Monday, December 17, 2012

Timeshare PR-Why Even Bother?

If like me, you have no life and use all your free time to follow timeshare "news" on the Internet, you will  have undoubtedly seen that what passes for timeshare news falls into three segments:

1)  Really awful news about timeshare related scams
2)  Timeshares listed for sale
3)  Reports about the financial health and well-being of various timeshare organizations
4)  Announcements of one sort or another that derive solely from PR efforts

I'd like to talk a bit about that last segment..."stories" that derive solely from PR efforts.

I'm not against PR...I think it is a valuable component of any organization's marketing efforts.  But when you're talking about an industry as large and as misunderstood as timeshare, I feel the efforts could be used for a greater good.

Here's what we see each week:

So and so has been promoted to Assistant Mucky Muck

ACME Company will now be a Super Gold sponsor of the next timeshare conference

Mr. Big Shot (who has been associated with more timeshare organizations than anyone can keep track of) has been hired by Super Duper Company and will be in charge of some mysterious project that no one can really explain

The said mentioned Mr. Big Shot will be a featured speaker at the next really big timeshare conference (a conference by the way, that is either not open to consumers, timeshare owners or not, or cost prohibitive to attend)

Really Large Company has been voted a great place to work at according to some study

All of these stories can be considered newsworthy.  But the problem is that NONE of them focus on the consumer.  And the consumer is the only one that matters.

If consumers don't buy timeshare, ACME Company won't be around.  If consumers continue to feed the media with the mostly true stories about being ripped off, Mr. Big Shot will be fired from his current position---probably to be hired by yet another company focused on the "old boys network"; a conversation for a different time though.

Yet, when there is a really positive story about timeshare just waiting to be told, say perhaps the first annual International Timeshare Appreciation Day or a meeting of timeshare owners where there will be some real education gained, the same PR pros who put out these other stories mysteriously take no part.

I have lots of thoughts as to why this happens, but I'm more interested in hearing from you.  And what can be done about it?

Friday, December 7, 2012

Cold Callers And What To Do About Them

This blog post started off as something else.  It was going to be about what consumers should do about timeshare related organizations that cold call (HANG UP) and what the industry should be doing about these organizations and the stronger warnings they should be issuing.

So to get started, I went to the ARDA-ROC site and started reading their information about so-called transfer companies.  Now don't get me wrong...despite the fact that people running both ARDA and ARDA-ROC think I hate them, I don't.  I think they do some good work mostly on behalf of the developers...that's their business model.

But if you take a look at the information on the website about transfer companies you'll probably shake your head just as I did.

I love what they say about doing your homework before listening to any sales pitches.  People don't do that.  Years of selling timeshare via sales pitches have taught us that.

They also talk about checking with your resort manager, the Attorney General and the BBB.  Right...I'm sure frustrated and scared timeshare owners are in the frame of mind to do such a thing.

My favorite (sarcasm indended) caution of all was: Before signing anything, check with your own legal or financial advisor(s).  First of all, the vast majority of people being preyed upon don't have access to legal or financial advisors.  Second of all, as bad as these companies are...and they are bad...we're talking about $3,000 - $5,000 at the most.

So, now we're issuing warnings to people to check with legal or financial advisors for a $4,000 fee, while at the same time, thousands of people are told that it isn't necessary to check with a legal or financial advisor regarding the purchase of a $20,000 timeshare.

All of this just creates more ill will, confusion and lost money.

It's very simple...ARDA-ROC, ARDA, the TBMA, TimeSharing Today, TUG, the National Timeshare Owners Association, the Florida Timeshare Users Group and anyone else purporting to have the consumers' best interest at heart should band together and release articles and press releases advising consumers NOT TO DO BUSINESS WITH ANY TIMESHARE RELATED ORGANIZATION THAT INITIATES CONTACT.

I've been saying this for years now.  But then again, I have no political motivation, I get no voluntary or involunatary monies paid to me and I'm not afraid of telling truth.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Friday, November 16, 2012

If A Timeshare Is "More" Shouldn't Their Rating System Reflect That?

I was reading an article where someone was complaining about the rating of a hotel that she had recently stayed in.  What's the difference between a 2 star and a 3 star rating...and so on.

It started me thinking of the rather limiting ways timeshare are rated.  If memory serves, both RCI and II utilize a 1-5 rating system on check in and check out and overall resort quality along with one or two more criteria.

Imagine my surprise when I did some checking and found out the criteria that Mobil uses to rate a hotel/motel/resort 4 Star:

Four-Star Lodgings
Four-Star Lodging Establishment indicates an outstanding hotel providing the guest with a luxury experience in a distinctive setting, including expanded amenities and exceptional service. Guests at a Four-Star Hotel, Resort or Inn can expect to find all of the qualities for a Three-Star Hotel, Resort or Inn plus the following characteristics:

Services Detail

• Written confirmation is automatic or offered, either by mail, fax or e-mail.
• Guests name is used effectively, but discreetly, as a signal of recognition.
• The time from arriving at the reception area until registration is complete does not exceed five minutes (includes queuing).
• Bed is plush and inviting with oversized or numerous pillows.
• Bedcovers are elegant and stylish and with linens of exceptional quality and comfort.
• All written information is provided on good quality paper or pads, custom-printed or logoed.
• Bathroom presentation and placement of amenities and linens is thoughtful, careful, and elegant.
• Fresh ice is provided during evening service or at another time during the day.
• Turndown service is automatically provided.
• During turndown service, guest clothing is neatly handled and guest toiletries are neatly arranged and displayed on a cloth or shelf.
• Room service is delivered within 30 minutes.
• Room service order is delivered within five minutes of quoted time.
• One hour pressing is available.
• If resort, two hour pressing available
• Same day laundry and dry cleaning is available seven days/week.
• Wake-up call is personalized with guest's name and time of day.
• Wake-up call is delivered within two minutes of requested time.
• Special service desk identified as concierge/guest service is situated apart from reception/front desk.
• If Inn, Workstation where guest can access Internet (may be "borrowed" office) is available.
• If spa services are present, treatments are begun and ended on schedule, within five minutes of expected or booked time.
• If spa services are present, during treatment, therapist appears to be genuinely expert, moving seamlessly through the treatment as described and expected.
• If casino services are present, when playing slots for more than 20 minutes, drink service is offered.
• If casino services are present, when playing a table game for more than 15 minutes, drink service is offered.

