Reaching Millennials... the Next Generation of Timeshare Users

Millennials Defined

The Millennial generation has been extensively researched and referred to in many different terms.  Millennials born after 1980 and into the early 2000’s (more precisely 1982-2000), are also referred to as “Generation Y” coming after Generation X as they do.  They currently range in age from 18 to 33.
Millennials have been called the “Me Me” generation.  They were raised in economic prosperity and often given unlimited praise for even the smallest accomplishments (sports trophies for everyone on the team!). Then one of the most severe economic recessions in decades left them unprepared for life's challenges. That initiated yet another title, "The Boomerang Generation," because economic conditions forced many to move back into their parents homes after college as they struggled to find a job.

Millennials are also thought of as open-minded, confident, positive about the future, and supportive of equal rights. They value education, achievement, teamwork, and if they find the job that makes them happy, they will be a loyal employee.  Millennials are also civic-minded and supportive of the community (which just might make timeshares attractive to them!).

Millennials Have Grown-up on Technology

Millennials have grown up on technology. It permeates every aspect of their lives and they are never far from their devices. A Pew Research study on Social & Economic Trends concludes that "Millennials are digital natives, the only generation who has never had to adapt to these new technologies, they grew up with them.  They are the most avid Facebook users; 81% of Millennials are on Facebook, where their median friend count is 250, far higher than that of older age groups; 55% have posted a "selfie" on a social media site, a far higher percentage than any other generation."

The Chicago Metro Association for Education, says Millennials accessorize with gadgets, most likely sleep with their cell phones, and build relationships through sound bites in 140 characters or less. They are excellent multi-taskers and expect responses in real time.

Technology… the Best Way to Reach Millennials

The Millennials are just as capable of appreciating a good vacation opportunity as the next person, but a smart marketer will have to be willing to do the research and meet the Millennials on their own terms.  As mentioned above if you can make them happy they will be a loyal to you, and they will share what they like with their many friends and anyone else who will listen to them.

Use all Technology Tools

Obviously with individuals that are so attached to their devices, the best way for timeshare marketers to reach them is through their devices. Use all of the social media tools: Facebook (81% of Millennials are on Facebook), Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, (55% post selfies on social media sites), LinkedIn (many are still looking for jobs to pay off those college fees) and smart-phones (some of them sleep with their phones).
Don't forget the value of mobile apps. In August of 2013, Marriott launched a mobile game app designed to attract the Millennials. Xplor lets players virtually visit five gateway cities, take sightseeing challenges, solve trivia questions, and puzzles, and compete to win Marriott Rewards points. Said Marriott Human Resources Officer, David Rodriquez, "If you look at demographics, Generation Z and Y together will absolutely be an extraordinary part of our business. If you are not resonating with that generation, your business will decline." The app can be downloaded for free at the App store.

What’s in it for Me?

Remember the "Me Me Generation"... Millennials want to see what direct benefits they will get from a product. They appreciate honesty and expect marketers to be upfront about their product. In terms of timeshare marketing, tell them about all the benefits and the value of a timeshare, but make sure you can back it up. They want conversation and feedback, but make it quick (remember they build relationships through sound bites in 140 characters or less!)

Allow for Adaptability

Don't forget the Millennials may be the first generation who may not make as much money as their parents. They often are burdened with debt from college fees and other life expenses. They may not yet have that job that maximizes their earning potential.  And there will be a lot of competition for their business! (42% of Millennials consult four or more services before making a purchase.) Millennials are not willing to take on significant debt even for something as fun as a timeshare. Timeshare marketers must be adaptable. Find ways to enhance your offering such as: maintenance fee guarantees, or short-term or yearly terms, stress the value of exchanging, flex-time and points. Remember Millennials are our first digital natives.  Speak to them in their own language, the one they grew up with!

Timeshare Resale Scams Give Legitimate Companies Bad Name

Even with recent crackdowns by the FTC and law enforcement agencies, and information campaigns from various entities like ARDA and The National Timeshare Owners Association, timeshare resale scams continue. Scammers repeatedly find different approaches to work their scams on unsuspecting and/or unprepared owners.

Scammers Target Timeshare Exchange and Rental Companies 

It's not just the sellers that are targets, but apparently exchange and rental sites can be targeted too. RedWeek recently uncovered a scam resale company that stole most of its site's website design.  The company even had a photo on their site of their so-called sales team that turned out to be stolen and photo-shopped. RedWeek has even heard of scammers who claim to be RedWeek when calling timeshare owners, and refer the owners to the RedWeek site for verification.  RedWeek does not solicit over the phone and urges owners who experience this, to actually call the company independently to verify.

