Friday, June 29, 2012

So, What DO People Wake Up And Decide They Want To Buy?

Today I discuss again, the absurdity of the old "people don't wake up one day and decide to buy a timeshare" arguement that the industry has relied on for years to justify their "marketing" practices---bribing consumers with a discounted hotel stay and two tickets for an insane price in exchange for their attendance at a 90 minute (ha) resort preview (ha).

Several weeks ago, while contemplating the projected end of the world later this year and how stupid I would feel if I continued to save money instead of spending it on something like a vacation, I thought about how nice it would be to take a European river cruise.

So I went online to do some investigating.  Now, let me stop here for a minute.  I didn't suddenly decide to BUY a European river cruise...I suddenly decided to LOOK INTO a European river cruise.

Yesterday, two weeks later to the day, I received a lovely four color brochure from Tauck in the mail and spent a good hour reading through the lovely descriptions of their varied itineraries.

As usual, I started comparing this type of travel marketing with the timeshare model.  What can I say...I'm a VERY focused individual.

The brochure contained all the elements that made for a very compelling sales pitch.  Photos, reviews, extremely detailed descriptions of the different sailings, information on included meals, sightseeing, right down to letting me know that the bedding included pillow top bed and 400-thread count satin bed linens.  And of course, all the cost details.

I say sales pitch because that's what collateral like this brochure is...a sales pitch.  At the bottom of every single page was the phrase, "Call your travel agent or Tauck at 800-xxx-xxxx."  Sprinkled in throughout the brochure were QR Codes where I could scan to view videos and access Tauck's website in a snap.

What this sales pitch didn't include of course was a donut and tea with a salesperson.  Or a "today only" price or a TO calling me to see if the price was lowered would I jump on the deal.

Now, I haven't bought the cruise yet.  So in that way, I fit into the majority of people who attend a timeshare sales presentation and don't buy.  But what I do have is the brochure and the website which I can revisit anytime I want.  The price doesn't go up, the thread count doesn't go down.

Having just attended a timeshare sales pitch-undercover of course-I did ask for a brouchure of some sort and of course was turned down because "no one ever comes back to buy a timeshare" in the words of the salesperson.

Of course no one comes back to buy, because potential owners are forced to leave empty handed!  

Let's get back to the whole "waking up and deciding to buy" theme.  Yes, it is very true that no one wakes up and decides to buy a timeshare and no one wakes up and decides to buy a costly European river cruise.  Let's just add that no one wakes up and decides to buy ANYTHING unless they have prior knowledge and/or experience with it.

Isn't it high time that the timeshare industry stops using this outdated thinking to "justify" their marketing and sales practices?

What do you think?  Leave your comments...and I'll let you know about the river cruise.  Since the ships have internet access, I can blog from the Danube!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

100 Timeshares And Not One Partner

I recently had the pleasure of visiting Tuscana Resort near Orlando to find out about their partnership with LEGOLAND Florida.

I've been a vocal, some say too vocal, proponent of the timeshare industry and individual timeshare resorts entering into strategic marketing alliances for some time now.  Back when I was a media buyer in Chicago, both I and my clients saw the many advantages that these alliances held.  And that was before the advent of social media...when all we had to work with was traditional advertising.  And it was quite successful.

LEGOLAND Florida is partnering with several local accommodation providers, including Tuscana Resort, on their Bed and Brick Partnership.  You can see all of their partners at  If you look over the list, you'll see one lone timeshare...Tuscana Resort.  (

Now, technically, Tuscana Resort is NOT a timeshare.  What I mean by that is that there are no active sales ongoing at the resort.  Units are owned by individuals, most of which choose to put inventory in a rental pool that Tuscana rents out for them for a fee.  So, what is the timeshare connection?  RCI members have access to some of Tuscana's inventory on a pure rental basis from RCI, which some owners take advantage of to spend a week or two extra in the Orlando area.

Now, while I congratulate Tuscana Resort for their foresight in making their wonderful, amenity laden resort a parter with LEGOLAND's Bed and Brick promotion, I question why no timeshare jumped on-board.  There are at least 100 timeshare resorts within an easy drive of the new LEGOLAND in Winter Haven.  Many of these timeshare resorts offer fabulous amenities which would be a huge plus for the family crowd that LEGOLAND is bound to attract.

You would think that timeshare resorts would pay attention and then learn from Tuscana's example.  Anyone?

Monday, June 18, 2012

Who Calls and Who Doesn't

Just when you think it can't get any worse...there is a new warning from TATOC in the UK that a person by the name of David Miller is using the TATOC name and logo in his attempts to get $1,600 out of US timeshare owners in exchange for "getting out of their timeshare."

We've heard of course of countless companies using TATOC's, ARDA's and CRDA's logo in their "outreach programs" but to actually claim to BE TATOC is sinking to new lows.

TATOC, does NOT contact timeshare owners with "offers" nor demand money upfront.  Neither does ARDA  Neither does CRDA  Neither does any reputable timeshare related company; including but not limited to TimeSharing Today, the National Timeshare Owners Association, the Florida Timeshare Owners Group, TUG,,, Travel and Leisure Group (in the UK), Worldwide Timeshare Hypermarket (also in the UK), Confused About Timeshare (another UK based company), the LTRBA, RCI, II, SFX Exchange, Dial an Exchange, Trading Places or other exchange companies.