Facilities Detail

• Lobby areas feature elegant live plants and/or fresh floral displays.
• A dedicated and secure luggage storage area is available.
• Public phones are equipped with seats, privacy panels and pad/pens.
• Public washrooms are furnished with upgraded materials and appointments/luxurious design.
• Televisions feature premium cable TV (two movie channels, two all-news, two financial).
• Guest room telephones have two lines.

Guest Room Detail

• Selection of at least 10 hangers including a variety of bars, clips and padded.
• In-room safe is present.
• If Inn, in-room safe is present or readily accessible on-site.
• If minibar is present, it is non auto-charge, and premium products are attractively displayed.
• Bed is triple sheeted or features washable duvets.
• Live plants are present in guest rooms.
• Shaving/makeup, lighted magnifying mirror is present.

Specialized Facility Detail

• Fitness equipment is available with personal headphones/televisions.
• Current newspapers and national-title magazines are provided in fitness and locker areas.
• If spa, treatment rooms are equipped with individually controlled temperature and sound systems

Even if we take away the items that only pertain to hotels and not to timeshares such as turndown service, it seems to me that this is a HUGE step up from the very limited items that timeshares are routinely rated on.

If timeshares truly are "more" than that's the story that needs to get out to the general public.  Time for a change!  Who's on board?

Friday, November 9, 2012

International Timeshare Appreciation Day-A Recap In 3 Parts

Part 1-The Truly Wonderful

The first annual ITAD was held on November 1st and I was blown away by the positive response.  We had nearly 800 people share their positive stories on the Facebook page...which will remain operational and monitored.

This endeavor would not have been possible without the hard work and efforts of the following:  DAE Live, Confused About Timeshare, Lake Forest Resort and Club, TATOC, Worldwide Timeshare Hypermarket, Azure Resorts, LiveShare Travel and RCI Ventures.

The terrific responses from owners were sincere, unscripted, honest and unedited-in marked contrast to other sites which claim to want to hear from owners but edit anything that doesn't fit into the doctorine that's being preached.  Many of these owners have owned for 15, 20 and even 30 years; flying squarely in the face of the oft-repeated stories that timeshare owners want out.  They don't.  These are savvy, educated owners who know how to get the most out of their purchase.

Part 2-The Less So Wonderful

One very sad note-it was incredibly disheartening to see the almost non-existant participation from US timeshare owners.  There are several possible reasons for this-the easiest explanation is that US based timeshare organizations have proved themselves yet again to be more interested in internal politics, afraid of doing anything that they didn't "invent"...or perhaps they just have something to hide.

What possible reason would a timeshare organization have for NOT putting the word out to their owners/members that there was a platform for sharing great timeshare owners?  In a word...FEAR.  The same reason that they dance and dance around the resale issue...they're scared that if they educate their owners there will be a flood of people wanting to sell.  You know what...if you don't believe enough in your own product, shame on you.

So while I'm incredible disappointed by the lack of participation from companies that had everything to gain by jumping onboard ITAD...some of whom made false promises to me and then mysteriously dropped out without so much as an "explanation", I remain convinced that there are many happy timeshare owners in the US-and we have almost a year to get
the word out to them!

Part 3-Lessons Learned

---I've learned who to trust and who blows smoke.
---I've learned who provides great customer service in timeshare and who only claims to.
---I've learned that the US based industry will NEVER embrace what I'm trying to do and that's OK.
---I've learned that certain organizations "get it" and others don't.  Guess who will survive?


Overall, the first annual International Timeshare Appreciation Day can only be classified as a success.  Whether I am around next year to spearhead this initiative or not, I know that it will continue and get bigger and better.  Onwards!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Five Ways To Enjoy An Older Timeshare-From Guest Blogger Matt McDaniel

Are you what the industry calls a "legacy" owner -- that is, someone who's owned a timeshare for a very long time? Perhaps you're in the midst of the timeshare doldrums, especially if your home resort hasn't seen a renovation in recent memory. You've "been there, done that" at your resort, and while you are happy to be an owner, your annual vacation just isn't getting you as excited with anticipation as it used to.

Does this describe you? Has the experience become so routine that you can't differentiate one year's experience from the next (or the previous)?

 If so, here are five ways to refresh your vacation ownership:

Take friends or extended family members who have never stayed at a timeshare with you.

The best way to enjoy something you love is to share it with others. And as you've probably already learned, people who haven't experienced timesharing firsthand are a lot more likely to have a negative opinion of it. You can get the pleasure of opening their eyes to all that shared ownership has to offer, whether at your home resort or at a resort you've exchanged into. But at your home resort you'll also get to play the roles of tour guide and local-attractions insider as well.

Exchange to a lesser-known destination.

Exchange is a simple way to liven up your vacation. Sure, you've likely exchanged to Orlando or some other well-known destination, but what about being a bit more adventurous? All the major exchange companies are happy to help you find a new experience at a less-established (and therefore less-in-demand location); in a sense, you'll have increased trading power for such destinations.  Think Eastern Europe over Western Europe, for example: You'll still get the Old World experience and fantastic memories. Or New York's Adirondack Mountains over Vail, Colorado: If you're not big on black diamonds, you'll find plenty of easy runs and just as many hot toddies to enjoy afterwards.

