Sunday, January 30, 2011

For What?

I founded Timeshare Insights on three basic principles:

1) to write about the timeshare industry
2) to educate and assist consumers
3) to be a catalyst for positive change in the timeshare industry

I did not want to sell, rent, buy, broker, list, transfer or represent any timeshare or any timeshare company. I still don't. I did not want to merely whine and bitch about the various things in the industry that needed to change. I still don't. I did not want to continue with the outdated status quo within the industry. I still don't.

Yet, here we are many years later and I've come to some sobering realizations:

1) the scammers and borderline scammers continue to rake in millions of dollars
2) the whiners and naysayers continue whining without changing anything, their main reason
for being in around at all seems to be to whine
3) while the industry has taken some baby steps, continues to cling to outdated marketing and
sales techniques and continues to think of itself as something different and I dare say better
than any other product/service out there
4) the general media is not interested in focusing on anything positive about the timeshare
industry or the timeshare product
5) the vast majority of timeshare owners are lazy and not really interested in being helped or
even finding out more about the great product that they purchased

So I find myself with a business model that just isn't working.

And I ask myself, for what?

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Great Information Shared

Thanks to everyone who came out last night to the Florida Hotel at the Florida Mall to participate in Dial An Exchange's Vacation Ownership Education session.

Lots of interesting stuff presented, most of which centered on the fact that owners had choices, responsibilities and of course that timeshare provides great vacation opportunities.

I'm pretty confident that Fermin Cruz, Ed Hastry, Jason Tremblay and myself opened up a few eyes during the presentation. Always surprised to find out that timeshare owners still don't know that they have a right to find out who the HOA President is, that in many cases the real estate taxes they pay are tax deductible, that there are more than only one exchange company and that they should do some homework before trusting any company with their vacation asset.

More education tomorrow at the Orlando chapter of the National Timeshare Owners Association meeting and a full article will be running in the next issue of TimeSharing Today.

Questions about timeshare? We're your resource.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

DVC to Change Benefits for Resale Purchasers

If you're thinking of buying a membership into DVC (Disney Vacation Club), best to complete the paperwork prior to March 20th.

After that, consumers who purchase on the resale market will NOT get all the benefits that other DVC members get. They'll be cut out of using points on Disney Cruises, Adventures by Disney and at a host of Disney owned hotels.

They'll still be able to trade into the 11 DVC resorts, which an overwhelming majority of them do, as well as use RCI, the World Passport Collection and the Buena Vista Trading Company.

I'm curious to see which timeshare company will be next in limiting resale purchasers' rights. WAY back in 2001, I believe there were some restrictions placed on resale RCI Points, but those have fallen by the wayside.

We still have yet to address the issue of "new" vs. "used" and put some common sense rules in place along with some measures to narrow the gap between the primary and the secondary market.


Monday, January 24, 2011

A Clarification For Those Confused Souls Out There

This morning I received sixty-seven (67) e-mails from consumers asking for help in selling their timeshare.

And while I should be answering those e-mails right now instead of writing a post, I need to clarify something to the one out of sixty seven who stated that since Timeshare Insights charged for their services, that it was a "scam."

First of all for anyone who has read one tenth of what I've been writing for years now, they would know that I think that upfront fees for selling timeshare are NOT the way to go. For a variety of reasons that I won't go into right now.

Secondly, the word "scam" is harsh and in most cases, unwarranted, even for those firms charging upfront fees. In most cases, there is nothing illegal about it. Even the "transfer companies", whose business models I abhor, are not doing anything illegal. They are simply preying upon people's lack of knowledge and fear.

Lastly dear confused consumer...yes, Timeshare Insights charges for their consulting services. MODULE 1-designed to find out if timeshare would benefit you, MODULE 2-which timeshare would be the best fit for you and MODULE 3-help with a timeshare that you no longer use or want each carry a very nominal $250 fee.

