Recently a first-of-its-kind study was conducted about how time share owners really feel about their time shares. What’s unique about this study is the way the information was gathered. Instead of the normal survey, the information was gathered from more than 500,000 publicly available conversations on the internet! It was conducted from January 1 through December 31, 2014. It looked at everything; from complaints to sharing experiences to recommendations to friends and family.
The study was commissioned by the National Timeshare Owners Association and produced by INTUITION brand marketing. A very interesting study, here are some highlights:
** The timeshare industry’s online reputation has improved dramatically year on year. While positive mentions in 2012 were 69% positive vs 31% negative, 2014 boasted 82% positive vs 18% negative. But even more insightful is that the largest proportion of negative comments are not from timeshare owners! These were from folks exposed to the timeshare sales presentation and did not buy (wow….. I can’t imagine why a non-buying prospect sitting through a timeshare presentation [a timeshare presentation is one step away from water-boarding] would have a negative experience….).
** One of the biggest complaints is about timeshare resale fraud. This is timely as right about now is when many fraudulent companies are taking to the radio and television to tell you how they can get you out of paying your next maintenance fee. Here’s one actual statement that pretty well sums it up:
“Unfortunately, many of these rescue companies simply deed your time share to a phony entity and abandon it. This can come back to haunt you because it may be illegal. The resort may refuse to recognize a fraudulent transfer – which means you paid for nothing or they may simply take your funds and do nothing. This is known as a ‘Viking Ship Company'”.
** Of complaints, roughly three times as many complaints were about Points vs Weeks.
** Of the positive comments, the most mentioned by far was Accommodations; which has always been a cornerstone of the time share industry giving the consumer a much nicer experience vs a hotel room. Folks want to go on vacation and have an experience they won’t soon forget. Timeshares are accomplishing that goal.
Here’s a couple comments that sums it up:
“The best part of our villa was the balcony with its Savanna view. Few places on Earth allow people the chance to enjoy their own private view of African wildlife just yards away from where you sleep”
“We love the deluxe swim-out room! Wake up your honey and wade right into the sparkling, blue waters of the pool from your room’s Terrace.”
“Our family feels the more ‘home’ like living quarters of [Brand] Vacation Club to be preferable to a hotel room. It is nice to not have to eat every mean out and have the option to spend time back in the room without having a small table and chairs or your bed as the only places to sit.”
** The “boutique” experience is alive and well. Timeshare owners like being treated as a person, not as “the guest in room 811”. In our own business, Island Consulting Realty, this has been a cornerstone for sales for the past 30 years. Many, many of our customers remark how the staff really goes out of their way to treat them like family. We get these comments constantly. Here’s a comment from the study that illustrates this:
“I have been coming to the [resort name] form many years, every year. Our kids literally grew up at the resort. The hospitality goes beyond compare. As an example, as we step out of the van upon arrival they always remember us by name, and our shuttle is not booked through them so they don’t have a clue when we are arriving. The bartenders and a few of the wait staff will always greet us by name and they haven’t seen us in a year. Our housekeeper knows us, asks us about our kids when they are not with us and tells us about hers.”
** People can be confused. Here is a typical comment from someone who purchased from the wrong source:
“The whole timeshare thing is still very new and very confusing to me. After going back and forth with multiple people, we ended up with a resale with a one bedroom at the [resort name] (since we purchased someone else’s contract). What did we buy?”
This is something near and dear to our hearts. The majority of our sales come from folks brand new to timeshares. They need guidance. They need answers to their questions. And then they need time to digest it and come back with more questions. For the past 30 years this is exactly the type of service we’ve provided. We were thrilled to see this in the study as it confirmed what we’ve felt for years: Take the time to do a little hand-holding with your customers so that they feel comfortable. Then after the sale make sure they understand they can call us at any time with any questions. And finally back it all up with a one-year Satisfaction Guarantee. It’s the comfort level they need and appreciate.
Hats off to Greg Crist of the National Timeshare Owners Association (NTOA) for an outstanding job on this study. We look forward to the next one. And one last thing…
And Something Very Important:
We’ve known the NTOA for a number of years now. We really encourage you to visit their web site at www.ntoassoc.com. This is an organization that not only fights for you, the time share owner, but makes your time share so much more valuable through tons of discounts, owner education and so much more. A membership to NTOA includes all the great discounts and exclusive offers (worth the price of membership all by itself), a subscription to TimeSharing Today, the Education Center, Newsletters and the ASK-NTOA Assistance Team & Mediation. Membership costs only $89 per year.