Friday, March 29, 2013

Effective Owner Communications---From Both Sides

Let’s face it…a timeshare is a significant purchase dealing with an important part of life…holidays. 

If you’re a timeshare resort or HOA and your owner communications merely consist of the annual maintenance fee bill, you’re missing a great opportunity and potentially creating a problem.  If you’re an owner and all you receive from your home resort or HOA is the annual maintenance fee bill, you need to demand more.


Even if you never go to your home resort, never attend owners’ meetings (an issue for another day), you must demand that your home resort provide you with regular, non-sales oriented information about the resort and all matter of timeshare related issues.  Why?  Simply because timeshare in 2013 is significantly different and more complex than it was in 1983, 1993 or even in 2003.

Sure, you need to know what the annual fees are and how much they’ve gone up…but you are due an explanation, aren’t you?  Some of the other key issues your resort should volunteer:

·         Major improvements at the resort such as pool resurfacing, roof repair, addition of wi-fi, etc.

·         Key personnel changes at the resort.  You should not have to search to find out who to contact about specific issues or concerns

·         News about current and ongoing issues of concern to timeshare owners such as scams, owner meetings and of course the date of  the next HOA meeting

Unfortunately, the current economic climate has made it easier and easier for unscrupulous individuals to prey on misinformed timeshare owners.  You need to know from the resort that they are not calling owners and offering them a “way out” or any other offer that comes your way more and more often.


Even if you’ve never done so, you simply must start communicating with your owner base on a regular basis.

For all the reasons I covered above, plus one overriding benefit…UNEDUCATED OWNERS ARE COSTING YOUR RESORT THOUSANDS OF POUNDS EVERY DAY.

Whether you have owners who are no longer using their timeshare and therefore think it is acceptable to not pay the annual fees, or worse, owners who pay a company to take the timeshare from them eventually resulting in unpaid fees…your owners need to understand the implications, benefits and responsibilities of ownership.  Ownership is a good thing…if anyone feels that it isn’t, or that the cons outweigh the pros, they need to be educated.  They also need to know that they are indeed, an integral part of the resort’s well-being and that their actions affect thousands of other owners.

At too many owners meetings that I attend here in the states, HOA managers and directors tell me that they aren’t offering their owners information about potential scams because they are afraid that it will open the floodgate to owners wanting out.  It’s just not true.  Most owners are very happy with their timeshare and are not looking for a way out.

And let’s not forget that owner communications can focus on the good news…and there’s lots of it if you know where to look.  Don’t forget that there is a big difference between sharing information (a great thing) and selling (a not so great thing.)

Here are some examples of information sharing:

·         Upgrades (hopefully not downgrades) in RCI rating

·         New RCI resort affiliations

·         Upcoming projects

·         Any challenges the resort may be facing

A quick word about that last point.  Don’t be afraid of telling your owners of any challenges you may be facing.  A typical resort has thousands of owners from diverse backgrounds and each with a world of experience.  They can be your greatest asset.  The solution to a potential challenge may very well come from your owners!

Recently, I’ve heard from owners who receive word about the annual HOA meeting less than 2 weeks out.  Frankly, this is unacceptable.  HOAs need to get the word out about the annual meeting as soon as a date is set, which for most well run HOAs will be months ahead of time.

Organizations such as TATOC and publications such as Sharetime do a terrific job in bringing the good news about the industry to the forefront, as well as alerting owners to potential issues.  Individual timeshare owners need to hear this news from resorts as well.

Remember that your resort is not a bunch of buildings.  Your resort is made up of individuals.  Just as consumers initially purchase because of the individual salesperson and not the concept of timeshare, they return and exchange into your resort because of the people that make up the resort.

Unsure of where to start?  Send me an e-mail at  I’ll be happy to review your current communication pieces at no cost and help you get started on the road to better communication

Monday, March 25, 2013

WHY Isn't This Getting The Coverage It Should?

I came across this story in my weekly "bundle of timeshare news" via Google.

This is a HUGE story affecting millions of timeshare owners that is getting very little coverage.

Here's a summary of what's going on:

A bid by the time-share industry to block unhappy owners from dumping their properties by selling to companies that don’t plan to pay the often-hefty annual dues ran into trouble Friday in the House Regulatory Affairs Committee.

An eleventh-hour amendment to what was otherwise seen as an innocuous “glitch bill” (HB 7025) would make it illegal for time-share owners to transfer their properties to buyers whom they know or should “reasonably know” do not have the “ability, means or intent” to pay all annual assessments and taxes on the property.

Jason Gamel, a lobbyist for the American Resort Development Association, the time-share lobby, said such sales were a problem that is currently “plaguing” the industry as vulture buyers try to take advantage of rock-bottom resale prices, which have collapsed since the global economic collapse.

So now the timeshare industry is blaming the "global economic collapse" for the rock-bottom resale prices?  And the industry is the one being "plagued?"  How about the individual owner? 

