had a better attitude and didn't prejudge all of the customers that we pay top dollar to bring to you, you would not all find yourself in this bind.

By the way, you will not be getting your last paycheck. Those paychecks will be used to refund all of those purchases that will be coming back. It was all of your responsibility to follow up with each and every one of your sales to find out if they were satisfied with their vacuum cleaners, towels and oil filters.

Of course, K-Mart is in their nasty situation because of poor marketing, not because of inept cashiers or stockers. Need another similarity? The entire decision to bring in Martha Stewart was incredibly poor marketing. K-Mart shoppers ON THE WHOLE, don't know or care who Martha Stewart is. The people who do know and buy Martha Stewart wouldn't be caught dead at K-Mart.

Still muddy? Let me clarify. ON THE WHOLE… the customers that most timeshares pay so-called marketing companies money for don't want to know about timeshare, don't care about timeshare, and don't have the money to afford timeshare. But the people who do care about timeshare, do want to know about timeshare and can afford timeshare aren't being reached at all.

Because the so-called marketing companies are in fact, not doing ANYTHING that resembles what the rest of the world considers marketing.

It is time for Project Directors, Directors of Sales and other non-"marketing" personnel to say "ENOUGH" and demand more. It is time that timeshare companies come down out of their ivory tower and recognize that this wonderful product that we sell has the potential to be so much more if we let it. Timeshares are sold to the public by the salesperson on an emotional basis (and thanks to everyone who finally convinced me of that). Where is the emotion behind any of the so-called marketing and advertising that the resorts do? There is none at all.

Allow yourself to ponder how wonderful of an industry this would be if we would stop doing things the hard way. The writing is on the wall… either do effective marketing and advertising or your resort may be "a blue light special".

Monday, December 5, 2011

Common Sense Tips on Buying Timeshare

You would think that after all this time, these simple tips would not need to be reprinted, but consumers continue to get themselves in trouble.


You don't see a lot of ads trying to sell you a timeshare.  Timeshare marketing and sales tactics are more subtle, or at least more mysterious than that.  If you are one of the more than 3 million Americans who attend one or more timeshare presentations annually, you might have been confused.

Buying, owning and using a timeshare might be the greatest thing for you...or not.  But it continues to be one of the most misunderstood products out there.  Here's some basic advice:

1)  New timeshare doesn't necessarily mean better timeshare
2)  A timeshare is not a financial investment
3)  Understand the psychology of sales before you sit through a presentation
4)  Don't buy more than you can use
5)  Don't buy more than you can afford
6)  Understand that the salesperson works for the developer, not for you
7)  Don't buy with selling or renting in mind
8)  If it sounds too good to be true, it is
9)  Stay away from the words "free", "perfect", "always" and "never"

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Comments to This Blog

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While we welcome and encourage comments,, questions, etc. on anything that we post, we do not accept ads or links to ads.

Thanks for your understanding.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

We've Been Remiss

We apologize for the delay in posting on this blog.  Timeshare Insights is going through a bit of an identity crisis as of lately.

I've taken on the role of "The Timeshare Crusader" and decided early on that I would NOT sell, rent, buy, broker, list or represent any timeshare or any timeshare company.

Unfortunately, as an independent timeshare consultant and educator, that means that the money is shall we say, slow to arrive.

Making matters worse, there are some other companies and organizations out there that proport themselves to the public as consumer advocates and educators, but who make their money buying and selling timeshare.  To me, this seems like a clear conflict of interest, but as we've come to expect, consumers are easily fooled when it comes to timeshare matters.

While is it NOT all about money, there are bills to be paid.  So, the identity crisis I'm going through right now is a simple one...should Timeshare Insights continue, or should we give up after nearly 6 years?


Friday, November 18, 2011

5,500 Attributes vs. 5 Questions

There's a company out there that claims to have a formula based on 5,500 "attributes" of a consumer to then make accurate predictions on the consumer's propensity to purchase a timeshare.

5,500 attributes?  Really?  If there were 50 attributes, I'd be more willing to believe this.  Even 100 attributers.  But 5,500?  That is hard for me to believe.  Especially when I've said from the onset that timeshare marketing is NOT rocket science.

This company has been VERY successful, i.e. very successful in marketing themselves to timeshare resorts around the world and making a ton of money.

I think back to my timeshare selling days when it came down to these five (5) questions:

Do you like the timeshare?
Do you understand how timeshare would benefit you?
If you had a timeshare, would you use it?
Would paying for the timeshare still allow you to live your life?
Would you like to own this timeshare?

Doesn't get much simpler than that, does it?  Gee, I wonder if any of the 5,500 attributes cover "buying today" or "buying from the developer when the same product is available on the secondary market for 30% of the cost"?

Thursday, November 10, 2011

What's With The Word "Timeshare" Anyway?

I don't know what it is about the word "timeshare" that causes so many otherwise rational people to lose their common sense and all semblance of reality.

Yesterday, at the LTRBA meeting in Orlando, one of the state officials said that his office heard from an individual who had paid a company more than 20 times to the tune of over $100,000 to sell his timeshare.  One person!

Now, I know that the big discussion at the meeting was about the "upfront fee" companies vs the licensed (i.e. no upfront fees) brokers.  But honestly, the average consumer is not going to know the difference between "commissions", "advertising fees" or "listing fees" or anything else.  And I've said before that nothing is free.

So, I think the industry would be better served to issue warnings to consumers to NOT do business with any company that contacts them first. I mean, I can't imagine anyone, not even the poor sap out more than $100,000 and STILL holding on to his timeshare, would fall for these schemes for a house, a car, a computer or a pair of designer jeans.

"Hello, Mr. Consumer...we have a buyer for your 1995 Camry...the one that you haven't even thought of, much less put up for sale.  All we need is $3,000 for title transfer and we'll send you the remaining $20,000..."

What is it about the word "timeshare" that causes people to lose touch with reality?

The bottom line is don't do business with companies that contact you out of the blue.  Maintain all the control you can.  And some smarts for heaven's sake.

Friday, October 21, 2011

It's Not About Saving Money

Back in the dark ages-circa 2000 when I began selling timeshare full time-all the training salespeople received was about the money saving benefits of timeshare.  All of us were carefully taught to take the so-called average price of a hotel room of $100 and using a "moderate" 10% rate of inflation, calculate for the benefit of the client that their "average" hotel room would cost them $235 per night in just ten years, even without the room tax.

When you look at it that way, timeshare made great economic sense, even when you factored in the annual fees and the usage fees.

Flash forward to 2011 where during the recent SOIC conference, we all discovered that the average ADR (average daily rate) of a hotel room in the United States last year was around $106 and we begin to see one of the problems facing the industry today.

People who purchased back in 2000 have been faced with rising annual fees (an average of $731, or almost exactly what it would cost to rent a hotel room), the ability to find discounted hotel rooms and rent timeshares for half of what their annual fees are.  Prospective owners can't be "shown the math" any longer as the math doesn't make any sense.

But, even as a novice salesperson back in 2000, I realized what the timeshare industry is starting to realize's NOT about saving money, it's about increasing the quality of vacations.