If you can, go to your resort in the offseason this year.

If you aren't tied to school schedules, venturing out during the off season can be extremely rewarding: smaller crowds, less extreme weather, cheaper airfares and shorter lines at attractions are just a few of the potential rewards. Perhaps you'd like to visit Florida in the fall rather than summer; according to the locals, that's when the weather is best. What's more, lines to meet up with Mickey, Harry Potter and Shamu are their shortest.

And even if a summer vacation is required, why not go to a ski resort? Many offer hiking, horseback riding, river adventures and more -- plus, the summer heat is not as intense in the mountains (but it's still plenty warm enough for swimming and water sports).

One caveat, though: Don't expect every attraction and restaurant to be open year-round in a highly seasonal locale such as Martha's Vineyard.

Daytrip further out -- maybe even stay overnight somewhere else for one night.

If you're really set on going to your home resort and home week, there are still ways to expand your horizons. One idea is to expand your definition of what's close by and venture farther out from your resort base. If you're going to the Poconos, for example, why not visit Philadelphia's historic sites or take in a Broadway show in Manhattan, each about two hours' drive. You can use a last-minute booking site to find a relatively inexpensive one-night hotel stay. Get more ideas by checking Groupon, Living Social and other coupon sites for discounts on local attractions, restaurants and activities (you can search by region).

Come up with a new "theme" each time.

If you like to spend time planning your annual trips (because that's part of the fun!), then consider creating a new vacation theme each year. The possibilities include:

·         Shopping - finding and visiting each of the area's malls and outlets, with a pre-set objective of getting a new wardrobe

·         Culinary - not only locating the best restaurants, but learning about the local cuisine and maybe even participating in the process, like picking your own strawberries or harvesting oysters to prepare in your unit's kitchen

·         History - most places are famous, at least regionally, for some past event and/or person; find out who/what that is and soak up some local lore

The bottom line is that by doing a bit of homework beforehand, you can re-energize your vacations and get more value out of ownership. And isn't that what timeshare's all about?


Guest blogger Matt McDaniel regularly contributes to timeshare industry trade publications Developments, Perspective, RCI Ventures and Vacation Industry Review.

Friday, October 26, 2012

The Timeshare Rental Problem

In my last post, I discussed that the industry needed to get back to making the timeshare experience exclusive...that is something that could only be experienced by timeshare owners.

The easiest way to accomplish this is to address the rental issue.

I'm not talking about limiting an individual owner's ability to rent their unused timeshare...that is a valuable benefit.

I am talking about putting strict limitations on a resort's ability to rent out inventory to a non-owner...particularly for less than the annual maintenance fees AND enforcing a "one time only" policy...meaning that a non-owner will be able to rent a timeshare once and only once at a specific resort.

And while I feel strongly that the entire marketing paradigm HAS to change, putting prospective owners in a timeshare and giving them attraction tickets for 4 days for $99 accomplishes absolutely NOTHING. 

Today's consumers are deal oriented like never before.  If a consumer knows that there is no restriction to the number of times they can take advantage of these "deals" without ever buying a timeshare, they'll keep taking advantage of the system.  And who can blame them?

Timeshare needs to focus on the differences between a timeshare vacation and a hotel vacation.  If resorts continue to make their wares available to just about anyone, for a minimal price, they face some serious issues.

Timeshare can be great for some people.  The industry and the individual owners need to "own" the fact---no pun intended---that it's reserved for owners.  Relish that, appreciate that and consumers will in fact desire it.

Monday, October 15, 2012

What Timeshare Needs To Do To Succeed

While getting everything in place for International Timeshare Appreciation day on November 1st, I found myself thinking yet again why after nearly 40 years, timeshare is not as widely accepted as I think it should be.

So I looked around to see what timeshare resorts, timeshare salespeople and timeshare organizations were touting as the benefits of timeshare.  It boiled down to these three basic ideas:

1)  The value of vacation
2)  The beauty and opulance of the resorts
3)  The ability to go anywhere with timeshare

Having spent more than five years as a salesperson and sales manager, I've heard enough objections to these three ideas.  The are as follows:

1)  I don't need timeshare to go on vacation
2)  I don't need to own a timeshare to stay at the resorts
3)  There are far more hotels than timeshares in the world

Sadly, this is true on all three counts.

Now back in the dark ages (2000), when the average sales price was oh $12,000 and the average annual dues were around $300, timeshares could indeed save the consumer money over the long run.  Not so much today.

So, what is the solution?  The solution is to make timeshare something you simply can't get unless you own it.  Make it exclusive.  And make ownership THE way to get there.  Sure, you can rent a house or own a house.  Why own?  Because it's exclusive.  You can't get the cathedral ceiling, the custom kitchen appliances and the like when you rent.

But with consumers taking advantage of rental opportunities left and right, to say nothing of the annoying mini-vacs that let the prospective buyer stay on the property, the exclusiveness is non-existant, to say nothing of the fact that renting is usually cheaper than the cost of the average annual fees (now just shy of $800).

In the industry's misguided attempt to show that timeshare is for everyone...and it is NOT for everyone...they've succeeded in taking away any exclusivity and thereby underminded the only real reason left to purchase.

Friday, October 12, 2012

International Timeshare Appreciation Day Is Catching On

I've quite happy with the response that I've received so far for my newest initiative, International Timeshare Appreciation Day scheduled for November 1st.

Updates can be found on Timeshare Insight's Facebook page and on Ocrtober 15th, ITAD will have it's own Facebook page in addition the the Twitter hashag #YES2TIMESHARE.

In the meantime, here's a great read courtesy of Sharetime Magazine and

Thursday, October 4, 2012

International Timeshare Appreciation Day

It is with great pleasure that I announce the first International Timeshare Appreciation Day!

Here's the link to the full article in Resort Trades.