Florida TV Station Uncovers $38,000 Resale Scam

A recent resale scam in Orlando, Florida, uncovered by WFTV's action news team, led to a company with worldwide in its name also. Worldwide Resort Exchange may be involved in one of the biggest timeshare resale scam the news group has ever discovered. A Colorado man, Tom Flynn says he and his daughter lost $38,000 to four central Florida companies that claimed they could sell his timeshare. Says Flynn, "They promise you anything. They had done their homework." Flynn and his daughter ended up paying the companies fees ranging from $1,500 to $5,000 because they were convinced that their timeshare was sold after being given the buyers names. Before they realized they had been scammed, they were out $38,000.
The Flynns told WFTV that they believed that one of the companies involved in the scam was Worldwide Resort Exchange in Lake Mary, Florida. When a reporter confronted the manager of the company about the Flynn's claims, the manager claimed he was a victim too, and that scammers were using the company name to rip off consumers. According to Lake Mary police, Worldwide Resort Exchange has filed several complaints saying someone used its name to cheat customers. Police are investigating those complaints. WFTV tracked down other companies the Flynn's had mentioned and found fake addresses for them, and one company that had closed.

What's a Reseller to Do?

The FTC in conjunction with partners from federal, state and international law enforcement, has made timeshare resale scams a multinational effort. They currently are involved with 191 actions against companies scamming timeshare property owners and travel prizes. For those trying to avoid resale scams here are the FTC's 5 tips:

  1. Check out the company before you agree to pay them any money.
  2. Deal only with licensed real estate brokers and agents.
  3. Get all terms in writing before you agree to anything.
  4. Consider doing business only with a company that gets paid after the timeshare is sold.
  5. Be alert to a repeat scam.

ARDA and ARDA-ROC Advocates for Timeshare Owners

ARDA has joined forces with the FTC to educate consumers about scams in the secondary market. Says president and CEO of ARDA, Howard Nusbaum, "We have advocated for owners in 14 states this year, all the way from Arkansas to West Virginia, with the thrust of our efforts focused on providing specific guidelines related to resale and transfer company legislation."

Owners can check out those guidelines and educate themselves about the various scams and ways to avoid them, by going to the ARDA-ROC website and clicking on Timeshare Resale Resource Center. The site has resale legislative and regulatory activity information to help owners avoid misleading resale and marketing companies. The site also addresses owner concerns and provides information and guidance on all aspects of the resale process from buying to selling.

Safety at Resorts

In the excitement of planning your vacation, the last thing from your mind may be your personal safety and the safety of your valuables, but it shouldn't be. Popular tourist destinations don't just attract vacationers, they also attract shady characters who are quite aware that tourists may be more distracted when traveling and more vulnerable to crimes such as theft. Be aware that accidents can happen on vacation, and unexpected disasters too, such as fire, or earthquake.  All good resorts and hotels have safety and security plans in place and should be willing to share those plans with you, but you can be your own advocate and prepare for the unexpected by learning ways to prevent crimes and accidents.

Safety First

Most well-known resorts have a good safety/security plan in place. The resort's success depends on keeping their visitors safe and secure. Many resorts consider ALL staff members (not just employees assigned to security) to be part of the security team. Staff are put through safety training programs and expected to be vigilant to any potential security threats.  For example, the iconic Walt Disney World Resorts, often tied to theme parks, puts safety at number one on a list of four quality standards (the others are courtesy, show and efficiency) employees must adhere to in making operational decisions.

The Hyatt Regency also considers guest security and comfort a top priority and trains all hotel staff to be responsible and accountable for security.

Security Technologies

Larger resorts like the Hyatt will have more advanced security technologies. The Hyatt boasts integrated surveillance systems, advanced lock and access control systems and sophisticated asset protection tools. Other resorts use closed circuit televisions and recording technology (CCTV) at key areas. Trained security guards monitor the surveillance.

Fire/Life/Safety Systems

Every resort should have fire/life/safety systems and monitoring in place. Guests should be made aware and have easy access to an evacuation plan in case of emergency. Part of the staff training should be on emergency response plans that include training on meeting the needs of distraught vacationers caught in a natural disaster. The devastating storm that hit Alberta, Canada in 2013 stranded many visitors in Banff.  A trained and committed Grand Pacific Resort Management staff at Banff Gate Mountain Resort made all the difference in helping provide care and comfort to guests stranded at the resort until they were able to evacuate. Staff disaster training made a difficult situation less stressful for all involved.

Security and Safety tops on the list for ARDA

ARDA (American Resort Development Association) rates safety and security so high on its radar that they have even included it as category #36 (Safety/Security Individual/Team) in their annual ARDA WORLD awards competition.  One finalist for the award is Jon Fazzio of Grand Pacific Resort Management who as its Safety Director has really turned the company's safety program into one that is an example for the timeshare industry. Since implementing new safety programs, procedures and compliance standards, the safety at the company's 19 resorts has had a significant decrease in number of overall accidents in the past 3 years. In 2010, Grand Pacific recorded 39 accidents within the 13 resorts in the system. As the number of resorts rose, the number of accidents declined. The decrease continued each year up to 2013 with only 14 recordable accidents within the 20 resorts in the system.