As readers of this blog know, I am a huge Apple fan and I've written about what the timeshare industry can learn from Apple.  Sure, you can purchase cheaper phones than the iPhone and cheaper computers than a Mac.  But it's not about saving money in those cases for millions of fans, is it?

What timeshare needs to get across is the value propositon, both of "new" and "used" timeshare.  It can be done.  There are a lot of intelligent people in the business, many of whom I had the privilage of meeting this past week.  Consumers are NOT them what they can have through owning timeshare and the industry will be well on the way to further market penetration and owner satisfaction.

Who is ready to lead the way?

Monday, October 17, 2011

A SOIC Preview

Interval International's annual conference, Shared Ownership Investment Conference (SOIC) begins today and we are honored that we have been granted a Media Pass to cover the event.

I hope that I'm able to bring you, my readers, positive stories.  I'd like nothing more to report that there are positive changes happening in the timeshare industry.  I've made a career out of writing about what those changes should be.  Timeshare moves very slowly and it's important to remember that the people at the top of the food pyramid have no real incentive to change a system that has brought them millions upon millions of dollars in the past.

No doubt, the conference will be attended by people and organizations that have been ill-informed and dismissive of what Timeshare Insights and other like minded organizations are all about.  I've been called a "troublemaker" and worse and been treated like I didn't matter by many people who of course haven't bothered to find out what Timeshare Insights is all about.  They of course now command huge speaking and consulting fees and are looked at as the "new timeshare mesiah" for saying the exact same things that I've been saying for years now...really, it's a big suprise to anyone that consumers like to buy and don't like to be sold to?  Wow, where have I heard that before?

However, despite the fact that the conference will be full of these people, I'm going to attempt to take the high road and spend my time reporting on what is going on as well as spending time discussing what positive changes can be made with the people that are interested in these changes.

If you are one of the former...I have one word for you..."karma."  If you are one of the latter, I look forward to working with you.

Stay tuned.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

More Bad Guys Busted

Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, John V. Gilles, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Miami Field Office, Frank Adderley, Chief, Fort Lauderdale Police Department, announced Oct. 6 the filing of an information charging defendants Scott Faraguna, 41, Charles Blomquist, 52, Peter Borkowicz, 31, Raymond Harcar, 39, James Taylor, 23, Ryan Greene, 23, Jason Hampton, 28, Chris Faccone, 43, Steven Sokoloff, 47, Marco Sguera, 30, Joseph Giancola, 38, Ryan Soltow, 27, and Donna Ackermann Brown, 50, in a one-count Criminal Information with conspiracy to commit mail fraud and wire fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 371.

The defendants are scheduled to make their initial appearances in court Tuesday morning October 11, 2011, in West Palm Beach before U.S. Magistrate Judge Linnea Johnson.

According to the Information, the defendants worked for Timeshare Mega Media and Marketing Group, Inc. (TMMMG), on Oakland Park Boulevard, in Fort Lauderdale. From in or about October 2009 and continuing to May 2010, the defendants and others at TMMMG called owners of time-share units and told them that they had buyers for their time-share units if the time-share unit owners would send $1,996 to TMMMG for the fees associated with the sale of the unit, such as closings costs and a title search. In fact, however, the defendants knew that they did not have buyers for the time-share units, and nor were the units previously sold.

The Information alleges that after the time-share unit owners agreed to pay the fee associated with the sale of their units, the time-share unit owners would be called by another employee from TMMMG who acted as a “verifier.” The “verifier” would try to get the time-share unit owners to admit on tape that they knew that the fee they were paying was for the advertising of their time-share units and that TMMMG could charge their credit card. Some of the defendants would pay the “verifier” $50-$100 per sale in order to either not call the time-share unit owners or to process the transaction with the credit card company, even though the victim did not want to go through with the transaction.

According to the Information, in order to make it more difficult for the time-share unit owners to obtain a refund of their money, the defendants were instructed by coconspirators not to give the time-share unit owners closing dates for the sale of their time-shares, or if they insisted, to give closing dates more than 60 days after the receipt of their money. When time-share unit owners would call TMMMG inquiring about the sale of their time shares, coconspirators would try to “lull” the victims by falsely stating to the time-share unit owners that the original buyer had a credit problem and was not approved, but that TMMMG had another buyer and that the sale would take place in the near future, in order to keep the victims from complaining to the credit card companies or the authorities.

If convicted the defendants each face a statutory maximum term of imprisonment of 5 years and a fine of up to $250,000.

Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of the FBI and the Fort Lauderdale Police Department in connection with the investigation of this matter. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeffrey N. Kaplan.

An Information is only an accusation, and a defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

SOURCE: US Attorney General’s Office of the Southern District of Florida

Friday, October 14, 2011

Four Things Timeshare Can and Should Concentrate On

Here's a link to my latest article in RCI Ventures magazine about the four things that the timeshare industry needs to focus on if it is ever going to stage a comeback and be the success that it can be.

As usual, we welcome your thoughts and comments.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Proposed Florida Legislation

Here's a recap of the proposed legislation in Florida regarding timeshare resales:
  • A timeshare resale advertiser may not misrepresent a pre-existing interest in the owner’s timeshare.
  • A timeshare resale advertiser may not mislead a customer as to the success rate of the advertiser’s sales.
  • A timeshare resale advertiser may not provide brokerage or direct sale services.
  • A timeshare resale advertiser must honor a cancellation request made within 7 days following a signed agreement.
  • A timeshare resale advertiser must provide a full refund by a timeshare owner within 20 days of a valid cancellation request.
  • A timeshare resale advertiser must not collect any payment or engage in any resale advertising activities until the timeshare owner delivers a signed written agreement for the services.
  • A timeshare resale advertiser must also provide a full disclosure statement printed in bold type, with no smaller than a 12-point font, and printed immediately preceding the space provided for the timeshare owner’s signature.
  • A timeshare advertising agreement must be put in writing.
  • A company who violates these provisions has committed a violation of the Unfair and Deceptive Trade Practices Act with a penalty not to exceed $15,000 per violation.
Thoughts?  I think it's a great start, but if it passes, it MUST be combined with a strong consumer outreach program.  Just because it may become illegal for companies to conduct business this way doesn't mean consumers won't be ripped off.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Innovation and Timeshare

I'll start off today's post with two oft-repeated disclaimers;  1)  I don't profess to know everything and 2)  I firmly believe that the way to bring timeshare into the 21st century and to more people is to look to non-timeshare experts to help.

Today's help comes from Donny Deutsch's and Catherine Whitney's book "The Big Idea" and a chapter in which they talk about "The Five Qualities of an Innovator."

Quality #1-Innovators ask "How would I approach this business challenge if I had no preconceived notions of how it should be done?"  The timeshare industry has thankfully, seen it fit to at least start the discussion here as witnessed by the exceptional panel discussions held at both ARDA and CRDA earlier this year where participants, myself included, talked about the many ways we would start from scratch and reinvent timeshare.  We need to keep this momentum going and see some real changes.