I'm no legal expert, but to me, this seems like a very slippery slope.  What's next?  Will owners be locked into their timeshares forever and ever with no way out?

Someone had better wake up and start giving this the press that it deserves.  And timeshare owners had better start paying attention.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Another Day, Another Timeshare "Relief" Company.

It never stops.

I've just learned that the people behind the timeshare transfer company "Timeshare Relief" are now operating under the name "Timeshare Cure" and are calling themselves Consumer Advisors.

Other fun names used by the same people are: "Transfer Smart", "Credit Repair IQ" and "Merchant Solutions IQ."

If I've said it once, I've said it a thousand times"


Is anyone at all listening?

Friday, March 8, 2013

Perfect Example Of What Needs To Change In Timeshare

I can't make this stuff up.

Last month I had dinner with some friends who purchased their first timeshare in 2001.  They bought that timeshare from me.

Since then, having fallen in love with the whole timeshare experience, they went on to purchase several more, including what is now Diamond Resorts-The Point at Poipu.  Yes, THAT resort that has imposed a $5,800+ special assessment fee on its owners.

Anyway, due to financial circumstances, including this assessment fee, my friends were forced to give up that timeshare. 

They told me that back in December of 2012 they had accompanied friends of theirs who still own at Poipu on a vacation to Hawaii.  My friends knew that at some point, they would be invited to the "informative resort preview" and be offered something for their time.  They were initially offered $100 for their time.

They politely declined, explaining their situation to the briber, I mean the "Marketing Specialist."  By mid-week, they had received four additional phone calls and the offer had risen to $150.

So, my exasperated friends took the offer.  They signed up for the timeshare sales pitch.  They showed up on time.  They told the salesperson exactly what happened.  The salesperson kept them about 30 minutes before letting them go.  AND THEY STILL RECEIVED THE $150.

The people in charge of hiring the marketing staff at Poipu need a good whack to the head.  But then again, without idiot practices like this, what else would I write about?

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Who Looks Out For The Timeshare Owner?

I came across this story yesterday.

Sutherland Crossing in Palm Harbor Florida is set to close its doors on March 30th.

It seems maintanance fees rose quite substantially and there was also a special assessment.

The management company refused to elaborate to the reporter who called, claiming that  "We are explaining what's going on to our owners. I think that's plenty for now." 

Besides the fact that in fact, no, it's not plenty for now, I'm curious to find out what, if anything they've really explained to their owners.

One of the owners wrote this to Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi in January of this year:

"After years of progressively deteriorating administration, my timeshare association board is forcing owners who remain to turn in their titles and accept whatever residual assets remain. The suggestion is that nothing much remains and their are liabilities and debts that the association must pay. Somehow over ninety percent of the units are non-paying and owned by the association. Is there an ombudsman for timeshare affairs?"

Great question indeed.  Who does look out for the timeshare owner?

Friday, March 1, 2013

So, Where Is This Change In Timeshare?

Back in 2005 when I was doing research for my second book "Timeshare Vacations For Dummies", I had the opportunity to interview some fairly high level executives at some large timeshare companies.

I was told then that "the days of the 3 day/2 night mini-vac for $99" were over and that the timeshare industry was moving on to "better" marketing methods.

Since then, I've met with lots of other people in timeshare, attended lots of timeshare meetings and read a ton of interviews, articles, Facebook updates and Tweets from high level executives all saying that the timeshare industry is healthier than ever before, due in part to  "better" marketing methods.

I'd like to believe this...I truly would.  But here is the "fine print" for a marketing package that a large timeshare company is currently running in 2013:
* Not Valid with any other offer or promotions.
* No cash value.  No Cash/credit back.
* This offer is available to married couples, co-habitating couples, and single women
* Must be between the ages of 25-72 years old 
* Must be gainfully employed  (And how exactly is this checked?  It isn't)
* Must speak fluent English or Spanish
* Combined annual income of $50,000 or more per year (Again, not verified)
* If married or Cohabitating, must have matching addresses and both must attend presenation
* Must attend a 90-120 minute sales presentation
* Must carry a VALID Major Credit Card( no Debit or Prepaid cards accepted)
* Must not currently be in active bankruptcy, or have declared bankruptcy with in the past three years. (Anyone checking on this?  NO)
* This promotional offer does not include taxes, transportation, meals, or incidentals
* No group travel permitted ( group travel is defined by two or more couples traveling at the same time to the same location)
* 1 voucher per household
* All reservations must be submitted at least 7 days prior to travel
* All reservation date requests must be made within 60 days after purchasing voucher.
* Travel must be completed within 6 months after date of purchase.
* This promotional offer is for the solicitation of a Vacation Ownership Plan
* This offer not valid to residents of FL or CA. Void where prohibited
I dare anyone in the business to tell me what has changed from 2005, 2000, or 1995,  Where is this long-promised change in timeshare?