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.