ISSUE 2 • Summer 2009
Full conference ‘09 report RCI honours chairmen New accredited resorts announced TATOC Helpline saves millions
Cover photo - Macdonald Villacana • Inset Photos - Club Las Calas (TATOC accredited resorts)
From the desk of the CEO
Raising the standard Welcome to the second edition of Sharetime, the official TATOC magazine. So much has happened since the launch of the first edition earlier this year. Circulation is greatly increased for this edition with copies sent to committees, individual members and more than 3,000 timeshare units across the U.K. and Europe The annual conference was a great success with a good mix of members and industry professionals. The conference report (pages 4-13) covers all the main speakers and events.. I really hope we can encourage a full house for the special tenth conference to be held next year on 12-14 March. The venue has yet to be confirmed. I was delighted to announce the first TATOC Accredited Resorts during the conference. Club Las Calas and Macdonald Villacana proudly received their flags and plaques to mark this prestigious accolade. It proves to owners and potential owners that the resorts are professional, customer-focused organisations. Many more resorts have applied for accreditation and those successful will be announced on the web site in the very near future. Increasing our membership numbers is paramount to the success of TATOC and a major drive is in operation to do just that. Working with the exchange organisations, we are contacting all U.K.- based resort committees to encourage them to sign up. New TATOC web site banners will soon be emailed to all members and we hope you will add these to your own resort pages and also add a link to TATOC. A new feature in this edition is the Letters to the Editor column and I encourage you to have your say by sending comments, suggestions and criticisms. Our Helpline co-ordinator, Mark Caldicott, has agreed to contribute a regular column answering your written questions and giving details of the most frequently asked questions and problems received at head office. Don’t forget members have access to the members-only part of the website* which will soon contain the new modules developed by TATOC director Jan Tilley. Please contact me for a personal username and password. I am sure you will enjoy this bumper edition and remember we need your input. Club news is very important to us and again it is well featured but we need more! Why not appoint a member of your club or committee to give your resort a high profile by keeping us supplied with your news and developments. Harry Taylor, CEO * www.timeshareassocations.org
Letters to the editor Sharetime welcomes letters from readers. Topics can include any part of the holiday experience. In this first edition, most of our questions have been directed to Mark Caldicott, helpline co-ordinator.
How do we know what we own? Sir: We joined the ill-fated Carpe Diem Resort SLU holiday club in 2007. Together with paying a substantial amount of money we also partexchanged our timeshare week. Since CDR SLU is no longer trading it is apparent that the timeshare ownership has not been transferred because we received the maintenance request this year. The problem we have is that we do not have the ownership certificate anymore. What should we do? - A Wheatley, Lincolnshire Editor: Unfortunately the Carte Diem company folded a few years ago so it cannot deliver the promise originally made to you as the product no longer exists. Under the Consumer Credit Act you should be able to claim back the money that you spent, as long as it was paid via credit card (you have up to six years to do this). Sir: We have received an offer to buy our one week of timeshare for £2,500. We have been invited to go to Malaga to stay for two nights to meet face to face for the purposes of sale. We are told that our travelling expenses will be refunded if the sale proceeds. I cannot find this company on the timeshare ‘blacklist’ but I suspect it may have changed its name. Is this a scam and what should I do? - R.E.Bemand, Hereford Editor: We recommend timeshare owners exercise the greatest possible caution when 're-sale companies' approach them saying they have sold or can sell their timeshare. They usually request credit/debit card details, or an up-front payment - whatever it is called or however it is justified. We also recommend caution when owners are approached by companies inviting them to a ‘meeting’ to discuss the re-sale of their timeshare product. Many of these so-called ’meetings’ ‘turn out to be a marketing ploy where owners are offered a generous price for their timeshare - but only in part exchange for the purchase of another product. Sir: