Friday, March 16, 2012

The View From 38,000 Feet

I’m writing this at 38,000 feet in the air, surrounded by shrieking English children on my way back from my first TATOC Conference.

I was generally pleased with the conference and my thoughts once again are that the timeshare industry is FULL of good people with good intentions.  Lots of relevant and important issues were discussed and I have no doubt that change is absolutely necessary if this industry is to succeed and if the timeshare product is to thrive and be more accepted worldwide.
As with other conferences that I’ve been privileged to attend, this one was not without its controversy.  For reasons not known to me, some of my comments were misunderstood (whether on purpose or accidentally) and those comments made it back to the US in record time, causing some people, once again, to question my stance.

So, I find myself once again in “hot water” and once again having to make announce my stance on the timeshare industry in both a public and a private forum.
So here’s the public pronouncement:  I think that the timeshare product is a wonderful one that has, unfortunately been tainted in the publics and the media’s eyes by a few things that need to change.  Namely:

·         Outdated marketing and sales techniques
·        The lack of an exit strategy
·        The lack of any true valuation for a timesare on the secondary market, similar to Kelly’s Blue Book value for used automobiles in the United States
·        The lack of ONE clear voice of the timeshare industry that all concerned will trust
It’s this last point that got me into hot water.  My view is this:  the “good-guys” in and around the industry agree on perhaps 85% of the issues facing the industry.  If everyone were to put aside their egos and sit down to actually do what needs to be done with no regard to “claiming individual victory”, massive, positive changes could be implemented rather easily.  And the other 15% of the issues that are not easily agreed on would diminish in importance.
But I’ve yet to see this happen despite the fact (I say yet again) that the majority of organizations involved are comprised of decent people.  I’ve never been good at politics, (despite the fact I announced only somewhat factiously that I’m running for President of the United States this year), which accounts for the fact that I’m self-employed, constantly questioned, excluded out of various organizations and events and let’s be honest, with a few notable exceptions (for which I am eternally grateful), continually viewed as an outsider in the industry.
Politics and egos MUST be put aside for the common good.  Changes need to happen and changes need to happen quickly.  We’re in the middle of a jam-packed timeshare industry meeting season.  I hope that at the end of the season we can join together and implement the necessary changes.
Oh, and one more thing---those who aren’t viewed outsiders, who play nice politics and play nicely with others all time (and of course are rewarded by high paying jobs and tons of industry overage)---regularly write some terrific stories about the industry, full of good news, interesting statistics and positive strides.  I’d like to see some of those stories in the non-industry press.  While I know, more than most people that you can’t control the press or force them to publish something, I’d like to see less focus on telling ourselves as an industry that we’re wonderful and start telling those on the outside---on whose reputation the very industry depends upon.

1 comment:

  1. You know how the Kelly Blue Book works, right? They have researchers who attend auctions, gather sales data from dealerships as to vehicles sold, etc. They then compile that data to determine the current value of each vehicle. It's based on actual sales.

    In timeshare, there is no one who wants that data compiled or processed. They hate the idea!

    None of the timeshare developers want the secondary market to exist. They want to sell you the timeshare and then they want you to pay your maintenance forever so they can make hay while the sun shines because almost invariably they own most of the weeks. So by you paying you insure the value of their holdings.

    If you sold yours to a third party that could prevent them from selling that party one of theirs. They don't want that!

    This is why there is not much valid secondary market for timeshare interests. The big dogs don't really want there to be one. They really only want their holdings to have value, not *yours*.

    Timeshare owners are just cash cows to those big dogs, they have thousands of timeshare owners to deal with. When you have plenty of something they are worthless, so you as an owner are worthless to them. They already got your money and you are under contract to keep paying them.

    Witness in many cases they took a $78,000 condo, split it up into 50 shares and sold them for $5,000 each. So that $78,000 condo has now been sold for $250,000. No wonder it's such a high pressure sale!

    So your interest is greatly diluted by the fact you have very few shares and there are a lot of others similarly situated. Also, it's entirely possible (like at Poipu Pointe) that the developer may own 30 of that 50 shares, so when the time comes to vote you he votes his 30 and *all* the other owners only have 20 all together. So it's no surprise he can vote that you should pay to protect his interest, he owns more than all you together! He wants you to pay $25 million so he won't have to.

    This is why they like that you are under contract and you can't just "walk", or they will put you in collections, sue you, etc. Whatever. Bad things.

    Whereas if the law was changed so you could just "walk" they would have to treat you like a valuable customer without which they would have nothing. As it is timeshare owners who have already bought are essentially worthless. That should be changed so timeshare owners are more valuable to the timeshare property. Only by changes of the laws can this happen.

    This is the trouble with the timeshare proposition. It's not a healthy type of market. I wish it could become more healthy but only by acknowledgement of ownership rights and a reduction of the influence of the developer can this occur.

    Naturally the developers hate the idea.