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?