Quality #2-Innovators don't care if it's never been done.  In fact, they love it.  "It's never been done" has to rank up there as the stupidest reason not to pursue a new idea.  It leaves no room for change.  You can call me a lot of things as many people have over the years, but this is my mantra, so I guess I'm an innovator.  All I'll say on this point is this..."timeshare marketing."

Quality #3-Innovators don't believe it has already been done.  In virtually every category there is room for innovation-a unique twist on an exciting concept.  And no, I don't think upgrades to point-based memberships designed to get more money out of owners qualify as innovation.  Here's a unique twist that I appreciated...the open conversation atmosphere at this years GNEX conferene put on by Perspective Magazine.  Now, if we could just harness that open atmosphere and expand it to transparancy to timeshare owners and prospective owners, we'd be onto something.

Quality #4-Innovators are champions of individuality.  Not so evident in either the timeshare product nor the timeshare professional.  Sales directors hate to take into account individuals, demanding instead that every salesperson go through the same hackneyed sales steps with every client.  My very last "tour" that I had as a salesperson was a man in his late 50s that had just gotten out of jail on a 17 year crack cocaine charge.  (Yes, this is a true story, I am not that creative of a writer to make this up.)  My manager insisted that I go through all the steps and then came over and asked the man, "so, did you like the model?"  To which I answered, "yes, it's much nicer than the jail cell he's been in for the past 17 years."

Quality #5-Innovators are disruptive.  Innovators will challenge everyday assumptions.  About the only thing disruptive in timeshare seems to be, well, me!

As always, I welcome your thoughts.

Monday, September 26, 2011

A Lesson On Overcoming Resistance

In the excellent book "Enchantment" by Guy Kawasaki, Chapter 6 is entitled "How To Overcome Resistance."  I thought I'd outline Mr. Kawasaki's insights into why people are reluctant and make some points about timeshare.

*  Inertia-People don't like to do things differently.  They've been renting hotel rooms for years and years and are either satisfied with the status quo and/or lazy.

*  Hesitation to reduce options.  As hard as it is for people in the timeshare industry to believe, there are MANY consumers out there who don't know/understand about exchanging,  Those people look at a timeshare as a huge reduction in their vacation options.  Couple this with the fact that many timeshare salespeople oversell the exchange option so badly that people don't believe ANY of it.

*  Fear of making a mistake.  Closely tied to inertia.  Consumers don't like to think they've made a mistake, so oftentimes they don't do anything differently.  While renting a hotel room may in fact be a mistake for them, purchasing a timeshare seems like a bigger choice and therefore a larger potential mistake.

*  Lack of role models.  I've been saying for years now that timeshare needs a credible spokesperson.  And by "credible spokesperson" I don't mean Alan Thicke, Rosanne Barr and/or David Faustino; all of which have tried and failed.

*  Your cause sucks.  No, I don't think timeshare sucks.  But I do think that things have to change; and change in a hurry if we are to capture the Gen Xs and other younger demographics out there.

Thankfully, Guy Kawasaki points out solutions to these problems.  Before I talk about his solutions, I'm curious to hear your thoughts and your ideas for solutions.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The Four Pillars Of Branding

I recently read something that included the four pillars of branding and as usual, it got me thinking about the timeshare industry.

The four pillars of branding are:


I don't know about you, but I would not give the timeshare industry in general a grade much above a C- on these pillars.

How much do you as an owner know about timeshare?  How much does the salesperson?  How much does the ordinary non-timeshare owner know?  It's true that the people at the top of the industry know a LOT.  I've said it before and I'll say it again...knowing something and doing something with that knowledge are two different things.

Are timeshare owners held in esteem?  Are timeshare salespersons held in esteem?  How many people in timeshare tell their friends, relatives and acquaintenances that they are in "vacation", "real estate", or something else rather than acknowledging and being proud to say "timeshare"? 

Is timeshare relevant today?  From the number of non-timeshare companies at timeshare industry events, I would have to question that.  The same old marketing and sales techniques are certainly NOT relevant to today's consumer.  The very product (deeded for life) may not be relevant anymore.  The recent conventions that I've attended prove that even the people in the industry know that change is necessary.

How are timeshares different from travel clubs, hotels, motels, etc.?  It depends on who you ask.  Consumers seem to think that timeshares are less flexible and more expensive than other vacation alternatives...certainly NOT what the timeshare industry wants them to believe.  When a family can stay at a timeshare resort for a week for less than a timeshare owner's annual fee to own at that resort, I have to wonder where the differentition comes into play.

Again, I don't claim to have all the answers.  This blog is nothing more than a sounding board and a invitation to converse and exchange ideas.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The Research Shows...

A recent survey by the Ypartnership/Harrison Group 2011 Portrail of American Travelers showed some interesting things:

*  77% of those surveyed reported that they had become a much smarter shopper thanks to today's economic situation

*  Among those travelers who use the Internet to either get travel information or make a reservation, 84% say that the ability to check the lowest fares/rates is the most important feature, followed by 82% who say that it's the lowest price/rate guarantee

*  70% of leisure travelers state that they have have taken a "celebratatory vacation" in the last year, to coincide with a birthday, anniversary, etc.

These findings beg these questions (and many more):

*  If  77% thought they had become a much smarter shopper, why does a company who does nothing but take timeshare deeds and several thousand dollars from timeshare owners who don't know any better make more than $44 million in one year?

*  If 84% of travelers use the Internet to check fares and rates, why aren't "new" timeshare prices readily available for comparison?

*  If more than 70% of travelers take a celebratory vacation, doesn't it stand to reason that people DO in fact wake up one day with the intention of going on a vacation and DON'T those celebratory vacations frequently occur?

As I've stated before, the research has already been done...the timeshare industry has ALL the tools to bring this product to far more people than it has.  Who is going to take the lead?

Monday, August 29, 2011

Five and Almost 10 With...Alain Carr

Today we meet Alain Carr, President of CARE (Cooperative Association for Resort Exchangers).

What was your first job in timeshare?
My first exposure to timeshare was working as a sales representative for Lifetime Vacations. We were selling the Royal Kuhio on the island of Oahu. Our store was offsite, actually located in the western suburbs of Chicago.

What is the best lesson that you have ever been taught?
One of my favorite lessons that I have learned in my life is that the man than can teach ten to work is greater than the man that can do the work of ten.

What is your favorite vacation destination?
I would to say that my favorite vacation ever was visiting Austria with my mother and children. My mother lives just outside Munich si we picked her up and headed down just past Salzburg and it was magnificent. My little girls who were just 4 and 6 at the time came back with real life knowledge that castles really DO exist. And once upon a time there were kings and queens and little princesses.

If you could change one thing about the timeshare industry, what would it be?
I would change the resale industry. So many use such negativity to take a desperate family’s rights from them, sometime costing thousands of dollars which poisons the waters for anyone to sell or resell anything. Al it has always been true, but especially now in his economy, the best thing you can do with your timeshare is use it.

 What is your favorite color?
My favorite has to be red.  It represents passion and it gets attention.

