Monday, April 30, 2012

My Most Important Blog Post

I've written a lot of blog posts and a lot of articles in addition to two books and several chapters of a college level text book.

I think this will be the most important post I've written.  It's addressed to timeshare owners everywhere, although the timeshare industry would be wise to pay attention.

Everyone knows that there are serious issues facing owners and the industry alike and I've written extensively on those issues.  The so called transfer companies are very important.  Rising annual fees must be addressed.  Absent or uninterested management companies should be dealt with.  The timeshare product itself is long overdue for a rehaul.  We can argue from now until the end of the world if consumers should only pay once a sale is completed or pay an advertising fee.

However, this post deals with the unsolicited, let me repeat, the unsolicited phone calls, e-mails and direct mail pieces that timeshare owners are flooded with to either "get rid of", or sell their timeshare.

At the just concluded Timeshare Board Members Association meeting there was lots of talk about the need to educate consumers as well as the financial damage that is being done when owners fall for "I have a buyer for your timeshare, just send me $1,500 for the paperwork" schemes that seem to multiply daily.  There was a breakout session that I was honored to be included in that dealt with the possibility of coming up with one concise message to timeshare unsuspecting timeshare owners.  No one seemed to be able to agree.  It got somewhat heated and there were even some of the opinion that some timeshare owners were to blame for having purchased a "worthless week" (not my words) in the first place.

Last I looked, there was no timeshare education back 25 years ago and the industry wanted it that way.  Heck, when I started this 10 years ago I was considered the devil because I wanted to educate consumers.  Putting the blame on the consumer for purchasing a timeshare to begin with is NOT going to do anything to further the PR campaign that timeshare has in front of it.

I digress.  So, I'm going to publish my "manifesto" to all timeshare owners.  It's simple.  I've been saying it for years now, but now I'm asking everyone to read it, remember it and pass it on.  Here it is:


Pretty simple yes?  Covers all the necessary bases, yes?  And if any consumer needs any more reason to question this simple manifesto remember this:  You got into timeshare to begin with because of an unsolicited contact with a timeshare related company.

How did that work out for you?

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Celebration World Resort/Festiva Update

Wanted to set the record straight:

Festiva, who recently took over Celebration World Resort in Kissimmee, Florida is NOT charging a fee or special assessment to those owners who choose to say with Celebration adn RCI Points.

More to follow.

Thursday, April 19, 2012


We've just received word from our friends at TATOC ( of a timeshare resale company using a Washington D.C. address and a large TATOC logo on their materials.

This company is not a member of TATOC and is not endorsed nor affiliated with TATOC in any way.

The company's details are:

Miroslav Ondris and Johanna Ondris Vanderveer
Georgetown Business Center
1101 30th Street NW Suite 500
Washington D.C. 20007

This company is not authorized to use the TATOC logo which they are doing at the top of the resale contract.

TATOC and Timeshare Insights thank you for passing this information on.

Remember, if a timeshare resale company is using TATOC's, CRDA's, ARDA's, NTOA's TBMA's or any other organization's name and/or logo it is worth 30 seconds of your time to investigate.

No More Dog and Pony Shows Please

Knock me over with a feather.  I have seemed to raised a ruckus with some comments that I made in preparation for the upcoming TBMA meeting that I've been asked to speak at.

I said that I was curious to find out who was really going to participate and who was going to put on a dog and pony show.  I didn't mention anyone nor infer anyone or any organization.  There are serious issues facing timeshare resorts, timeshare owners and the entire timeshare industry.  Issues such as:

*  Delinquencies
*  Foreclosures
*  Owner Frustration
*  An Aging Owner Base
*  Owner Apathy
*  Continued Negative Stories In The Media
*  Increasing Number Of Scams
*  Continuing Credit Issues

These issues are NOT going away, nor are they able to be swept under the rug and ignored while people toast each other's purported $2,600 VPG.

Social media strategies ALONE are not going to solve these issues nor is a "rah rah" speech from one of the minority of resorts that are doing tremendous business (NO disrespect to those resorts).

My hope is that much like TATOC, the TMBA will recognize and call "bullshit" if and when someone tries to pull it.  Let's hope no one does.  I'm coming to work...are you?

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Vacation Club AT A Timeshare?

