Latest Articles

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: http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/.

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 http://www.lodging-econometrics.com/site/news/Katrina/KatrinaRelease.htm.

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 http://marriott.com/news/detail.mi?marrArticle=101556.

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. 

The Future of Timeshare: Fractional Ownership in Urban Locations

The Future of Timeshare: Fractional Ownership in Urban Locations

Consumer demand for greater flexibility brings more timeshare options to the table. Here, we look at fractional ownership as well as the relatively new concept of urban timeshares.

 Throughout its history, the concept of timeshare has undergone a number of radical changes. These changes were implemented as a response to the needs of timeshare owners, and all of these changes indicate a constant striving for flexibility on the part of the resort as well as the consumer.

Timeshare has evolved in what can be described as a basically linear pattern. First came floating weeks, which allowed timeshare owners the flexibility to schedule a vacation week when it was most convenient. Then, points-based systems of ownership were created. Points systems allowed owners to break up their week into smaller portions of time, while at the same time changing the way timeshare exchange values at certain resorts were calculated.

The quest for flexibility continues today, spurred on by competing resort companies responding to consumer demand.

A number of high-end timeshares have been developed in urban areas in recent years. Urban timeshares are offered in destinations like San Francisco, London, Boston, and most recently, Hong Kong. While major resort chains are the most noticeable players in this market, several independently-owned and operated resorts have done well for themselves. Most notably, New York’s Manhattan Club is one of the most well-known urban timeshares on the planet. Urban timeshares are known to have high exchange value, because the demand is high and the supply is low. Exceptions to this rule may exist if the city is a high-demand resort destination, but even Las Vegas timeshares (generally) have strong exchange power and are in high demand.

Around 1994, the concept of fractional ownership was developed. With fractional ownership, a timeshare owner has the option to buy a fraction of a year, usually ranging anywhere from 21 days to 4 months. Business travelers like fractional ownership because the time can usually be used in increments of several days at a time. The owner is not locked into using the timeshare at a particular week. The costs associated with fractional ownership are much higher than ordinary timeshare expenses, but a major selling point of fractionals is their outstanding amenities, most of which are comparable to 5-star hotels or luxurious private residences. Exchange, though possible, is limited due to the relatively small number of fractionals available on the market today. A timeshare owner is better off buying a fractional interest in a private residence club in an area that he/she is going to want to return to on a consistent basis.

Fractional properties in urban areas are the next phase in the evolution of timeshare. The timeshare industry has been receptive to these offerings, and industry publications have given fractional-ownership private residence clubs high marks for service and amenities.

Though the hefty price tag means that fractionals are out of reach for most individuals and families, we can expect fractionals to become more popular and affordable in the future. One thing to bear in mind is that the purchase of a fractional interest requires as much preparation and due diligence as does any other real estate purchase. Even if you are dealing with a respected hotel brand, do your homework before you agree to buy.

Four Seasons, Marriott, Ritz-Carlton, and Disney are the most high-profile companies offering fractional ownership of vacation property. More information may be found by visiting these companies online.

1...901902903...910