I've had the pleasure of speaking with timeshare owners for quite some time now.
You know what I've found out? People like to vacation and people like their timeshare.
There's just too much confusion about how to use them and growing aggravation about the price increases associated with them.
To that end, I've always advocated that timeshare owners speak up and ask questions. Ask questions before you buy, ask questions after you own, ask questions about the fees, ask questions about your options and always stand up for your rights.
If you already own a timeshare, make certain you know when the yearly HOA meeting is an get yourself there or at least exercise your proxy. Get to know who is on the Board of Directors or run for the Board yourself.
Does your resort have a newsletter? Write then and ask that they put in some really important information about the timeshare instead of the fluff.
Ask really good questions about exchanging. The resort won't tell you about your options unless you ask. Despite what you may have been lead to believe, RCI and II are not your only options for exchange. That's not saying anything bad about the "big two", but you need to know about the "little guys" as well.
If you haven't bought a timeshare yet, by all means do your homework and realize that buying from the developer is not your only options. If you were in the market for a car, you wouldn't go to only one dealer, would you? Of course not. With the current economic situation most people are in, it makes no sense at all to spend $15,000 or $20,000 or even more on the basis of only spending two hours with one salesperson who doesn't even know the other options out there.
To use the car analogy again, don't let the salesperson talk you into a pink SUV that gets 15 miles per gallon before you know what you want. You want a silver two-seater convertible. And if the salesperson continues to show you the pink SUV, get up and walk out.
The traditional timeshare industry is facing some tough times right now as you may have heard. Years and years and years of bribing clients with the "3 day/2 night mini vacation with 2 dinner show tickets for only $99" have finally caught up with them. And while I don't wish any misfortune on anyone in the industry, part of the reason those ploys no longer work as wel as they used to is becuase consumers are getting more educated, asking more questions and not settling for what the salesperson is pitching them.
Over the years, I've been accused of being anti-consumer because I came from the developer side. Then the tide turned and the industry saw me as anti-developer because I counseled counsumers. The truth of the matter is that I am anti-nothing! I am pro-timeshare, pro-consumer, pro-free market and most of all, pro-vacation.
Speak up, ask questions, question the status quo...and don't forget to have a great vacation now and then!