What you get for that $250 is clear cut, unbiased, independent, solid advice. If you choose to work with any company that we may refer you to, we don't get a kick-back or a referral fee. That's how you can be assured that the information we are providing you with is unbiased.

What we find more often than not is that people reach out to Timeshare Insights AFTER spending thousands of dollars in "listing fees", or in "transfer fees" only to receive the annual bill the following year as the "transfer" never took place. That's when the allegations of "scam" come into place, but woefully misdirected.

Timeshare Insights draws upon experience and contacts. Yes, there's a fee associated with that. Are you serious about wanting personalized, independent information? Timeshare Insights does that.

For anyone who is expecting free service...remember that if if sounds to good to be true, it is and FREE is one of the four words I tell consumers to run away from.

The end.

Friday, January 21, 2011

And The Featured Speakers Are...

Here is the list of the featured speakers at the Orlando chapter meeting of the National Timeshare Owners Association meeting being held on Sunday, January 30th:

Ed Hastry-Founder and President of The National Timeshare Owners Association
Karen Donohue-Trading Places Exchange
Judi Kozlowski-President of the Licensed Timeshare Resale Brokers Association
Fermin Cruz-VP North American Operations for Dial An Exchange
Woody Cary-TriCom Management Company
Peter Emry-Cash Out A Timeshare
Sarah Goodwin-Platinum Interchange

And oh yes, Lisa Ann Schreier, Founder and Director of Timeshare Insights...but you knew that already didn't you?

From now until January 30th, the NTOA is offering a 10% discount on their annual memberships and memberships are required to attend this or any meeting.

Hope to see you all there.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

What You Can Do

Last week I received yet another postcard from yet another company with the nifty headline of, "Feeling shackled to your timeshare? We hold the key to your freedom!" Yeah, right.

Regular readers will know my thoughts on these transfer or relief companies and if you were fortunate enough to see my hidden camera report on what goes on at these meetings, you know that it makes no sense at all to pay someone thousands of dollars to get out of a full-paid timeshare.

I'll be doing a feature article during the annual ARDA convention on Donate For A Cause and periodically we'll be discussing other options if you have a timeshare you no longer use or want.

But back to the postcard. On the reverse, they clearly show an ARDA logo. ARDA, for those of you unfamilar with it is the American Resort Development Association...the governmental organization in charge of all timeshare things.

I've had numerous discussion with people at ARDA and their feelings seem to be the same as mine...they do not want to do business with these type of organizations. So, I went to ARDA's website, http://www/ and clicked on the Membership tab.

I scrolled down and not very suprisingly did not see this companies name on any of the membership lists.

So what did I do that you can and should do when you discover similar "errors"? And by "errors' I mean "violations." Called and e-mailed and reported it. Done...very simple

Hopefully, this will shake up someone at ARDA to do some follow up and perhaps go after these companies legally, but at the very least I certainly hope that if you discover that some company (that you shouldn't be doing business with in the first place as they contacted you out of the blue) is using an ARDA logo without permission, you don't fall for whatever they are selling.

Remember our mission for 2011? Educate Yourself, Open Your Mind, Get Involved. This falls into all three of those.

Monday, January 17, 2011

2011 Is The Year To...

Today's post is brief and to the point.

All of you out there, timeshare owners or not should make 2011 the year you:

Educate youself, open your mind and get involved.

Together, we can bring about positive change.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

New ARDA Video Misses The Key Feature Of Timeshare

There's a new 2 minute video on ARDA's consumer site that hopes to share what timeshare is all about without the need for a sales presentation...their words, not mine.

It shows people enjoying great accommodations, having wonderful vacatione experiences, etc. in lush locales.

What is DOESN'T focus on is "ownership." Unless I missed it (and my apologies if I did), there is not one mention of the word "own." They do mention "guarantee" which is, IMHO NOT a good word to use.

Let's face can have great vacation experiences with family and friends in great locations without timeshare. It's being done everyday by people who don't own timeshare.