I saw this ad over the weekend and was a bit surprised...

SALES —— Orlando's Top Selling Vacation Club Is Hiring Again! We are now celebrating our 3rd year of incredible sales success! We have the best problem in the industry...Lots of tours, not enough reps. Come join the team with the winning formula for Vacation Club Sales Our top reps are earning 17% commissions and Podium Speakers are crushing it with the highest average sales price of ANY club in Orlando, No Exceptions! If you are able to go "A-Z", "Front-to-Back" or deliver dynamic podiums, No License required. Timeshare experience a Plus but not needed. Bring your best attitude and a smile Come see us at Calypso Cay Resort. 4951 Calypso Cay Way Kissimmee Fl. 34746 WEB OS22354

Surprised because the last time I checked, Calypso Cay was a timeshare resort still in active sales.  How does a timeshare project support a vacation club sales pitch on their property?  What do the owners think about it?  Who does the vacation club market to?

I've never been a huge fan of vacation clubs, probably because I've never had direct experience with one that worked, was a great value and didn't take away rights and inventory from actual timeshare owners.  But HOW does a vacation club work at a timeshare?

Work there?  Own there?  Let's hear from you!

Lasr I knew, Calypso Cay was a timeshare resort still in active sales.   Is this no longer the case?

And how does a vacation club salesforce pitch against timeshare when they're holding their pitches at a timeshare resort?  Do they pitch to timeshare owners, as the now defunct vacation club at Celebration World Resort used to do?

Anyone who owns at Calypso Cay wanr to chime in?

Monday, April 16, 2012

Five and Almost 10 With Sue McNicol

I had the pleasure of meeting Sue McNicol, head of UK Operations for RDO (Resort Development Organization) earlier this year while attending the 2012 TATOC Conference.

What was your first job in timeshare?
From 1994 to 1996, I was working for a travel trade body in the beautiful market town of Ross-on-Wye near the Welsh borders. I really enjoyed the job as I was able to use my French on a daily basis but there was one problem; I was secretly desperate to move back to London as life in the countryside was too quiet! 

I saw my “perfect" job - membership manager for Timeshare Council, the UK timeshare trade body - advertised at an employment agency and was lucky enough to be offered the post. It can't be a bad job, as I'm still here, 16 years down the line, although I’m not responsible for membership any more. Legislation and media relations are more my bag now.
What was the greatest lesson you've ever been taught?

We’re in a constant state of learning right the way through life but for me, one of the most useful pieces of advice came from my sister who told me that you should always reflect before you speak as once you've said something, it's difficult to take it back. She's absolutely right, of course and I've put it to use on many occasions.

Where is your favorite vacation spot?
It has to be Miami Beach. Paul, my husband, and I try to go there every year and after the customary 2 hour delay to get through passport control, love the sun, the beach, the art deco hotels and of course the shopping - a perfect combination.
If you could change one thing about timeshare, what would it be?
Don't hide your light behind a bushel; timeshare is a really great product and although it’s currently having to tackle difficult issues surrounding exit routes, we should never forget that the vast majority of owners love their timeshare holidays! We need to tap into this market of enthusiastic owners so that a new generation of buyers can be found.
What is your favorite color?
Given that the Olympics are taking place in the UK this year, I have to be patriotic and say red, white and blue!
Thanks Sue!  Love her answer about changing one thing in timeshare.
If you would like to be included in this interview series, drop me a line!

Friday, April 13, 2012

Five and Almost 10 With...Phil Watson

I met some amazing people last month while attending and speaking at the 2012 TATOC Conference.  Today we're pleased to introduce Phil Watson, CEO of Worldwide Timeshare Hypermarket.

What was your first job in timeshare?
It was such a long time ago now and I forget the name however, I was a liner at an American resort at Myrtle Beach in Carolina. I’m not sure but it may have been called The Myrtle Beach Resort.

What was the greatest lesson you've ever been taught?

That you don’t know it all and that you can never stop learning.

Where is your favorite vacation spot?

South Africa where I did a split holiday of part safari and part beach I had a fantastic experience.

If you could change one thing about timeshare, what would it be?

That the legitimate resale companies were able to work alongside developers in other words ~ stop all the stupid greed factor.
What is your favorite color?

Yellow as it was my house colour when I was at school.