Thanks Alain.  If you would like to be featured in this segment, drop us a line at 

Friday, August 26, 2011

DVC "Issues"

By now, everyone has heard of Disney Vacation Club's issues with their new resort in Hawaii.  President Jim Lewis and two other executives were fired from Disney and sales of the new timeshare resort have been halted for more than a month now.

On the surface, this does not seem like good news for anyone except the mainstream media, ever anxious to pounce on any bad news with the word timeshare.  I don't think for a minute that I know the details of what went on (or didn't go on) to cause the DVC problems.  Some people believe it had to do with legal filings, others believe it has to do with surprisingly low annual fees to support such a project.  I strongly believe that Disney Vacation Club will do the right thing with owners and in the end, their Hawaii project will be a success.

But the greater good that I think will come out of this story is that consumers everywhere will start to ask more and more pertinent questions before purchasing ANY timeshare, Disney or other.  Some of those questions have to do with the annual fees, some have to do with developer control and others have to do with the difference between a "new" and "used" timeshare.

Don't get me wrong, I think that DVC is a good thing for some consumers to buy, however, for too long, DVC and some other brand names were thought of as somehow better than a small, independent timeshare and that is just not true.  Consumers and the media need to know that with more than 6,000 timeshare resorts worldwide (almost 1,700 in the United States), this is too big an industry to make broad generalizations based on a name only.

We'll be talking more about the questions that consumers need to ask before buying any timeshare in the next few weeks.  If you have any you'd like to include, let us know.  And if you are an owner at DVC's resort in Hawaii, drop us a note and let us know how things are going.

Friday, August 19, 2011

It's Supposed To Be Vacation, Not Work

I hear you.  Over and over and over again, I hear from timeshare owners who simply don't want to get involved in their resort's HOA or in any timeshare issues.  And there is one reason...these people purchased their timeshare because they wanted a carefree vacation...NOT an ongoing involvment in HOAs, board members, rules, and/or budgets.

But the fact is that timeshare owners MUST get involved in these issues or risk the very vacation experiences that brought them to timeshare to begin with.  You only have to talk to owners of The Manhattan Club, Simpson Bay, Diamond Resorts, Celebration World Resort etc. to find out what I mean.

So, what is the answer?  I don't know.  I do know that timeshare owners continue to be taken advantage of by timeshare transfer companies, timeshare relief companies, fake timeshare resale companies and yes, by some resort mismanagement.  And then there are the owners who simply don't know how to use their timeshare.

Earlier this week, I "Facebooked" about the need for the good guys to put aside some of their differences and work together for a common goal.  While it is true that not all of us agree on everything, we do agree on at least 85% of things. 

I've been fortunate to work with some of these good guys and I'm extending the olive branch to all of them AND timeshare owners around the world.  We're a generally smart group of people, so I'm confident that we can find answer.

We'd love to hear your thoughts.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

More Things I Learned From Guy Kawasaki's "Reality Check"

There is a short, but powerful chapter in "Reality Check" called The Art of Evangelism.  Should be required reading for everyone in any business, not just timeshare...or Macs.
Guy states that, "The key to great evangelism is great innovation.  It is easy---almost unavoidable---to catalyze evangelism for a great product.  It is hard, almost impossible, to catalyze evangelism for crap.  Evangelism, after all, comes from the Greek word for "bringing the good news", not "the crappy news.  The important question is, "What are the characteristics of an innovative product or service?  The answer is to think DICEE."

Before I continue, let me state so that there is NO doubt in anyone's mind...I believe timeshare is a great product.  The industry must simply fix some things, get rid of some people and get out of their own way and I believe that ownership and satisfaction WILL increase dramatically.

Getting back to Mr. Kawasaki's DICEE;

DEEP  A great product is deep.  It doesn't run out of features and functionality after a few weeks of use.  Its creators have anticipated what you'll need once you come up to speed.  As your demands get more spophisticated, you discover that you don't need a new product.

INTELLIGENT  A great product screams that someone was thinking when she created it.  Panasonic, for example, makes a flashlight that takes three battery sizes.  This triples the probability that you have a battery that will work.  The product's benefits may be obvious when you see it, but someone had an insight to create it.

COMPLETE  A great product is more than a physical thing.  Documentation counts.  Customer service counts.  Tech support counts.  Consultants and third-party developers count.  Online communities count.  A great product provides a great total user experience---sometimes despite the company that produces it.

ELEGANT  A great product has an elegant user interface.  Things work the way you'd think they would.  A great product doesn't fight you---it enhances you.  Metaphorically, you take it home, plug it in and it works.  The first step is to use it, not search for a manual online to teach you how to use it.

EMOTIVE  A great product incites you to action.  It is so deep, indulgent, complete and elegant that it compels people to tell others about it.  They're not necessarily an employee or shareholder of the company that produces it.  They're bringing the good news to help others, ot themselves.

Before you say "sure, that's great for a computer or an i{hone, not a timeshare", give it some thought.  What can you do to make sure timeshare, or at least your timeshare is "elegant?"  How about "emotive?"

The way to get more people to buy, enjoy, love and spread the word about timeshare is to get out of our own way...who is onboard?

Friday, August 12, 2011

Five and Almost 10 With...Dave Thackeray

Today we profile the wonderfully talented Dave Thackeray, Founder of Word and Mouth.

What was your first job in timeshare?
Writing the staff magazine for RCI in Europe. Exchanges - whatever else would it be called? I then moved on to edit the magazines for affiliates and owners. Learning about the industry from both sides all the time. What a buzz!

What was the greatest lesson you'ver ever been taught?
Not to assume. Ever. Quite aside from getting me into hot water with the bosses on numerous occasions, myriad were the instances when I'd think I knew it all about timeshare and then I'd meet a developer who would completely blow me away with an incredible project, or a beautifully humanistic gesture of goodwill. Strip down the layers and we're all wonderful human beings.

Where is your favorite vacation spot?
I haven't been there yet! Seriously, I think I'd say Cornwall and Devon in England. I'd trade the Sydney Opera House and the Golden Temple for the Lost Gardens of Helligan any day. You must go!

If you could change one thing about timeshare, what would it be?
I'd give some folks a good old shake and say you NEED to start understanding how important technology is to developing relationships with the new generation of owners. There's no quicker or more cost effective way to create an incredible reputation. The industry at large needs to figure that out for themselves. I'd love to get a stage somewhere and deliver a rocket on this subject to the assembled masses!

What is your favorite color?
Blue. Like the endless sky, and the colour of my favourite soccer team, Everton

Thanks Dave.  You know, in reading the responses to my question bout changing one thing in timeshare, I'm convinced that there are enough smart, talented people already working in our industry to really make the positive changes needed.

If you would like to be featured in this series, or know someone who should be featured, let us know!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

A Few Things I Learned From Guy Kawasaki's "Reality Check"---and You Can As Well

If you haven't yet read Guy Kawasaki's "Reality Check", I encourage you to do so.  I've said for years now that timeshare marketing, advertising, selling and public relations is NOT rocket science.  And that is said with the greatest respect for marketing, etc. professionals..I myself have a BA in Marketing and spent years in advertising.