I am in contact by phone with a resalecompany who wants me to pay a fee of €175 by credit card for the costs of advertising my timeshare-week. Is this usual? - Hans-Peter Jacht, Saint-Germain-en-Laye, France Editor: We are aware of the company you mention. They should offer you a free service to list your timeshare with them. Any requested fees should cover any additional marketing services. This should be made clear when you discuss with them your requirements. Sir: I know it’s not timeshare per se but a company claims it can refund our money from a scam we fell victim to in 2007. It wants £250 up front and says we must go to Tenerife to re-sign some papers. They say we will get the £250 back when
we get my cash returned from the original seller. Have you heard of this happening and what should we do? - Ian and Sue, Rochdale Editor: There is a great deal of concern within the industry and consumer bodies about companies who contact timeshare owners promising to take action to recover money they have lost in unhappy deals. I suggest you exercise the greatest caution in dealing with any such company especially where it requires a considerable up-front payment for service, or requires that you purchase another product to qualify you for assistance. Please check the firm very carefully and do some research on the internet. Sir: I was planning to re-sell my timeshare via the resort's own re-sale office. However, I’ve been asked to send my original agreement/contract to them first so that “I cannot sell to anyone else in the meantime". I argued that this is like forwarding the deeds before the house has been sold, and that the agreement is my proof of ownership (they will not accept a copy). Also, until the units are sold they are mine to do with as I wish. Surely this is not a legitimate way to conduct business. Could you advise on the legality of the request as I am very reluctant to proceed with their demands? -Andy and Linda Moore, Alicante Editor: This is highly irregular. The timeshare company is fully aware who owns which weeks at their resort. Deeds do not need be handed across until the sale is complete and transfer is in progress. I suggest that you contact the owners committee at the resort, if you have one, and ask if they know the legitimacy of this claim. Another option would be to contact the resort’s trustees and ask them if this is correct. A final option is to contact the resort itself and ask if the person who has contacted you is a legitimate employee of the re-sales team.
Know the law Sir: There have been so many horror stories over the years about bad timeshare practices. Today, timeshare legislation in Europe is very strict and most companies now comply with it. Yet the horror stories continue. Surely the only way to stop this is for everyone to know the key points of the new legislation so they don’t make the same mistakes. How does the industry and government get the message across to the public? -T. Francis, Leighton Buzzard
Pet wishes wanted Sir: Many timeshare owners would like to take their dogs with them on their holidays but there are so few ‘pet-friendly’ timeshare resorts. Of course, we understand that strict regulations and even an extra payment would be necessary so that others are not disturbed. What can we do to encourage more pet-friendly resorts? Dyllis Griffiths, Newport Please send your letters to TATOC at: email@example.com.
ISSUE 2 • Summer 2009
Meet the board David Eastburn, chairman
No longer a talking shop.
1. When and where did you first buy your timeshare and what made you purchase it? About 18 years ago at Club Ambassador, in Tenerife. My wife and I fell in love with its tranquillity. We had just rejected the resort to which we had been invited and attended a presentation. We walked up the hill to escape, and discovered the RCI flag flying. We walked in and made a silly offer which was, of course, refused. Until the day of our departure! 2. What have you gained most from being a timesharer? Wonderful family holidays in Christmas sunshine. 3. Would you and have you ever recommended the industry to others? What were the advantages that you used or would use in order to “sell” the industry? I have persuaded several others to purchase timeshare, based on my experience of its true value - monetary and otherwise. I have never regarded it as part of my duty to “sell” the industry - others are fully capable of doing that themselves. However, I am enthusiastic about working ‘with’ the industry to ensure that their products meet the needs of ordinary consumers like me. 4. How long have you served on your resort’s committee and in what capacity? 11 + 1 years at Lakeview Country Club as chairman - now thankfully retired.
