Wednesday, December 29, 2010

What The Timeshare Industry Can Learn From The Travel Industry

This is a reprint of one of my most requested blog posts.

Some time ago, I wrote a piece about what the timeshare industry can learn from the cruise industry and today I'm reporting on how the traditional timeshare industry is going to have to learn from the travel industry if it wants to thrive in the coming years.

According to Peter Yesawich, chairman and CEO of Ypartnership, the two biggest influences on American travelers are technology and social values.

Yesawich reports that 61% of active travelers use the Internet and ONLY the Internet for their travel research and only 7% use travel agencies exclusively.

So what can the traditional timeshare industry learn from this? There is a dearth of information about traditional timeshares on the Internet. We all seem to forget that the Internet does not operate without people. Someone---well, many people---are responsible for getting the information onto the Internet. The traditional timeshare industry has done little in this regard. The vast majority of timeshare related information on the Internet is from sources OTHER than the timeshare resorts.

He also reported that 1 out of 5 American travelers actively visit one or more travel blog sites and 1 out of 3 of them has written a travel review online. Those blogs and reviews are where Americans are getting their travel infomation.

You can equate a traditional travel agent with a timeshare developer. While you can purchase your travel needs indirectly from a travel agent, fewer and fewer people are doing that. Just as fewer and fewer people are relying on the information that they obtain at a timeshare presentation and then proceeding with the purchase.

Consumers are also price driving. This should come as no surprise to anyone. 87% of travelers reported that the ability to check the lowest prices is THE MOST IMPORTANT FEATURE of a travel website.

Consumers also look for the ease of purchasing, with 74% of travelers saying that this was a key feature in travel sites.

Can consumers compare prices online with traditional timeshare resorts? Of course not. The prices not only seem to be a closely guarded secret, but vary immensely depending on how many times they say "no" during a sales pitch.

Can consumers easily purchase a timehare online from a resort? Again, we know the answer to be "no." I don't know any resorts that let consumers buy online.

Hotels and motels and other non-timeshare travel services have been forced to become price have just about every other product or service available to consumers. And still, the timeshare industry won't budge on this because they cling to the concept that timeshares are not a sought-after product.

Perhaps this is so because they won't let it be sought after. Consumer research study after consumer research studty continue to point to the fact that consumers want to buy things as opposed to having things sold to them.

(Continued In Next Post)

Cable News Thinking and Traditional Timeshare Marketing

I subscribe to Seth Godin's blog and highly encourage you to. Some time ago, he wrote a post entitled "The Problem With Cable News Thinking" and by way of illustrating, listed these 12 elements:

* Focus on the urgent instead of the important

* Vivid emotions and the visuals that go with them as a selector for what's important

* Emphasis on noise over thoughtful analysis

* Unwillingness to reverse course and change one's mind

* Xenophobic and jingoistic reactions

* Defense of the status quo encouraged by an audience self-selected to be uniform

* Things become important merely because others have decided that they are important

* Top down messaging encourages an echo chamber

* Ill-informed about history and a particular issue

* Confusing opinions with the truth

* Revising facts to fit a point

* Unwillingness to review past mistakes in light of history and use those to do better next time

Seth concluded by stating "If I wanted to hobble an organization or even a country, I'd wish these twelve traits on them..."

"Hobble" is an interesting choice of words for I believe that these 12 traits are evident in the way the traditional timeshare sales and marketing machine operates. Re-red the list with your mindset on a timeshare sales presentation, regardless if you are a consumer or a timeshare salesperson.

Scary, isn't it? Here's to a much less scary 2011 in the timeshare world. Great things are happening! Get involved.

A Solution To The Status Quo

I don't like status quo. No, not the English band from the 70s and 80s. I mean I don't like when things are just left to stagnate. Particularly when there are positive changes to be made. This philosophy is true for lots of things, work, relationships, furniture placement, etc. But let's look at a solution for the status quo when it comes to timeshare.

The genesis of this idea (yet another English does this happen?) came from a phone call that I made to a senior level executive at RCI several years ago. I was calling to get some infomation and introduced myself as "The Timeshare Crusader" and the author of "Timeshare Vacations For Dummies." She informed me that she had found my book very educational and added almost as an afterthought; " know, I have a timeshare and I bought it at one of those really long timeshare presentations." I kid you not. Those were her exact words.

Which leads me to my solution: Have every high-ranking person at all of the major timeshare companies and organizations talk a walk down the Strip in Vegas or on 192 in Orlando or on the major tourist drag/beach in any timeshare heavy locale. See how the timeshare pitches are being presented. Hear what is being said. Listen in as OPCs "advise" consumers to lie about their income.

Then, take the timeshare presentation. Go ahead, show up at the resort at the appointed time and place. Listen to the sales pitch. Hear all about how "points are going to replace weeks next year" or "this is the best resort for trading" or "buy here because we have the lowest fees and then use it to trade to go to Hawaii for three weeks" or other such "gems."

Tour the timeshare itself. Be sure to ask to see not only the model, but an actual room. Notice the differences? Talk to the people at the pool. What do they have to say?

Now, talk price. How many price drops are you willing to endure? How many "if you don't buy today, the price goes up by $10,000 tomorrow" can you listen to without laughing? Ask about resales. Go ahead...ask why you should pay "sticker price" when you can find a similar product on the resale market for thousands less.

Ask if the salesperson or sales manager has a copy of the ARDA Code of Ethics with them. Ask if the resort manager has a copy of the ARDA Code of Ethics available. Ask who is licensed. Ask to see what the annual fees have been for the past five years.

The point of all of this is that the average timeshare executive has NO concept of what the average consumer has to go through in order to get sold a timeshare.

I trust that if they put themselves in the consumers' shoes for even a day, things might change.

By the way...a great time to test this out would be March 27-31 next year in Orlando when everyone is in town for the annual ARDA Covention and Exposition. See you at the Shoney's on 192!

Monday, December 27, 2010

A Step In The Wrong Direction

I saw this over the weekend and was sad.

The original "Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act" would have required lenders to verify a prospective borrower's income and employment status before approving a loan. This seems so common sense that it defies logic that anyone would have an issue with it. You know what's coming though, don't you?

It seems that Florida Representative Alan Grayson, soon to be former Representative Alan Grayson, provided a timeshare exemption.

That's right people, timeshares don't have to get that information before approving a loan. And remember that the average price of a timeshare last year was around $20,000.

Just when I thought some progress was being made, someone makes this happen.

When are we going to ever learn?

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Two Ideas That Will Improve The Timeshare Industry

As the year ends, I'm reminded that I've been at "this" for six years. And in many ways the timeshare industry is worse than when I started. I just had a conversation with another maverick, albeit a much richer maverick than me, about why we stay in. The reason is that we both see potential for improvement. HUGE potential.

Despite what some may think, I am not stupid or naive to believe that real change is possible in a short period of time. However, as I've repeatedly written, if the industry would stop saying and believing in "we've always done it this way', things would be decidedly rosier right now.

So, here are two ideas that I'm confident are capable of transforming the industry into what I believe it can and should be:

Stop Making People Work So Hard To Obtain The Product
Have you ever actually tried to buy a timeshare from the developer? Its next to impossible. They make you sit through a presentation. They don't give you prices over the phone. Prices aren't available online. There's no way to compare a Marriott week to 128,000 RCI Points. Consumer Reports doesn't touch the stuff. It's well into the new millenimum people...everything else is easy to buy and moves forward.

Dispel The "There's No Such Thing As Be Backs" Myth
Statistics clearly show that the average consumer does NOT purchase on their first visit. The average owner takes more than 2.5 timeshare sales presentations before they purchase. But most timeshares don't follow up with the "tour no-buys" or if they do, they simply offer them yet another marketing package. Follow up with these consumers; send them special pricing, news of improvements at the resort...anything to make them feel special and perhaps gain their all important loyalty.

Yes, I know I make things sound too easy. The real world isn't so simplistic. Or maybe it is. I continue to strongly believe that the future of the timeshare industry can be written by one or two companies willing to change things, shake things up, treat customers the right way and more importantly, stop clinging to the outdated belief that "timeshare is different." It isn't.

Timeshare is a terrific vacation option. Let everyone see that and we'll all win.

Monday, December 20, 2010

An Advertising Plan From 1999 That Works

I was cleaning up the other day when I came across three huge binders full of what I call my creative stuff. Before I became a writer, I was in advertising and promotions for a variety of Chicago area retailers and organizations.

Eventually, I reached the timeshare period of my life and found, among other things, an overview of an advertising plan that I submitted to the Managing Director of an Orlando area timeshare in early 1999. For those of you who are new to this blog, let me start off by saying that I do not have all the answers. However, what would have made sense for this timeshare back in 1999 still makes sense for timeshares going into 2011. And yet, very few of them actually do the right things. Here's a sampling of what I proposed.

Print advertising featuring rentals with the Orlando/Orange County Convention and Visitors Bureau, Southern Living, Budget Travel, Florida Living, several airline publications and key feeder markets for the resort.

Radio advertising featuring rentals in the Orlando market before and after key holiday periods.

Trade show presence at all major travel shows to get the word out to travel agents, travel writers, etc.

Monthly direct mail system to both current owners and lease holders.

Open lines of communication and regularly scheduled meetings between the Advertising Department and the Sales Department.

A clear tracking method so that at a glance, we can tell what is working and what is not and have the ability to change if necessary.