Amazingly, as I write this, I received a call from "Ashley" who wanted to know "if there was no fee to sell my timeshare, would I be interested in selling it?"  Of course, the more questions I asked "Ashley", I found out that there was of course a "refundable" fee.

TATOC maintains both a list of members and a toll free number.  Both ARDA and CRDA maintain a similar list.  TATOC goes a step further and publishes a monthly list of companies who cold-call consumers and should be avoided.

I'm happy to start a list of good and bad guys, so I'm asking for your help in getting the word out.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Sales Training 101?

As most of you know, I was a full-time timeshare salesperson from 2000 to mid 2004 at which point, I left to start Timeshare Insights, with a clear understanding that I would be able to do more as a writer, educator and consultant.
I mention this because I recently came across some “sales training”…actually, one piece of paper that looked like this:


  1. Real vacation commitment.  Close them on this.  Don’t move on until commitment is reached. 
  2. Real ANYWAY money.  Must get SOLID commitment or you will get money objections at end.
  3. MAKE THEM WANT IT!!!  Journal Pitch
  4. Revisit ANYWAY monies before you show the price!!!
Should be simple enough!!!

Laughable, isn’t it?  Back in the dark ages, i.e. 2000 and 2001 when I was learning the ropes, my “steps to a sale” were more complex and in-depth than this.  And yet, here we are halfway through 2012 and this is what is being “taught” to salespersons?

Not only does it not address any solid objections that the consumer may have, it makes it sound like consumers are just going to roll over, dig in their wallets and hand over a credit card for $20,000.

I especially like #2…where they mention the ANYWAY monies.  Rather hard to do a “pitch” on the ANYWAY monies if the client is paying $99 for a 4 night stay at the resort and getting two attraction tickets.  Let’s see…$99 a year for 20 years would amount of $2,000…and an average timeshare is $20,000?  There are no ANYWAY monies!

Timeshare sales was without doubt the hardest, yet one of the most rewarding jobs I have ever had.  I knew that I was helping people have better vacations which they deserved.  What soured it for me, and continues to sour it for consumers everywhere is the fact that the money doesn’t add up, the questions never quite get answered and the salesperson is still in their 1980s mode.

Wake up timeshare industry…it's 2012. 

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Complaints, Education and Good News

I just spent an entertaining 30 minutes online looking at various timeshare complaints...I know that my idea of entertaining may not be yours.

I'm left continually stunned by the lack of education that some consumers have about timeshare and why the industry doesn't fully embrace this education process that Timeshare Insights and other organizations are working towards.

There were complaints against both RCI and II about marketing packages, maintenance fees and resale values.  There were complaints against resorts having to do with exchanges and again, resale values.

People using words like "scam" and "ripoff" when they clearly don't understand exchanges, values or marketing.

You would think that for no other reason than to get themselves off the hook, timeshare organizations would embrace a comprehensive timeshare education system.  To say nothing of having an answer for so-called "experts" like Clark Howard who is famous for his "I wouldn't take a timeshare if it was given to me" rants and raves.

The bad news is that same old still holds in the traditional timeshare thinking.  The good news, the really good news is that by year's end, there are going to be at least two new organizations that are going to bring some long overdue education, information, transparency and help to consumers.  The benefits will also be there for the "good guys" in the industry, and there are MANY good guys within the ranks.

Stay's going to be exciting.

Monday, June 4, 2012

If We Follow This "Logic"...

We've heard it a million times...people don't wake up one morning and decide to buy a timeshare, so it has to be sold and the industry has to incent (bribe) people to come in for a sales presentation.

Interesting, isn't it?

Let's dig a little deeper.  Let's look at timeshare, fractionals/PRC and traditional residences...all of them different levels of real estate interests.

In the consumers' mind the differences are:  the cost, the usage and the relative importance of the purchases.  In the case of the sellers, the differences are:  the type of sales process and the duration of time allowed for the purchase.

Sales Process

Timeshare              Fractional/PRC                 Residence
Client incented       Targeted marketing           Relationship/
to attend pitch         Sought out                        Consultant


Must buy today       Weeks/Months                 Weeks/Months

So far this is what we've all heard.  But I thought for fun, I'd look at other types of purchases to see if anything else stays true to this way of doing things.

iPod Shuffle                iPhone                          Mac
Weekend Trip             2 Week Tour                 90 Day Cruise
CZ Earrings                2 Carat Diamond          10 Carat Bracelet
Iced Tea                     2 Chicken Strips           10 Piece Bucket

And I could go on and on...

The point is that I can't find ANY other product or service that would make the timeshare-fractional/PRC-residence scheme hold any water.  In none of the above cases does the "smallest" thing on the list require the bribe and the customer is not forced to buy it that day.

Simplistic?  YES.  I'll be the first to admit that comparing a timeshare to an iced tea and a residence to a 10 piece bucket of chicken is very simplistic.

But, sometimes simple is best.  35 plus years of making things complicated and not allowing people to buy your product; insisting that it must be sold has gotten the industry where?