Monday, November 19, 2012

Friday, November 16, 2012

If A Timeshare Is "More" Shouldn't Their Rating System Reflect That?

I was reading an article where someone was complaining about the rating of a hotel that she had recently stayed in.  What's the difference between a 2 star and a 3 star rating...and so on.

It started me thinking of the rather limiting ways timeshare are rated.  If memory serves, both RCI and II utilize a 1-5 rating system on check in and check out and overall resort quality along with one or two more criteria.

Imagine my surprise when I did some checking and found out the criteria that Mobil uses to rate a hotel/motel/resort 4 Star:

Four-Star Lodgings
Four-Star Lodging Establishment indicates an outstanding hotel providing the guest with a luxury experience in a distinctive setting, including expanded amenities and exceptional service. Guests at a Four-Star Hotel, Resort or Inn can expect to find all of the qualities for a Three-Star Hotel, Resort or Inn plus the following characteristics:

Services Detail

• Written confirmation is automatic or offered, either by mail, fax or e-mail.
• Guests name is used effectively, but discreetly, as a signal of recognition.
• The time from arriving at the reception area until registration is complete does not exceed five minutes (includes queuing).
• Bed is plush and inviting with oversized or numerous pillows.
• Bedcovers are elegant and stylish and with linens of exceptional quality and comfort.
• All written information is provided on good quality paper or pads, custom-printed or logoed.
• Bathroom presentation and placement of amenities and linens is thoughtful, careful, and elegant.
• Fresh ice is provided during evening service or at another time during the day.
• Turndown service is automatically provided.
• During turndown service, guest clothing is neatly handled and guest toiletries are neatly arranged and displayed on a cloth or shelf.
• Room service is delivered within 30 minutes.
• Room service order is delivered within five minutes of quoted time.
• One hour pressing is available.
• If resort, two hour pressing available
• Same day laundry and dry cleaning is available seven days/week.
• Wake-up call is personalized with guest's name and time of day.
• Wake-up call is delivered within two minutes of requested time.
• Special service desk identified as concierge/guest service is situated apart from reception/front desk.
• If Inn, Workstation where guest can access Internet (may be "borrowed" office) is available.
• If spa services are present, treatments are begun and ended on schedule, within five minutes of expected or booked time.
• If spa services are present, during treatment, therapist appears to be genuinely expert, moving seamlessly through the treatment as described and expected.
• If casino services are present, when playing slots for more than 20 minutes, drink service is offered.
• If casino services are present, when playing a table game for more than 15 minutes, drink service is offered.

Facilities Detail

• Lobby areas feature elegant live plants and/or fresh floral displays.
• A dedicated and secure luggage storage area is available.
• Public phones are equipped with seats, privacy panels and pad/pens.
• Public washrooms are furnished with upgraded materials and appointments/luxurious design.
• Televisions feature premium cable TV (two movie channels, two all-news, two financial).
• Guest room telephones have two lines.

Guest Room Detail

• Selection of at least 10 hangers including a variety of bars, clips and padded.
• In-room safe is present.
• If Inn, in-room safe is present or readily accessible on-site.
• If minibar is present, it is non auto-charge, and premium products are attractively displayed.
• Bed is triple sheeted or features washable duvets.
• Live plants are present in guest rooms.
• Shaving/makeup, lighted magnifying mirror is present.

Specialized Facility Detail

• Fitness equipment is available with personal headphones/televisions.
• Current newspapers and national-title magazines are provided in fitness and locker areas.
• If spa, treatment rooms are equipped with individually controlled temperature and sound systems

Even if we take away the items that only pertain to hotels and not to timeshares such as turndown service, it seems to me that this is a HUGE step up from the very limited items that timeshares are routinely rated on.

If timeshares truly are "more" than that's the story that needs to get out to the general public.  Time for a change!  Who's on board?

Friday, November 9, 2012

International Timeshare Appreciation Day-A Recap In 3 Parts

Part 1-The Truly Wonderful

The first annual ITAD was held on November 1st and I was blown away by the positive response.  We had nearly 800 people share their positive stories on the Facebook page...which will remain operational and monitored.

This endeavor would not have been possible without the hard work and efforts of the following:  DAE Live, Confused About Timeshare, Lake Forest Resort and Club, TATOC, Worldwide Timeshare Hypermarket, Azure Resorts, LiveShare Travel and RCI Ventures.

The terrific responses from owners were sincere, unscripted, honest and unedited-in marked contrast to other sites which claim to want to hear from owners but edit anything that doesn't fit into the doctorine that's being preached.  Many of these owners have owned for 15, 20 and even 30 years; flying squarely in the face of the oft-repeated stories that timeshare owners want out.  They don't.  These are savvy, educated owners who know how to get the most out of their purchase.

Part 2-The Less So Wonderful

One very sad note-it was incredibly disheartening to see the almost non-existant participation from US timeshare owners.  There are several possible reasons for this-the easiest explanation is that US based timeshare organizations have proved themselves yet again to be more interested in internal politics, afraid of doing anything that they didn't "invent"...or perhaps they just have something to hide.

