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Transparency and Education Leads to Happy Timeshare Owners

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Transparency and Education Leads to Happy Timeshare Owners

By Howard Nusbaum
September 29, 2014 

 Couple in Greece  

Last week, the Resort Development Organization (RDO), ARDA’s European counterpart, hosted their annual convention, RDO5, in London. Representing the U.S. timeshare industry, ARDA’s immediate past chairman and current CEO of Holiday Inn Club Vacations, Don Harrill, ARDA Treasurer and partner at Baker Hostetler, Rob Webb, and AIF Executive Vice President, Darla Zanini, made the trip with me across the pond to discuss our many shared successes and challenges within the international timeshare industry.

The event featured fascinating speakers, including Michael Levie, Founding Partner of CitzenM Hotels, Dean Van Leeeuwen co-founder and Chief Exploration Officer of TomorrowToday, and YouTube sensation, Louise Pentland. But one particular speaker—BJ Cunningham, an entrepreneur and founder of several companies, including the notorious Death Cigarettes—shared a message that really stood out to me. So simple yet profound, in just an hour, BJ was able recount with real-life examples the power of truth and transparency in marketing and sales practices.

While hearing BJ’s dynamic presentation, I began to think about how transparency has brought potent change to the timeshare industry over the past couple of decades. Twenty years ago, consumers came for discount tickets to the attraction de jour only to end up in a timeshare presentation. These days, our consumers are educated, and we like that.  It doesn’t mean they won’t exchange their time for the promise of a gift, but they understand why they’re there and already have a level of interest in the product. Today’s consumers already know so much walking into a presentation that they aren’t being sold just any product—they’re buying what they want.

Timeshare has always offered consistent quality in lodging and coupled that consistency with the actual discipline to taking a vacation. It’s that needed annual getaway with friends and family that helps us put our lives in perspective and renews our spirits. We need to continue to educate new and potential owners, not just about the product, but about the benefits to our health, our work, and our home lives. Resources like VacationBetter.org, a consumer-focused website offering valuable information about buying and owning a timeshare, are there to help consumers make an educated decision matching their family and financial needs with the vacation product that is right for them.

VacationBetter.org is a website all about transparency—no sales tactics, no smoke, no mirrors—just a look at what a timeshare can offer.  ARDA, with the help of the timeshare community, has invested in this educational tool because, as we know, an educated prospect is the ticket to a happy owner.