The one thing that is holding this industry back is the continued, insistant belief that timeshare is different and that the rules don't apply.

Here are some gems from Mr. Kawasaki, who as the former Apple Mac evangelist, knows a thing or two about product adaptation, building a loyal following, etc.

Sell, don't enable buying  For most organizations the best lead generation methods are seminars, presentations by company executives and schmoozing.
Give less information  Perhaps if people are given more information, it's harder for them to kid themselves.  (NOTE from me...this is NOT the same as lying.)
Cut the hype  Underprominsing and over delivering is the way to go.
Enable test drives   Do whatever it takes to enable people to download a trial version of your software, use your Web sie, drive your car, eat at your restaurant or attend your church service.

How can you use this information?  Are you already using it?  Who are the timeshare mavericks out there?  We want to hear from you.

Friday, August 5, 2011

What Is ARDA-ROC and What Are They All About?

If you check out the ARDA-ROC site at you will see the following Mission Statement: 

The ARDA Resort Owners’ Coalition (ARDA-ROC) is a non-profit program sponsored by the American Resort Development Association, dedicated to preserving, protecting and enhancing vacation ownership. ARDA-ROC is an alliance of owners, developers and managers who are committed to advocating for local, state and federal policies that enable the vacation ownership industry to thrive.

OK, what does that mean?  That means that they are actively engaged in working for things that enhance and help timeshare and timeshare owners and against things that would be a detriment to the industry and owners.

In addition to some very important legislative issues, some of which will be covered in future posts, ARDA-ROC has a great page dedicated to timeshare resales and resale scams.  There are any number of places that consumers can turn to in an attempt to get information on timeshare resales and I congratulate ARDA-ROC for joining the ranks and getting this unbiased information out to the public.

Timeshare owners need to educate themselves.  No one in or on the fringes of the industry, like myself, can force owners to get the education and stop falling prey to scammers and less than scrupulous companies and organizations.

If you're a timeshare owner, I know all too well that you purchased your timeshare(s) with the intent on using them and enjoying them, NOT to become educated on the pros and cons, myths and truths.  But why, oh why would you NOT want to find out more about timeshare, how to use it, how not to get ripped off, etc.?

Check out ARDA-ROC for a start and remember, Educate Yourself, Open Your Mind, Get Involved.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

An Open Invitation To The Industry

It has again been brought to my attention that some in the traditional timeshare industry think I am a naysayer, a know-nothing, anti-timeshare-or at least anti-developer, an egotist, controversial and/or the devil incarnate.

I'll accept controversial and throw the rest out.

I started out as an Owner Referral Manager at an Orlando resort and moved into timeshare sales and sales management for five years, before striking out on my own as The Timeshare Crusader.  I've made a few mis-steps along the way which I will readily admit to.  I've NEVER claimed to know everything nor do I think that it's an easy task to make timeshare more accepted.

I believe in timeshare and I see no reason why an industry that's been around as long as we have, with so many smart people in it can't do something to increase ownership from 7% to 20% or 25% in 5 years. 

I also believe that the ONLY thing that is stopping that is the fact that many in the industry refuse to understand that timeshare is like every other product/service out there; no better, no worse, and that by clinging to the theory that "we're different" they've painted themselves into this corner.

It has been my sincere pleasure to meet and learn from many industry leaders in the past few years.  I'd venture to say that the majority of them did have a bit of trepidation upon first meeting me...was I really the anti-timeshare person that they had heard about?  Yet, I would imagine that the VAST majority of those leaders who took the time to talk to me and get to know me now understand that I am one of the industry's strongest supporters and advocates...I simply think that changes are overdue.

To the rest of you...the industry leaders and anyone else who works in the's an open invitation to come up and talk with me at any industry event, e-mail me, call me, take the time to read what I've been saying, take the time to listen to me speak to timeshare owners and timeshare students.

I think you'll be surprised.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Timeshare Board Members Association

Timeshare owners and timeshare board members need to know about the Timeshare Board Members Association (

This group was recently formed to deal with the important issues that are currently facing timeshare HOA boards; among them being rising delinquency rates, termination of "forever" timeshare deeds, due process for owner, vacation club pros and cons and of course the proliferation of the timeshare "rescue/relief" companies and what that means to owners and HOAs.

There's a meeting scheduled for Sunday, October 16th and Monday October 17th at the Scottsdale Camelback Resort in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Don't let your timeshare board operate in a vacuum.  Take advantage of this opportunity to meet with other members, share ideas, experiences and goals. 

For more information or to RSVP, contact Shep Altshuler of TimeSharing Today at or directly at 201.924.7435.

Timeshare Insights FULLY supports this association and this meeting and encourages all timeshare owners to let their board members know about this.  Timeshare resorts are at a critical point and in order to combat what is going on, we MUST educate ourselves and work together to find answers and determine the future.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Moving In The Right Direction

I had a great opportunity to meet with some dedicated timeshare owners and some wonderful timeshare professionals over the weekend.

Frank DeBar, president of the Florida Timeshare Users Group, was gracious enough to invite me to attend his group's summer meeting and I was fortunate to have the opportunity to meet and learn from some truly forward thinking timeshare professioanls.

I'll be writing more over the next week or so, but a hearty "thanks" to Woody Cary from Tricom Management, Scott MacGregor from InnSeasons Resorts and Rich Muller from Vacation Resorts International.  Not only did these gentlemen share their knowledge and insights about timeshare, but they acknowledged the issues that the industry faces and all realized the need for change.

On a personal note, I received a shot in the arm when all three of them acknowledged what I've been doing with Timeshare Insights and encouraged and invited me to both continue and work with them.

Thanks guys for the positive vibes!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Timeshare Question #2

OK, maybe not so much a question as a thought...

Don't you think that the timeshare industry would be in a better place if they looked into attracting new clients rather than constantly "upgrade" (and by upgrade I meann, switching from weeks to points, to colored points, to new alliances, etc.) their existing owners?

Many owners don't understand their existing system and some can't get what they were promised out of it to begin with.  By constantly "adding" things, especially to an every-aging owner base, the industry is proving to be out of touch.

Give people something easy to understand, easy to use and that work the way it is supposed to.  "Enchancements" and "upgrades" usually serve only the organization, not the end user.

An Interview With Ramy Filo of GATE

Hello Ramy.  Could you tell us what GATE is and how you got started in it?

The Global Alliance for Timeshare Excellence (GATE) was established in 1999 by leaders of timeshare associations in the United States, Canada, Latin America, Europe, the Middle East, Australia and South Africa to promote the timeshare industry around the world.  Each association retains its own identity, but collectively, the associations seek to cooperate on issues of common concern in order to advance the growth of the timeshare industry worldwide, the interests of their members and the consumers they serve.

As the current President and Director of the Australian Timeshare and Holiday Ownership
Council (ATHOC), I was the representative on the GATE board from ATHOC.  I was elected Chairman of GATE some four years ago and proudly continue in this role.

What is the biggest misconception about timeshare out there?

