Monday, August 29, 2011

Five and Almost 10 With...Alain Carr

Today we meet Alain Carr, President of CARE (Cooperative Association for Resort Exchangers).

What was your first job in timeshare?
My first exposure to timeshare was working as a sales representative for Lifetime Vacations. We were selling the Royal Kuhio on the island of Oahu. Our store was offsite, actually located in the western suburbs of Chicago.

What is the best lesson that you have ever been taught?
One of my favorite lessons that I have learned in my life is that the man than can teach ten to work is greater than the man that can do the work of ten.

What is your favorite vacation destination?
I would to say that my favorite vacation ever was visiting Austria with my mother and children. My mother lives just outside Munich si we picked her up and headed down just past Salzburg and it was magnificent. My little girls who were just 4 and 6 at the time came back with real life knowledge that castles really DO exist. And once upon a time there were kings and queens and little princesses.

If you could change one thing about the timeshare industry, what would it be?
I would change the resale industry. So many use such negativity to take a desperate family’s rights from them, sometime costing thousands of dollars which poisons the waters for anyone to sell or resell anything. Al it has always been true, but especially now in his economy, the best thing you can do with your timeshare is use it.

 What is your favorite color?
My favorite has to be red.  It represents passion and it gets attention.

Thanks Alain.  If you would like to be featured in this segment, drop us a line at 

Friday, August 26, 2011

DVC "Issues"

By now, everyone has heard of Disney Vacation Club's issues with their new resort in Hawaii.  President Jim Lewis and two other executives were fired from Disney and sales of the new timeshare resort have been halted for more than a month now.

On the surface, this does not seem like good news for anyone except the mainstream media, ever anxious to pounce on any bad news with the word timeshare.  I don't think for a minute that I know the details of what went on (or didn't go on) to cause the DVC problems.  Some people believe it had to do with legal filings, others believe it has to do with surprisingly low annual fees to support such a project.  I strongly believe that Disney Vacation Club will do the right thing with owners and in the end, their Hawaii project will be a success.

But the greater good that I think will come out of this story is that consumers everywhere will start to ask more and more pertinent questions before purchasing ANY timeshare, Disney or other.  Some of those questions have to do with the annual fees, some have to do with developer control and others have to do with the difference between a "new" and "used" timeshare.

Don't get me wrong, I think that DVC is a good thing for some consumers to buy, however, for too long, DVC and some other brand names were thought of as somehow better than a small, independent timeshare and that is just not true.  Consumers and the media need to know that with more than 6,000 timeshare resorts worldwide (almost 1,700 in the United States), this is too big an industry to make broad generalizations based on a name only.

We'll be talking more about the questions that consumers need to ask before buying any timeshare in the next few weeks.  If you have any you'd like to include, let us know.  And if you are an owner at DVC's resort in Hawaii, drop us a note and let us know how things are going.

Friday, August 19, 2011

It's Supposed To Be Vacation, Not Work

I hear you.  Over and over and over again, I hear from timeshare owners who simply don't want to get involved in their resort's HOA or in any timeshare issues.  And there is one reason...these people purchased their timeshare because they wanted a carefree vacation...NOT an ongoing involvment in HOAs, board members, rules, and/or budgets.

But the fact is that timeshare owners MUST get involved in these issues or risk the very vacation experiences that brought them to timeshare to begin with.  You only have to talk to owners of The Manhattan Club, Simpson Bay, Diamond Resorts, Celebration World Resort etc. to find out what I mean.

So, what is the answer?  I don't know.  I do know that timeshare owners continue to be taken advantage of by timeshare transfer companies, timeshare relief companies, fake timeshare resale companies and yes, by some resort mismanagement.  And then there are the owners who simply don't know how to use their timeshare.

Earlier this week, I "Facebooked" about the need for the good guys to put aside some of their differences and work together for a common goal.  While it is true that not all of us agree on everything, we do agree on at least 85% of things. 

I've been fortunate to work with some of these good guys and I'm extending the olive branch to all of them AND timeshare owners around the world.  We're a generally smart group of people, so I'm confident that we can find answer.

We'd love to hear your thoughts.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

More Things I Learned From Guy Kawasaki's "Reality Check"

There is a short, but powerful chapter in "Reality Check" called The Art of Evangelism.  Should be required reading for everyone in any business, not just timeshare...or Macs.
Guy states that, "The key to great evangelism is great innovation.  It is easy---almost unavoidable---to catalyze evangelism for a great product.  It is hard, almost impossible, to catalyze evangelism for crap.  Evangelism, after all, comes from the Greek word for "bringing the good news", not "the crappy news.  The important question is, "What are the characteristics of an innovative product or service?  The answer is to think DICEE."