What possible reason would a timeshare organization have for NOT putting the word out to their owners/members that there was a platform for sharing great timeshare owners?  In a word...FEAR.  The same reason that they dance and dance around the resale issue...they're scared that if they educate their owners there will be a flood of people wanting to sell.  You know what...if you don't believe enough in your own product, shame on you.

So while I'm incredible disappointed by the lack of participation from companies that had everything to gain by jumping onboard ITAD...some of whom made false promises to me and then mysteriously dropped out without so much as an "explanation", I remain convinced that there are many happy timeshare owners in the US-and we have almost a year to get
the word out to them!

Part 3-Lessons Learned

---I've learned who to trust and who blows smoke.
---I've learned who provides great customer service in timeshare and who only claims to.
---I've learned that the US based industry will NEVER embrace what I'm trying to do and that's OK.
---I've learned that certain organizations "get it" and others don't.  Guess who will survive?


Overall, the first annual International Timeshare Appreciation Day can only be classified as a success.  Whether I am around next year to spearhead this initiative or not, I know that it will continue and get bigger and better.  Onwards!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Five Ways To Enjoy An Older Timeshare-From Guest Blogger Matt McDaniel

Are you what the industry calls a "legacy" owner -- that is, someone who's owned a timeshare for a very long time? Perhaps you're in the midst of the timeshare doldrums, especially if your home resort hasn't seen a renovation in recent memory. You've "been there, done that" at your resort, and while you are happy to be an owner, your annual vacation just isn't getting you as excited with anticipation as it used to.

Does this describe you? Has the experience become so routine that you can't differentiate one year's experience from the next (or the previous)?

 If so, here are five ways to refresh your vacation ownership:

Take friends or extended family members who have never stayed at a timeshare with you.

The best way to enjoy something you love is to share it with others. And as you've probably already learned, people who haven't experienced timesharing firsthand are a lot more likely to have a negative opinion of it. You can get the pleasure of opening their eyes to all that shared ownership has to offer, whether at your home resort or at a resort you've exchanged into. But at your home resort you'll also get to play the roles of tour guide and local-attractions insider as well.

Exchange to a lesser-known destination.

Exchange is a simple way to liven up your vacation. Sure, you've likely exchanged to Orlando or some other well-known destination, but what about being a bit more adventurous? All the major exchange companies are happy to help you find a new experience at a less-established (and therefore less-in-demand location); in a sense, you'll have increased trading power for such destinations.  Think Eastern Europe over Western Europe, for example: You'll still get the Old World experience and fantastic memories. Or New York's Adirondack Mountains over Vail, Colorado: If you're not big on black diamonds, you'll find plenty of easy runs and just as many hot toddies to enjoy afterwards.

If you can, go to your resort in the offseason this year.

If you aren't tied to school schedules, venturing out during the off season can be extremely rewarding: smaller crowds, less extreme weather, cheaper airfares and shorter lines at attractions are just a few of the potential rewards. Perhaps you'd like to visit Florida in the fall rather than summer; according to the locals, that's when the weather is best. What's more, lines to meet up with Mickey, Harry Potter and Shamu are their shortest.

And even if a summer vacation is required, why not go to a ski resort? Many offer hiking, horseback riding, river adventures and more -- plus, the summer heat is not as intense in the mountains (but it's still plenty warm enough for swimming and water sports).

One caveat, though: Don't expect every attraction and restaurant to be open year-round in a highly seasonal locale such as Martha's Vineyard.

Daytrip further out -- maybe even stay overnight somewhere else for one night.

If you're really set on going to your home resort and home week, there are still ways to expand your horizons. One idea is to expand your definition of what's close by and venture farther out from your resort base. If you're going to the Poconos, for example, why not visit Philadelphia's historic sites or take in a Broadway show in Manhattan, each about two hours' drive. You can use a last-minute booking site to find a relatively inexpensive one-night hotel stay. Get more ideas by checking Groupon, Living Social and other coupon sites for discounts on local attractions, restaurants and activities (you can search by region).

Come up with a new "theme" each time.

If you like to spend time planning your annual trips (because that's part of the fun!), then consider creating a new vacation theme each year. The possibilities include:

·         Shopping - finding and visiting each of the area's malls and outlets, with a pre-set objective of getting a new wardrobe

·         Culinary - not only locating the best restaurants, but learning about the local cuisine and maybe even participating in the process, like picking your own strawberries or harvesting oysters to prepare in your unit's kitchen

·         History - most places are famous, at least regionally, for some past event and/or person; find out who/what that is and soak up some local lore

The bottom line is that by doing a bit of homework beforehand, you can re-energize your vacations and get more value out of ownership. And isn't that what timeshare's all about?


Guest blogger Matt McDaniel regularly contributes to timeshare industry trade publications Developments, Perspective, RCI Ventures and Vacation Industry Review.