It’s a Win-Win for Members

If you aren't already a member, you might want to consider joining ARDA-WIN Advantage. ARDA-Win Advantage is a women-centric group (though men are welcome too!) that advocates, educates and connects its members by fostering personal and professional growth through a focus on networking, philanthropy, mentoring and diversity/inclusion within the vacation industry. It really is a win-win for the members of the group. Through connecting with other industry professionals members reap many benefits:
  • A mentor program that benefits both the mentor and mentee
  • Real-world knowledge of industry basics
  • Knowledge of new developments and the latest industry trends
  • Access to the industry’s library of educational and professional development tools
  • Networking opportunities
  • Access to business training
  • The support and fostering of diversity and inclusion in the vacation ownership industry
  • ARDA-WIN Advantage World Scholarship

Win-win for Philanthropies Too!

ARDA-WIN is also a win-win for the philanthropies it supports in order to help improve the lives of women through education, health and other initiatives. The ARDA-WIN Advantage Social Responsibility Group has awarded thousands of dollars in charitable grants to such recipients as Christel House, Deliver the Dream, Dress for Success, Easter Seals Camp Challenge, Send Me on Vacation and more.

Win Wednesdays

An important aspect of the WIN’s networking component is WIN Wednesdays. Gatherings are held the fourth Wednesday of every month in different areas.  Local members and visiting members can stop by and connect with other colleagues working in the industry and enjoy food, fun and camaraderie. Interested in becoming a WIN member? Stop by a meeting and introduce yourself. For a list of upcoming meetings check the site at

Five Ways to Create a Personalized Customer Experience

We can still create customer loyalty in the timeshare industry, but it's getting harder and more competitive to find the edge. Standing out from the crowd is not just about features and price, it's about giving your customers their best experience. Says Lior Arussy in 10 Rules for Customer Experience Transformation, "We're living in a new world of exceptional or nothing. This is what customers expect and what we need to deliver."

1. Customer Relationship Management Is Key

One term often heard this year in referring to the customer experience is Customer Relationship Management (CRM). CRM is a combination of the strategies, technologies and practices that a company uses to manage and analyze the interactions and data gathered during the customer lifecycle. This valuable information is then used to improve customer relationships, help retain customers and drive sales growth.  CRM is key in providing a personalized customer experience that develops loyalty. 

2. Be Better than the Competition

Today's customers are being consistently bombarded by competitive marketers. Technology allows marketers to reach customers anyplace and anytime. The global market place gives customers greater choices and more power over the sales process. Customers expect you to act quickly, be accountable for your product, use transparency in your dealings, and go the extra mile for them.  All your customer service interactions work together to build that emotional bond with your customers called loyalty.

3. Be Self-Service Friendly

Today's customer has a multitude of self-service channels. They surf from one website to the other to find their answers and the best deal. It's important that your company website be user-friendly. It should be up to date with FAQ and Q&A, email, video chat, text, and apps, to help the customer answer their own questions, and to give them the ability to ask questions. Aberdeen research states that "companies with strong self-service customer engagement, retain on average 89% of their customers compared to 33% retainment for companies with weak self-service engagement."

4. Know Your Customers – Use Data and Measurement

If you want to identify new customers and really know what's going on with your current customers, you need to have data and measurement. The use of analytics and predictions help you to personalize customer service interaction. And, it doesn’t have to be just Big Data - pay attention to what customers are saying about you on social media sites, community forums and surveys. Even one bad review can impact sales and company image, especially if it isn't quickly identified and acted upon immediately.

5. Be Socially Responsible

If your resort won a green award, or you are involved in a philanthropy, get the word out. Let your marketing materials reflect the type of company that you are. Millennials, the current most in-demand customers, like to give their business to companies that are as socially responsible as they are. If they have a positive experience with your resort, they are most likely to tell friends and acquaintances - using social media of course!

Finality for Owners in Class Action Suit Against Bluegreen Corporation

Owners who participated in a class action suit against Bluegreen Corporation achieved a settlement in November of 2015. The allegations against Bluegreen, Experian Information Solutions, Inc. and Equifax Information services, LLC. stated that owners' delinquent accounts were reported by Bluegreen as foreclosures. The suit claimed that the reporting was in violation of the Fair Credit Reporting Act and Florida debt collection laws. 