Many thanks to Ed Hastry, Harry Taylor, Emily Collins, Francis Taylor, Phil Watson, Nigel Lobo, Alex Marxer, John Small, Luis Namnum and Georgi Gordon for their help and support.

Now get out there on November 1st and support timeshare!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

So, If We Know Who Is Likely To Buy A Timeshare...

I was honored to attend Interval International's Shared Ownership Investment Conference last week.  Even though I couldn't attend all three days due to an existing medical condition, it was good to both catch up with people and take the pulse of the industry.

I was not happy to again/still hear the terms "OPC", "tours", "mini-vacs", "call centers" and "gifts" used to illustrate marketing in the timeshare world.  Isn't it time that the industry take the leap from 1980 into 2012 and really understand marketing and the fact that people don't want to be sold, but they absolutely want to buy...5 million iPhone 5s in one weekend illustrates this better than anything I can say.

I was also struck by the fact that the industry knows full well who a "good" timeshare candidate is, but still spends millions of dollars "marketing" to someone else.


Monday, September 10, 2012

Five and Almost 10 With...ME

Since October is going to be a VERY busy and important month, and I'm gathering more interviews and guest blogs, I thought I'd share some information about me today.

1)  What was your first job in timeshare?
Owner Referral manager at a timeshare here in Orlando.

2)  What was the greatest lesson you've ever been taught?
      Life isn't fair

3) Where is your favorite vacation spot?
     London.  I never tire of going there.  And I adored Italy, especially Florence.

4)  If you could change one thing about timeshare, what would it be?
     The whole marketing and sales methodology.

5)  What is your favorite color?
     Yellow.  But blue if we're talking color to wear.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Why Timeshare Marketing And Sales MUST Change-From A Consumer

Today's guest blog is from Ralph Williams, a reader of this blog.  Ralph is a Communication Advisor for an international airline. He edits two in-house magazines and manages content for an employees-only website, and operates a small property-management company. He has over 10 years experience in media and real estate sales.

This should be required reading for every single timeshare developer, Director of Sales, Sales Manager, Salesperson and Marketing Director out there. 



Many of your guest bloggers have been very frank, so I suspect you may welcome a very frank submission from a would-be consumer.

My wife has informed me that if I sign up for another time-share presentation, it may result in divorce.

She doesn't feel that way because we are not interested. My brother has a time-share, and we've enjoyed it. We actually attended one presentation intending to buy. If I recall, that presentation ended only when I started talking about calling 911 and reporting that we were being held against our will. We were 3 1/2 hours into a presentation that was billed as "120 minutes or less, including a tour of the property,"  and because we had been delivered to that location by bus, we were being held captive in an unfamiliar city without a vehicle.

Here's my opinion, for what it's worth:

If you really want to sell, you are going to have to change the way you deal with your customers. You don't respect your customers, and your customers reciprocate: according to "Scoop", author of "Inside the Gate", 88% of your prospects do not buy. Many of them, like me, return home to tell their friends and neighbors how badly they were treated. They use words like "scam," "pressure tactics," "dishonest." Let me give you a taste of what it's like from the other side.

We were lied to about the "free" accommodations. We understood we would be staying in the property we were going to view (or something compatible). Instead, we were put up in a hotel that was being renovated. It was dirty and noisy. The rooms hadn't been properly cleaned, and the hallways were so dirty that you could see our footprints where we entered the room!

We were lied to about the presentation. See above. If you tell us there will be a 2-hour presentation, make sure it is two hours and no more. We can understand if things go over time occasionally, but taking 4 hours for a 2 hour presentation? And threatening people who want to leave?

We were pestered to death, even before we ever saw the property. I was approached by a person who wanted us to view another time-share. I explained that we had bad experiences with two time-share companies already and didn't want another, and he promised that this would be a great experience. He gave me his personal email and phone number: "Just call me if things don't go well." The next day, the phone calls started. Robo-calls, about once an hour, insisting that I must schedule my visit to the property RIGHT NOW!

Being polite is a mistake. Last week, I filled out a Free Drawing form at my favorite outdoors store. A couple of days later, I received a phone call asking me where I would like to take my "Free" vacation. I politely responded that if it meant sitting through a Time-share presentation, I wasn't at all interested. The caller was insistent, and I repeated that I was not interested in attending a time-share presentation. She started in again, and I asked her if she had heard what I said. That made her pause for a moment, just long enough for me to repeat that I wouldn't attend a time-share presentation, then she started in again. I finally hung up.

Vacations are supposed to be fun. Owning property is supposed to be a good thing. Buying a vacation property should be a good, fun thing. It's not. Your "show" doesn't match your "tell."

What do you need to do to sell to me?

  1. Tell me the truth, the whole truth...  I'm already suspicious. If you bend things just the tiniest bit, I'm going to be more suspicious. I'm not putting my money down until I'm comfortable.
  2. Respect me; respect my time. Don't call me at all hours. If I say, "No," then thank me and hang up. If I've listened to your presentation and I'm not interested, another hour with your closer is only going to irritate me. If you leave me alone, I might come back. If you make me mad, I guarantee I won't be back.
  3. Make it fun. Ever heard of door prizes? Freebies? Games? Surely there's something you can do to make me want to participate. Locking me in a room with a high-pressure presenter isn't my idea of fun. 
  4. Make it comfortable. My first, and best experience with a presentation started with a low-key tour around the property. We were given time to poke around a suite. We didn't buy then, but we were treated well, and we decided that the next time we had the opportunity, we would buy.
Thanks Ralph.  Can't be much clearer than this can it?  Who among the industry is smart enough to listen?

Monday, August 20, 2012

Minding Your Business Online-By Guest Blogger Dave Thackeray

Today's guest post comes to us courtesy of Dave Thackeray, a respected journalist and digital marketer who helps companies create customer communities with carefully crafted content.  Get in touch with Dave at

Are you minding your business online?

