Tuesday, May 27, 2014

An Insightful Guest Blog From Wes Kogelman

To Pay Or Not To Pay – That Is The Question?

Over the years, probably the most contentious issue I have heard regarding the timeshare resale sector involves paying for fee-based resale services and whether an owner should consider paying for marketing costs in advance or just have any associated costs come from commissions after a sale has been concluded.

While this is an understandable debate, considering the abuses that have taken place over the years from rogue companies, I continue to be amazed at the lack of understanding about the process – especially in the transparent world of the Internet in which we now reside.

I manage separate companies which cater to both sides of the debate, having started my advertising business, BuyaTimeshare.com, 14 years ago and also obtaining a real estate license for my brokerage business, CashOutATimeshare.com, so I have a unique perspective. While we keep our businesses completely separate, I see the industry in a more holistic capacity than most operators.     

The Advertising Model – What To Look For

On the advertising side, when I describe our business as more of a technology company similar to AutoTrader.com or Monster.com, operating very similar but just with a different product to sell, most people grasp how we operate. But over the years, the timeshare product has been depicted in a different light than other products and timeshare online advertising outlets have received very different scrutiny than these other aforementioned businesses, simply because of the product, not necessarily because of the method of advertising.

Because online advertising can be effective, anyone thinking of using an online advertiser should consider objective evaluation touchpoints such as:

·         Never do business with someone who cold calls you – this is a leading characteristic of a rogue company.
·         Beware the “buyer in waiting” pitch – since buyers do not line up to purchase unadvertised products.
·         Marketing visibility – how does a company intend to market themselves to attract buyers. In this Google age, a simple search for terms such as “timeshares for sale” or “buy a Marriott timeshare” should reveal legitimate operators. If you can’t find an operator through a simple search, then how will a buyer?
·         Business processes – is the company registered to do business? Do they even post their address and contact details? Do they offer a written contract? Do they protect consumer data? These are basic principles of business today and are a starting point when considering a business relationship.
·         Do they get results – any reasonable operators should be able to document their successes.

Are Licensed Brokers The Answer?

This leads me to the other side of the conversation, the no up-front fee, commission-based licensed brokerage option. Because there are no guarantees that a timeshare will sell, many people decide on this option because they are more comfortable with the process. This can be a very effective means of selling a timeshare. However, keep in mind that most brokers will only want to handle timeshares they know they can sell quickly, whether they are certain name brand timeshares or in specific high demand geographical locations, because their livelihood depends on it. So a vast number of timeshare owners go unserviced with limited options because they don’t happen to fall into these categories.

Do We Need To Choose?

Hence, the tease in the title – why even ask the question in the first place? These are not mutually exclusive options, as there are more opportunities available today to sell than ever before and a combination of outlets may work best. Many times it just takes creative thinking to establish a marketing plan that gives an owner the best possible avenue to sell. According to the American Resort Development Association, nearly one in three timeshare buyers are doing so through resale outlets, so consumers are identifying the resale market as genuine in an industry that, overall, sold nearly $7billion in timeshares last year. 

We have even come up with a hybrid subscription service that essentially blends the idea of online marketing for the cost of a couple of cups of Starbucks coffee to give owners access to online buyers. This is a program we have offered as a benefit of membership of the National Timeshare Owners Association, so owners would need to contact the NTOA about this option.

The point is that consumers are taking more control of the process than ever before and, contrary to popular opinion, consumers are looking online to buy timeshares. Google estimates that about 129,000 searches per month are entered for buyer-related terms such as “timeshares for sale” or “buy timeshare”. So fear not, for there is a market for the product and options are available.   

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