I don't know about you, but I was shocked to read of RCI's acquisition of Dial An Exchange (DAE) last week. I reached out to Francis Taylor, DAE's CEO for an exclusive interview.
So, Francis---big news in the world of timeshare exchange. What can current DAE members expect both in the short term (3-6 months) and long term?
Members can expect the same high level of customer service and attention they have always known and come to expect when dealing with our company. It is 'business as usual' and DAE's role won't change from being a service provider in the timeshare industry in the 'Exchange' space. We will continue to operate from our existing offices and keep our website for our members who enjoy working with us via website and online services. Going further forward our members can expect that exchange opportunities will be enhanced as we find our way through this new relationship of having new owners. There are a great many synergies between RCI and DAE and given we both operate in the same space there are some obvious areas in which we can co-exist and support each other to help grow our respective brands. Importantly this will raise member satisfaction levels when it comes to obtaining their desired exchange holidays.
The companies have quite different business models as I know from working closely with you both for a number of years---what do you see as the biggest challenge to melding those two? Will DAE continue to have their call centers or will those be eliminated?
Yes, we do have very different business models and that's probably why we complement each other's business goals. We attract different demographic audiences. DAE operates under a 'low cost' business model and we've been able to build on that niche in the market. DAE is primarily focused on direct-to-consumer transactions with individual timeshare owners and HOAs and that has worked for our brand for 20 years.
So, “melding” the two is more about how we can collaborate behind the scenes to complement each other’s businesses and strengthening our back office capabilities to both drive our individual business goals and support the industry as a whole. DAE will continue to operate as a separate and individual brand and entity. We will retain different call centers to RCI, our own staff, our own color (we love blue!), our own style of marketing and customer service initiatives, and our own support programs of HOAs, resorts and infustry partners.
Going forward, when a consumer purchases a timeshare interest at an RCI affiliated resort, will they receive an RCI membership, a DAE membership or both?
I don't expect dual memberships will be offered at time of sale to both as common place. RCI & DAE will compete for our business by offering our individual services, product range, and industry support programs as we currently do now. It's also timely to remember that individual timeshare owners have a choice of who they want to call on to provide an exchange service, just as we do as individuals in all areas of our lives when it comes to purchasing a product or service.
I know in the past there have been some issues with RCI Points members not being able to deposit and then use DAE for an exchange. I trust that these issues will no longer be a problem?
It's still early days and we have many topics and issues that will need to be raised; examined to see where things sit; what makes sense; how we can cooperate to get the best result for both entities and allow consumers to benefit. As I said earlier, RCI & DAE are different businesses, with different drivers and ways of conducting business. We won't always agree on everything, and we each need to stay true to our own business models and the direction we're reaching to achieve.
Will DAE now begin to affiliate resorts as RCI does?
DAE is happy with the way we interact and work with resorts. Our point of difference has always been to work with individual owners and do the very best we can for them. We've always found most resorts honor their owners’ wishes when it comes to working with an exchange provider so I'm not sure how much of a change will be considered going forward on this issue.
Lastly, does this acquisition signal the start of more acquisitions in the future in your opinion? Are the days of the secondary and tertiary exchange companies coming to a close?
That's probably a question for others as DAE isn't looking to acquire another business. As for a future place for different sorts of exchange companies, yes, I believe there is. Our industry is as massive as it is global and humans are funny creatures. We like to have choice, we like working with people or a business with whom we feel a connection and comfortable, and in many cases, we like to work with somebody 'local'. With that said, it's hard to imagine in the 21st century that choice will be a word or option that disappears from our vocabulary!
Many thanks to Francis Taylor who took the time for this exclusive interview in what I can only assume is a busy time for him.
So, timeshare owners---what are your thoughts on this development?