Different Countries and Different Timeshare Issues

Have you ever wondered how timeshare differs from country to country? Or maybe thought about purchasing in a different country?  How do timeshare issues differ in the U.S. compared to Europe, or Mexico, Asia or Canada? 

In Canada, for example, there are as many timeshare structures as there are First Nation Tribes. Buying a timeshare in Canada can be confusing for a U.S. citizen. Currently the Canadian Resort Development Association is working on making it less complicated by defining each structure and making it easier for developers, sales teams and most of all consumers to understand the differences. 

In Mexico, memberships are sold in "right to use" clubs, which only gives the buyer a temporary right to use the property. Right to use ownership allows the buyer to use the property for a certain period of time, and afterwards it goes back to the original owner. More of a club structure, there is no title or deed for right to use because there is no ownership of physical property. Mexico’s regulations and laws on timeshare often seem to change regularly.

So Many Structures

Understanding timeshare differences in countries is further complicated by the myriad timeshare structures that may include: 
  • Traditional weeks – owners buy their own week 
  • Condo hotels – a building operated as a hotel, but offering short term rentals, and maintaining a front desk 
  • Fractionals – defined by price and length of purchase, (usually at least one mont, tenths and up)  
  • Vacation clubs – classified as timeshares
  • Points based – instead of selling by the week, developers sell points that can be exchanged for time at a variety of resorts
  • Properties held in trust- legal document designating who will hold title to all of your timeshare interests after death 
So what’s a consumer to do?

First and Foremost - Know the Laws and Regulations of the Country

With timeshare's future showing more growth in the global timeshare market (World Wide Shared Vacation Ownership Report-ARDA 2012) it might be time to brush up on the laws and regulations governing timeshare in other countries.

If you are thinking about signing a contract outside the U.S. for a timeshare or vacation plan, know that you are not protected by U.S. laws. Your purchase is regulated by the country, or in the case of the U.S., the state in which your timeshare is purchased. 

In countries where timeshare has become a large part of the travel industry, specific real estate laws and regulations have been developed to protect consumers.  

Buyer Protection

There is protection for purchasers who experience buyer’s remorse. According to NOLO, each country and most timeshare purchase contracts generally contain a time period during which you may cancel the contract and receive all proceeds back. Make sure your purchase documents indicate the length of the rescission period of that particular country and clearly describe the procedures you need to follow to rescind the sale. You may only have a few days to rescind, so read the contract carefully and consult a local attorney if necessary. 

Just like making a timeshare purchase in the U.S, you must also do the research before deciding to buy in a foreign country.

Continuing Education for Owners

Are timeshare owners aware of the numerous ways to get the most out of vacation ownership? Do they know and understand all the current issues affecting ownership? Dial-An-Exchange (DAE), a worldwide vacation exchange provider, thinks it may be time for more education - particularly since timeshare has experienced so many changes over the past decade. DAE recently re-launched an owner education program first used in 2008, called Vacation Education Series (VES).

What's it All About?

The Vacation Education Series (VES) hits the road with its program in San Diego on March 22. DAE is making it convenient for owners to attend VES by holding it where the owners live and not where their timeshare is located - San Diego has a large percentage of owners who live within a 20 mile radius. Sessions are designed to educate timeshare owners and potential buyers about the many ways they can get the most out of timeshare. Current timeshare issues affecting ownership will also be on the agenda and open for discussion. The informal and non-threatening roundtable discussions led by industry leaders, are meant to encourage owners to ask questions, participate and interact with each other.

"The Vacation Education Series was created and designed to offer timeshare owners vast resources that encompass all aspects of ownership," explained Susan Friedline, DAE Business Development Manager USA. "It is a forum to educate as well as update them on the current issues that can affect their ownership. We are excited to have the opportunity to talk to owners and learn more about their needs to continue to partner with reliable resources to fulfill those needs."

Topics for next week's San Diego series include the Future of Timeshare, Resales and Rentals, Know What You Own, Explore Exchange, and Advantages of Proactive Ownership.

Other Industry Educators

Other timeshare entities are also looking out for the best interests of owners with their educational offerings.

As part of its Affiliate Access Program, RCI offers a series of HOA-focused "Lunch and Learn" events where owners can talk with RCI representatives about best practices to get the most out of vacation ownership. These 3/4 day, no-cost information sessions are held in a relaxed setting enabling participants to talk face-to-face with representatives, ask questions, share ideas and enjoy lunch together.

American Resort Development Association (ARDA)
ARDA represents and promotes vacation ownership in various capacities. Its web site provides a wealth of information for owners ranging from updated legislative issues that may affect timeshare owners and their well-being (ARDA-ROC), to assistance and resources for HOA members (HOA Outreach).  On the ARDA site, owners and potential owners can find the answers to all their questions concerning ownership, and the latest news and research on timeshare issues, exchange tips, resale guidelines and much more.