In the suit (Best and Snapp, et al. v. Bluegreen Corp., et al., case no. 9:14-cv-80929, filed July 14, 2014 in the U.S., District Court, Southern District of Florida), the plaintiffs alleged that when owners were delinquent, Bluegreen sent a series of letters advising them of termination from the Bluegreen Vacation Club, and that the status of their accounts may be reported as foreclosures to the credit agencies.  Upon receiving the notice, many owners walked away from their timeshare only to encounter more problems according to Michael D. Finn, of the Finn Law Group, the firm responsible for the class action suit.

Credit Scores Drastically Reduced

Reporting the delinquent accounts as foreclosures drastically reduced owners' credit scores and credit worthiness. In a recent podcast of Timesharing Today Radio, Finn said that some owners who received the foreclosure report on their credit rating, were unable to refinance a mortgage on their primary home, or to buy another home. Now, as a result of the settlement, foreclosure entries will be deleted from over 11,000 owner credit accounts

Class Action Suits Complex and Difficult

The Finn Law Group is well-known for representing disputes in the timeshare industry. Mr. Finn mentioned that it's harder to file a class action suit because of the complexity of such a suit. It's often difficult to establish action for a fraud based case and courts don’t usually promote class action suits. In addition, clients in the suit are lumped together and each one has had a different experience making it difficult to come to a general consensus. 

Prior to filing the class action suit, Mr. Finn first went to Bluegreen Corporation and asked them to make a correction and they would not. He then went to Equifax and Experian who were also unwilling to make a correction because the creditor, Bluegreen, affirmed that the information on the foreclosures was accurate. Finn then proceeded with the filing of the suit. 

Finn said the action by Bluegreen was improper because it didn't meet the definition of foreclosure. Bluegreen timeshares are sold as a points program where the title is held in trust for the individual buyers by the timeshare developer. Since the recorded deed was never titled in the individual's name, the timeshare developer doesn’t have the right to report delinquencies or foreclosures to credit reporting agencies. 

No Admission of Liability

Though not admitting liability, Bluegreen, Experian and Equifax agreed to settle the lawsuit. The settlement provides in part: "For class members who did not opt out of the settlement and no longer have an active account, Bluegreen will request that Equifax and Experian delete the entire account that displayed a foreclosure; For class members who did not opt out of the settlement, but still have an active account, Bluegreen will provide information to Equifax and Experian showing that the accounts were paid for the months preceding their delinquency; and Equifax and Experian have agreed to implement Bluegreen’s request."

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Reemergence of the “Hard Sell” in Timeshare?

Just when we thought the timeshare industry had tidied up its sales tactics, an article comes out like the one by Gretchen Morgenson of the New York Times, indicating that perhaps it hasn't.  Morgenson’s article, "The Timeshare Hard Sell Comes Roaring Back" zeros in on Diamond Resorts, and not just their particularly aggressive sales tactics, but some of their other business practices as well. Soaring maintenance fees, blocking club members from taking vacations where and when they want, and the difficulty of selling a timeshare, are also indicated as problems in Diamond's business practices.

Why Now?

The New York Real Estate News website, has speculated at what's causing the return to hardball tactics. In "The Timeshare Business is Back, Hardball Tactics and All", the article suggests that maybe the industry has come full circle. Before the recession timeshare companies used the hard sell regularly, and now because of a strong luxury housing market, timeshare has reverted back to it.  

In the New York Times article, Morgenson shared a similar perspective, "After crashing in the financial collapse, timeshare sales are rising again, and with them high-pressure sales practices". 

More Oversight Needed?

Recent suggestions of a need for more oversight by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) have been circulating in the timeshare industry.  (For anyone unfamiliar with CFPB, the company website states, "CFPB is a 21st century agency that helps consumer finance markets work by making rules more effective, by consistently and fairly enforcing those rules, and by empowering consumers to take more control over their economic lives").  The idea is that stronger government regulations should be created to regulate companies like Diamond and other large entities such as Marriott, Wyndham and Interval Leisure Group. 

Unfortunately, in almost all industries there will be scams and scammers, but we don't want to have a few bad apples ruin the great progress and growth the timeshare industry has made in the past few years. Owners, sellers and buyers must continue to speak up and identify bad practices and the companies that use them. Regulators like the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau as well as the self-regulating  industry association ARDA are there to keep industry abuses down. We want to know if you have experienced any problems you would like to share. Let us know if you think we need more regulations!

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