RCI Timeshare Exchange and Leisure Link

Last month RCI (Resort Condominiums International) timeshare exchange announced a strategic alliance with LeisureLink, which followed the September news that RCI was making a substantial financial investment in the LeisureLink company.

LeisureLink is the company behind the electronic distribution of many vacation rentals, condo-hotels, (or condotels), and timeshares via several of the online travel sites as well as traditional travel agencies.

Kenneth May, (who at the time of the announcement was chairman and CEO of Group RCI) said, “Our alliance with LeisureLink underscores our belief in the non-hotel vacation accommodation experience and our commitment to grow this segment. We now have a distribution arrangement that is focused on properly marketing the advantages of this type of vacation accommodation. With their technology, we’ll be able to provide a turn-key program for our affiliates and inventory providers to bring a vast array of rental properties to the online travel market faster and easier than before.”

What does this mean for timeshare owners?

Well, it certainly seems that RCI timeshare exchange company is focusing even more of its time, energy and finances on being RCI timeshare rental company. It also implies that RCI members, on some level, will be competing with all vacationers (whether they are RCI members or not) for the same great deals in timeshare vacations. And it absolutely begs the question of how available timeshare exchange options will be through RCI, when the company has the opportunity to rent the primo vacation destinations and vacation times, and tell timeshare owners, “Sorry, there is nothing available for exchange at the location (or date) you want.”

Am I speculating? YES. But since this all came into place, Kenneth May has stepped down from RCI (effective on November 2, 2007), leaving even more confusion about the direction and intent of RCI.

So now would be a great time for someone from RCI to contact us, end my speculation, and let us know that they aren’t forsaking timeshare owners who are members of RCI exchange in favor of the opportunity to mass market timeshare rentals.

Remember, as a timeshare owner, you do have options. You can choose not to be a member of any timeshare exchange company. You can exchange only within a limited network of resorts operated under the same brand. You can also look into smaller timeshare exchange companies, where many timeshare owners choose to be members because they feel they get a more personal level of service.

And in the end, RCI’s ability to court the general public as timeshare rental customers will be greatly impacted by the inventory they are able to maintain of RCI member’s timeshare exchange properties. All we can do is wait and see how well (or how badly) this turns out for timeshare owners who are members of RCI.