Timeshare is about one thing and one thing only...ownership. So why not focus on that?

Many years back, when I was a naive younger thing and thought I could change the timeshare industry with a wave of my hand (only a slight exaggeration), I did an interview where I said, "what the timeshare industry needs is a successful PR campaign to address and get over the bad image that it still has." I still stand by this all these years later.

ARDA's video is nice, don't get me wrong and I applaud their efforts, but without mentioning ownership and without addressing the misinformation that's out there, how do they expect to change people's minds?

Timeshare is a wonderful product with great advantages...first and foremost of those is ownership.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Top Timeshare Resorts For Renters recently posted their Top 25 Timeshare Resorts for rentals. Here they are:

Disney's Beach Club Villas-Lake Buena Vista, Florida
Harborside Resort at Atlantis-Paradise Island, Bahamas
Marriott's Maui Ocean Club (Napali Villas) Lahaina, Hawaii
Marriott's Crystal Shores-Marco Island, Florida
Disney's BoardWalk Villas-Lake Buena Vista, Florida
Marriott's Maui Ocean Club (Lahaina Villas)-Lahaina, Hawaii
Marriott's Maui Ocan Club-Lahaina, Hawaii
Disney's Animal Kingdom Villas (Jambo House)-Lake Buena Vista, Florida
Mariott's Aruba Surf Club-Palm Beach, Aruba
The Manhattan Club-New York, New York
Costa Linda Beach Resort-Oranjestad, Aruba
Marriott's Aruba Ocean Club-Palm Beach, Aruba
Marriott's Ko Olina Beach Club-Kapolei, Hawaii
Marriott's Ocean Watch Villas at Grand Dunes-Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
Villas at Disney's Wilderness Lodge-Lake Buena Vista, Florida
The Westin St. John-Virgin Grand Villas-St. John, US Virgin Islands
Holiday Inn Club Vacations at Orange Lake Resort (East Village)-Kissimmee, Florida
Disney's Old Key West Resort-Lake Buena Vista, Florida
Wyndham Old Town Alexendria-Alexendria, Virginia
Renaissance Resort and Casino-Oranjestad, Aruba
Playa Grande Resort-Cabo San Lucas,Mexico
Villa Roma Resort Lodges-Calicoon, New York
Playa Linda Beach Resort-Palm Beach, Aruba
Marriott's Frenchman's Cove-St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands
Casa Dorada at Medano Beach-Cabo San Lucas, Mexico

Congrats to both Marriott and Disney for taking so many top spots. And now I have to look and see where Calicoon, New York is :-)

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Imagine This

Imagine own a car, free and clear. You paid $25,000 four years ago. As with any car, it needs periodic maintenance such as oil changes, tire rotation, front wheel aligngment, etc. Nothing out of the ordinary.

Now imagine that your car owning habits have changed. Perhaps you move to a city such as New York where you don't need a car, or you just don't want your car anymore. Happens everyday.

So, what to do with that car that you longer use/want? Well, if you are like most consumers, you put an ad online, put flyers up, tell your friends/family/co-workers that you have a car for sale or advertise it in a newsletter of some sort.

Just to see if you are paying attention don't expect to sell the car for $25,000 do you? How about $32,000? Of course not.

What if you received a phone call out of the blue from a company that told you that they had a buyer for your car and that all they needed was $1,500 for the paperwork? Chances are that you would hang up on them.

OK, what if you received a glossy, four color postcard from the company that said in part, "...we provide a contractual agreement that guarantees the transer of your car out of your name and a 100% Guarantee in Writing..." and said that they were going to be in town for three days next month and that you should call to secure an appointment?

What if you were curious and took them up on their offer only to find out at this meeting that the "transfer" they were talking about consisted of you handing over the title to your car AND a cash payment of $3,500, thereby relieving you of the cost of the oil changes, tire rotation, etc.?