As a marketing geek the one thing that strikes me as an anomaly in vacation ownership today is the lack of innovation when it comes to selling online.

I don't want to get wrapped up in the legislation and regulation surrounding ownership of deeds and leisure real estate in all its forms. Because of the restrictions imposed - rightfully - on the selling of traditional timeshare, it's probably something that is beyond reasonable hope for now.

But we do have a major opportunity to create a product for vacation ownership resorts that is saleable on the internet - a gateway package to the real thing.

Not speaking specifically to the trial club crowd, here, but I'm guessing that a lead-in product that entitles the buyer to experience the magic of timeshare - the genuine bonhomie, family feel and community aspect of 'belonging' that you simply won't find at your typical hotel - would be something easily sold using the magic of internet marketing.

Talking hotels, there's an industry that's mastered the online distribution channel. Using a combination of owned, earned and bought media, hotels both chain and independent have been seeing the internet gaining in share of rooms sold year on year.

So why are we so different? Why are we in the main allergic to using the internet as a sales channel?

There are certainly tools out there to assist us. Programs like the RCI eSchool - available free to RCI-affiliated resorts - are a great example of strides forward we're taking as an industry to grasp all the opportunities available to us.

And we are slowly coming to terms with the lead generation gold mine that is rental of unused inventory. What better a product to get us acquainted with doing business online than selling our unused usable units on our websites. Once you've embarked on an eCommerce strategy you can start gleaning the all important information from your future customers to build a stronger, leaner, more effective transactional platform.

Where do you start if you want to get your rental inventory online? Companies like Wyndham Worldwide will sell on your behalf, giving you a chance to dip your toe in the water of eCommerce without the hassle of setting up your own virtual shop window. Endless Vacations Rentals is where many resorts offer their own rental inventory, and Wyndham's daughter entity, the timeshare exchange company RCI, can advise on how to get units into the system.

At the end of the day the internet is going to get bigger and a more pivotal part of all our businesses, as more and more people spend more and more time online.

If you're not doing business virtually, now would be a great time to start!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

An Open Question For Diamond

When in doubt, take to social media.

Back in March of this year, I was in the UK speaking at TATOC's ( conference.  While there, I found out that Diamond Resorts International (DRI) offered UK owners a way out of their timeshare, referred to as "Resignation of Ownership", provided that one of four criteria were met.

These criteria are:

In recognition that there can be certain exceptional circumstances for owners, Diamond Resort will take into consideration the following:

1.      Death of either member with no possibility of transferring to family members – copy of death certificate will be required.

2.      Bankruptcy or CAB/ solicitor’s involvement to resolve serious debt issues – specific documentary evidence detailing income, outgoing, assets and liabilities will be required.

3.      Over 75 years old with no possibility of transferring to family members – copy of birth certificate will be required.

4.      Medical problems/terminal illness necessitating reduced travel and/or decrease in financial resources to maintain membership – medical evidence will be required
Now, you would think that this is a good thing.  Diamond doing a good thing for their owners that don't have other options.

So I called Diamond and asked if these criteria were in place for US owners.  Months went by with no answer.  I e-mailed.  Again, no answer.  I called again and this time I was told that unless I was an owner, they would not talk to me.

So, Diamond...what's the answer???

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Guest Blogger-Francis Taylor, CEO of Dial an Exchange

When I recently made the offer to guest bloggers, I had NO idea that I would be presented with such an assortment of honest, insightful and thought-provoking posts.  Today's guest blogger, Francis Taylor, CEO of Dial an Exchange ( is no exception.

Here, Francis gives his amazingly candid view of the timeshare industry and offers some thoughts on how to improve it.

I am constantly amazed when dealing with ‘new’ vacation product owners, at the lack of awareness or understanding of the products and services available to them through their vacation ownership program - and how to use them.

 A large proportion of these people we come in contact with on a daily basis are dissatisfied with their decision to purchase vacation ownership - until they discover some of the wonderful opportunities open to them through their ownership - exchange for example.

 I think everyone in the industry would agree that most new owners leave a sales presentation a little shell-shocked after having to digest and understand what is a pretty complex process to get your head around. The fact is the sales presentation doesn’t really cover all the bits and pieces that make up the total package, because it would actually seem even more confusing to a prospective buyer.  Nevertheless, the fact remains that not enough is done to continue owner education after the sale is made.

 It's a sad but true fact within our industry that the 'love' and 'passion' heaped upon prospects prior to them signing up would put a remake of Wuthering Heights with Scarlett Johansson and Leonardo DiCaprio to shame - but the after sales service, including new owner education and hand-holding through the initial stages of use reminds me more of Titanic - we all know the boat's going to sink!

It's time our industry gets the message! Owners with a poor understanding of what they have purchased, how to REALLY maximize their use of it, and the 'world' of opportunities available to them through additional service providers, are the very same owners who blog, tweet, Facebook and just won't shut up at parties, that timeshare and vacation ownership is a con.

Our image sucks and instead of doing something about it as an industry united, we just beaver away in our own universe trying to overcome the negative press.

Surely this industry's professionals know by now that 'service' is the fuel which drives the vacation ownership industry smoothly.  What happened to 'after sales service'? There is no excuse for new owners to struggle to understand how their newly purchased product works, and how best to make it REALLY WORK for them!