Design and implementation of a clear, easy to read and navigate website.

Eliminate advertising in the Florida Travel Guide where the offer is at a ridiculously low price point (two nights accommodations for $9.81 per night), as sales tracking has determined that the ROI does not warrant it.

As you can probably guess, most of what I proposed was ignored because of course I came from an advertising background, not a timeshare background.

Flash forward to 2011 and I stand by my proposal more strongly than I did back then.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Timeshare Pendulum Is About To Shift

As 2010 winds down and the timeshare industry is looking for ways to rebound, recoup and regroup in 2011 and beyond, this writer thinks that there is a great opportunity for the first timeshare company to break apart from the rest and exclusively offer right-to-use timeshare.

Disney Vacation Club has had great success with this. Talk to any DVC owner and ask if they had any qualms about purchasing a 50 year right-to-use product over a deed in perpetuity as is the case in most US based timeshares and you'll hear "of course not."

Let's be honest technology has jumped leaps and bounds each year, there has been a correlation in our attention spans as well as ability to comprehend "forever" in part, because everything else changes so frequently. What does "forever" mean anyway?

For years, timeshares have gotten an undeserved bad reputation for the fact that if you die and your timeshare goes to your heirs, they have to pay annual dues on it. Well of course they do, just as they have to pay real estate tax and maintenance on a house that they inherit. But the timeshare naysayers, quick to find something wrong, pounce upon this "horrid" fact. This is basic Ownership own something, you have to pay for the upkeep.

But there is an opportunity for a savvy timeshare company to avoid all of this and make a product available to the consumers that is simply this: "a pre-paid vacation plan for the next 20 years." Interestingly enough, this is exactly how I used to sell timeshare back in my timeshare selling days. You're going to go on a vacation every year anyway, why not pre-pay for those vacations at today's rates?

The added benefit of such of a plan is that it would take timeshare out of the real estate basket, thereby avoiding the pitfalls of the basket. Confused consumers would no longer think of a timeshare as a real estate investment (it isn't), there wouldn't be the battle between the licensed timeshare resellers and the unlicensed timeshare resellers would vanish as would the opportunities for lying timeshare salespersons to use the "back in 1964 Walt Disney bought 27,000 acres of land for $185 an acre and today that land is worth $1,000,000 an acre" pitch, a variation of which is used everywhere deeded timeshare is sold.

There ARE solutions of the myriad of timeshare problems out there. Timeshare remains a wonderful product. Many people, including myself, have posed several solutions...why is it that timeshare companies don't listen?

Let's work together and make 2011 the year that timeshare makes some positive changes which will allow the benefits to finally outweigh the pitfalls for everyone!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Yours Truly Mentioned In A Blog About Blogs

I was fortunate enough to be mentioned in today's blog about blogs. Great advice from all the bloggers to any potential bloggers out there.


General Update

Just thought I'd keep everyone up to date. In addition to working on the new e-book which will be available first quarter of 2011, I've sent out the first round of e-mails asking influential/important people in timeshare to participate in my "5 and Almost 10 With..." mini-interview series. If there is anyone who you'd like to know more about, let me know and I'll send them the link.

We're also kicking around the idea/need for a timeshare covention aimed at selling involved. If you'd like to be included, we need as much input and assistance as possible.

Finally today, I filmed this piece several months ago when I was freelancing as Director of Communications. It piggy-backs nicely on the piece that I wrote for The Resort Trades some time ago on the need for consistency and transparency in the timeshare industry.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Come Together (With Apoligies to The Beatles)

It is time for the various "do-gooders" and forward thinkers in timeshare to band together to bring some order and sense into the timeshare arena.

I've said it before and I will say it again...timeshare is a wonderful product and I believe that more people would benefit from it. Clear enough now for everyone who says that I am "anti-timeshare"?

There are however, some problems: marketing practices, sales techniques, the lack of transparency, the whole issue of "real estate" and all that it implies, rising annual fees, consumers' evolving vacation patterns, the entire resale issue, owners who don't take an active role in their ownership and the lack of centralized, realiable, non-sales oriented information.

Some resort developers have an open door policy, some publications and websites do offer great information, some organizations have some dedicated people running them and do their best to keep their members up to date. ARDA-ROC does a good job and some timeshare owners and resort personnel do their best. And some writers/bloggers have been trying for years!

But it is very fragmented and very sorry to say, ego-driven. This person doesn't like this person, so they stay on opposite sides of a room. One organization doesn't like the fact that the other organization charges an annual fee, so they don't cooperate with each other. One website doesn't like the fact that a certain person decided to become a full-time paid author, so allowed insulting comments to be posted for the world to see, causing said author lots of tears and anguish.

My goal for the next year is to bring all of these persons, companies, organizations, publications, etc. for the common good. We all have much more in common than we disagree on. And the bottom line is that the consumer doesn't know we are out there, the traditional media outlets don't know we are out there and frankly, none of us are large enough or vocal enough on our own to be the catylst for positive change that we can and should be.

Gather around's time to make a positive difference and bring timeshare into the 21st century. Who is with me?

Monday, November 29, 2010

Vacation Ownership Education Session

If you own a timeshare in Florida or will be visiting a timeshare in Florida towards the end of January, plan on attending the Vacation Ownership Education session that is slated for Saturday January 29th.

There will be no selling of anything at this session and no membership is required. You'll learn the best ways to use your timeshare, the options you have when purchasing timeshare, tips for exchanging and of course, we'll leave plenty of time for questions and answers.

The list of featured speakers and companies is being worked on and we're interested in your feedback. Who would you like to see at this session?

E-mail us with your questions, comments and suggestions and stay tuned for details about this unqiue opportunity to learn what you need to know about timeshares.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Lisa's Thanksgiving Post

We all know that I rant and rave about the need for positive changes within the timeshare industry. Of course lately, I'm not the pariah I once was at the various timeshare conferences and conventions that I attend as more and more industry leaders are suffering the consequences of years of bad marketing, negative press and other things that could have been avoided had they paid attention. But I digress. The point of this post is to give a public "thank you" to people within the timeshare industry that I have either learned from, received help from, learned a lesson from (good or bad), received encouragement from, etc. No, this does nothing to diminish my unbiased stance, no one paid to be a matter of fact the people mentioned in here probably don't even read my blog (!) so they don't know anything about it.

There's no reasoning behind the order of these names, but they all deserve a hearty thank you and on this Thanksgiving Day I though it appropriate:

Lou Ann Burney and Howard Nussbaum from ARDA
Ross Perlmutter from CRDA
Fermin Cruz, Ramy Filo and Francis Taylor from DAE Live
Jim Lewis and Diane Hancock from Disney Vacation Club
Stacey Patrick and Rachel Ortinau from ICE
Jay Wilson, John Sanginei and Christine Boesch from Interval International
Tammie Kaufman from the University of Central Florida
Edward Kinney from Marriott Vacation Club International
Ed and MaryLou Hastry from the National Timeshare Owners Association
Frank Debar from the Florida Timeshare Owners Group
Paul and Sharon Mattimoe, Steve Luba and Matt McDonald from Perspective International
Tim McLaughlin, Shane Flannagan and Jessica Kornacki from Group RCI
Maurice Aubrey, Gary Prado and Alisa Stephens from
Brian Rogers from TUG
Barry Brown, Freda Stemick and Carrie Vandever from Resort Trades
Karen Donohue from Trading Places International
Joseph Holland and Randy Upchurch from the University of Wisconsin-Stout
Judi and Jay Kozlowski from the LTRBA
Jason Tremblay from
Keith Trowbridge from Executive Quest
Ray Jacobs and Shep Altshuler from TimeSharing Today
Dave Thackeray from Word and Mouth
Helen Foster from RCI Ventures
Georgi Bohrod from GBG and Associates
Kathy Hernandez from Kathy Hernandez and Associates
Sharon Drechsler from Drechsler Communications
Nelson Cienfuegos from Westgate Resorts
Rod Hackman from Inside The Gate

and countless others who I'm sure I missed.

A shout out to some of the fine people that I've been fortunate enough to work with at various resorts many years ago when I first started off in timeshare: Amy and Shawn Bush, Connie and Johnnie Jett, Frank Gilmore, Sherri Brady, Frank Gilmore, Curtis Boyer, Jean Kilani, Adriana Santos, Donna Dampier, Roger Piper and Janet Hartog to name a few.

And a special "thanks" to the many timeshare owners that I've been privilaged to meet over the years either through direct timeshare contact, various owners' groups or who have worked with me at Timeshare Insights...I got started in this writing, consulting and education business because of you...I hope that I have done you all some good.

Have a great Thanksgiving.

RCI Platinum Points

So, it has been a few months since RCI launched their Platinum Points program.

Among the benefits members receive are unit upgrades, rebates, priority access and various travel related discounts.

Has anyone upgraded to this new level of membership? If so, what are your thoughts? Have you received better service? Is is worth the money?

Speaking of the money, I'm curious to find out if everyone paid the same thing or if resorts are milking this for everything they can and charging more than what RCI charges.

Let us know.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Not "Exactly" Timeshare Related

OK, not at ALL timeshare related. I just felt the need to vent.

