Monday, September 22, 2014

Seek Out Those Who Deserve To Be Sought Out

Back in 2011, while attending a timeshare industry meeting, I suggested that the entire timeshare community come out with a strong message. That message being that timeshare owners should NOT do business with any person, company, organization and/or entity that initiated contact.

The people representing various companies within the timeshare community wouldn't agree with me for one reason or another. They had their reasons, I have my guesses as to why.

Back then, as now, I had yet to come across any company that would make me change my stance.

However, it is reassuring that some organizations do in fact echo my stance.   Those organizations are, in my opinion, the ones that are truly looking out for timeshare owners. Seek them out.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Guest Blogger Bobby On Timeshare Sales Presentations

If you've ever been on a timeshare presentation, or thinking of going on one, be sure to read this guest blog from Bobby, a former timeshare salesperson.  Extremely honest and well-written.  Bobby's contact information can be found at the bottom of the post.

So you’re going to go on a timeshare presentation.  You’re not really sure how this happened, but you’re going.  Maybe you got a postcard, maybe you were on vacation and accepted those Disney/Universal tickets, maybe you answered an ad on Craigslist, and maybe someone you know is in touch with a person who runs a resort.  In any event, you’re going.

Shouldn’t you know what you’re in for??  Wouldn’t you like to have some inside information??  Timeshare and travel club presentations have such a wonderful reputation.  How do you do the best for your family??

Back before Wyndham, there was Cendant.  Back before the Cendant organization bought Fairfield to merge with Equivest, there was Eastern Resorts.  Starting back in 2001, I was a top salesperson for Eastern Resorts and went through all those changes.  Timeshare is a great product but it is sold and marketed in a horrible way.  Before I went off on my own as an independent investor, I own 141 weeks, I was the Sales Director at the Newport Bay Club.  I managed to take a lot of the horribleness out of the presentation.  Today, let’s talk about how to make that whole process work for you.

Before even going to the presentation, you have to decide if timeshare is right for you.  It’s not right for everyone – including some owners.  This doesn’t happen as much anymore, but timeshare resorts are pretty spectacular and some couples fall victims to the “ether”.  This is more likely to happen if you have your kids with you.  Do yourselves and your “presenter” for the day a favor – leave the kids with a sitter if you can.  If you can’t, expect the Disney button to get pushed, a lot.

To decide if timeshare is right for you, you’re going to do 2 exercises.  First, ask yourself, “Do we really vacation at least one week per year as a family??”  You do or you don’t.

Following that, I need you to do some math.  You know what you spend per night on hotels when on vacation.  Multiply that by 7.  Multiply that by 25.  Multiply that by 1.47.  Subtract 30,000.  That’s the amount of timeshare you should buy. 

So using Newport, RI’s base numbers, $238/night times 7 = $1666.  Times 25 = $41650.  Times 1.47 = $52,896.  Minus $30,000 = $22,896.  Ideally, you would not spend more than that for a timeshare.  For fear of boring everyone with theory, if you email me privately, I will share how the formula works.  I’m sure some of you have figured it out already.  On the presentation, you should see a version of it except for the “minus $30,000” part.

Ok, so now you’re ready to go.  You have your number in mind.  If you got a card in the mail or contacted while on vacation, the 90 minute presentation will feel like you’re being sold vinyl siding.  In a lot of ways, the timeshare presentation and the vinyl siding presentation are exactly the same.  Try to ignore that if you like the product.  If you’re meeting someone at a resort, the presentation will feel more like you’re buying a combination of burial plots and insurance on a bad day, just hanging out with a friend on a good day.  Again, if the product is right for you, try to ignore if the salesperson is in bad day mode.

In both cases, their goals are the same.  Make a friend out of you, show you a great resort, present a high opening price, and then use a bunch of tricks to make it feel like you “got a deal”.  Everyone in the history of timeshare who bought at a resort will have some story about the deal they got.  Here’s the dirty little secret – you all got the same price.