Taking ownership of after-sales education will reap benefits for the long term as more and more owners become the industry's "raving fans".  We need to make it a priority within our own companies to devote time, effort and resources into defining how we can participate in this importnat development for a sustainable future.  And then let's all work together as industry colleagues, and local industry bodies and associations to make this happen.  Every step we as individuals and individual companies take today will begin the march to higher satisifaction levels andn the complete image overhaul that our prodict so badly needs if we are to succeed with a more informed and demanding generation


Dial An Exchange (DAE) is the world’s largest privately owned exchange provider founded in Australia in 1997 and now with nine offices across the globe. In both 2011 and 2012, DAE was voted by its industry peers as providing the industry's Best Customer Service worldwide leaving little doubt that DAE excels where it most counts - in caring for their members. With no complicated rules or trading powers - just simple ‘week-for-week’ exchange – simplicity and transparency are at the heart of the company’s success. DAE offers a free membership option; 24/7 availability and booking online; and no upfront fees, with their low exchange fee payable only upon booking confirmation.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Timeshare Maintenance Fees

I recently read some advice that if a writer wanted their blog posts to be read, they should come with a snappy headline.  Boy, is this a failure!

But there are things that need to be said.  Maintenance fees are a part of timeshare ownership.  All too often though, I hear from consumers who are complaining about them for one reason or another.

The vast majority of issues can be eliminated by asking the following questions prior to purchasing:

 1)  what are the current fees?
 2)  what is the seven (7) year history of these fees?
 3)  what is the legal limit or cap that these fees can increase?
 4)  who votes on raising these fees?
 5)  what do these fees cover?
 6)  what don't these fees cover?
 7)  is there a special assessment?
 8)  what is it?
 9)  what is the seven (7) year history of these assessments?

It is vital to ask these questions before you purchase any timeshare, regardless of it is on the primary or secondary market.  ANY TIMESHARE FROM ANY SOURCE.

If you don't get answers, or don't get the answers that you want...don't buy.  It really is as simple as that.  The good news is that there are a TON of timeshares available out there and a great number of sources that will divulge this information without resorting to trickery, trying to diffuse the question by adding on a "bonus week" or other measures.

Many resorts are incredibly well managed.  Those that aren't deserve to to drummed out.  The only people who can drum the bad guys out are the consumers.

Start taking back your rights by asking the right questions.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Agenda For Sunday's Meeting

Here's the full agenda for this Sunday, July 29th meeting of the Florida Timeshare Owners meeting:

1.  Self Introductions       
City of Residence
Name(s) and location(s) of Resorts owned

2.  Other Introductions
FTOG Board Members.
Guest Speakers.

3.   Discussion, General Membership

Bill Southworth,  FTOG,  Assistant Group Coordinator 
Topic:  "What should owners who want to rent out their week know, and how should they go about it"?

Ken McKelvey,  Chairman. & CEO, Defender Resorts Management Company
Topic:  How to compare the various competencies of Timeshare Management Companies.

Jan Samson, Senior Vice President., Vacation Resorts International
Topic:  Management companies responsibilities to its timeshare owners.

Trish Docherty,  Vice President,  SPM Resort Management Company
Topic:  Five principles in evaluating all Timeshare Management Companies.

A Question & Answer session will follow each speaker.

4.  Introduction

Lisa Ann Schreier,   Director, Timeshare Insights.
Topics:    Exchange company options.
                Current issues facing owners.

Q & A to follow

5.  Break

6.  Introduction

Robert Stolt,  Vice President, RCI.
Topics:  Fraud activities in the secondary market, and RCI's efforts to combat it.
              RCI's exchange program highlights and enhancements.

Q & A to follow

7.  Introduction

David Heine,  President,  Close My Timeshare

Topics:  How to spot a fraudulent transfer company and avoid becoming a victim
              Timeshare "Trade In" programs
               Explaining the difference between a title agency and a closing company.

Q & A to follow

8.   Introduction

Ken McKelvey,  Chairman,  ARDA Resort Owners Coalition
Topic:  How does ARDA ROC's activities benefit every timeshare owner

Q & A to follow

9.   New Business

10.  5:00PM.   Adjourn.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Guest Post-Successfully Rebranding Timeshare

Chris Green from Travel and Leisure in the UK , contributes a wonderful and thoughth provoking guest blog today.

Successfully Rebranding Timeshare?
The word “timeshare” is a loaded one, in the UK, Europe and USA it has become synonymous with scams, deceit and fraud over the last 20-30 years. The reputation timeshare has acquired is due mainly to those who have mis-sold the product as an investment or been less than forthcoming about the long term financial implications of taking on a timeshare. The product itself is still cherished by thousands the world over and for those they would not have a bad word to say about it.

The trouble becomes the perception which proceeds timeshare, the loaded connotations of it. Timeshare does not mean scam, timeshare resale does not mean rip-off and buying timeshare is not an inherently bad thing. Whilst this is the case in most instances, the reputation is enough to damage the industry. To side-step the issue some companies have worked on re-branding the timeshare product, to sell the virtues of ownership removed from the baggage which we are all-too familiar with.
Vacation Ownership Vs Timeshare

Vacation Ownership is a growing term in the travel and leisure industries and has been around for the last 5 to 10 years at least. Some believe that it is just another term for timeshare, one that feels more empowering, flexible and ultimately less daunting for the customer. The idea of taking control of your holiday with vacation ownership is a much more appealing concept, but is it the same thing? Yes and no.

In some instances Vacation Ownership has different lease types, others treat timeshare as a type of vacation ownership, others including vacation clubs, members clubs, point schemes and similar. The reality is that the difference is mostly superficial, those wanting to distance themselves from the term “timeshare” will discuss the advantages of a Vacation Ownership property, most of the time the actual added benefit is very little.
Fractional Ownership Vs Timeshare

Another commonly used replacement for “timeshare” is fractional ownership, a very similar concept on the surface. There are  two sides to this story; one hand there is no real difference, on the other some say that there is much more different from the two than from vacation ownership; timeshare is what the name suggests, a share in the time – i.e. one week a year, whereas fractional ownership is deeded ownership of a fraction of particular property. The biggest difference is essentially that you own a greater proportion of the year with a fractional, usually a minimum of 4 weeks.