I just returned from my local grocery store where I had to show my drivers' license, be entered into a database and sign a release in order to purchase 24 nasal decongestant pills. This is presumably so that the authorities will be able to find me in the event that there is an increase in the amouth of meth that they may find in Clermont in the near future. Of course, the fact that I also purchased cough medicine, diabetes medication for Julian the cat, Honey Nut Cherrios and Earl Grey tea did nothing to indicate that I might NOT be the meth dealer that they are looking for.

I write this three days before I have to endure the TSA screenings at the airport before being allowed to fly home to enjoy Thanksgiving with my friends and family. Yeah, I know, I REALLY fit the profile of people who are likely to do something sinister while flying. Thank goodness that the cough medicine I purchased is in tablet form, or else that would likely be confiscated.

I know that as Americans, we take our freedoms for granted and the minute that anything "interferes" with that, we bristle. I'm not like that. As the child of immigrants whose family was persecuted, no, make that slaughtered by the Nazis, I don't take my freedoms for granted and I thank God that I live in the society that I do.

But this decongestant, 3 ounces of liquid, inappropriate patdowns nonsese is just that...nonsense. It does nothing to make us any safer from anything. All it does is provide good humor for the terrorists and drug dealers out there who are, no doubt, thinking up new ways to go about their dangerous business.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Anatomy of a Timeshare Tragedy

Start with a nice little resort with great potential. The first mistake is to have RCI allocate this nice little resort a point value far beyond other resorts in the area with far more amenities.

1. Hire people with no timeshare experience and put them in semi-important positions, suh as managing the contracts department when they have no understanding of legal issues and/or managing the front desk when the difference between a hotel and a timeshare escapes them.

2. Assess a special assessment in the midst of one of the country's worst financial crunches.

3. Lie to your owners about what the special assessment will be used for.

4. Spend the special assessment funds on anything and everything BUT what you told your owners you would spend it on.

5. Make it nearly impossible for owners to attend the annual HOA meeting by burying the meeting details in another document, holding the meeting at an inconvenient time and holding the meeting off-site.

6. Lower maintance fees, don't maintain the property properly and allow your sales staff to tell clients; "oh, you buy here so that you can trade, I'd never stay here, it's a dump."

7. Take a hands-off approach, don't be pro-active, listen to people who don't have the resort's best interest at heart multiple times and hide your head in the sand.

8. Allow your "sales force" to sell a vacation club rather than timeshare.

A tragedy for the owners, for the handful of qualified, dedicated personnel still employed trying to make the best of it and a tragedy for the timeshare industry as a whole.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

And Now A Word About Timeshare Consumers

I'll admit it, I carry on about the need for positive change within the timeshare industry. And I'm quite vocal and direct about it. Things need to change and need to change quickly if the industry is to ever get to the level of acceptance that I believe it is capable of.

But there is enough nonsense and shenanigans going on I'd like to point the finger at the consumer. More specifically to timeshare tour junkies and consumers who just like to bitch and complain.

As an unbiased, independent, non-sales oriented consultant, I get e-mails daily from frustrated consumers. Some have legitimate concerns. I'm focused today on the ones that don't have legitimate concerns, don't learn from their mistakes and are crying "foul" when they share the blame.

I have no sympathy for instance for consumers who come crying to me saying that they "bought" two theme park tickets in Orlando for $25 and didn't know it involved a 3-hour high pressure timeshare presentation.

For those of you who don't know, I was a timeshare salesperson for more than 4 years and I came across my fair share of these "crybabies" who cried foul and wanted out before the required 90 minutes. They know full-well what's going on and most of them schedule 2 pitches per day in order to supplement their meager financial allottment for vacation.

I also find it hard to sympathize with the consumers who fall for the "timeshare transfer" schemes, who I gracefully give my time and thoughts at no cost to, but when I suggest that they take a look at my services (MODULE 3 to be specific) or join the National Timeshare Owners Association or subscribe to TimeSharing Today or any number of organizations that I point them to, don't do anything.

More often than not, I hear from these same people again, now telling me that they were taken for another $2,500 yet STILL don't take my advise.

As I said, there is enough nonsense going on on both sides. I sense changes are coming. And all the guilty parties had better watch out. Stay tuned.

What If Timeshare...

Between the talking at the timeshare conferences and the online chatter these days you would think that the people actually running the timeshare industry would have come to some solid realizations and taken the opportunity to do something radically different...that is radically different in the timeshare world.

There's talk about the so-called "new marketing fundamentals" which any first semester college student could easily grasp. Then there's the chatter about some companies looking to "change the tour qualifications." Again, really basic stuff here. If your product is $25,000, chances are that a couple with 2 kids under the age of 8 making $40,000 shouldn't be buying it and more importantly, you shouldn't wasting your marketing dollars on them.

What if all the time, energies and yes, money...timeshare companies are actually paying "thinkers" to come up with these first semester marketing ideas...were spent on actually making the product better, addressing the very real issues of pricing and the resale market and policeing the small, but vocal dishonest sales persons?

Do something about the lying, do something about the pricing, do something about the over-promising and under-delivering issues, do something about the increasing annual fees, do something about the inability to exchange when rentals are readily available, rather than wasting time on "should we OPC, should we tour single men, should we verify income before touring."

In short, do something that will make a significant, positive difference to timeshare owners and potential timeshare owners. Let people buy timeshare, stop selling it to them.

I believe that timeshare is a great product. Let's hope that it can flourish in spite of itself.

Thursday, November 4, 2010


When I wrote and conducted the first "Timeshare 101 Training for Non-Sales Employees" at an Orlando area timeshare earlier this year, I stressed the importance of communication to and on all levels.

Sure, it's nice to have a quarterly newsletter going out to all your owners with the resort updates and new information. And it is equally nice to have a monthly newsletter for your employees. But do the two "mesh?"

Communications at and about the resort should be integrated so that the message, or messages are conveyed in an appropriate way to the outside world as well as the internal world.

For example, if the resort is having an increase in the annual fees, this is news that needs to be communicated to everyone. Obviously you don't want to issue a Press Release focusing on the exact numbers, but you should not shy away from a Press Release focusing on the improvements that will be made using the funds. Your employees need to know about the increase so that they feel comfortable discussing it with owners. And don't forget the other employees such as housekeeping, engineering, room service, etc. They need to know about the increase as well although in a bit of a watered down version.

Today, people both inside and outside of your resort are already talking about you. Your only choice is to join in to make sure that your message is getting across or sit back and let everyone else determine your future course.

Communication has never been more important.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

No Great Ideas Today, But Two Public Services

VOTE...enough said.

Someone you should be following if you aren't already...brilliant insights...


Thursday, October 28, 2010

Read Your Paperwork, Or Suffer The Consequences

If you've ever purchased a timeshare, you know how lengthy the paperwork is. And most of it is written in very small type. So many people don't read it and then months later when they receive their annual bill, or try to make reservations, or find out that the resort is filing Chapter 11 papers cry foul.

I've said it before and it bears have to read and clearly understand everything in your documentation. Most people are not going to take the time to read the paperwork in the closing or documentation room in the case of buying from the developer (yes, some people are still buying from the developer) or when they receive the paperwork in the mail in case of buying on the secondary market.

Here are three questions that you absolutely need answers to before proceeding with any purchase:

* what is the five (5) year history of the annual maintenance and special assessment fees
* is the HOA under owner or developer's control
* who are the developer/broker/HOA President

These are three of a long list of questions you absolutely need clear, concise anwers to. For the entire list, see "Timeshare Vacations For Dummies" as well as our new e-book which will be out in early 2011.

We'll also be posting an entire new set of FAQs on our website the first week of November.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

It's My Blog and I'll Rant If I Want

WARNING: This post is being written while I'm angry.

I'm fed up and don't mind saying so. Years back in 2001 and 2002 while I was still a timeshare salesperson, I kept asking questions about the timeshare sales strategy that was being used everywhere. You know; the bribe, the 90-minute, the "must buy today or the price goes up" spiel, the lack of follow-up (a/k/a there are no be-backs), etc.

I wrote about my questions, my ideas, my thoughts on consumers hating to be sold anything, including timeshare and their embracing of purchasing, on the need for timeshares to advertise and other things in the now (unfortunately) defunct The Timeshare Beat and in the following years in my first two books, "Surviving A Timeshare Presentation...Confessions From The Sales Table" and "Timeshare Vacations For Dummies."

And what did I get for these thoughts? Riducule. Outrage. Blackballed. Shunned. Lobbied against. Dirty looks. And while I didn't go into this with the plan to make a quick million dollars and get out, I did anticipate my ability to make a decent living being The Timeshare Crusader and HELPING consumers and resorts alike through the mish-mash of timeshare. Well, THAT certainly didn't happen. Not even close.

Flash forward to 2010 and the timeshare conferences, the timeshare industry publications and the timeshare talking heads are all about "the need to come up with new marketing fundamentals" and "consumers like options and will share information" and "it's time to change the sales strategy", etc. etc. etc. And all these people are making gazillions of dollars spouting the exact same stuff I was talking about and writing about years ago when no one listened.

While it is true that even with 10 years experience in the industry, I am a relative newcomer and I will be the very first person to admit that I have a lot to learn about the industry, I'd like to know where the hell I went wrong. "Timeshare Vacations For Dummies" should have been a huge seller. Timeshare resorts had the opportunity to create custom editions of this book and include it in all of their kits as an anti-recission tool. Timeshare resorts also had the opportunity to talk to me about new and improved marketing and selling strategies.