Oh and by the way, just so you aren't confused here...the $3,500 is JUST to transfer the title...if this company actually ends up selling your car for say, $7,500, you don't get ANY of the proceeds. You are jut supposed to give them the free and clear title and the cash and walk away.

I know what you are thinking...are you out of your mind? Who would ever do such a thing? Heck, it would be better to just GIVE the car away outright rather than pay someone $3,500 to transfer the title right?

Well, change "car" to "timeshare" and change "oil change, tire rotation, front wheel alignment, et.c" to "maintenance fees" and you have the insane story of what thousands of timeshare owners are doing each year. To the tune of over $40 million annually in "transfer fees."

There is nothing at all to stop companies from doing business like this. There is nothing illegal about it. But there is something that timeshare owners can do. They can educate themselves and wise up.

Use some common sense people or suffer the consequences.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Changing Places

I'v received some flack lately from my article in TimeSharing Today where I state that I've never known of timeshare resorts where the salespersons were trained to lie. As I said, my article was based on my own 4+ years as a salesperson and salesmanager and my interactions in the past few years with timeshare executives.

Does it happen? I'm sure there are cases where it does and those individuals should have a public spectacle made out of them and be very openly thrown out of the business. The timeshare industry has enough on it's plate without liers.

There is of course a fairly simple step that can be taken which will not only eliminate this issue, but be the catalyst for some huge positive changes to take place. Change places.

Become the customer. Have the CEOs, the Presidents, the COOs, the top sales "dog", the PR person, etc. all become a customer.

That's right...walk down the Strip in Vegas and listen to the "you don't have to buy anything, just tell them that you make $65K and you can leave in 40 minutes" spiel. Sit down for "breakfast" with one of the fast-talking timeshare salespeople who talk about "the investment value of owning a piece of real estate in Central Florida." Try to sit with a straight face as the timeshare saleseperson tells you that "timeshare weeks will soon be worthless...everyone is going to points, and if you don't upgrade your timeshar will be worthless." Get on the phone with the exchange company and see what's it's like to try to trade an off-season week in Alabama for a week in Hawaii.

Too hard? OK, even simpler. Go to a shopping mall or an airport and arm yourself with a clipboard and ask random strangers their opinions of timeshare. The key words are "random strangers." Chances are if they already own timeshare, they have great things to say about it. We know that. It's the non-owners that I'm talking about. Chances are they they don't have such wonderful things to say because they only know the bad things.

Imagine if every single head-honcho did this for a week. Can you imagine the positive changes that would be made? As I said, I am of the firm belief that these same head-honchos, the ones that I meet at industry events want the positive changes made. They just don't know how to begin.

Now they know...change places, become the customer, talk to consumers directly. Let the changes begin.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Brothers and Sisters...Let's All Be Cool

Or something like that...said Mick Jagger at Altamont back in 1969.

And in 2011, it still rings true. Let's all work together and be cool.

I've had a day full of phone calls and e-mails from various people and organizations associated with timeshare. He says this, she says this, Player #1 doesn't agree with everything Player #2 is doing, Company #1 is stalling on moving ahead because the President of Company #2 won't talk to him and instead sends him to the Vice President. What a day!

The only way we are going to make progress...and progress is defined as more people who own, understand and are happy with their timeshares, less scam artists and other unsavory companies trying to rip off people and a more flattering view of timeshare from the traditional to work together.

More than 6 million Americans own a timeshare. There is no reason why 500,000 of them should not belong to the National Timeshare Owners Association, get involved in their annual HOA meetings, pay attention and support ARDA-ROC, subscribe to TimeSharing Today, know about and use alternate exchange companies when it benefits them, know the difference between a licensed timeshare reseller and a scam artist, take advantage of Bonus and Getaway Weeks, refer friends and family to timeshare and of course, read my blog, follow me on Twitter and/or own at least one copy of both of my books. Hey, it's myu blog, I can be self-serving now and then.

Let's make 2011 the year when we all band together and make a positive difference in timeshare. Who is with me?