5 What personality trait do you feel is of most benefit to a committee member? A member usually brings to the committee more skills than I have ever possessed, but personality is important as well. The committee member must remain enthusiastic despite the frustrations, setbacks and disappointments that are an integral part of his work. He must try and understand the anger that others sometimes feel, but never become part of it, He must accept the need for developers and managers to make a reasonable profit, but never forget that he is there to represent the members who have elected him. Above all, he must never seek his own advantage at the expense of others: his reward must always be the satisfaction of a job well done. Perhaps humility is the personality trait that encompasses all the above, though I am aware that great skill and humility may be an unusual combination!
The accreditation flag flying over a resort seems to epitomise all that is best about the Timeshare Association. It is a real indication that the club members and developers of that resort have a justifiable pride in their ownership and management, and are willing to work together to promote the whole timeshare ethos. 9. Everyone who knows you is aware of your love for music. If TATOC had an “anthem” or theme song what would you choose? Hmmmm ...... that’s difficult; I might be compelled to write my own! 10. If you were washed up on a desert island where there were no timeshare resorts what book, piece of music and useful object would you take and why? Book: The complete works of Shakespeare (could there be any other choice if, as I presume, the Bible is not allowed?) Music: Bach’s 24 Preludes & Fugues.
6. When did your resort become members of TATOC and why?
Useful object: A piano on which to try and play the above far from any possible listener.
Lakeview has been a member for about eight years. We needed advice on problems that we rightly felt were probably being experienced by many other resorts
11. What food do you love and what do you dislike the most (so we know for the next conference dinner!!)?
7. As chairman of TATOC do you feel progress has been made over the years and if so in what areas? I like to think we have made very significant progress. We have been immensely fortunate in our last two appointments of chief executive. Both Freda and Harry have had the knowledge and skill to penetrate the intricacies of timeshare, and to establish TATOC as the most respected consumer organisation in the business. This has enabled us to give TATOC officials full executive power without being micro-managed by a group of well-meaning amateurs. The board has ceased to be a talking shop and now fulfils its proper role as a channel of communication between our members and those who are working on our behalf to enrich and enhance the timeshare experience and to safeguard our ownership. 8. What makes you most proud of TATOC and where do you see its future role?
Food ‘heaven’ might have a fishy emphasis. I adore scallops lightly fried in butter and served on a bed of creamy mashed potato with a cheese sauce. Lobster is delicious in any form: grilled, served cold with mayonnaise or even, as I had it once in Brittany, bubbling away in a thick cheesy/muscadet sauce - that was delicious! And if conference funds ever ran to an extra course it would have to be the best of British beef - a fillet steak served with a red wine gravy and beautiful vegetables - sautéed potatoes, spinach lightly tossed in a pan with butter, red cabbage and apple spiced with cloves and a floret or two of Cornish broccoli (cauliflower for the ignorant). And of course, to finish with, what else can there be than meringues served with Rodda’s Cornish Clotted Cream and our lovely local strawberries? What food do I dislike? Well not much really though I have had some bad experiences with cuppa soup.
Record turnout for TATOC conference
More than one hundred delegates attended the annual TATOC conference and AGM in Warrington, Cheshire. They were given a status report on projects launched in 2008 and an outline of key priorities for the current year. In the months and years ahead, the association will build on the range of achievements logged in 2008.