So if it’s a great product, why all the games??  Marketing cost.

To put you, and every other couple, in the room it can cost $600.  If there’s a “podium speaker” with a whiteboard or a power point and they’re staring at 8 couples, they know there’s $4800 in company cost staring back at them.  I was a podium speaker for a travel club.  I know this feeling all too well.

The company thinks anybody can sell 1 out of 12.  They expect salespeople who stay with the company to reliably hit 1 out of 10.  1 out of 8 can send you to the hall of fame.  At the end of my career I was 1 out of 5.  Everything that is about to happen to you, everything you are about to hear and see, all the games played with pricing is centered on this math.

For this reason, the presentation makes the product sound a little more perfect than it is.  Plan to spend 65-85% of your vacations at your home resort so make sure you’re happy with it.  RCI and II all work fine.  On the presentation, you’ll be asked for 5 dream vacations to reinforce this point.  Problem is real life happens too. 

Same things are true for point systems.  You’ll all kinds of things about “being able to take two weeks after buying only one” and “one week here in Newport is worth 183 days in Fairfield Glade in Tennessee”.  Those things are all true, but 65-85% of the time, real life happens and you will not take advantage of them.

“Hey Bobby, why are you bothering with all this when people are giving weeks away for a $1?”

Yes they are – off season weeks bought because they couldn’t afford the product in the first place or because the weeks are event centered.  Think about weeks that happen when boat shows and art festivals are in town.  All the hot weeks for $1 have been scooped up by investors like me.  We use them for rental purposes. 

I literally get calls every week from somebody at some resort saying, “The Jones’s are in their 80’s, they really don’t want their July week any more, kids aren’t into it, would you like to take it off their hands??”

That’s why we’re talking.  That’s why you need to know after 75 minutes of the presentation are over and they finally show you a price, just like vinyl siding, multiply by .6 and that’s the price you can have it for.  When you say no to the first price, I can’t even get into all the ways they’re going to “set the narrative and do the drop”.  Most salespeople can’t remember the various scripts.

Again, at this point, you know whether you like the resort enough to spend 16 to 20 of the next 25 vacations there.  You also know your bottom line number.  Look at your salesperson square in the face and say, “I know you don’t have the ability to do this, but we will pay X”.

If the salesperson has been trained correctly, the following words will come out of their mouth almost robotically, “So if the price is X, you will do this today??  Which credit card will you use for the initial investment??”

If they say “down payment”, they failed my “naughty words” class.

After you answer in the affirmative, if the salesperson comes back alone with paperwork, you actually could have gone lower.  If they come back with the “manager”, it has very little to do with you.  The manager will have been told by the salesperson the salesperson’s recounting of the story and the manager will not believe the salesperson.

The manager can literally ok any number the computer will accept.  So even if he/she says “we can’t do that”, don’t be surprised when you get up to walk away that suddenly he/she can.  Remember that $600??  Use it to your advantage.  Don’t be ridiculous but use it to your advantage.

If you’re going on a presentation, have two conversations with your partner.  Are you really vacation people??  What is your magic number??  Go on the presentation, see an amazing resort, have an outstanding time.  When you get to the money, remember it’s nothing personal.  The number fits or it does not.  Be in silent control.

Oh, I didn’t mention those “gifts” you got for showing up??  Outside of “attraction tickets”, would they be giving them away if the place was full during those times?, they represent about 4% of that $600.  Yeah, good luck with those.

Bobby can be reached at or you can visit his blog at

Monday, September 15, 2014

Do Timeshare Owners Need Looking After?

While there are a minority of timeshare owners who may think that they don't need anyone to look out after them, the vast majority of them around the world find themselves looking for unbiased help after every timeshare sales presentation, 'owner update', raised maintenance fee, special assessment, 'offer to buy' their timeshare, unfulfilled exchange or worse, bankrupt resort notice.