Instead, I've had to suffer the indignation of watching other people get rich, get speaking opportunities, get quoted in mainstream and industry media by saying the exact same things as I said years ago...sometimes verbatim! Glad to see they're reading my stuff...NOT.

I'm glad to see that there is some positive movement in the timeshare industry and I hope that it will continue. Timeshare is a wonderful product as I've maintained from the beginning. I just wish that "they", and "they" know who they are, would have the decency to give credit where credit is due.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Selling vs. Buying...Continued

People don't like to be sold anything, but people do like to buy. People don't like to tell other people that someone sold them something, but they do like to tell other people that they bought something.

No one comes up to you and asks, "that's a nice pair of earrings, who sold them to you?" Rather, they ask, "Nice pair of earrings, where did you buy them?" Chances are you did just that, you bought them. I don't know about you, but if I walk into a jewelry store and I even sniff "salesmanship" going on, I walk out.

That is not to be confused with a helpful sales person showing me things, educating me, offering me alternatives and then letting me make up my mind.

In traditional timeshare sales (there's that word again), that doesn't happen all that much, though does it? Sure, there's a bit of showing stuff, but all of it is done (and taught) so that the end result is a sale. Salespeople are even taught that. This is a common saying at morning meetings around the country: "There's a sale made every day...either you sold them, or they sold you."

Show people a better vacation alternative and they will buy in droves. And everyone will be happier.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Lying Salesreps?

There's a story going around about a former Wyndham timeshare salesperson who is claiming to "uncover" the "fact" that Wyndham management encourages their sales staff to lie to consumers.

I should say that I've only done a 2 week stint at Wyndham here in Orlando many, many years ago. Why only 2 weeks? I didn't like the atmosphere and felt uncomfortable around some of the people there. In my time there, as well as my years of bouncing around timeshare resort in the Orlando area, I've never encountered management who encouraged me to lie.

Encouraging people to lie of course is different from turning blind eyes and ears to the lies, which is what my experience has been from the sales side. You can read my entire article on the issue of lying or not salespersons in the November/December issue of TimeSharing Today.

Later this week, I'll talk about the other lies that happen on sales presentations...those that come from consumers.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010


Just a word about timeshare resources. Here's a small list of people/companies/organizations you should be following or at least know about:

The National Timeshare Owners Association
The Florida Timeshare Owners Group
Owners Perspective Magazine
The Timeshare Authority Blog
The Licensed Timeshare Resale Brokers Association

More to follow.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Why I Don't Think Facebook Is Relevant For Businesses

Yeah, I'm sort of surprised myself. However, after reading "The Facebook Effect" and seeing "The Social Network", both of which I highly recommend, I've come to the conclusion that Facebook may be a nifty way of communicating, it is not the business messiah that everyone thinks it is.

Here's why:

I've never purchased anything at all from an ad that I saw on Facebook. Never. Have you? Come to think of it, I can't remember even clicking on an ad I saw on Facebook. That's not why I'm on there.

Everything that I "like" or been a "fan" of in months past I already "liked" long before Facebook. I "like" both Miatas and iPhones for instance, all Facebook does is give me a platform to share it with the world, which I don't think anyone cares about. (See my next point.)

I have never bought something because one of my Facebook friends "liked" something. Again, I ask you, have you?

Sure, 500 million Facebook users, even if only half are active, is a huge number. But from my personal experience and what I've learned from both the book and the movie, I don't think that anyone can make the jump from that number to "oh, I have to advertise on there."

There's also this nagging feeling that I can't seem to shake that since Facebook is free (and always will be if you believe the home screen) something is up. But I'll leave that for another post.

What do you think?

Thursday, October 14, 2010

There's Nothing Wrong With The Timeshare Sales Method

Wow, you weren’t expecting that were you? But really, think about it…there is nothing wrong with timeshare sales…the current method of bribing people to come in for a 90 minute sales pitch, insisting that they purchase right then and there and never doing any follow up with those who don’t buy is working to the tune of more than $7 billion dollars in annual sales.

Here’s a list of other things that there is nothing wrong with:

Rotary dial phones
Non cable television
Using the card catalog in the library to find books
Writing checks to pay bills and then mailing them
Buying a used car without a CARFAX report and hoping for the best
Having a refrigerator without an ice maker
Driving a car with an AM radio and manual windows

There’s a difference between “nothing wrong with” and “a better way of doing things.” If you make rotary phones, you could be making some money, but not as much as if you changed your product.

$7 billion? A drop in the bucket to what it could be if everyone acknowledged that there’s a better way.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

What's The Definition of a Resort?

My recent article on the need for consistency and transparancy left out two issues; the whole business of "resort" and the whole issue of "gifting."

My thoughts on "resorts" first.

Did you know that any property, hotel, motel, timeshare, etc. can use the word "resort" freely? There are no standards for what is and what isn't a resort and that can obviously lead to some confusion and anger.

Take for instance the case of two timeshare "resorts" in the Orlando area. Both are RCI point-based properties. One is on a lake, has 4 pools, 2 spa pools, several water features, 3 children's pools, numerous bars and snack areas, a large general store, boating, jet-skiing, 2 children's play areas, free shuttle service to a nearby grocery store, a large, fully-equipped fitness area, a basketball court, 3 tennis courts, other outdoor sport areas and much more.

The other one has a pool, a tiny spa pool, a small children's pool, 2 BBQ grills and a sadly-in-need of repair basketball court.

You guessed it...both of them have the word "resort" in their name. One is not mis-leading, the other one definitely is mis-leading...I can't imagine anyone using the word "resort" to describe it after seeing it.

Timeshares aren't the only ones using this word though, as I said, any schlocky hotel or motel can tack up the word "resort" without any fear of misrepresentation.

I think it's time the timeshare consumer comes up with a new word and standards for it's use. Ideas?

Thursday, October 7, 2010

And What Now With All Those Timeshares?

As most of you know, it seems that Holiday Group out of Seattle has gone out of business. As in completely gone out of business.

The last time I checked, there were hundreds of timeshares for sale on their site. There has been some speculation that trying to pay all of those annual fees was one of the contributing factors to their apparant demise.

So what is going to happen to all those timeshares and more importantly, what is going to happen to all those unpaid annual fees? My guess is that the resorts in question are going to take a hit and then pass that hit onto other owners. A raw deal for everyone concerned.

I'd appreciate knowing if there is a "spike" in annual fees around the country or in a specific geographic region owing to this debacle.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Calling Darth Vader

Attending the sales and marketing breakout session yesterday at VOIC (Vacation Ownership Investment Conference), I kept expecting to hear the "Evil Empire" music from the Star Wars saga films everytime someone on the panel used the word "Internet."

People, it is 2010. The Internet has been around for quite some time now and it has been widely in use in homes and businesses throughout the country experts agree since 1998. In fact, many timeshare developers get their clients from marketing companies touting the "3 day/2 night stay for $99" (just Google "timeshare presentations" to prove my point) on the Internet.

So, although the timeshare industry continues to enthusiastically use the Internet, it is not so fond of the attributes that consumers have embrased the Internet for; availability of information and transparancy. Ah ha...and now you understand why I kept expecting Lord Vader himself to show up on the dais.

The industry can not have it both ways; it can't use the power, reach and frequency of the Internet while running away from the leveling power that it holds. If it continues to do so, I'm confident that their sales centers will continue to be packed with people there for the hooks-who then promptly buy their product on the secondary market for 60%-70% less.

May The Force Be With You!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Reporting From VOIC

I'm writing from the annual VOIC (Vacation Ownership Investment Conference) being held at the newly expanded Peabody Resort in Orlando.

I'll have a full recap of the conference on Friday, but I'm pleased to report that the industry leaders here seem to be fully focused on business, as opposed to fun and games, and for the first time, I see a hint of being open to...wait for ideas. The economic downturn and the extension of that downturn has opened some ideas within the industry, which I feel is a good thing...there is a silver lining in all of those black clouds.

While I am here, I've been asked to be interviewed for a full-length profile (much nicer than pushing my own PR pieces!) as well as being asked to write an article about how (or if) salespeople at resorts are trained. This in response to a large number of consumer complaints about lies...sorry, misrepresentations...that they have encountered while at sales pitches...sorry, resort overviews. That article will be in the November/December issue of TimeSharing Today.

There has also been some interest shown in "Surviving A Timeshare Presentation...Confessions From The Sales Table," "Timeshare Vacations For Dummies" and "Timeshare Management-The Key Issues For Hospitality Managers." All good news as people in timeshare are talking more about educating consumers instead of ONLY trying to sell them something.

No news to report on the apparant demise of Holiday Group in Seattle unfortunately. Also, this conference is not designed to discuss the "post-card" companies...although I have overheard some rumblings that those horrid companies have finally upset the powers that be, We shall see.

Check back on Friday for a full recap.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Another One Bites The Dust

Another timeshare fatality to report this seems that noted timeshare reseller Holiday Group ( has disappeared.

Rumors are sketchy at best about what caused their downfall.

I'll post details as I find them and if you find details, feel free to post.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Confusion Still Reigns Supreme

I was pleased to attend THETRADESHOW (Travel Retail and Destination Expo) a few weeks ago and meet travel journalists and professionals from all over the world.

One of the exhibitors dealt with timeshare...I won't reveal their name here...don't need any more bad blood, bad press, etc. This particular company was one of the ones that charges an advance listing fee, which I've covered in depth in previous posts. This listing fee was $1,000 for "lifetime" in their words and covered both sales and rentals.