Often there is the assertion that a fractionals are easier to sell and you reap the rewards of real estate ownership. In some cases this is true, it is also certainly true that the market for fractionals is much stronger than timeshare at the moment – the difference, however, is much more based on perception than most would have you believe.
A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.

“Make a holiday yours with Vacation Ownership.”
“Become part of the exclusive elite and own your own slice of heaven with Fractional Ownership.”

“Get coaxed off the street to sit through a 3 hour presentation and get convinced to buy a Timeshare.”
Three very broad statements that paint hugely different pictures of three holiday products that are more often than not, the same thing at their core. In fact the differences between the three can be smaller than the differences between buying the same timeshare product at different resorts or from different developers – the essence stays the same

Friday, July 20, 2012

And Now A Word From "Scoop"

Today's blog is written by "Scoop".  If you aren't familar with Scoop, you owe it to yourself to check out his column at

This sums up what is wrong with timeshare marketing and sales.  Having been a salesperson as well as seen enough timeshare presentations in my day, I can attest that this is all true.

Sad, sad, sad that no one is willing to do anything different.  And then "they" wonder why timeshare has such a poor reputation among non-owners.

July 20, 2012 — In the timeshare game I find myself constantly amazed at the number of ‘balls’ (lies) that I watch being ‘pitched’ during sales presentations whilst I ’slide’ through marketing locations (OPC booths) and sales centers during my ’scouting’ expeditions (snooping around).

What equally amazes me is that often those ‘balls’ are nothing more than a simple case of inadequate training (product/service knowledge) that was never provided for the ‘pitchers’ (marketing and sales staff) by the coaching staff (developer/management) in the first place.

What training that is provided for these people is poor at best; after more than 40 years most developers and their management staffs still haven’t figured out that we are really in the travel business and we simply offer a unique travel product and service.
‘Pitching’ travel (aka: Vacations) is a no brainer and when most consumers are asked if they like to travel and/or vacation, I would submit that the vast majority would respond in the affirmative.

However that is not the case when prospects attend a timeshare sales presentation. In fact, upon the conclusion of each presentation, the majority, approximately 88%, say “No thanks” and we ’strike out’.

Despite what many Ph.D.s (philosophiae doctors and/or expounders of doctrine) in ‘the biz’ promulgate, the real consumer objection (‘No’) to a TS plan is —before ‘use’ and ‘affordability’— first and foremost, a lack of trust (assured reliance on the character, ability, strength of someone or something).

From both the marketing and selling perspective, trustworthiness is a critical factor when offering any product/service to the general public. Yet our industry almost always avoids that reality and very useful tool as if it were the dreaded plague.

From the moment prospects are approached and invited (smoke and mirrors) to attend an orientation (sales presentation), preview a new hotel, resort (TS plan), etc. we most often conceal our true identity, intentions and objectives as if we had leprosy.

We don’t even understand that the very people whom we invite to a presentation are inundated daily (as we all are) with a plethora of false and misleading offers (advertisements) and that they intrinsically distrust just about any and every sort of offer they receive.

Instead of using that knowledge to everyone’s advantage we continue to disguise ourselves, play cat (us) and mouse (them) and offer ‘gifts’ (bribes) to get consumers to attend a 60-90 minute (four-hour) presentation (often a grind) which, statistically, fails miserably.
Once the ‘mice’ (prospects) have been captured, we introduce them (potential TS owners) to ‘vacation counselors’ (liners, closers, managers, more closers and more managers… sales people) whose primary focus is to get (close) a ‘deal’ (timeshare plan).

The end result is that every day of the year about 88% of the consumers who attend a timeshare presentation say no thanks to traveling and enjoying fine accommodations around the world that caters to most budgets, tastes and lifestyles imaginable.
Although a financial situation may stand in the way of a yes, considering the various and affordable programs that developers are offering these days most consumers are really saying no to the ‘game’ (marketing and selling system) and not to traveling and a vacation lifestyle.

As long as the ‘coaching staffs’ (management in the marketing and sales centers) are happy campers with their ‘RBI’, their antiquated system will not change soon. They will continue to play the numbers game and ignore the team’s poor batting (sales) averages, including the damage they cause, from a public relations perspective, to our industry.

I would bet the farm that if I were to walk down Kalakaua Blvd. in Waikiki or along the strip in Las Vegas and ask visitors if they like to travel and vacation in luxurious accommodations, at least 90% (assuming they trust me) would say yes.

If I also asked these people if they won a lifetime of vacations and could travel the world and stay in any sort of accommodations that suited their travel needs, absolutely free of charge with no strings attached, 98% (again, assuming they trust me) would say yes.

On the other hand if I went down the street wearing a trench coat, fedora and dark glasses and approached these same people while whispering my questions and glancing over my shoulders, well, the outcome might be different.

The proof in the pudding regarding the use, benefit and need for truth in our marketing and sales system is as simple to understand as it is with our marriages, our business relationships, friends and acquaintances.

If we don’t trust ‘em we aren’t getting involved with them, and the same is true of those millions of prospects who say no to owning and enjoying their vacations each year.
If, as an industry, we applied even in part a more truthful approach to our marketing and sales activities, not only would the natural and exponential effects produce a positive industry image, without question sales would significantly increase across the board as well.

The sad truth of the matter is that over the years to come (as in the past), as an industry we will lose billions of dollars in revenue because those who control the sales and marketing activities don’t understand the consumer appeal of our product and service, aka, vacationing.

If those who control the marketing and sales activities were to ‘try out’ for a major sports team, say baseball, all their boasting of success in our industry probably wouldn’t get them on even a minor league team— unless a coach wanted a ‘hitter’ with a .120 batting average.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Going Opposite In Timeshare

I've just finished a great book by Daniel Burrus and John David Mann entitled; "Flash Foresight-How To See The Invisible And Do The Impossible."

