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.