Wanting to find out more, I politely asked, "OK, what happens if the consumer only wants to rent out their timeshare one year and only wants (or can obtain) $700 for the rental? Why would anyone pay $1,000 to get $700?"

Seemed a simple enough question and I was expecting some clarification on the $1,000. But no, I received a quizzical look as though the question had not been understood. So I repeated my question. And the answer was "That's a really good question, I've never heard that one before."

Before you think that the answer came from some low level employee, that confused person was no one less than the Director of Marketing.

Sigh...and this is STILL the face of "timeshare" that is put out there.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Using A Timeshare In Orlando? Check These Guys Out

Shopping for anything other than clothes, on sale is not my favorite thing to do. Grocery shopping is at the bottom of my list for "fun things to do" and even lower if that is possible, while I am on vacation.

If shopping for groceries at unfamilar places while on vacation isn't your idea of fun, check out Garden Grocer They'll do the work for you and deliver right to your room at your timeshare.

You can order just about anything you need or want on vacation and there is only a $40 minimum, which shouldn't be a problem. One of the best features is that for orders over $200, there is no delivery charge! Orders under $200 carry a nominal $12 delivery charge.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Lots Of Things To Report Today

First things first...I've finally decided on both a title and a distribution method for the new book. I'm finalizing the chapters this week and will be soliciting input for several of them in an effort to make this book everything is can/should be. Stay tuned for updates.

There will be a meeting held right here in Orlando on Friday, October 15th dealing with real estate licensure, less than honest timeshare related companies and consumer protection. I'm excited about this as it will bring together people and organizations working for the common good, including the Department of Business and Professional Regulations, the Better Business Bureau and various media entities.

Thirdly, on Monday, October 4th, I'll be guest lecturing at the University of Central Florida-Rosen College of Hospitality Management. This will be a sales class and I'll be posting some of the questions that the college students ask during this class. It is always an enlightening experience..most college students catch on really quickly that in order to succeed with today's consumers, the timeshare industry must move away from selling and move towards letting consumers purchase.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Musings For A Thursday

Some things that have been running through my brain after spending some time at THETRADESHOW the past few days:

1) Why don't timeshares have a "loyalty program" whereby at some point, say after two visits to the same resort in a year they don't try to snag you for a timeshare presentation?

2) With all the timeshares that are facing financial difficulty and even filing bankruptcy, the public is more worried than ever before. These companies need to hire someone who can speak to the owners without sounding like a salesperson. Just saying.

3) I wonder if this ever happens to a hotel property---I attempted to send a Press Release to a Chicago area publication yesterday. It kept bouncing back. After speaking personally with the editor, I sent it from my personal e-mail address and it went through with no problem. The issue was NOT the Press Release, which was not spam, it was my e-mail address. The publication had a "spam filter" for anything coming with the word "timeshare" in the address. Says a lot, doesn't it?

4) The Midwest Chapter of the National Timeshare Owners Association had to cancel their planned meeting for this Sunday due to low attendance. Only eight (8) people had signed up! What is going on here? Even if every single timeshare owner was ridiculously pleased with their timeshare, don't you think that they would want to show up for a meeting where they could learn something? I mean, I am really happy with my new iPhone 4, but that doesn't stop me from showing up to a meeting where I can learn more. Timeshare owners, please weigh in on this one.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Sorry About That

Thanks to Ben Reed from ( for pointing out that the settings on the blog were not set correctly to allow RSS feeds.

I believe the settings have been fixed and my apologies to everyone for the mixup.

As usual, I appreciate your reading and your comments.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

News About The New Book and This Blog

After weeks of considerinpthaions including speaking with timeshare organizations who wanted to be included in it and looking at the various publishing options and realizing that in all likeihood, the book would be out of date by the time it was published, I've decided to write an e-book which will be available as a .pdf download later on this year.

I have the title and the chapters already and I will still be looking for input.

On the subject of this blog, after talking with people far more knowledgable than me and asking consumers everywhere, I've decided to allow Google AdWords to appear on the blog.

Please understand that this does NOT mean that we've stopped being independent, outspoken and honest. It DOES mean that I put more thought into the "no ad" stance than anyone else and that no one really cares.

Keep reading and keep writing!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Timeshare and Real Estate

Yes, timeshare is real estate and should be treated as such. Here's a piece from Home Run Homes (thanks for the inclusion) that talks about this. Remember, you don't pay an upfront fee to sell your other real estate...stands to reason that if your timeshare is real estate based you shouldn't pay anything other than a commission.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Problem vs. Solution

Years ago, when I was a timeshare salesperson, I was trained to "uncover the problem" with the consumers' vacation experience and then voila! present the timeshare in question as the answer to that problem.

Usually, this worked quite well...after all...this was back in 2000, 2001 and 2002. Hotels were usually the basic "bed, bath and Bible", didn't include amenities such as a refrigerator and were consistently raising their prices. The timeshare in question almost always had more space, more amenities, more "luxuries", saved money in the long run and had the ownership aspect going for them..."isn't it better to own than rent?" argument worked well.

Flash forward to 2010 and things have changed considerably. Of course I'm not a salesperson anymore, but much more has changed. Hotels, now generally include more amenities (refrigerators being the least of them), prices have gone down and in many areas, the idea of owning a piece of land is a minus, not a plus.

So where does that leave timeshare? What to do when the problem and solution no longer match up? Not surprisingly, the only way to change is to market to a new target market. The people staying at the $59.99 a night hotel (now including breakfast, wi-fi, playgrounds, in-room coffee maker, etc.) really never were the ideal market for timeshare, the industry just talked so much and so loudly about it, that they fooled themselves.

Change the target market and you'll see that the problem vs. solution paradigm works perfectly.

Friday, September 3, 2010

A Word of Warning

A word or two to potential timeshare owners about maintenance fees.

The average annual fees for a timeshare are in the $575 a year range. I've also advised people that if the fees are substantially higher or lower than the current average, that should be a red flag, or at the very least, a reason to start asking some hard hitting questions.

I want to take a minute to talk about substantially LOWER than average fees and this would fall into the "if it seems to good to be true, it is" catagory. If the annual fees for a timeshare are around $200...consumers had better be asking some pointed questions; starting with "why?" Granted, most salespeople won't know the answer to this, but someone had better have some answers.

I've actually heard salespeople say "our maintenance fees are lower than anyone else's in the area so that you can own here and NEVER stay here, use it for trading!" as if that were going to solve anything.

How is the HOA being funded if the fees are so low? What is covered and not covered by the maintenance fees? Have you seen a budget? Is there a history of special assessments? How are shortfalls made up? Is the developer responsible?

Unfortunately for everyone concerned, maintenance fees are yet another way to try to pull a fast one over on unsuspecting owners. Sure, the resort with the $1,500 a year fee gets a lot of criticism, but people had better start paying attention to the resort with the $200 a year fee.

The bottom line remains...ask questions and if you don't get adaquate answers, run away, and run away fast.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Imagine This

Imagine this…you own a car…free and clear. You paid $25,000 for it four years ago. As with any car, it needs periodic maintenance such as oil changes, tire rotation, front wheel alignment, etc. Nothing out of the ordinary.

Now imagine that your driving needs change…you either move somewhere where you don’t need a car, such as New York City, or you buy a newer car with more “stuff” like a GPS navigation unit. Happens everyday.

So, what to do with the car that you no longer use/want? Well, if you are like most consumers, you put an ad online, put flyers up in heavily trafficked areas, tell your friends, family and co-workers that you have a car for sale or advertise it in a newsletter, newspaper, magazine, etc.

Just to see if you’re paying attention here…you don’t expect to sell the car for $25,000 do you? How about $32,000? Of course not.

What if you received a phone call out of the blue from a company that told you that they had a buyer for your car and that all they needed was $1,500 for the paperwork? Chances are that you’d hang up on them.

OK, what if you received a glossy, four-color postcard from a company that said in part, “…we provide a contractual agreement that guarantees the transfer of your car out of your name…” and said that they were going to be in town for three days next month and that you should call to secure an appointment?

What if you were curious and took them up on their offer only to find out at this meeting that the “transfer” they were talking about consisted of you handing over the title to your car AND a cash payment of $3,500, thereby relieving you of the cost of the oil changes, tire rotation, etc.?

Oh and by the way, just so you aren’t confused here…the $3,500 is JUST to transfer the title…if this company actually ends up selling your car to someone else, say for $10,000, you don’t get ANY of the proceeds. You are just supposed to give them the free and clear title and the cash.

I know, what you are thinking…are you out of your mind? Who would ever do such a thing? Heck, it would be better to just GIVE the car away outright rather than pay someone $3,500 to transfer the title, right?

Well, change “car” to “timeshare” and change “oil changes, tire rotation, front wheel alignment, etc.” to “maintenance fees” and you have the insane story of what thousands of timeshare owners are doing every year. To the tune of over $40 million dollars annually in “transfer fees.”

There is nothing at all to stop companies from doing business like this. There is nothing illegal about it at all. But there is something that timeshare owners can do…they can educate themselves and wise up.

Use some common sense people or suffer the consequences.

Monday, August 23, 2010

I Have Nothing Against Salespeople, However...

As many of you know, I was a timeshare salesperson for 4 or 5 years...a lousy salesperson, but an honest one.

