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Rita Downgraded to Category 3, But Still Menaces Gulf Coast

Rita Downgraded to Category 3, But Still Menaces Gulf Coast

In New Orleans, flooding resumes while tornadoes spawned by hurricane Rita damage parts of Louisiana and Texas.

Still in the Gulf of Mexico, hurricane Rita has downgraded to a category 3 storm, but is still capable of causing considerable damage to the vulnerable Gulf Coast. High winds, sea swells and rains are already threatening recovery efforts in New Orleans, and a number of Texas communities including Houston, Port Arthur, and Galveston are concerned about the impact this storm will have.

The vast majority of Galveston residents have been evacuated successfully, but mayor Lyda Ann Thomas plans on remaining in town until the hurricane passes. Though most people are confident that Galveston’s seawall will divert any seawater that pours over it, this optimism is tempered by the fact that Galveston is vulnerable to hurricane damage in ways that few other cities are. The worst natural disaster in American history occured in 1900, when a hurricane killed thousands of people and virtually obliterated the island of Galveston. The city’s seawall was built thereafter in order to thwart future hurricanes, but many experts question the seawall’s efficacy as a last line of hurricane defense.

With hurricane Katrina still fresh in everyone’s minds, more residents are willing to evacuate in the path of a new hurricane. Mayor Thomas expressed gratitude over successful evacuation efforts. In particular, letting evacuees bring their pets with them has made “all the difference in the world”. This development comes on the heels of hurricane Katrina, when people were told by rescue workers that pets could not be brought along. In New Orleans, many residents opted to stay with their pets, regardless of life-threatening consequences.

Hurricane Rita is expected to make landfall north of Houston by Saturday morning.

Hurricane Rita Upgraded to Category 5 Storm

Hurricane Rita Upgraded to Category 5 Storm

With winds in excess of 165 MPH, hurricane Rita is closing in on the Gulf Coast of Texas, and may damage areas already devastated by Katrina.

The latest report from the National Hurricane Center indicates that hurricane Rita has been upgraded to category 5. This hurricane’s winds exceed 165 miles per hour. The storm is approaching the Gulf Coast of Texas, and landfall is expected by Saturday morning. Galveston, Texas residents and visitors alike are evacuating, as this island city is especially vulnerable to hurricane damage.

Earlier this week, hurricane Rita passed between the Florida Keys and Cuba. Key West homes and businesses reported minimal damage, and the bridges connecting the keys were still structurally sound follwing the storm’s departure.

The Timeshare Owner’s Blog will be following this storm closely over the next several days. For the latest developments on this hurricane, visit the National Hurricane Center at:

As Details Emerge After Katrina, Resort Developers Release Findings

As Details Emerge After Katrina, Resort Developers Release Findings

Here are some resources to find online information about resorts, hotels, and timeshares damaged by hurricane Katrina.

Cleanup and rescue efforts along the Gulf Coast of the United States are proceeding as smoothly as can be expected. However, only in the past several days have we been able to get a clear picture of the scale of the devastation.

Lodging Econometrics, a Portsmouth, New Hampshire-based organization founded in 1995, collects information on hotel properties. While no hotel/timeshare companies are mentioned by name, some alarming figures and facts can be found at

Marriott has been more forthcoming than most other hotel companies, though it has received some criticism for its policies regarding cancellation fees. In a release dated September 2, 2005, Marriott stated:

“Cancellation fees for individual (non-group) bookings at hotels directly affected by the hurricane, or in areas experiencing mandatory evacuations, are being waived for arrivals through October 1.”

Considering that most hotels should be undergoing repairs until April 1 of next year, this statement seemed to indicate that guests with reservations at these hotels from October through April were being charged a cancellation fee, since the hotels in question will almost certainly remain uninhabitable throughout this time. Marriott may have changed this policy since then, as recent releases from Marriott do not mention cancellation fees. Though this issue does not apply to most timeshares, consumers are advised to watch out for added costs regardless of which company runs their home resorts. All things aside, Marriott has done a great job of keeping the public informed, and you can find more information on Marriott properties affected by Katrina by going to

If you own timeshare in an area affected by Katrina, I would strongly suggest that you attempt to make contact with your home resort immediately if you have not already done so. Only your home resort can adequately answer any questions you have about fees, special assessments, repairs, and conditions in the areas surrounding the resort.

The Changing Face of Timeshare Sales

The Changing Face of Timeshare Sales

Both resorts and resellers use a variety of timeshare sales tactics. What type of advertising is most effective for attracting buyers to a timeshare property?

Here’s three different examples of common methods that have been used in the timeshare sales business:  

1. A month or so ago, the blogosphere was buzzing with the story of the “timeshare spammer“. This man sent out millions of unsolicited emails promoting some sort of timeshare. Peter Moshou pled guilty to violating the new CAN-SPAM act, and was one of the first people to be prosecuted for a violation of this nature. He now owes several million dollars in fines, and is embroiled in a lawsuit from internet service provider Earthlink.

2. Since then, timeshare marketers have moved away from sending bulk spam emails, but they’ve recently been getting more aggressive about direct mail marketing. Invitations to timeshare presentations are mass-mailed to thousands of people every day. The same tired premise plays itself out; the mass mailings inevitably allude to a free week at a resort, but they fail to mention that a “90-minute” timeshare sales ordeal is a prerequisite of this enchanting getaway. Resellers rarely use direct mail, unless they have somehow obtained a list of timeshare owners.

3. In a particularly unique display of ingenuity, some timeshare sales companies advertise on billboards. These are strategically placed near high-demand resort areas, especially in places where there is a high concentration of resorts offering timeshare. While I myself have seen no figures on the subject, employees of these companies have been known to disclose that billboard advertising in the right setting can help owners sell their timeshares.

These three timeshare sales tactics have one thing in common: they can help drive traffic to an online inventory of timeshares for sale.

That should be good enough, right?

Wrong. Unsolicited emails, direct mail and billboards, like print advertising and television commercials, reach a lot of people. However, they don’t reach people whose sole concern is buying and selling timeshares.

As an example, consider a newspaper’s classified ads page. This part of the paper is read daily by people looking for a job, checking out apartments, buying a car, looking for a good plumber, or browsing the personals. The traffic that the classified page gets is not targeted.

Imagine you are a prospective timeshare buyer. You want to find an inventory of timeshare properties on the internet. To do this, you go to a major search engine and type in search terms, like “buy timeshare”. The websites that come up in the top five search results for “buy” terms receive what is known as targeted traffic. Almost all traffic driven to these sites is composed of people interested in buying timeshares. Only search marketing can deliver this kind of exposure. 

Quite literally, search marketing offers people exactly what they are searching for. However, just because a company is #1 in the search results doesn’t mean it’s legitimate. As I’ve said many times, it is absolutely vital to scrupulously research any company you intend to have dealings with.