In it, the authors talk about seven pillars if you will of flash foresight and why it is so vital in today's business environment.  The pillars are:

*  Start With Certainty
*  Anticipate
*  Transform
*  Take Your Biggest Problem-And Skip It
*  Go Opposite
*  Redefine And Reinvent
*  Direct Your Future

Great topics, huh?  And it is clear that all of them can be used in timeshare.

I'd like to focus on "Go Opposite" for a minute.  Here are some of the action steps that the authors talk about:

*  Make a list of everything your competitors are doing and then look at each item on the list and ask yourself, How can I gain an advantage by doing the opposite?

*  What is the current way of thinking regarding any subject in your industry?  Then, think the opposite to see new opportunities.

*  The future always wins.  Know that "the way we've always done it" is almost certain to become obsolete-and soon.  The pathway that will be most profitable in the years ahead is the pathway nobody is taking yet.  It can be done, it will be done---and if you don't do it, someone else will.

WOW.  Where have I heard all this before other than in this blog of course?  I've said for years that the current marketing/sales/operation paradigm in timeshare is obsolete and that the timeshare company that has the "chutzpah" or the courage of their own convictions to actually break away from the pack---especially a pack that is operating as it if was still 1995---has everything to gain.

Timeshare is just like any other industry.  Clinging to the notion that it somehow "different" (translation:  better) will be its downfall.  The upside?  It's not too late.

Go Opposite and win.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Our First Guest Post! Surviving The Timeshare Resales Process

Chris Green works at Travel & Leisure Group a Timeshare Reseller based in the UK with offices across Europe. Registered members of ARDA, TATOC, RDO, TCA, the British Chambers of Commerce and ATHOC, Travel & Leisure have been buying and selling timeshare for over 20 years, competing with the negative press the industry has been subjected to and had to deal with its fair share of scam companies targeting timeshare owners.

If you follow timeshare in the news that closely there is something that is never far from the headlines – fraudulent or scam timeshare companies. This is hardly a new development in timeshare resales, however it is something which at least seems to be more prevalent as economies continue to struggle.
There are more sharks in the water than ever, but what do you do? If you’re looking to sell your timeshare chances are there is a good reason for doing so, so you can hardly wait on it and hope for a more opportune moment.

Many take to the search engines like Google to do their own research, to find out where is best to try and sell their timeshare. Google and others endeavour to provide the most accurate and relevant results from each search, so typing “timeshare” for example, would provide you with websites linked with timeshares. However, it doesn’t end there, not only are the results relevant, but they are generally ordered by quality too. So for example, the 1st result is more likely to be a high-quality, relevant site, whereas something at the bottom of the second page is deemed to be less helpful for you.
Without going into the complex ways Google and others like Bing and Yahoo works out which sites are high quality, it is usually the case that the websites at the top of search results are trustworthy and well established. For example searching “timeshare” from the US you’ll see RCI as the top result, followed by Wikipedia, two authoritative sites with information about Timeshare, makes sense right? However, this is often confusion with Google as to what is the top of the search listings. Have you ever noticed the results in the yellow box at the very top of the page? If you look closely you’ll see “Adds related to...” written in the top of the box. Yes, that’s right, these are paid adverts.

There is nothing wrong with the paid listings on Google; however you must be cautious when clicking on these adverts as a listing at the top of the paid is based more on how much the advertiser is willing to pay to be there as opposed to being a trustworthy and relevant source. For example, some searches for “sell timeshare” in the UK saw 7 out of the top 10 websites in the top sites related to websites with no connection to TATOC, ARDA, RDO or BBB and one of which was even an identified cold caller by TATOC.

This is by no means the case for every search, and of course it differs from country to country, however the amount of websites which aren’t governed by any of the industry regulatory bodies is not good news for those looking to sell their timeshare through resale.
These adverts are not just limited to the main search engines, most websites also contain advertising space, where you will also find similar adverts which are targeted at you and what you’ve looked at before. It isn’t coincidence that all of a sudden every website has garish adverts boasting an immediate, “no-strings-attached sale” of your timeshare so don’t get sucked in by them.
If you’re new to timeshare or unsure about the best place to start, the best thing you can do is get in touch with your local trade or regulatory body.  This may be the British Chamber of Commerce or the Better Business Bureau, but really the best people are your local timeshare association or the RDO (Resort Development Organisation). ARDA and TATOC for example are responsible for the USA and UK respectively, providing news and information to its members as well as advice and ensuring the compliance of its members to local legislation. These organisations can provide details of registered resellers bound by legislation who will be able to assist you.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Mick Jagger And Timeshare Scams

This morning started out with yet another consumer advisory issued by my good friends at TATOC in the UK.

This time, some dude going by the name of Allen Davis got $2,600 from a timeshare owner using both the TATOC name and logo.

While these types of "transactions" MUST be stopped, I also must put some burden of responsibility on the consumer.  I mean, it's not like there weren't any red flags:

1)  A cursory Google search will show that TATOC does not sell, buy or rent timeshares.
2)  Mr. Davis claimed that TATOC stood for "Timeshare Association Timeshare Owners
     Commity."  Really, what does "commity" mean anyway?
3)  The "contract for purchase" was in the amount of $13,000 for...wait for it...10,000
      Worldmark points.

If timeshare owners are NOT going to listen to repeated advisories coming at them from TATOC, Timeshare Insights, TimeSharing Today, the NTOA,,, TUG and others about not doing business with any timeshare related company that initiates contact, and it is clear that those advisories are for the most part being ignorned, can't we at least get the word out to do some sort of basic checking before handing over $2,600?

Like Mick Jagger said at Altamont..."brothers and sisters can't we all just get along?"  WHY is it so hard for everyone involved in the legitimate side of timeshare to get behind ONE good message to timeshare owners out there?