This morning I read a piece of "advice" to salespeople that made me shudder and stand firm in my belief that there must be some way for a consumer to get the real price of a timeshare upfront.

The "advice" was that the salesperson should get the consumer to agree on a monthly payment before showing the price of the timeshare, thereby enabling the salesperson to "add on" to the price and pocket the difference. So, if the package that the salesperson was attempting to sell was $13,000, the salesperson should "bump up" the price to $14,000, adding only a small amount to the monthly payment and pocketing the additional $1,000. Bad idea all around, and I have yet to see a resort that lets the salesperson actually pocket that $1,000 anyway.

Must the industry constantly fall back on these hackneyed sales tactics, making themselves out to be worse than the lowest used car salesperson?

Consumers need to know what the average price of a comparible timeshare is and make their own decisions. The time of the high-pressure, sales tactic full salesperson is done...and so should it be for all the "advice givers" out there.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

It Works For Starbucks

I'm in the middle of reading "The Starbucks Experience" by Joseph A. Michelli...not because I frequent Starbucks...I don't drink coffee, but I wanted to find out about their corporate culture. I decided to do some research into what their employees are trained on. I was NOT at all surprised because I figured that they had to have something that enticted people to spend far more for a coffee than another place.

Here's some of what I found:

Every partner/barista hired for a retail job in a Starbucks store received at least 24 hours training in the first two to four weeks. The training included classes on coffee history, drink preparation, coffee knowledge (four hours), customer service (four hours), and retail skills, plus a four-hour workshop called "Brewing the Perfect Cup."

Baristas were trained in using the cash register, weighing beans, opening the bag properly, capturing the beans without spilling them on the floor, holding the bag in a way that keeps air from being trapped inside, and affixing labels on the package exactly one-half inch over the Starbucks logo. Beverage preparation occupied even more training time, involving such activities as grinding the beans, steaming milk, learning to pull perfect (18- to 23-second) shots of espresso, memorizing the recipes of all the different drinks, practicing making the different drinks, and learning how to make drinks to customer specifications.

There were sessions on how to clean the milk wand on the espresso machine, explain the Italian drink names to customers, sell an $875 home espresso machine, make eye contact with customers, and take personal responsibility for the cleanliness of the coffee bins. Everyone was drilled in the Star Skills, three guidelines for on-the-job interpersonal relations: (1) maintain and enhance self-esteem, (2) listen and acknowledge, and (3) ask for help. And there were rules to be memorized: milk must be steamed to at least 150 degrees Fahrenheit but never more than 170 degrees; every espresso shot not pulled within 23 seconds must be tossed; customers who order one pound of beans must be given exactly that—not .995 pounds or 1.1 pounds; never let coffee sit in the pot more than 20 minutes; always compensate dissatisfied customers with a Starbucks coupon that entitles them to a free drink.


All of that training...and that's just where it starts...for a $4.00 or $5.00 cup of coffee. Imagine what the timeshare industry would be able to do with that kind of training. I would imagine for one that the term "ups" would vanish...and that the term "vacation counselor" would actually apply.

Consumers want personalized service. Consumers want to go on vacation. Consumers need trust in order to purchase. What does Starbucks know that the timeshare industry doesn't, or doesn't want to learn?

Monday, August 16, 2010

Not Interested

I sent out an e-mail over the weekend to a local timeshare property in Orlando asking them for 30 minutes of their time to discuss:

a) their website, which contained the "latest" photos of new construction from 2008
b) their blog, which is non-existent
c) their social media strategy, which they don't have

Their answer was typical of companies who just don't want to admit that it is 2010 and the old "bait 'em, hook 'em, take their money" strategies aren't working any longer. I quote "this is just something we're not interested in right now."

Be "not interested" all you want, so long as you understand that your clients and potential clients are really, really interested.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010


I have been working on a blog post/article on the good things that ARDA-ROC (the entity that most timeshare owners "donate" $3.00 per year to sometimes without their knowledge) does when I unfortunately came across this piece of bad news:

Stay tuned.

Monday, August 2, 2010

The Difference Between Wanting And Choosing

I recently read "What Got You Here Won't Get You There" by Marshall Goldsmith, which I highly recommened.

I found these paragraphs to have particular relevance to the traditional timeshare industry:

"One of the first things that I have to face with clients is the difference between miswanting and mischoosing. It's subtle, but real. Wanting, after all, is different from choosing. So are those moments when we get either process wrong, when we miswant or mischoose.

The distinction comes from psychologists studing the science of shopping. We want a sweater, for example. Then we choose a certain sweater based on the thought matrix that went into wanting it. For example, there are all sorts of reasons people want a certain type of sweater. They may want it for warmth. They might want it for its feel. They might want one that looks great, or is reputedly the best in the world, or the most expensive (or cheapest), or the most au courant in style, or that complements the color of their eyes. The reasons for wanting a sweater are almost infinite. Basically, we want a sweater because we think it will make us happier. Miswanting occurs when we discover that what we wanted did not make us happy.

Choosing is something different. Once we decide what sweater we want, we must choose among a vast array of options that fit the bill. Will it be the blue cashmere sweater with the Armani label and the $1,000 price tab? Or the blue wool from Land's End for $49? Both will keep us warm and accent our eye color (if that's what we wanted), but if we're on a limited budget, the latter is a wiser choice than the former."

What does this have to do with the timeshare industry and the timeshare product, particularly when the heat index today is going to be 107 degrees? Very simple; people want a vacation (after all, that is what a timeshare is for) because it makes them happy. Choosing which is where the fun begins.

Traditional timeshare salespersons have been taught this on a simple (the customer) simply has to choose which vacation style makes you happier...spending money on a hotel or spending money on a timeshare.

I think the industry as a whole could and should do a lot better. Having timeshares available to consumers at their local travel agency, or online at any of a dozen travel sites or (wait for it) as a choice at a travel expo would move the timeshare product to the mainstream and forever bury the misconception that "timeshare is not a sought after product." Vacations are a sought after product/service/experience and one that brings happiness. It is high time that the timeshare industry wakes up and realizes that timeshares can indeed be a sought after product/service/experience that brings happiness.

Stay tuned for the first part of the proof later this year.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

"Not Sure"

I've been spending some time going through the latest AIF Owners Report. Lots and lots of data, some good, some not so good for timeshare developers.

However, one piece of data caught my eye and totally blew me away. The question was "Which of the following best describes your understanding of the type of interest you obtained with this timeshare?' Respondents had to choose between "right to use", "deeded or fee simple", "interest in a trust', "other" and "not sure/don't know."

I was expecting a very low percentage of respondents to say "not sure/don't know." Would you believe 17% of week based timeshare owners and 21% of point based timeshare owners weren't sure of what they owned? On average that's 19% or almost a full 1 our of 5 owners weren't sure what type of ownership they had.

As you know, I usually blast the timeshare industry for not properly educating owners and prospective owners. For this, I have to place the blame FULLY on the owner. Why oh why, would anyone pay an average price of $20,000 for a timeshare and NOT understand what type of ownership they have?

Not sure indeed.

Monday, July 26, 2010

A Simple Solution

Maybe I've been putting too much thought into how to "fix" the timeshare industry. Simple is good. Here is my new "fix":

Make every resort developer, resort owner and Director of Sales attend a timeshare presentation at another resort as "Mr. or Ms. Average Consumer."

Make every high ranking exchange company employee get on the phone and try to make an exchange.

Make every Director of Marketing (as they call it) attempt to check-in at a resort only to be sent to a few other desks in an attempt to get them in for a "resort update."

The problem is simple...the vast majority of the people in the industry who have the power to change it, don't own the product or certainly don't have to put up with the issues that the consumer does. Do you think that they have to try to exchange when they want a week in Hawaii? Of course not. And when they check-in, they're listed as "VIP" so that they bypass the entire "resort overview" crap. And of course they never have to sit through a 3-hour high pressure sales presentation.

See, the problem is simple...and so is the solution. Again, the first big-shot who actually DOES any of this and truly puts themselves in the consumers' shoes will immediately see the need for a change. And that change will gain them HUGE amounts of great PR and consumer loyalty.

Who is up for this change?

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Be Consistent and Be Transparent

This is an excerpt of a short training piece I just filmed for the Kissimmee Chamber of Commerce.

Be consistent in all of your communications. If you have a company slogan, be sure that it is used in written or e-mail communications. If you have a website, and I certainly hope that in 2010 you do, your written communications should always include the site. The same holds true for business cards...slogans, logos and website should all be there along with personal contact information.

While on the subject of e-mail, be certain that every single employee has a standard, consistent signature block and that no outside links are included.

Being transparent means that you hide nothing. If your pool is going to be closed for a week for repairs, you want to let everyone know before they check in. If there is construction at the restuarant, tell people.

Many times, timeshare properties don't fully disclose that the guest is required to attend and complete a timeshare sales presentation. If this sales presentation is going to be 90 minutes to 2 hours, don't refer to it as a "45 minute meeting so that we can get your input."

The Internet has made information junkies out of everyone. You can hide your head in the sand, but the truth is that your property, your resort, your timeshare, your hotel is now in competition with everyone. You are all competing for consumers' hard earned dollars. If your competitors are consistent and transparent and you aren't, who do you think consumers will flock to?