It is "too good to be true", I believe is the biggest misconception.  The value proposition is solid and all members that I have spoken to that use it have had great value.  The largest barrier to overcome is the lack of trust.

Do you find that the general, non-timeshare owning public in the United States has a different view of timeshare than the non-timeshare owning public in other places?

There is a larger "brand" presence in the US (Disney, Marriott, etc.) than anywhere else in the world and therefore I believe this brings about an improved acceptance of timeshare than anywhere else to the general public.

Who are the members of GATE and how do they become members?

GATE members are established timeshare industry associations around the world.  Associations are invited by the founding committee.  The following link provides information on GATE:

For a current timeshare owner, what would you like them to know about GATE and the work that you are doing?

GATE is an industry body that is working globally on improving perception and setting a common level of ethics and conduct in the industry to increase consumer trust.  From a consumer's point of view, they can be assured that the industry globally is working towards self-regulation and ensuring that consumers are protected wherever they purchase.  Whilst there are regulations in most parts of the world that deal specifically within a jurisdiction, GATE is a forum to share best practices and protect the industry from unscrupulous operators.

Any new, exciting projects you are working on this year?

GATE, in association with ARDA, is working on the first ARDA Global Conference April 1-5 in Las Vegas.  We want to support ARDA's conference to be more global and attract delegates and speakers from all over the world.

Can/should consumers get involved in GATE?

Not directly, however each association around the world always welcomes consumer feedback and support.  I suggest that is where consumers can support the industry and help guide its future.

Thanks Ramy for the interview and the education!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Myth of the Sought After Product

I've been battling the whole issue of letting people buy timeshare as opposed to selling it to them for years now; in print and in person.  The standard response by those with years more experience than me in timeshare is, "but people don't wake up one day and decide they want a timeshare; timeshare is not a sought after product."

Can someone please tell me what is a sought after product?  Other than the basic necessities of life, e.g. clothing, food, shelter, nothing we purchase is a sought after product.  That is until it is marketed or advertised or recommended to us in which case we "need" it and can't imagine our lives without it.

But timeshare stubbornly clings to the theory that it is somehow different than everything else out there.

I have a news flash, it isn't.  You want people to buy more timeshare, advertise it.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Five and Almost 10 With...Frank Debar

Today we're talking with Frank Debar, Group Coordinator of the Florida Timeshare Owners Group.

What was your first job in the timeshare industry?
My being elected to my home resort HOA board; Cape Cod Holiday Estates in Mashpee, as its first President in 1986 when the developers released control to the owners.  I'm still on the Board, 26 later as Secretary...Amazing!

What is the best lesson you've ever been taught?
To question EVERYTHING that involves timesharing; from the sales/marketing people, to the exchange companies' promises.  Very important to have knowledgeable friends who know the industry, how it works and will tell you the TRUTH.

What is your favorite vacation destination?
Aruba by far.  Then, Sint Maartin.  I'm a Caribbean island person.

What is the one thing you would change in the timeshare industry if you had the power to do it immediately?
I would try to improve the timeshare resale capability for owners that can no longer vacation as they once did, due to a variety of reasons; namely age, loss of spouse, financial constraints, etc.  Too many unit owners are locked into timeshare property that they cannot use any longer, yet, they cannot relieve themselves of this financial burden.  Resorts, by and large, refuse to take deedbacks.  Scam resale salespeople take advantage of many would-be sellers, often using a variety of fraudulent schemes to rip-off so many unsuspecting older owners.  I hope the Licensed Timeshare Resale Broker Association can indeed make many signifiant improvements in this current environment.  The same holds true for ARDA.

What is your favorite color?

Thanks Frank for your great insights!  Want to be included in this interview series?  We'd love to hear from you.

What The Timeshare Industry Can Learn From The Travel Industry-Part 2

Other details from Yesawich's study showed that 50% of respondents said that they had no preference between a legacy and low-cost air carrier. Consumers care more about the price of the air ticket than the carrier.

Translate this to the timeshare industry and it becomes obvious that the price is what matters. If a consumer can purchase a timeshare from the developer for $20,000 or a similar product on the legitimate resale market for $5,000 or $6,000...why wouldn't they? Especially when the developer charging $20,000 doesn't clearly demonstrate the publicize the rationale for the price difference. Maybe there is a clear-cut reason for "why." If so, the timeshare developers have yet to tell their story in a convincing manner.

If they did, perhaps people would be willing to pay the price difference. A study showed that 38% of Internet users would be willing to pay more for customized products. This clearly demonstrates that there is a subsection of the traveling public that will pay more if you give them exactly what they want.

The good news for the timeshare owning public and the people who may be interested in purchsing a timeshare is that more and more of them are traveling with their children (43% reported one or more trips with their children over the past 12 months in 2009 vs. only 26% back in 2000.)

Grandparents also report taking more vacations with grandchildren than before, with 28% of them taking at least one vacation annually with their grandchildren.

As more and more family and extended families travel, there should be more demand for timeshare units which generally provide more space and amenities than hotels.

For too long, the traditional timeshare industry has thought like and acted like a maverick, often to their detriment. A timeshare is an alternative to a hotel or motel. Period. It's a travel service. Period. There is no sense clinging to outdated marketing and communication tools for these services. There is no need to try and reinvent the wheel. The travel industry changes as consumers demand changes. If the timeshare industry doesn't adapt to these demanded changes, I predict that the traditonal timeshare market will go the way of the travel agents.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Five and Almost 10 With...Harry Taylor

What was your first job in the timeshare industry?
Director of TATOC since 1998

What is the best lesson you have ever been taught?
In business-as a buyer in the retail industry, always negotiate hard but leave the table with the other party beaten but with some credibility and respect.
In timeshare-never take anything for granted!!

What is your favorite vacation destination?
The northern beaches of Queensland, Australia

What is the one thing you would change in the timeshare industry if you had the power to do it immediately?
To agree on an exit policy with developes while insuring that happy members and the developers are not financially penalized but can work together on the introduction of new products and making the media more proactive on developments.

What is your favorite color?

Thanks Harry.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Five and Almost 10 With...Ed Hastry

Today we're getting to know Ed Hastry, the founder and President of the National Timeshare Owners Association
What was your first job in the timeshare industry?
Bought a timeshare from a developer in 1997, shortly afterwards I put an ad in the local paper looking for timeshare owners to network with. Shortly after that the Maryland Timeshare Owners Assoc. was established.

What is the best lesson you have ever been taught?
Don't believe everything a timeshare salesperson has told you-get it in writing

What is your favorite vacation destination?
Newport, Rhode Island

What is the one thing you would change in the timeshare industry if you had the power to do it immediately?
Try to reach out to as many timeshare owners as possible to let them know there are legitimate timeshare resources out there to turn to when they are frustrated and need help

What is your favorite color?

Thanks Ed.  Remember, if you want to be featured in this interview series, or would like to suggest someone to be interviewed for this series, e-mail us at or just leave a comment.


Friday, June 24, 2011

The New DVC Logo-This Is The Best You Can Come Up With?