Thanks to Phil for his insights as well as for providing me with some thought provoking direct questions while I was at the conference.  It reinforced my belief that we don't have to agree on EVERYTHING, we simply must learn to agree on the IMPORTANT things.  And on those important things, we do indeed agree.

Monday, April 9, 2012

What Do People Really Think About Timeshare...A Challenge

Although I was not able to attend this year's ARDA Conference (due to illness), I've been keeping up with what is going and and who is saying what.

One of the stats bantered about was that 84% of timeshare owners are happy with their product.  One of the other stats was that positive thoughts and comments about timeshare outweighed negative ones by almost 3 to 1.

Wonderful...I hope that these are both true.  And here is the challenge to anyone and everyone regardless of if you are in the industry or not.  I want you to ask ten (10) random people that you encounter over the next week the following four (4) questions and report back to me:

1)  What is the first thing you think of when you hear the word timeshare?
2)  Do you own a timeshare?
3)  Why or why not?
4)  Thinking back to your last experience with timeshare OR the last time you heard about it, what comes to mind?

Remember that I said random.  If you work in the industry, you can't ask your co-workers.

E-mail your responses to me and I'll report all the findings (including my own from my 10 random people) here on the blog.  All consumer responses will be anonymous and to make it easier for you, all of YOUR names will be anonymous.

Who is up for a real challenge?

Friday, April 6, 2012

Five and Almost 10 With...Ross Perlmutter

Ross is the President and CEO of the Canadian Resort Development Association (CRDA).  I appreciate the time he took to really answer my questions in depth!

What was your first job in timeshare?

I came out to Toronto 21 years ago to do marketing / promotions for a big Canadian developer who operated a multi-destination (floating time, floating space) vacation club. After soon finding myself adorned in the “timeshare cloak of shame”, I used to tell my friends that “Any shmoe with a credit card can go to Club Med, but I work for a VERY high end private members’ club that is SO exclusive that you have to be pre-qualified to even LOOK at it. Before they’ll even let you have a peek, you have to prove that you have a substantial household income, that you’re credit worthy, employed, and even then, you have to be PERSONALLY INVITED to be considered for membership.”  I still look at the product that way, and I wish more people did.

What was the greatest lesson you've ever been taught?

There are so many, but the one that has served me best in my professional career is “think like a consumer, not a marketer”. So many companies tend to sit in boardroom trying to figure out how to market to “them”, but they forget that we are “them” as well. Would YOU respond to an offer or sales approach like that? If not, why not? What is the best way to reach YOU, and what offers / approaches would YOU respond to? If you can think like a consumer, you can market anything because you’re approaching it from an empathetic perspective.

Where is your favorite vacation spot?

I’m absolutely in love with New Orleans. It’s truly my spiritual homeland, and I try to make at least one pilgrimage there each year. I love the music, the food, the people, the history and the indomitable spirit of the place.

If you could change one thing about timeshare, what would it be?

Like everyone else, I would change the sales and marketing of the product. It’s really not ‘rocket science’: owners generally LOVE the product, but they hate the way it’s sold…so change the way it’s sold! I simply can’t understand how we can continue to sell a product that is truly a “lifetime relationship” but we’re not willing to invest more than one presentation and 90+ minutes in it. What do you think would happen if you asked out someone on a date and told them that, at the end of it, they would have to give you a solid answer regarding whether they will marry you or not? If (by some miracle) your date DID give you a “yes”, would you be shocked if your “marriage” somehow ended in a messy divorce? Invest some time, build a relationship, develop some trust and they’ll love you forever!
What is your favorite color?

Black. I have (at least) 10 extra pounds that seems to have set up a permanent home on my body, and black is my friend.

Thanks Ross...and don't forget that CRDA isi holding their annual summit May 16-18 in Toronto.  For more information, visit

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Despite What You May Think...I AM A Team Player

I'd like to think that the work that I do here is part of timeshare solution and not part of the timeshare problem.

I think that when the mainstream media, i.e. not timeshare, calls and asks for information about the industry, I have an obligation to not only answer questions directly, not only give my opinion when it's asked for but also to arm the reporter with as much good, solid, useful information as possible.

So when a reporter called me last week to ask about some timeshare issues, I willingly gave the reporter three (3) other sources to contact.