The TATOC board - 2009
New services set for ‘09 launch Report by Brian Folley
With the opening of a new office in central Manchester and the recruitment of additional staff, TATOC is well placed to launch more services and refine current programmes. The association will now build on the achievements logged in 2008. So said chief executive Harry Taylor during the opening session of the conference. He told delegates: “We have a good team in place and the knowledge and expertise of the industry to focus exclusively on the interests of timeshare owners and prospective owners.” In his report he acknowledged that some projects were still work in progress. “With the resource and funding challenges, it would take an unfair person to criticise what we accomplished in 2008. “I am particularly grateful to all of those people who assisted me in 2008. You know who you are!” There had been significant developments in eight key areas: • The Resort Accreditation process - “I am pleased to say we have put the process in practice. We have now accredited our first two resorts, Macdonald Villacana Resort in Spain and the Club Las Calas Resort in Lanzarote” • The certification programme for sales staff - “The training for RAP was professionally delivered to five people in January. I myself was included in that number. • The creation of an individual membership platform - “We did not have enough resource to focus on this as much as we would have liked but we have launched the programme and we now have members slowly signing up. • The re-launch of a revamped web site “We are giving advice to new timeshare buyers
and providing information on the TATOC principles and philosophies.” • Publication of the new member magazine, SHARETIME - “This publication is designed to keep members in touch with the association and to be a medium for their opinions, hopes – and frustrations.” • Recruitment of strategic sponsors - “Eight companies have made significant contributions to the cost of the conference. Their support has been and is invaluable.” • The increase in the number of affiliated companies - “More resorts have signed up to support the association and its activities.”
Mr Taylor reported that TATOC’s relationship with the supply side of the business was excellent. The association would continue to forge professional ties with reputable companies. “We will do this in part through the Resort Accreditation and Affiliation programmes,” said Mr Taylor. “We are keen to work with companies that share the TATOC vision of enhancing the holiday experience for existing and prospective timeshare owners. We also aim to be the voice of timeshare owners.”
David Eastburn board chairman
• The new impetus given to a press and public relations strategy - “Several important programmes have been launched as part of an overall campaign to increase awareness of the association and its activities.”
Praise from MEP In a special video message to the conference, MEP Arlene McCarthy thanked TATOC for its input and assistance in drafting the new Timeshare Directive that was formally endorsed in Brussels earlier this year. Mrs McCarthy chairs the influential Internal Market & Consumer Protection Committee in the European Parliament and represents the North West Region of England. TATOC has been successful in lobbying key officials and politicians in efforts to bolster consumer protection in the new Directive. It had also had constructive meetings with the Department of Business, Enterprise & Regulatory Reform, formerly the Department of Trade & Industry. Plans for more discussions are in hand with the Office of Fair Trading (OFT), Consumer Direct and representatives in Brussels.
More members, resorts to join group TATOC is growing in stature and authority with 20 per cent more members and 14 new resorts enrolled in the past year. There are now 84 resorts representing more than 300,000 owner-families . Opening the conference, chairman David Eastburn told delegates: “I am confident that, by March 2010, membership of the association will be a compelling need for any self-respecting resort. “Members will benefit from all the services we offer, confident in the knowledge that their resort either has, or is moving towards, the standards that we, as consumers, are demanding.” Mr Eastburn urged all members to play an active role in supporting the Association. TATOC would achieve its ultimate goals “only by pooling resources and working together”, he said.
ISSUE 2 • JULY 2009
PR to be voice of
In a separate presentation, Paul Mattimoe, publisher of the new magazine Owners’ Perspective, said a readership survey revealed that 81 per cent of respondents were actively looking to buy or rent a timeshare. A key objective of the publication was to promote a renewed demand for timeshare by focusing on positive news.
TATOC is giving a new impetus to its media and public relations programme. Board director Jennie Thompson told delegates that the association was pro-active with media outlets so that journalists would contact TATOC as their first port-of-call for an authoritative response to their enquiries.
The strategy was designed to enhance the profile of the association, promote the value of holiday ownership and project a positive image for timeshare products and services. Ms Thompson said that the association had four principal aims: • To increase membership of individual timeshare owners, companies and resorts; • To advertise and make consumers aware of the TATOC name and its responsibilities to the consumer and in so doing amend the perception of timeshare; • To be proactive re the media so that any positive or negative story meant that TATOC was the first call for a reaction or comment. It is important to try and get this information prior to publication,” she said; and • To collect information and data in order to respond to questions on timeshare from all types of media. As an independent consumer association with integrity and credibility, TATOC would develop and expand its role as “the voice of timeshare,” she said.