I had to laugh when I saw the "new" DVC logo.  Disney has tons of talent and more importantly, TONS of money.  Here's a link to the old logo and the new logo.

THAT'S the best you can come up with?

I like the old logo much about you?

Thursday, June 23, 2011

From The College Students

The topic du jour in the timeshare industry is reaching the "younger generation."  How they don't buy the same we we old-timers do.  How they need to be reached and engaged with in a "different" way.  How to use social media because they don't consumer traditional media.

All fine and good.  Except all of that talk overlooks one really important issue.  All the social media in the world, all the shiny engagement tools around will NOT increase acceptance and trust of timeshare if the "younger generation" or any generation doesn't believe in the product.

As the co-author of the college text "Timeshare Management-The Key Issues For Hospitality Managers", it is my honor to guest lecture twice a semester at the University of Central Florida.  I've been doing this for several years now and it is always an eye-opening experience to hear from this "younger generation."

I thought I'd share some of their (unedited, except for spelling and grammar) questions today.  I can only hope that this starts some larger conversation in the industry.

Is the timeshare industry trying to move away from the negative stereotype that most people currently believes it has?  What are some possible better ways to market and sell timeshares without using free weekend giveaways, free tickets, discounts, etc.?

Why is it so hard to get rid of a timeshare once you have bought it?  Working in sales, I feel as if many customers you deal with don't want to buy a timeshare because they have heard how hard it is to get rid of once you're an owner.  They don't want to be a part of something that is permanent when they don't know what the future holds for them.  How do you deal with these customers?

What is the hardest part in selling and presenting timeshares to potential customers?  I know the question is cliche, but if I were someone in your position, I know it would be very discouraging having dozens of heads walk out of presentations every day with their sole intentions of just receiving free promotions.

In the beginning of our class, we watched a video about a timeshare owner who was dissatisfied by the company's changes to not allow other people to stay in their timeshare for free.  Do you think there's a better way to go about informing people of timeshares and helping people to fully understand all of the terms of their contract before signing so you can avoid having unhappy customers who feel like they are getting ripped off?

It seems like the current way of selling timeshares is just not working and comes with too many costs and too much negative stigma.  How can the industry change the way it presents itself for sales?

What is your advice on getting the best sales?  Should the sales person just try not to look desperate?

I see these questions as a huge positive, just as I see the opportunity to talk to these students each year a huge positive.  Not only are these the "younger generation" that everyone in the industry talks about trying to attract and engage, but these are the same people who will undoubtedly change timeshare for the positive in the years to come.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Five and Almost 10 With...Tim McLaughlin

Today's interview is with Tim McLaughlin, Director of RCI Business Development.

What was your first job in the timeshare industry?
Customer Service Rep for RCI in 1982. I was the first male in the operations side of the company; no switchboard operator yet, there was a bell that rang when the phone rang, anyone available to hit *7 to pick up the call and handled it! Used a Telex to communicate with Mexico and the UK.

What is the best lesson you have ever been taught?
Be honest, learn to say "I'm sorry" and learn to say "no."  People respect honesty...

What is your favorite vacation destination?
St. Maarten-plenty of great beaches to relax

What is the one thing you would change in the timeshare industry if you had the power to do it immediately?
I'd like to change the negative image some people have for whatever reason to a more positive one, as timeshare resorts are of the nicest in the world.

What is your favorite color?
Midnight blue 

Thanks to Tim for taking part in this interview series.  If you'd like to be included, or would like to see someone included, drop us a line.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Timeshare Question #1

Here's a question that I thought of while attending a recent timeshare conference.  I'd love to hear from you with an answer...if there is one.

RCI and Interval International are the "big two" of timeshare exchange companies.  Speaking from experience, there is virtually NO training that new or experienced timeshare salespersons go through from either of these companies.  And yet, RCI and II are giving away total control of what is said about their companies and services to the timeshare salesperson.

Who is responsible for the education and training at the individual resort?

Perhaps if RCI and II took a more active role in this education and training process there would be less owner dis-satisfaction regarding exchanging (the #1 reason people buy timeshare) and the "you can trade a week in Alabama for a week in Hawaii for only $149" pitch would go away forever.

Monday, June 13, 2011

A Few Words On Powerpoint Presentations...From Lisa and Guy

Having attended not one, not two, but three (!) timeshare conferences in the past two months, I feel that I am well qualified to pass on Guy Kawasaki's PowerPoint Presentation tips:

1)  Use 10 Slides or Less
2)  Keep it to 20 Minutes or Less
3)  Use 30 Point Font

There was some really great information at each of these conferences, presented by people with years more experience in the industry than me.  But the vast majority of these people had NO idea how to use much the same way most timeshare companies don't know how to use social media tools.  Just because you have a bright, shiny object doesn't mean you should use it.

And if you haven't read any of Guy Kawasaki's brilliant works, why not?  You can also follow him at @GuyKawasaki.  He may not know timeshare, but he knows marketing, media and enchantment...and timeshare could use a bit more enchantment, don't you think?

What's All The Fuss About?

I recently received an e-mail from a timeshare owner wondering what all the fuss was about.  Specifically, he wanted to know why I, along with other people, were always telling people to not do business with these companies that call, e-mail or send direct mail pieces claiming to have a buyer for their timeshare.

After all, he said, "there are a lot of people who would like to purchase a timeshare that can't afford to buy a new one.  If I have one that I'm not using, why wouldn't I do business with this company?"

To put things in crystal clear perspective, I told him to change the word "timeshare" to the word "automobile" and ask him if he would still be likely to do business with the company who called him out of the blue.

He paused for a second and then said, "Well, no, that doesn't happen."

Very true.  And the reason it doesn't happen is quite frankly, no auto owner would ever hand over $500, $1,600 or even $5 to a company that cold-calls them and tells them that they have someone who wants to buy their car...a car that may or may not even "be for sale."

Why is it that when the word "timeshare" gets thrown into the conversation, rationale gets thrown out?  My guess is that rationale may not have been part of the original equation when the timeshare was originally purchased.

The lesson is this"  Buy a timeshare for the right reason.  Sell a timeshare for the right reason, under the right circumstances.  Educate yourself, open your mind, get involved.

And that's what all the fuss is about.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Why Timeshare?

I'll admit that it has been awhile since I visited a timeshare resort.  So when someone from a large, well-known timeshare resort in the Orlando area reached out to me to discuss the timeshare business and take a look around the resort, I jumped at the chance.

Oh yes, it all came back to me...what the advantages of timeshare are!  Size, quality, luxury, kitchen facilities and privacy to name a few.

It sounds like a sales cliche, but it is very don't live in one room at home, why do it on vacation?  Shouldn't everything about your vacation, starting with your accommodations be better than your regular life?  You can't get that in a typical hotel room.

I recently returned from both Vancouver, British Columbia where I moderated a panel at CRDA and Nassau, Bahamas where I covered GNEX.  Both times, I stayed at lovely properties; the St. Regis and the Atlantis, respectively.  I even wrote a glowing review of the St. Regis.