Be consistant, be transparent and the market will reward you for it.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Just Because It's On A Site, Doesn't Mean It's True

The Internet is a wonderful thing. It allows for rapid exchange of ideas and thoughts.

It also means that everyone with a connection can post just about anything they want.

Consider this tidbit which I came across this morning while doing a search for 'timeshare' on Twitter:

Through the use of point systems, you can get freebies and incentives thazt include gift vouchers, coupons, meals, and tours.

In what universe? Love the typo by the way!

Look, just because someone put up a website for $99 doesn't mean that all the content on there is useful, interesting or should be taken to heart. Especially when the website is littered with ads from the "wonderful" companies that claim to be able to sell your timeshare for you.

Get the real information...ask questions...don't settle. Be educated.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Has Anyone Had A Good Experience With A Vacation Club?

Vacation clubs...I've never met one that I was a fan of.

Many timeshares are now selling "vacation clubs" in lieu of timeshares, which is sufficient for a separate blog post. However, I'm interested in the actual value and use of these clubs.

They usually involve a price of several thousand dollars...I've seen them anywhere from $1,999 to $14,999 (!) and are full of low cost vacation "strategies" and deals.

My first issue with these clubs is that they use timeshare accommodations. This presents an issue not only to timeshare owners...which inventory are these clubs using and to the vacation club members as well...what happens when the inventory runs out?

My second issue is with the so-called "deals" that these clubs promise. I doubt that these "deals" aren't available to the general public without the high vacation club membership price attached. You want discounted cruises? There are a ton of sites that you can access without being a member of anything. Ditto...and I would bet that any discounts you can obtain through these memberships are restrictive in terms of what airline, how many stops, number of seats, etc.

The travel industry, with the exception of the timeshare industry, has become somewhat transparant over the past few years. I remain a skeptic of these vacation clubs and invite readers to agree or disagree.

Friday, July 9, 2010

A Few Words On Reselling Timeshare, Semantics and The Word Free

I'll start by saying this...I have not gone soft. I have not sold out. I have not lost my mind.

I do however, want to shed some light on the whole business of timeshare resales, listing fees, advertising fees and free.

First thing first...there is no such thing as "free", something I've been saying for years and made a point about in my first book.

Secondly, if a consumer wants to sell their timeshare that they no longer use/want/know how to use, etc., let's look at their options:

* advertise in their local newspaper
* advertise on a general Internet site (Craig's List, eBay, etc.)
* advertise in a timeshare publication
* advertise on a timeshare releated Internet site
* advertise through a general real estate agent (assuming one will take it)

All of those, with the exception of Craig's List which I believe is free, will charge the consumer something for advertising. In the case of a general real estate agent, again, assuming you can find one that understands how to advertise timeshare, they will charge you a commission after the timeshare is sold.

Which would you rather advertise your timeshare on...a timeshare specific site or a general site? If you understand advertising and want the most bang for your buck, you'd choose the timeshare specific site. And you'd want a timeshare specific site that can verify that they have thousands of unique visitors a day and can back up the fact that they in fact sell a large percentage of the timeshares that they have listed.

Consumers need to make a value you want to spend $20.00 to become a member of a site or orgaization and then have the ability "list" your timeshare for no additional fee, or do you want to spend $300 or $400 to "list" your timeshare on another site?

I'm not saying one is better than the other...that is for each consumer to decide for themselves. Assuming that neither option guarantees the sale of your timeshare, in which case I would run for the hills, you're paying money for something.

I am NOT endorsing any company here and I want to make it perfectly clear that I am not saying that timeshare advertising companies are the same as those horrible "postcard" companies that I think are among some of the worst offenders in the entire timeshare related industry.

It's your timeshare, it's your money...ask questions, demand answers, ask for proof of reliability, sales, BBB standing, etc. Be safe, be smart.

And happy vacationning!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Thanks To The UCF Students

Just a quick "thanks" to the UCF students that I had the pleasure of speaking with this afternoon.

Did me a world of good to hear that some of them wanted to know if I taught anymore classes because they thought I was great.

I'll be posting some of their questions, which are always enlightening, later on this week. Great questions which bring up some really interesting aspects of the timeshare industry.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Another Timeshare "Reseller" Gets Their Due

Timeshare Relief, Inc. based in Torrance, California has been hit with more than $91,000 in consumer refunds AND a $50,000 fine to the State of Vermont.

It seems that the Vermont Attorney General is going after the so-called "postcard companies" with a vengence, as this is the 2nd such finding in less than a few months.

Among the findings was that Timeshare Relief, Inc. engaged in "deceptive trade practice" with the use of their financial benefits worksheet that led people to believe that they might be eligible for a tax deduction against any payment to the company.

Having sat through one of these "presentations" I can tell you that I almost laughed out loud when my "consultant" started in with the tax deductions, capital loss forms, computations of interest, etc.

If it has been said once it has been said a thousand times, but bears not pay anyone an upfront fee to list or sell your timeshare for you, especially if they contact you first.

Friday, July 2, 2010

The Power of Bad Advertising and Spam and a Lesson To Be Learned

We've all gotten hit with spam for foreign watches, foreign prescription pills and the like. I'd bet that if you were ever in the mood to purchase a foreign watch or have the need to get some prescription pills, these spammers would be the very last place you would turn to. Why? Because of their repeated, annoying messages. In this case, unwanted, untargetted repeated, annoying messages. It is if someone had only heard the words "reach" and "frequency" in a first semester marketing class and disregarded all the rest of the important information.

It is much the same way with these timeshare resale companies that have their automated calls bother you at home, or the way those same companies spend untold thousands of dollars sending you glossy four-color brochures saying all sorts of bad things about timeshare and telling you that they can rid you of maintenance fees forever. I would bet that if anyone were ever in the market to sell a timeshare, these companies would be the last place they would turn to.

Twitter is no better. Companies send "tweet" after "tweet"...sometimes 20 or more in a single hour with their offer.

Not only do these companies and organizations fail to understand what true advertising/marketing/social media is about, they build up far more ill will by being the last place consumers would ever turn to.

Hmmm, sounds suspiciously like the mini-vac companies constantly saying that "you've won a trip to Central Florida..." And the trend among timeshare buyers is what? Oh yes, the resale market where they let people buy a timeshare...imagine that.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Selling vs. Buying...A Marketing Wake Up Call

I've been boo-hooing about the need for timeshares to stop selling and let consumers buy the product for years now. And for years now, the old-timers in the industry have ignored me or worse, countered my thinking with the old stand-by, 'timeshare is different.'

Well, in a recent blog "Rocket Watcher-Product Marketing For Start-Ups" by April Dunford, she clearly illustrates what has changed and why marketing has to make the change from selling to helping consumers buy. Here are her thoughts, which I completely agree with:

* We Don't Believe Advertising
* Customers Can Broadcast To The World
* Prospects Can Easily Communicate With Each Other
* Information About Products Is Easy To Get (Without Having To Talk To the Company Directly)

True for other products and services, especially true for timeshares. The sooner the industry realizes that the customer is highly in control of the buying process, the more timeshares will be sold and the happier everyone will be.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Summer Semester Classes

Just a quick note to let you know that I'll be guest lecturing at the University of Central Florida-Rosen College of Hospitality on July 7th.

If you are interested in hearing what college students think about timeshare, I'll see if I can arrange a visitor pass for you.

I'll also be posting the questions here on the blog so if you can't be there, you can see for yourself. I promise this will be interesting reading!

Monday, June 21, 2010

I Wonder What Would Have Happened...

I received an e-mail from a timeshare owner over the weekend. She received a phone call from a company claiming to have a buyer for her timeshare, which was not even for sale.

The interesting (if you can call it that) thing about this scam was that the representative claimed not only to have a buyer for the timeshare, but that the meeting was taking place over the weekend at the timeshare resort itself!

The owner contacted the timeshare resort in question, who of course knew nothing about this and so the owner didn't show up.

However, I wonder what would have happened if the owner had agreed to the meeting with the supposed buyer?

Stay tuned.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

So THIS Is Why I Never Made It Into Sales Management

Came across this today and had to laugh...

For those who want to move (eventually) from sales to management, one of the best ways to do so is to almost always keep your business/personal opinions to yourself and not ‘rock-the-boat’!

THAT would explain it! And don't think for a minute that I feel I missed out on that...I love what I do!

I Found This Insulting...Did You?

I just completed reading an article on the supposed pros and cons of timeshare sales transparency, e.g. letting consumers know the price of the timeshare upfront. As my regular readers know, I've been advocating this policy for years as I firmly believe it would increase sales, decrease lack of trust and allow for timeshare to be a sought after product, all of which are necessary for the long-term growth and sustainability of timeshare.

While there are a few free-thinking developers and executives out there, the majority of the people in charge continue to cling to outdated methods, underestimate the savvyness of today's consumer and frankly, insult their intelligence.

Here are some of the comments included in the article:

"...the timeshare product continues to be so complicated and that the value of the physical units and the properties is just one element of the overall emotional value that we're selling, making it difficult for consumers to readily and easily perceive the actual value of the product..."

Really, timeshare is complicated? Not really. As for the physical units and properties themselves...isn't that what vacationers look for when booking a hotel property? As for the claim about the "actual value of the product", value is different for everyone. What is the "value" of an iPod adapter in a vehicle? What is the "value" of an electronic rear window defroster?

The article goes on to say that, "...the customer probably won't understand what (the price) means, what that translates into, why seasons are different from each other..."

