Tuesday, February 22, 2011

My Response To The WSJ's Story on the Marriott Timeshare Spinoff

It will come as no surprise to anyone that I've had some pointed things to say to and about the traditional timeshare industry. However, I am a strong believer in the value of the product and what that product can do for consumers. I am also fed up with the constant negative press that the industry receives, many times without the benefit of all the facts.

Some of you may have read the recent piece by Al Lewis for the Wall Street Journal about the recent decision Marriott took to spinoff its timshare division. I was NOT happy with the tone of the article. Here's the content of the e-mail that I wrote to Mr. Lewis regarding his article:

While I was pleased to read your recent timeshare story concerning Marriott, I fear you presented a rather one-sided view.

While Timeshare Insights does NOT sell, rent, buy, broker, list, transfer or represent any timeshare or any timeshare company, I feel that it's necessary to point out that while timeshare sales presentations can be high pressure at times, no one forced consumers to purchase anything, Marriott or otherwise. Also, while it is true that timeshares should be purchased only for the value that they represent for future vacations, they should not be thought of an investment of any sort. Also, when people always complain that they are only able to sell their timeshares for a fraction of what they paid for it, I ask them "how much can you sell your hotel receipts for?" and that usually puts a perspective on things.

Timeshare Insights is an education and consultant based company. Our motto for this year is, "Educate Yourself, Open Your Mind, Get Involved." Consumers seem to lose their common sense when it comes to anything timeshare and the media is way to quick to point out only the bad news about timeshare. While I will be the first to admit that there is some bad news and the timeshare industry has some work to do to improve their damaged reputation, it is not all doom and gloom.

Timeshares can be wonderful things to some people. And while I am not a spokesperson for Marriott, I doubt that "Marriott wants out" as you put it...I am confident that the next five years will bring about the positive changes that are needed in this industry and Timeshare Insights is proud to be working FOR those positive changes, as opposed to some organizations who seem to be in the business of spreading doom and gloom and profiting from consumers' misfortunes.

I'd be happy to speak with you about this, or any other timeshare issues in the future.

Continued Success.



  1. Thanks for sharing this insightful response to the WSJ, Lisa.

    I agree with your points that timeshare is NOT an investment - especially timely reminder for the European marketplace where interpreting shared ownership as an investment of any kind will be outlawed as part of the February 23 Directive.

    You're right, too, that while on occasion timeshare can be a hard sell, there's no 'force' involved. Everything is at the consumer's discretion.

    Interesting what plays out from here on the Marriott front.

    Lisa, you provide some of the most thought-provoking commentary on the shared ownership industry; you're a published and verified author; and yet so very few people spare the time to comment and turn this into the community it richly deserves to be.

    My major concern for the industry right now is that while a handful of people seem keen to unite for a common goal, they are in the minority. We need a belt and braces approach - for everyone to rally together if timeshare is to have a successful future. If we don't, we fail.

    Optimistic, nonetheless. Thanks!

  2. Thanks Dave, I appreciate your words and your work. I'm pleased to be a part of "Timeshare Done Right" on Facebook and urge anyone who reads my blogs to join. A shame you will not be at ARDA, because I am looking to get some solid work done there.

    I think the "good guys" MUST band together, put egos aside, consolidate and do some good. I'm more than willing to do that for the common good. It will be interesting to see who is about talk and who is about action.

  3. I agree with both Dave AND your email, Lisa.

    The fact is, the major brands would have been 'dead in the water' after 9/11 were it not for their lucrative timeshare divisions. In virtually all cases, the ONLY division that outperformed was timeshare, and it elevated their ROI to reasonable levels. How soon they forget...

    I also love arguing with media about timeshare, because (as I have pointed out to them several times in the past), most journalists work for some of the biggest timeshare companies in the world, and they don't even realize it. After all, if Ford wants to advertise a new vehicle, they don't go out and publish their own newspaper; they "time share" space alongside their competitors because it's much more cost efficient!

    The fact is, we couldn't exist as a society without timesharing.

    All media, public transportation, public utilities, highways, eduation systems, etc. are all just variations of timeshare. Unless you're willing to build your own power generation system and run power lines to your front door, you have no choice but to "time share" the power grid with others!

    Once you get them to understand that timesharing itself isn't inherently "evil", you can then focus on the specific aspects of the timeshare PRODUCT that they find objectionable...and those usually revolve around marketing. I tend to address those head on (often quoting tour generation costs) because a little education goes a long way. In my experience, once people understand that a developer has paid $350 for the privilege of spending some time with them, they tend to be a little more respectful of the developer's desire to maximize that opportunity and they understand the nature of the relationship much better.

    The bottom line: A little education can go a long way!

  4. The article was clearly written by someone without facts. I am glad to see your response.