Before I continue, let me state so that there is NO doubt in anyone's mind...I believe timeshare is a great product.  The industry must simply fix some things, get rid of some people and get out of their own way and I believe that ownership and satisfaction WILL increase dramatically.

Getting back to Mr. Kawasaki's DICEE;

DEEP  A great product is deep.  It doesn't run out of features and functionality after a few weeks of use.  Its creators have anticipated what you'll need once you come up to speed.  As your demands get more spophisticated, you discover that you don't need a new product.

INTELLIGENT  A great product screams that someone was thinking when she created it.  Panasonic, for example, makes a flashlight that takes three battery sizes.  This triples the probability that you have a battery that will work.  The product's benefits may be obvious when you see it, but someone had an insight to create it.

COMPLETE  A great product is more than a physical thing.  Documentation counts.  Customer service counts.  Tech support counts.  Consultants and third-party developers count.  Online communities count.  A great product provides a great total user experience---sometimes despite the company that produces it.

ELEGANT  A great product has an elegant user interface.  Things work the way you'd think they would.  A great product doesn't fight you---it enhances you.  Metaphorically, you take it home, plug it in and it works.  The first step is to use it, not search for a manual online to teach you how to use it.

EMOTIVE  A great product incites you to action.  It is so deep, indulgent, complete and elegant that it compels people to tell others about it.  They're not necessarily an employee or shareholder of the company that produces it.  They're bringing the good news to help others, ot themselves.

Before you say "sure, that's great for a computer or an i{hone, not a timeshare", give it some thought.  What can you do to make sure timeshare, or at least your timeshare is "elegant?"  How about "emotive?"

The way to get more people to buy, enjoy, love and spread the word about timeshare is to get out of our own way...who is onboard?

Friday, August 12, 2011

Five and Almost 10 With...Dave Thackeray

Today we profile the wonderfully talented Dave Thackeray, Founder of Word and Mouth.

What was your first job in timeshare?
Writing the staff magazine for RCI in Europe. Exchanges - whatever else would it be called? I then moved on to edit the magazines for affiliates and owners. Learning about the industry from both sides all the time. What a buzz!

What was the greatest lesson you'ver ever been taught?
Not to assume. Ever. Quite aside from getting me into hot water with the bosses on numerous occasions, myriad were the instances when I'd think I knew it all about timeshare and then I'd meet a developer who would completely blow me away with an incredible project, or a beautifully humanistic gesture of goodwill. Strip down the layers and we're all wonderful human beings.

Where is your favorite vacation spot?
I haven't been there yet! Seriously, I think I'd say Cornwall and Devon in England. I'd trade the Sydney Opera House and the Golden Temple for the Lost Gardens of Helligan any day. You must go!

If you could change one thing about timeshare, what would it be?
I'd give some folks a good old shake and say you NEED to start understanding how important technology is to developing relationships with the new generation of owners. There's no quicker or more cost effective way to create an incredible reputation. The industry at large needs to figure that out for themselves. I'd love to get a stage somewhere and deliver a rocket on this subject to the assembled masses!

What is your favorite color?
Blue. Like the endless sky, and the colour of my favourite soccer team, Everton

Thanks Dave.  You know, in reading the responses to my question bout changing one thing in timeshare, I'm convinced that there are enough smart, talented people already working in our industry to really make the positive changes needed.

If you would like to be featured in this series, or know someone who should be featured, let us know!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

A Few Things I Learned From Guy Kawasaki's "Reality Check"---and You Can As Well

If you haven't yet read Guy Kawasaki's "Reality Check", I encourage you to do so.  I've said for years now that timeshare marketing, advertising, selling and public relations is NOT rocket science.  And that is said with the greatest respect for marketing, etc. professionals..I myself have a BA in Marketing and spent years in advertising.

The one thing that is holding this industry back is the continued, insistant belief that timeshare is different and that the rules don't apply.

Here are some gems from Mr. Kawasaki, who as the former Apple Mac evangelist, knows a thing or two about product adaptation, building a loyal following, etc.

Sell, don't enable buying  For most organizations the best lead generation methods are seminars, presentations by company executives and schmoozing.
Give less information  Perhaps if people are given more information, it's harder for them to kid themselves.  (NOTE from me...this is NOT the same as lying.)
Cut the hype  Underprominsing and over delivering is the way to go.
Enable test drives   Do whatever it takes to enable people to download a trial version of your software, use your Web sie, drive your car, eat at your restaurant or attend your church service.

How can you use this information?  Are you already using it?  Who are the timeshare mavericks out there?  We want to hear from you.

Friday, August 5, 2011

What Is ARDA-ROC and What Are They All About?