RCI vice president global business Dimitris Manikis
Positive image to aid demand
Jennie Thompson TATOC board member
The association had to show that it represented the consumer and was aware of the practical problems associated with buying timeshare and running a resort.
“TATOC is a resource for practical assistance for resort and consumer queries,” she said. “It is a legally-formed entity showing strength, integrity and credibility.” The association represented its members within the media and also in the political arena in respect of legal issues affecting the consumer. TATOC had the network and the support within the industry to obtain up-to-date knowledge and information. Accordingly, support and assistance were provided for resort websites and newsletters. TATOC members had access to statistics “that are meaningful and of benefit” and also to guides and training modules especially designed for resort committees. Finally, membership provided the opportunity to use the association’s registered suppliers to enjoy discounts.
“We aim to increase awareness and credibility of the industry and its products,” he said.
The magazine was “an independent source of information for existing timeshare owners and an education resource for prospective buyers”. It is free on-line – a print version was launched in January and available for a small subscription charge
RCI plans extra member deals Group RCI has joined forces with TATOC to develop a broad range of services for timeshare owners and club members. In a special breakout session, the measures were outlined by Dimitris Manikis, vice president, global business group for RCI. Aims of the partnership are to engage new timeshare owners and club members, build owner confidence, enhance the reputation of the industry and help boost TATOC’s growth and development. To support the strategy RCI has appointed Marj Anderson as its dedicated liaison and support representative to TATOC. To date it has also sponsored a new member discount card introduced by TATOC. Other measures include sponsorship of the revamped TATOC web site and key events organised by the association as well as promoting TATOC in its member and business-to-business publications. The two organisations are also working together in support of annual meetings held by member resorts. The RCI session covered feedback from members and club owners and remedial actions taken over the past year. They include: • Increasing resort choice with new affiliates in Turkey, Cyprus, Hungary, Serbia, Dubai, South Africa and the United States; • Introducing new “holiday home style” properties; • Developing an expanded rental programme; • Enhancing exchange availability; and • Introducing a new search tool, making holiday availability on-line more visible.
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aids growing number of consumers The TATOC HelpLine has enabled scores of consumers to save or recoup more than £1.5million in its first 15 months of operation. The service was the focus of a detailed presentation by board director Mr Geoff Chapman. Since assuming responsibility for the service, he said, TATOC had handled more than 8,000 calls. Some 60 per cent were general enquiries, the remainder complaints. The majority of these problems related to dubious re-sale services or scams based on non-timeshare holiday clubs. Substantial postal and email communications were also addressed along with the growing phone volumes.
“Consumer savings are conservative since they are based on enquiries about specific companies where adequate information was given to help consumers to withhold or recoup cash outlays,” said Mr Chapman. In the current year the efficiency of the HelpLine had been reinforced with the appointment of a new staff member: Mr Mark Caldicott. He has industry experience having previously worked with Diamond Resorts International in Lancaster. Mr Chapman told delegates that the HelpLine continued to have a crucial role to play. “Many problems are still out there and the demand for our services is growing,” he said. The majority of calls are from UK residents.
Others are from further afield – the United States, the Dominican Republic and India to name a few. TATOC stood ready to work with any organisation or individual who was intent on enhancing the holiday experience for existing or potential timeshare owners. “We mean to do this by providing an impartial, independent, consumer-based, enquiry and complaint facility that is ready to answer questions, provide information and guidance and give assistance whenever a consumer encounters a problem,” said Mr Chapman. A special vote of thanks was extended to board directors Jan Tilley and Geoff Chapman who manned the HelpLine last year. “We are deeply indebted to them,” said chief executive Harry Taylor.
The service is free of charge and available to member and nonmember resorts and individuals. Telephone number for the HelpLine is 0845 230 2430.