There are countless number of timeshare disposal companies masquerading as timeshare helpers or timeshare advocates. Add to that, there is some decent information put out by people who make their living by selling on the secondary market. And then there's the well meaning but timeshare ignorant mainstream reporters who mistakenly paint the entire timeshare community as 'scammers.'

Given that, it's no wonder that timeshare owners continue to get defrauded and prospective timeshare owners continue to make ill-informed purchasing decisions.

I've been writing about and striving to be a catalyst for positive change in the timeshare industry for nine years. I'm happy to say that I've personally helped hundred of consumers. And while I did get my start in timeshare by selling, I have an exemplary record of owners who know how to use their timeshares and continue to rely on me for unbiased information. I have not sold timeshare for many years. I would find it impossible to be responsible for guiding consumers into wise decisions when my true motive is to sell timeshare. I don't know how others do this.

So back to my original question; do timeshare owners need looking after?  YES.  Even if you don't know it, you will at some point need help, guidance, unbiased information, or at the very least, someone who is not trying to sell you something.
My sincere wish for everyone; timeshare owner or prospective timeshare owner, is that you seek out a number of unbiased sources, use some common sense, don't do anything in haste and perhaps more than anything, replace the word 'timeshare' with the word 'car' or 'house' and then ask yourself if you'd do the same thing you're contemplating.


Monday, September 8, 2014

Calling Timeshare "Garbage" Is Wrong...Isn't It?

On August 30th, this tweet appeared from Robert McGarvey:  “Many timeshare owners desperate to unload bad investment – WXIX TV Amazing that hucksters still sell this garbage."

(The data on Twitter concerning Mr. McGarvey is:  Journalist, Speaker, Columnist, Credit Union Times, Blogger, Main Street, Mobile banking + bank tech + travel + real estate…he has 23.5 tweets and 3,514 followers"…not exactly what I’d call a slouch or just “some guy.)

So I replied within the hour:  “There’s a lot that needs to change in the #timeshare industry, @rjmcgarvey Calling it garbage is WRONG and spreads misinformation."

I sat back, fully expecting other people and other companies within the timeshare industry to also respond to Mr. McGarvey.  After all, calling timeshare “garbage” and referring to the people who sell it as “hucksters” is wrong…isn’t it?
However, as the hours and days passed…today is September 8th…NOT ONE SINGLE RESPONSE HAS BEEN PUBLICALLY TWEETED.  Let me say that again…not one single timeshare developer, timeshare organization, timeshare exchange company, or timeshare resale company publically responded to Mr. McGarvey’s ill-informed tweet.

Where’s the indignation?  Where’s the outcry?  Where are all the so-called experts within the timeshare community rushing in to stop this name calling and prevent this misinformation from spreading?
I know from many personal experiences that the timeshare community carefully monitors Twitter and other social media outlets for anything having to do  with timeshare…believe me, I know.  So it’s not that the Tweet didn’t get seen…it obviously did.  Not only did anyone monitoring Twitter for timeshare see it, Mr. McGarvey;s 3,514 followers saw it…and didn’t see anything to the contrary other than my solitary response.

Mr. McGarvey did respond to my tweet with this:  “MT @timeshareauthor: Calling it garbage is WRONG and spreads misinformation >> RM IS garbage. End of discussion #timeshare #ripoff” 
I’m baffled…just baffled at the lack of response from anyone in the timeshare community.  A journalist is going to call your product “garbage” and you ignore it?  Can timeshare really afford 3,514 people who read that it's garbage?

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Effective Timeshare Owner Communications---From Both Sides

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

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 2014 is significantly different and more complex than it was in 1984, 1994 or even in 2004.

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 DOLLARS 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, 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 exchange company rating

·         New exchange company 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 the NTOA and TATOC and a growing number of reputable timeshare resale companies (as well as ARDA and ARDA-ROC) 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