As nice as both hotels were, I would have liked them even more if I had some space to sit, eat, relax, etc. other than my bed.  I hate to cook, I don't cook at home.  But I truly enjoy the ability to make tea, toast or something and eat in my pyjamas instead of having to get dressed and go to a restaurant or snack bar first thing in the morning.

Sure, there are some timeshares that you should avoid...more on these at a later date...but if you haven't visited a timeshare lately, do yourself a favor and rent one soon.  I'll be doing a webinar on June 16th about summer vacation timeshare rentals.  Here's the link:

And if you do own a timeshare, drop me a line and let me know what you like best about them!

Happy travels.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

An Update About Lakeview Manor Club

Sometime ago, Timeshare Insights came across the story of this resort in Freeport, Bahamas.  Someone at the resort sent an e-mail out to approximately 300 owners---using a "cc" as opposed to a "bcc" thereby giving all 300 people access to other owners' information---stating that she had been made aware of RCI's decision to disaffiliate the resort and that she was "extremely concerned."

I was puzzled by this situation, even though I knew full well that both RCI and Interval International reserve the right to accept or decline any resort, so I contacted RCI.  I had the pleasure of speaking with someone from the record as the situation is still evolving...who explained the real reason for the mess.

It seems that Lakeview Manor Club has shall we say a very spotty reputation.  Owners traditionally chose to bank their time as opposed to returning to the resort in part due to the conditions the resort.  What conditions you may be asking?  It seems that there is no phone service, no recognizable signage to or around the resort and the place has not been kept up.  Management and owners alike obviously KNEW what the problems were, yet nothing was done.

I must stress at this point, that there were NOT enough comment cards turned into RCI to warrant a disaffiliate notice, in part because no one was using their home resort nor was anyone exchanging into the resort.

This is a sad situation and a warning sign for timeshare owners everywhere.  Owners MUST begin to take an active role in the running of their resort.  Owners MUST bear the responsibility of completing comment cards for each and every timeshare resort that they visit, including their own.  Owners MUST start asking questions.  Owners MUST share information with other owners and keep up to date with the industry and each other.

It is obvious from situations like this and the "anonymous Orlando timeshare resort" that I wrote about sometime ago, that resort managers, developers, General Managers and staff may or may not have the owners' best interests at heart.  Most of them don't own at the resort, so they have no real "ownership" of the situations.  It is unfortunately up to each timeshare owner to get involved. 

As for the owners of Lakeview Manor Club, it is yet to be determined what, if any exchange opportunities they may have.

Don't let this happen to you or any other timeshare owners.  Educate Yourself, Open Your Mind, Get Involved.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Five and Almost 10 With...Francis Taylor

Francis Taylor, CEO Dial An Exchange:

What was your first job in the timeshare industy?
Exchange Consultant (Member Services Centre)

What is the best lesson you have ever been taught?
Treat everyone you interact with with respect, compassion and friendship and do whatever you can to help make a positive difference in their lives.  It will come back to you 10 fold over.

What is your favorite vacation destination?
New Zealand

What is the one thing you would change in the timeshare industry if you had the power to do it immediately?
Ensure every new timeshare owner had a better education of what it is they had purchased and how really to get the most out of it.  Education and awareness is so lacking.

What is your favorite color?
Blue.  DAE blue that is!

Thanks to Francis.  If you would like to participate in this interview series, or would like to see someone featured in this interview series, contact me.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Your Marketing DOES Suck-Lisa Ann Schreier and Mark Stevens

Rule 4 in the excellent book, "Your Marketing Sucks" by Mark Stevens states, "You will never jump ahead of the pack if you accept the conventional wisdom.  Healthy skepticism is a good thing.  Question every single thing you have ever heard about the "right way" to market."

Very definition of one of the timeshare industry's biggest problems.

Back in the early or mid 1970's someone decided that the "right way" to market timeshare included these gems:

*  bribe the client, any client
*  a 90 minute sales presentation
*  clients never come back
*  clients don't decide to buy timeshare, so it has to be sold to them
*  don't show the price until the end and make that price inflated, not the "real price"
*  don't allow for any thinking on the consumers' part; keep 'em in the ether and close 'em

Sure, there was LOTS of money made...TONS.  But I keep thinking that it could have been tons MORE if someone would have made some changes to that "right way" and provided a clear, easy to understand vacation value proposition for a terrific product.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

GNEX Review

Sometime ago, I declared that “2011 will be an important year in the timeshare world.”  My prediction is that in 5 years time, the industry will look back on this year as the year that they “got it” or the year that they had the opportunity to finally “get it”, but didn’t.

Having recently returned from Perspective Magazine’s GNEX2011, I feel more confident about this declaration than ever.  The rumblings about the need for change and education have grown into full-fledged discussions; some of which actually involved high-level executives talking to me in a serious manner.

For me, GNEX2011 can be summed up in one word-“groundbreaking.”

Groundbreaking because of the global makeup of the attendees; 120 people, representing 80 (!) companies from 15 countries across 5 continents.  And groundbreaking for the unique, no-barrier communication opportunities it presented for everyone, including this writer.

Due to the relative small size of the convention, the organizers were able to slot the educational and information sessions independently; nothing was running concurrently, which allowed for participants to give their full attention to the discussions rather than worry about what they were missing out on at another session.  There was also ample time for networking and I was pleased to see that people were actually taking time and interest in each other---many business conferences seem eerily reminiscent of high school where people hang out with their own cliques.

Paul Mattimoe, President of Perspective International had this goal in mind when he started GNEX2011; “to see if we could get industry leaders from around the world to come to a new conference with an idea to network and discuss global issues.  If people came from everywhere, then there would be something that everyone could take away that could be implemented in their own businesses and regions with the goal of making their businesses better and generating more revenue.”  When I asked him for his thoughts immediately after the conference ended, he stated that GNEX 2011 was “a good start, a good foundation for the next one.”

The 2-day conference was capped off with a lavish award dinner including Bahamian entertainment.  Dial an Exchange and The Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Punta Cana were the big winners of the night.  You owe it to yourself to check out the full list of all the winners at 

For this writer, who has a background limited to the United States and even more narrowly in Orlando, I was both excited and intrigued by the timeshare resorts and professionals in places such as Thailand, Cancun, the Dominican Republic, the United Kingdom and South Africa where I have yet to visit.

My one wish for GNEX2012 (purportedly being held in Cancun) is to somehow include timeshare owners and potential owners.  I feel strongly that timeshare professionals, especially at the level of GNEX attendees, NEED to hear from the people that are directly affected by the discussions and decisions that these executives make.

And while that in itself is a valid reason for including consumers, I’ll leave you with this reason---it’s the consumer that will ultimately hold the timeshare industry to the changes that were discussed and will decide the industry’s fate.  In the words of The Who’s Pete Townshend, “We’re not gonna take it, never did and never will.”  Here’s hoping that the timeshare industry doesn’t force that outcome.

My sincere thanks to Paul and Sharon Mattimoe, Steve Luba, Matt McDaniel and Susan Knox from Perspective as well as the conference attendees I met with for a truly eye-opening and worthwhile conference.