Footnote: Consumer enquiries and complaints were originally handled by VOICE – the Vacation Owners’ Independent Coalition in Europe. Established in 2004 as a joint venture by TATOC and OTE, it was also charged with providing an analysis of timeshare complaints for consumer associations, trade bodies, government agencies and regulatory authorities. Because of a series of operational and funding problems, it was agreed in 2007 to close down VOICE and on 1st January 2008 TATOC assumed sole responsibility for the HelpLine.
ISSUE 2 • JULY 2009
The facts & figures The following data gives an insight into the scope, time and effort the Help Line demands:
In the past year call volumes increased from 200 to 700 a month - and they are still increasing; Analysis of one month’s activity this year showed the longest duration consumer call was 31 minutes with other calls sometimes taking more than an hour; Longest response time to a call: 27 seconds;
Some 34 hours were spent answering consumer calls 30 per cent of the effective working day; Further time was devoted to responding to emails and postal communications and handling outbound calls; An analysis of call traffic over five months subsequently showed that 46 per cent related to rogue re-sale companies, 21 per cent were about selling a timeshare and seven per cent focussed on complaints about the dubious marketing of non-timeshare products. These three categories alone accounted for 74 per cent of the HelpLine’s total call volume.
Management firms help A professional management company can bring considerable benefits to a timeshare resort. Resort Solutions, based in Leicestershire, and with more than 20 years experience in the timeshare industry, cited a case study during a conference break-out session, where a timeshare property was experiencing financial difficulties. According to managing director Ms Linda Freer and account manager Mr Gary Slade, the property had a complex ownership structure with individual personal liability, a declining membership, a high percentage of repossessed weeks, high maintenance charges, no sales programme – and declining cash reserves.
The remedial strategy advanced by Resort Solutions?
Ms Linda Freer
In Year One it restored financial stability by managing cash flow, effecting cost reductions and introducing an on-site sales programme. It restructured the ownerships and all weeks were secured in trust.
Year Two saw the implementation of a consolidation plan and a freeze on maintenance charges. The decline in membership and income generation was reversed and a sinking fund developed. Year Three key features were growth, refurbishment and an increase in membership. Cash savings totalled £118,158.
Ms Freer asked resort delegates: “Can you afford not to have a professional management company?” Services on offer by Resort Solutions included consultancy, committee and club administration, financial services and operations and resort management. Programme flexibility was available whereby a resort client could opt for a total package or a ‘pick and mix’ of services. Footnote: Resort Solutions currently manages 14 clubs across Europe. The largest employs 60 staff on-site, the smallest has just 13 apartments. The combined budgets of these clubs are in excess of £5million.
Regular conference delegates Dennis and Pauline Corbett from Diamond Resorts at Sunset Bay
Fred Elliott attending as a new Individual Member
RCI’s Louise “Minnie Mouse” Verde celebrating Disney’s move to RCI
Diamond Resort’s Amanda O’Garrow with committee member Andrew Gray from Diamond Resorts at White Sands
Interval’s Chris Sheldon and Janice Anderson with RCI’s Dimitris Manikis
Derek Hunt from Diamond Resorts at Santa Barbara
American re-sale giants, Jason Tremlay, Steve Luba and Jay Blade from Sell My Timeshare Now
Sell My Timeshare Now’s Jason Tremblay with TATOC board member Jennie Thompson discussing the issue of re-sales.