Take the Initiative

When you travel, take the same precautions you do at home to protect your family and valuables.

Always lock your doors

Don't leave your room or unit without locking the door. The same goes for your car (rental or your own). Make sure valuables are locked away safely. If your room has an in-room safe…use it!  Never leave valuables visible in your car, take them with you, or lock all valuables in the trunk of the car.

Check the U.S. State Department Website for Travel Warnings

When traveling to a foreign country, check the U.S. State Department's website for any travel warnings or advisories for specific areas of the country. For instance, Mexico is generally safe in all the major tourist destinations. Much of the gang-drug violence we hear about is in areas very close to the U.S. border, probably areas you wouldn't be vacationing in anyway.

Make Copies of Important Documents 

Whether traveling within or without of the U.S., make copies of all your important documents such as passports or visas. Leave a copies with a relative or friend.

Credit and Debit Cards

Always alert your bank and credit card companies that you will be traveling outside of the U.S. and where you will be traveling…you don't want the bank to think someone has stolen your card, and deny your card when you try to use it. Be aware of ATM use in other countries, and try to use your debit card only inside a bank or in a secure, locking ATM area.

With some planning and an awareness of your own safety and protection, most vacations turn out just the way you hoped them to be!

Have Pet Will Travel - Americans are Vacationing with their Pets!

Pet ownership in the U.S. has risen to incredible heights in the United States. The Humane Society of the United States' website states these impressive figures, "in 2012, 62 percent of American households had at least one pet… 83.3 million households owned dogs and 95.6 million owned cats." Pets are big business too. The American Pet Products Association reports these statistics, "Americans spent $53.33 billion on their pets in 2012, and estimates in 2013, those numbers will rise to $55.53 billion." With those kinds of expenditures, it's no doubt that Americans think enough of their pets to take them on vacation.

The Hospitality Industry Responds to Pet Travelers

Over 20 years ago, singer and animal activist Doris Day, opened her pet-friendly hotel in Carmel, The Cypress Inn, and initiated the first, "Yappy Hour" allowing dogs to accompany their owners into the bar. (A good idea for pet-owners needing guidance in getting back to their rooms after imbibing!) Since then, there's been a phenomenal growth in pet-friendly lodgings. The hospitality industry has responded big time to the wants and needs of pet owners and their pets. There are thousands of hotels in the U.S. that will accommodate pets.  Many restaurants, retail establishments, beaches and parks are also opening their doors to our furry and feathered friends.

Finding the Right Place for You and Your Pet

You've decided to take your pet on vacation, now how do you find just the right place? A pet-friendly city not only needs to have plenty places that offer lodging to pets, but also needs parks, trails and other open spaces for pets (and owners) to stretch their legs.   Look also for cities that have good emergency veterinary clinics and have active pet support organizations like the Humane Society. Based upon the above criteria, Pets 101@ lists these 5 Top Pet-Friendly Travel Cities in the U.S:

  1. Portland, Oregon
  2. New York City
  3. San Diego, California
  4. Colorado Springs, Colorado
  5. Orlando, Florida

Helpful Websites for Planning Pet-friendly Vacations

Once you decide where to vacation, there are a number of helpful websites to aid you in finding a pet-friendly place to stay at your destination. Even though a hotel or resort says pet-friendly, some restrictions may apply. Be sure you read these over carefully as some have restrictions on size, weight and breed, and on the number of pets you can bring with you. Also, even if one hotel in a hotel chain or timeshare facility is pet-friendly, it doesn't necessarily mean they all will be.  Other helpful sites for pet travel information are:,,, and Don't forget the websites of the ASPCA and the Humane Society whose years of experience with animals enable them to provide excellent information on traveling with your pet.

Pet-friendly Timeshares

As well as hotels and resorts, pet-friendly timeshares are becoming more and more available. Some timeshare resorts are so attuned to pets that they provide amenities like walking paths and trails, parks and animal daycare. And just like you, pets appreciate the comfort of a home-away-from-home that a timeshare can provide.  Many exchange sites and timeshare rental companies like make it easy for you to find pet-friendly timeshares. RedWeek's easy to use website has a number of listings for pet-friendly resorts, and as well as information about the resort, there is also information on the resort's policies on pets.

Before You Go

Make sure your pet is up-to-date on all needed vaccinations.  When you pack medications for yourself, don't forget to pack any medication your pet takes regularly. Travel can be stressful on animals. Check for tips on animal transportation. If flying by air, the ASPCA urges you to think twice about flying your pet on commercial airlines, particularly if they have to travel in the cargo hold. They also offer pointers on traveling with pets by car.

As long as you are willing to do your research, and careful planning, you and your pet should have a wonderful time together on your next vacation!