Why?  Because a)  it's the right thing to do, b)  because I want the most up to date information out there, c) because I think it's vital for the media and consumers to have input from as many reputable sources as possible and d)  because I know that Timeshare Insights is NOT the be all and end all of credible sources.

This isn't the first time I've done this,just the first time I've written about it.

I'm willing to bet you a million dollars that neither of the three sources has ever or will ever reciprocate.

One source ignores me 99% of the time, one source chooses to believe that the only "truth" about timeshare comes from them and the third source hates everyone associated with timeshare choosing to believe that no one other than themselves should ever make any money from any timeshare related endeavor.

It's not only wrong, it's exhausting.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Five Things About Timeshare Resales You Need To Know

If you’re looking to sell your timeshare, you have a variety of choices available to you.  As with anything financial, it pays to work with an independent expert who has no ties to any specific company.  I founded Timeshare Insights in 2005 with two simple goals; to educate and consult with consumers and to be a catalyst for positive change within the timeshare industry.
 Contrary to what you may have heard, there is a thriving secondary timeshare market today.  People are always in need of a vacation and always in search of a good deal.  Here are five things you need to look out for to make this process as successful as possible.

1)    Price your timeshare right.  Despite what you may have been told by the timeshare salesperson or want to believe, the vast majority of timeshares do NOT hold their resale value, much less appreciate.  There are exceptions of course.  If you purchased a timeshare on Sanibel Island 15 years ago for $5,000, I have no doubt that you could double or triple that today.  But most consumers looking to sell don’t own on Sanibel Island. 

General rule of thumb is to find out what similar timeshares are going for today from the developer and start out at 50% to 65% less than that.  I know this is not what you want to hear, but it is the truth.

You also want to check what other people are listing similar timeshares for on the secondary market.

2)    Understand what you have to sell.  I’m continually astonished by just how little some timeshare owners know about their timeshare.  You have to know if you own points (how many), or weeks (fixed or floating), every year or every other year and if the resort is affiliated with either RCI or Interval International. 

Is the resort part of a smaller, internal exchange system? If so, what are the benefits of this internal system?  What are the annual maintenance fees and do they include real estate taxes?  Is the property deeded, or a right to use?  All of these things are vitally important to marketing the timeshare.  Interestingly enough, once some people do a little digging and find out what they own, they decide to keep it because they realize that they haven’t been making the best use of it!

3)    Call the resort that you own at to see if they would buy it back.  This doesn’t happen nearly as much as I think it should.  I believe that all timeshare resorts should be helping their owner base out and at the very least offer owners a way out.  However, some forward thinking resorts are doing just that and it is certainly worth a phone call to the Owner Services Department to find out. 

Some resorts also have a “Right of First Refusal”, so it makes sense to find out what they will accept and what they won’t.

4)    Understand and evaluate the fees involved.  This is where it can start to get really tricky for frustrated timeshare owners.  In most cases in the United States, timeshare falls under real estate law and in many states such as Florida; it is illegal to charge upfront fees for real estate.

However…nothing is free.  You need to decide if the $22.95 advertising fee that your local paper will charge for a 3 line listing is going to get the “eyeballs” you really need to sell your timeshare.  On the other hand, if a large online listing service charges you $500 but has 40,000 verifiable hits per day, that $500 may be a better deal that paying $22.95 every week for a year until someone eventually calls.

There are some real estate agents and brokers who handle timeshare.  They will not charge anything up front, but you will have to pay them a commission, sometimes as much as 15%, upon sale.  You should ask if they have experience in selling timeshare, as timeshare is vastly different from general real estate.

5)    NEVER do business with someone who contacts you first.  I left this tip for last as it is the most important thing I can leave you with.  Unfortunately, there is a never-ending stream of unscrupulous (as best) and illegal (at worst) companies out there waiting to prey on you.  They will fill your head with all sorts of mis-information, claim to have a buyer for your timeshare and all you have to do is send them a few hundred or thousands for closing costs.  DON’T DO IT.  No matter how good it sounds.

If you had a car that you were no longer using and you received a call from someone that you had never heard of/never contacted that said that they had a buyer for your car and all you needed to do was send them $3,500, would you fall for it?  Of course not.  So don’t do it with a timeshare.