Greg Crist In My ViewThe timeshare community appears to be dealing with a real and growing problem in North America and the U.K. A new group of hybrid travel clubs has been springing up and wreaking havoc on the lives of timeshare owners who join these so-called ‘clubs”.
 
First, to be clear, there are legitimate travel clubs that exist and serve the segment quite well. They charge nominal fees and don't require timeshare owners to transfer or surrender their ownership, nor pay thousands of dollars in processing and handling charges for member initiation.

These hybrid clubs appear to be merely cloaking illegal and often failing transfer entities who are being regulated out of business for their ‘viking ship’ practices.

With new legislation in the United States, many of these former transfer companies have evolved into ‘mega-renters’, who use the travel club concept to mask their real purpose.
 
Issues recently reported to the National Timeshare Owners Association include: failure to transfer timeshare, failure to provide travel offerings as advertised and, most importantly, failure to adhere to ethical business practices which harm consumers and developers alike.

So, while the response from the industry may appear on the surface to be slow, ARDA's CEO Howard Nusbaum, says a travel club committee is in place that is observing the movement of this sub-industry.

The association is making regulatory suggestions on how best to stop fraudulent organisations from fleecing timeshare owners without creating unintended side effects that would impact legitimate operators and sellers of travel.
 
TATOC and NTOA have also independently issued warnings to owners about predatory and deceptive tactics used to induce owners to join these types of travel clubs.

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Ivan and Elizabeth Gould Why I love my timeshareIvan and Elizabeth Gould from Yeovil, in Somerset, share their experiences of timeshare exchange – with some surprising results.
 
Exchange has played a big part in the Goulds getting the most out of their timeshare, helping them to visit 33 countries in 30 years of RCI weeks membership.

In October this year, Ivan and Elizabeth exchanged their week for a sunshine break at a James Villa property in Cyprus – a unique benefit of RCI membership.

Said Ivan: This was our fourth time in Cyprus, but our first stay at a James Villa. Highlights of our stay were its peaceful setting amid a plantation of citrus and banana trees and the location - about 15 kilometres from Paphos and two kilometres from the beach.

“The villa was much larger than we needed for just the two of us, but it was nice to have all that space. It had first-class facilities, great quality furniture and décor, with its own swimming pool. It was very clean, well-maintained and represented great value.

"We really enjoyed our time there and appreciated the quality of the accommodation - we'd definitely stay in a James Villa again.”

James Villa Holidays are currently available to RCI members as cash holidays at exclusive discounted prices.

To view the more than 4,000 resorts around the world available to RCI members visit RCI’s online Resort directory at www.RCI.com

Sutton Hall TATOC member resortBrian Knibb, Sutton Hall committee member responsible for sales and marketing, explains how this mature and completely independent resort continues to survive.

Sutton Hall is an 18th century manor house converted into eight suites complemented by six cottages built in the extensive grounds. There are 435 families owning fixed-week products.

The estate extends to 23 acres with formal gardens, meadowland and woodland. There are two tennis courts and an indoor swimming pool.

The resort is five kilometers from the North Yorkshire Moors National Park – while the village pub, which is just a hundred meters from the resort, has full restaurant facilities and two bars.

What is the history of Sutton Hall?

The hall was a private residence until the early 1980s when a group of local businessmen acquired the property and initiated the conversion to timeshare. Cottages were added at several stages in the next few years.

By the early 1990s the owners’ club had been vested with full managerial control and that remains today. The estate is held in trust for eventual return to the freeholder in 2062.

The development was started by a group of local businessmen rather than by a conventional timeshare developer and is a principal reason why transfer to the owners club was achieved at an early stage and the transition successful.

All the original developers were owners of weeks and sat on the members committee, some until 1990.

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Crystal ball for the future of timeshare worldwideSharetime asked two leading timeshare professionals for their assessment of the industry in their marketplace.

Australian industry shines – and the best is yet to come says Francis Taylor from Dial An Exchange

The timeshare industry in Australia is extremely healthy and out-performing comparable tourism accommodation products. The industry provides a platform for future growth that is exciting by any measurable standard.

These are principal conclusions of a recent Australian Timeshare and Holiday Ownership Council (ATHOC) study:

Key findings include:

  • Over 70 per cent of Australian timeshare owners had a holiday at a timeshare resort in their own country in 2012 - some 17 per cent more than in 2009;
  • In comparison, domestic overnight and international visits to Australia increased by approximately half that of the timeshare industry (nine per cent) between 2008- 09 and 2011-12;
  • There were approximately 966,400 nights available at timeshare units in Australia, of which 873,890 nights were occupied, an occupancy rate of 90.4 per cent. Room occupancy at timeshare resorts was considerably higher than the 70.9 per cent rate across all hotels and resorts;
  • A total of $211.6 million was spent by guests/owners using timeshare in Australia in 2012, with an average expenditure of $1,954 per travel party per trip. This represented an increase in total guest/owner expenditure of 11 per cent compared to 2009;
  • In comparison, total tourist expenditure in Australia increased by just one per cent, from $94.4 billion to $95.4 billion; and

Timeshare owner satisfaction is high, with approximately three-quarters of owners surveyed indicating they were either very satisfied or satisfied with their timeshare purchase.

Given an ageing population of traditional timeshare owners, ATHOC says this as an indication that older owners can see enough value in their asset to pass its use over to their children and grandchildren.

Another factor in growing owner satisfaction, says ATHOC, could be the change from the traditional fixed-week, single-resort ownership model, to a flexible-use points system. This has made holiday ownership more attractive to a younger, more mobile generation.

Significant also is that owner satisfaction across key indicators was higher in 2012 than in 2004- 05. In summary:

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