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.