Give me a break! I think that customers are smart enough to figure out that a hotel room on the lakefront in Chicago will go for a higher price during "Taste of Chicago" than in the middle of February (trade shows notwithstanding). Hmmm, what is difficult about understanding that November in Alabama is not "high" season? Perhaps because so many lies have been told by less than honest salespersons up until now?

Another executive comments in the article; "...the options open to customers have become more extensive and on occasions more complex, it is simply not an option for developers to advertise the cost of membership at each resort, nor is it practicable."

There we go again, "complex" and "complicated." If the range of products really is so complex and complicated, how then do these executives defend the 90-minute timeshare presentation?

Don't get me wrong; as many in the industry continue to do...I think timeshare is wonderful. It allows for better vacations, more peace of mind, more control, more space, less worries, more luxury, more amenities and an overall better vacation experience. However; consumers, owners and non-owners alike are getting more and more educated and less and less likely to throw thousands of dollars at a salesperson after a sales pitch.

The first timeshare company who truly understands and accepts today's and tomorrow's consumers for who they are, what they know and the tools available to them stand to reap huge rewards, both in terms of money and more importantly in good will.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Rethink Advertising Strategy

As my regular readers know, I live in the Orlando area where timeshares are found every three feet, or maybe it just seems like that.

Anyway, I drive past a timeshare twice a day which has a large sign out front; the kind with the lights that spell out a know what I mean.

Yesterday I noticed that the sign was "advertising" the new commission structure in an apparant effort to recruit sales reps.

Now, I don't know about you, but if I was vacationning at this resort, pulled in, saw the sign about the new commission structure, I'm not real sure I'd be eager to sign up for a sales presentation.

I think their advertising/promotion strategy needs a rethink. June Newsletter Link

If you haven't seen it, here is the link to's June Newsletter.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Two Examples of "Always/Never Done It This Way" Thinking

I don't like the answer, verbalized or not "That's the way I've/we've always/never done it." I like to do things differently for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is it forces you to think.

I came across two cases in the last week of "Always/never done it this way" thinking involving both sides of the timeshare industry...and prime examples of what's wrong.

The first concerns a developer. I often troll around legitimate resale sites just to see what is out there and to gain ammo for my whole "timeshare is not a product, but a service" paradigm shift that I'm trying to work on. In any event, I came across a 1-bedroom for $85. Yes, you read that right...$85 plus a few hundred for title transfer, etc. A deal in any event, considering the developer in question is selling 1-bedrooms for almost $7,000.

I informed the developer about the situation and asked why he wouldn't snap this up immediately. You can guess the answer..."We've never done that before."

The second example involves a timeshare owner who has fallen victim again to an unscrupulous company claiming to help people out of their timeshare...for a hefty fee. This person gave money upfront to a company even after losing more than $5,000 to companies in the past and still owning the timeshare in question. When I asked why this person would continue to do this when all evidence pointed that this was a poor guessed it, "We've always believed these companies."

May I remind everyone of the definition of insanity..."Doing the same thing over and over and over again and expecting a different result."

Wake up people.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Some Good News About Vacations

According to a recent poll, the majority of the 1,100 people who participated said that vacations are as important now as they were before the recession and nearly 25% said that vacations were more important now.

A healthy 67% said they will cut back on entertainment and eating out, more than 50% will postpone a major purchase and about 33% will trim health and beauty expenses in order to afford going away. Not sure about trimming health expenses...that one scares me!

This is good news for the vacation industry, the timeshare industry and just about everyone else. I said it before and I'll say it can't put a price on a vacation. They're the type of memories that last forever. Don't get into debt to go on a vacation and remember that you don't have to travel thousands of miles away from home in order to have a good time and make memories.

Enjoy your vacations and take every vacation day you've earned. Life is too short...enjoy yourself!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

What If Apple Owned A Timeshare Company?

With Apple stock at a great price, their full retail stores, people waiting in line to buy whatever is the new release and the fact that you don’t hear a whole lot of bad things about their people, their products or their service---it got me thinking---what if Apple owned a timeshare?

First of all, there would be no gifting, i.e. bribery to get people to come in and see what everything was about. Maybe some great advertising, but no free stuff.

There would be no price drops…you can either afford the timeshare, or you can’t. It’s called believing in the value of your product.

There would be less of a chasm between a “new” timeshare and a “used” timeshare…sure you can save a few bucks here and there, but there wouldn’t be a 80% difference.

The people who worked at the timeshare and sold the timeshare would be staunch supporters of the timeshare and be proud to own one, or more.

The people that worked at the timeshare would know their stuff and wouldn’t have to exaggerate any of the benefits of the timeshare. It would work the way they said it would.

If you had questions about how to best use your timeshare, you could sign up for a free session or two and no one would try to sell you more timeshare.

Timeshares would be…what’s the appropriate word…oh yeah, cool. Timeshares would be cool and you would want to own one.

Perhaps Mr. Jobs is looking to expand the company’s horizons?

A Quick Thank You

Just a quick "thank you" this morning to all of Timeshare Insight's fans, followers, readers and clients.

May 2010 came in with the highest number of webpage hits, visits and pages since we started.

Thanks for being there...we promise to continue to give consumers what they ask for and not accept any advertising money from anyone.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Press Release

Here's the link to today's Press Release

Don't worry...we're not being bought out by, just as we were not being bought out by Holiday Group. We don't work for either of those companies and you will not see any advertising on the site about these companies. We align ourselves with companies that have a good track record, that's all.

The more outlets there are to help consumers, the better off everyone is.

Can't Be Repeated Enough

I've said this before, but recently I've received a lot of e-mails about "things that were promised", so I thought I would repeat it.

Read every document you receive when you buy a timeshare, no matter who you purchase it from. Take your time with the documents. Ask questions if you have them.

If something was promised to you, get it in writing. If someone won't put it in writing, assume that it is not true.

Of course, these caveats go for all purchases, timeshare or not, but unfortunately, there's a lot of "ether" floating around timeshare sales rooms and timeshare websites.

Read, understand, get it in writing...and then have great vacations.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Monday, May 17, 2010

Speaking In Chicago

It's been confirmed! I'll be one the featured speakers at the Chicago Travel Show November 13th and 14th at Navy Pier.

This will be a generic presentation, no selling of anything of course. There will be plenty of time for your questions as well.

Looking forward to seeing everyone in Chicago.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Mr. So Called Expert Is Wrong, Wrong, Wrong

I recently came across a column by a well-known "consumer advocate" where he answered a letter concerning timeshare presentations.

Now, I have written extensively about the insanity of timeshare presentations...and have survived any number of them myself as a former timeshare my thoughts are well known on the subject.

But this "consumer advocate" went off track and really bashed timeshare stating that an overwhelmingly large number of owners (97% he said) were dis-satisfied with their timeshare. NOT TRUE! Most people who own their timeshare are quite satisfied thank you. He went on to say that timeshares have absolutely no redeeming feature. And what do you base this on, Mr. So Called Expert?

I immediately posted a comment with the truth, which I doubt he will have the "you know what" to post because I dared to disagree with him.

When members of the media go on the record with blatently untrue stories about timeshare, it is up to you, me and everyone else who knows the truth to counter them. There is much wrong with timeshare as we all know. Yet, there is much good and right with timeshare as well. Members of the media who are quick to dismiss the entire industry as bad are just as bad as timeshare salesperson who use my four dreaded words, "free", "perfect", "always" and/or "never." They simply aren't to be believed.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

More Common Sense Genius From Seth Godin

I've professed my admiration for Seth Godin many times on this blog. Although Seth has to the best of my knowledge, never mentioned timeshare in any of his blog entries, most of his observations make perfect sense in the timeshare world. Consider this gem from Seth's blog last week:

No New Customers

What if a rift in the time-space continuum changed the universe and it was suddenly impossible to get new customers, new readers, new donors or new viewers?

How would that change what you do all day and how you spend your money and what you measure?

What if you tried acting that way now?

(What I meant: if you can't get new customers or new friends or new collegues, perhaps you could take really good care of the ones you've got? Cherish them, in fact.)

A good lesson for timeshare developers, no? Too often, the timeshare industry concentrates on new owners...get them in for a sales presentation and get them out...whether that means out the door or out to deeding and then out the door. "Next" you can hear the sales-force and developers yelling.

Timeshare would be a lot better off if the existing owners were taken better care of, valued and cherished. Taking care of your existing owners will prove far more effective and efficient than ANY "marketing" program will ever be.

Monday, May 10, 2010

And The Scams Unfortunately Continue

Over the weekend, I was contacted by several consumers who have received phone calls and e-mails from companies using names very similar to the resort where they own claiming to know about increasing annual fees and of course giving them an "out"...for an upfront fee.

WHERE do these companies get their database from? If anyone has actually gone through with one of these scams, contact me.

Owners will prevail!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Endless Vacation Rental Special Offer

Through August 15th, Endless Vacation Rentals is offering a $100 discount off of any weekly vacation rental of $500 or more.

I just went on the website and found some nice destinations:

August Steamboat Springs, Colorado 2-bedroom/sleeps 6 $849 for the week

August Park Rapids, Minnesota 2-bedroom/sleeps 6 $570 for the week

July Grand Cayman Island 2-bedroom/sleeps 6 $1,065 for the week

Nice deals...and remember, no timeshare sales presentation is necessary when you book these rentals!