The National Timeshare Owner Association (NTOA)
NTOA dedicates its business as a platform to advocate for timeshare owners, and to educate and help owners find answers to their timeshare questions and concerns.  Aligning itself with industry and community partners, NTOA offers a multi-media internet education center. In addition to their Feedback Page, its toll-free consumer helpline (1-844-ASK-NTOA) offers owner assistance with timeshare related issues.

Owner Forums
Timeshare forums can be a good place for owners to talk to other owners, share experiences and get questions answered. Many timeshare and vacation companies such as Wyndham, TripAdvisor and RedWeek all have their own owner forums.

More on Developing Customer Loyalty

In last week's blog, we talked about how developing customer loyalty begins at home - engaged leadership = engaged employees = engaged customers. We also mentioned the importance of showing respect to your customers, championing your resort with your passion and enthusiasm, and timeshare's advantage over other industries in developing customer loyalty through its multiple opportunities for personal contact and family atmosphere.

Loyalty Programs

Another advantage that timeshare has in boosting customer loyalty is in the use of loyalty programs.  Loyalty programs are a natural for timeshare and can provide many exciting client rewards from resort activities, amenities and upgraded accommodations to virtual shopping. These programs - long-used successfully in the industry - started with the traditional points and rewards programs, and have evolved into much more.  

A company that makes it its business to bring loyalty to the forefront as a critical marketing strategy, Loyalty 360 website states, "As companies continue to strive for the ultimate customer relationship, loyalty marketing is continually evolving to include: engagement marketing, customer relationship management, experiential marketing, voice of the customer, data analytics and more."

The evolution of loyalty programs includes platform services like those offered by Leisure Loyalty.  The company offers professionally designed templates as launching pads to deliver a customer’s branded site. Its platform services are currently servicing 10,000 member accounts across the globe. One of its customers is Club Tesoro Resorts, with resorts in Mexico. It uses Leisure Loyalty services for its member loyalty rewards, Lifestyle Travel Program. Lifestyle Travel Program members have exclusive access to exciting destinations and virtual shopping at member-only pricing. They can use loyalty points (Tesoros) for online purchases and redeem them for travel, vacations, maintenance fees, electronics, sporting goods, housewares, gift certificates and much more.

Starwood Hotels & Resorts recently partnered with independent ride provider Uber, and incorporated Uber into their loyalty program. Loyalty club members will earn one Starwood rewards point for every dollar spent on a ride anywhere through Uber's mobile app. Customers also staying at a Starwood Hotel, will earn an additional two to four points based upon their membership status.  Points can be redeemed for free hotel stays, luxury accommodation upgrades, exclusive VIP access to entertainment and sporting events, and more. "It's just one more way that Starwood is combining high tech and high touch to transform member travel experiences," says Starwood Hotels & Resorts CEO, Adam Aron.

The Timeshare Industry has many options and opportunities for developing customer loyalty. Try several of the options or use them all. Our industry thrives on client connection and lifetime relationships.

Vacation Ownership Continues to Lead the Hospitality and Leisure Industry

A first-of-its-kind study on behalf of the National Timeshare Owners Association (NTOA) shows that vacation ownership (timeshare) continues its steady growth and is leading the hospitality and leisure industry. The study done by Intuition Brand Marketing is unique - for all of 2014, it tracked, analyzed and segmented all publicly available online social conversations about timeshare, vacation ownership, and travel clubs.

Sophisticated Software 

The use of SPSS predictive analytics software for statistical analysis of the relevant findings of the study data, also helped NTOA to make a prediction of the future growth of the industry. Here are a few key findings from the study derived from more than 500,000 pieces of verified content:

Key Factors Driving Industry Growth in Global Vacation Ownership
  • Rising number of high net worth individuals and employed population
  • Demand for leisure and recreation
  • Increasing internet penetration
  • Improving global economic condition
  • Increasing international tourism in the US
Noteworthy Trends/Developments in the Industry
  • Enhanced buyer’s protection
  • Shifting profitability from hotel stays to timeshare buying
  • Growing popularity of eco-friendly timeshare resorts
  • Fast-paced recovery of respective industry in developed markets after recession
The study also analyzed the global vacation market, regional markets, and the US hotel and vacation industry, including market trends, growth drivers and challenges. Intense competition from many large, regional players personifies the present vacation ownership market. Quality, location, flexibility of usage and offered amenities figure prominently in the competition.

Wyndham Worldwide Corporation Leads

The leader in the global vacation ownership market in terms of revenue, number of resorts and number of owners, is Wyndham Worldwide Corporation. The company is followed by other leaders - Marriott International, Starwood Hotels, Hilton and Hyatt Hotels.

*For a copy of the report go to: www.marketreseachreports.biz/analysis 

*For more information on NTOA: www.nationaltimeshareownersassoc.com