If you check out the ARDA-ROC site at you will see the following Mission Statement: 

The ARDA Resort Owners’ Coalition (ARDA-ROC) is a non-profit program sponsored by the American Resort Development Association, dedicated to preserving, protecting and enhancing vacation ownership. ARDA-ROC is an alliance of owners, developers and managers who are committed to advocating for local, state and federal policies that enable the vacation ownership industry to thrive.

OK, what does that mean?  That means that they are actively engaged in working for things that enhance and help timeshare and timeshare owners and against things that would be a detriment to the industry and owners.

In addition to some very important legislative issues, some of which will be covered in future posts, ARDA-ROC has a great page dedicated to timeshare resales and resale scams.  There are any number of places that consumers can turn to in an attempt to get information on timeshare resales and I congratulate ARDA-ROC for joining the ranks and getting this unbiased information out to the public.

Timeshare owners need to educate themselves.  No one in or on the fringes of the industry, like myself, can force owners to get the education and stop falling prey to scammers and less than scrupulous companies and organizations.

If you're a timeshare owner, I know all too well that you purchased your timeshare(s) with the intent on using them and enjoying them, NOT to become educated on the pros and cons, myths and truths.  But why, oh why would you NOT want to find out more about timeshare, how to use it, how not to get ripped off, etc.?

Check out ARDA-ROC for a start and remember, Educate Yourself, Open Your Mind, Get Involved.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

An Open Invitation To The Industry

It has again been brought to my attention that some in the traditional timeshare industry think I am a naysayer, a know-nothing, anti-timeshare-or at least anti-developer, an egotist, controversial and/or the devil incarnate.

I'll accept controversial and throw the rest out.

I started out as an Owner Referral Manager at an Orlando resort and moved into timeshare sales and sales management for five years, before striking out on my own as The Timeshare Crusader.  I've made a few mis-steps along the way which I will readily admit to.  I've NEVER claimed to know everything nor do I think that it's an easy task to make timeshare more accepted.

I believe in timeshare and I see no reason why an industry that's been around as long as we have, with so many smart people in it can't do something to increase ownership from 7% to 20% or 25% in 5 years. 

I also believe that the ONLY thing that is stopping that is the fact that many in the industry refuse to understand that timeshare is like every other product/service out there; no better, no worse, and that by clinging to the theory that "we're different" they've painted themselves into this corner.

It has been my sincere pleasure to meet and learn from many industry leaders in the past few years.  I'd venture to say that the majority of them did have a bit of trepidation upon first meeting me...was I really the anti-timeshare person that they had heard about?  Yet, I would imagine that the VAST majority of those leaders who took the time to talk to me and get to know me now understand that I am one of the industry's strongest supporters and advocates...I simply think that changes are overdue.

To the rest of you...the industry leaders and anyone else who works in the's an open invitation to come up and talk with me at any industry event, e-mail me, call me, take the time to read what I've been saying, take the time to listen to me speak to timeshare owners and timeshare students.

I think you'll be surprised.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Timeshare Board Members Association

Timeshare owners and timeshare board members need to know about the Timeshare Board Members Association (

This group was recently formed to deal with the important issues that are currently facing timeshare HOA boards; among them being rising delinquency rates, termination of "forever" timeshare deeds, due process for owner, vacation club pros and cons and of course the proliferation of the timeshare "rescue/relief" companies and what that means to owners and HOAs.

There's a meeting scheduled for Sunday, October 16th and Monday October 17th at the Scottsdale Camelback Resort in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Don't let your timeshare board operate in a vacuum.  Take advantage of this opportunity to meet with other members, share ideas, experiences and goals. 

For more information or to RSVP, contact Shep Altshuler of TimeSharing Today at or directly at 201.924.7435.

Timeshare Insights FULLY supports this association and this meeting and encourages all timeshare owners to let their board members know about this.  Timeshare resorts are at a critical point and in order to combat what is going on, we MUST educate ourselves and work together to find answers and determine the future.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Moving In The Right Direction

I had a great opportunity to meet with some dedicated timeshare owners and some wonderful timeshare professionals over the weekend.

Frank DeBar, president of the Florida Timeshare Users Group, was gracious enough to invite me to attend his group's summer meeting and I was fortunate to have the opportunity to meet and learn from some truly forward thinking timeshare professioanls.

I'll be writing more over the next week or so, but a hearty "thanks" to Woody Cary from Tricom Management, Scott MacGregor from InnSeasons Resorts and Rich Muller from Vacation Resorts International.  Not only did these gentlemen share their knowledge and insights about timeshare, but they acknowledged the issues that the industry faces and all realized the need for change.

On a personal note, I received a shot in the arm when all three of them acknowledged what I've been doing with Timeshare Insights and encouraged and invited me to both continue and work with them.

Thanks guys for the positive vibes!