Diamond Resorts Patrick Duffy talking about the holiday experience
RCI’s Dimitris Manikis introducing the morning session
ISSUE 2 • JULY 2009
New TATOC members Ellie Merrill and Linda Freer from Resort Solutions spoke about the importance of proffessional management
New TATOC members Martin Beesley and Mike Bailey from Fairways and Pueblo Evita with Merlin Software’s Martine Pnematicatos
Macdonald Resort’s MD Simon Jackson with Sharon and Paul Mattimoe from Perspective International and Merlin Software’s Mike Ashton
Phil Watson from Worldwide Timeshare Hypermarket discussing the effect of European legislation on re-sales
Lyn Powell from Pueblo La Quinta with General Manager Moira Pollock from Scandinavian Village
Plas Talgarth committee member John Crawford, chairwoman Norma Hartshorn and Macdonald MD Simon Jackson catching up on committee business
Craigendarroch committee member Roy Colquhoun with his wife Maggie
Diamond Resort’s Sarah Hulme
TATOC board member Geoff Chapman reports on the success of the HelpLine
Mr Stuart Carrington from Thomas Wescott Accountants and his wife Mrs Carrington
full liaison with owners Developers have promised TATOC full insight into the member guidance being prepared by the Resort Development Organisation (RDO) “so that clubs and committees will see how the Directive will impact their organisations, responsibilities and liabilities”. This was a key message to conference delegates by Philip Broomhead, a member of the Legislative Council at RDO, formerly the Organisation for Timeshare in Europe (OTE).
Acknowledging that the EU Directive was a positive development, he warned delegates that the new legislative environment for timeshare would “ increase costs”. He also noted that more legislation could pose some “serious risks” to the viability of timeshare resorts, companies and the owner’s ability to enjoy timeshare. There was the danger, too, of self-appointed ‘consumer champions’ and so-called ‘class action’ companies appearing on the scene suggesting they could help timeshare owners and consumers. In the face of the global economic slump, the current year would be difficult. Consumer spending was down while inflation and costs had increased. Exchange rates were fluctuating and financing for consumers and resort developers were serious concerns. Implementation of the EU Directive into national law would be “complicated” he said. The deadline for all 27 Member States to meet the Brussels’ deadline was 23 February, 2011. The RDO would continue its lobbying programme in Brussels. It planned a further meeting with the EU Commissioner for Consumer Affairs, Meglena Kuneva, on the implementation process. Already established are working groups across Europe to help facilitate this task.
Mr Broomhead told delegates that his organisation “would continue to consult with TATOC and work together where appropriate”. Reviewing the current state of the industry, Mr Broomhead said that each week RDO received multiple requests for information about timeshare from potential investors, including hotel companies. Media coverage on timeshare was positive and only sporadically negative. Politicians rated timeshare for its tremendous positive contribution to the European tourism economy . He cited the introduction to the Directive , which states:
“Since tourism plays an increasingly important role in the economies of the Member States, greater growth and productivity in the timeshare ...industries… should be encouraged by adopting certain common rules. Mr Broomhead said that relationships with other industry stakeholders, including TATOC, hotel associations, travel groups and so on were excellent. “Complaints are down to very low levels and satisfaction rates of owners are high.” With RDO assistance, the authorities were clamping down on rogue operators. But longterm holiday products and fraudulent resale propositions were still affecting many timeshare owners and consumers in general. He criticized self-appointed ‘consumer champions’ and so-called ‘class action’ companies who were suggesting they could help timeshare owners and consumers. He referred to the consultation on Consumer Redress in Brussels which, he said, was of primary importance to the timeshare industry, both owners and companies. Class action style legislation, he claimed, would provide tools for opportunists rather than solve problems for consumers with real issues.
To sue or Not to sue Litigation is not always the most cost-effective way to solve timeshare disputes involving owners, resorts, management companies, re-sale firms, clubs or trustees. A leading barrister showed how mediation or arbitration might offer a better course of action. Addressing the conference Sandra Wrightson,
Philip Broomhead - member of RDO Legislative Council
New rules to cover whole business The new European Directive has created four distinct ‘sections’ of the timeshare industry and developed criteria to administer each. The four are: Timeshare, long-term holiday products, exchange and resale. While all four have the over-riding requirements of a 14-day ‘cooling-off’ period, a full ban on deposits and full disclosure requirements, the Directive makes the following definitions: Timeshare: encompasses ‘traditional’ timeshare, trial membership packages, fractionals, boats and caravans. Significantly, the definition now refers to “accommodation” rather than “property”. Exchange and resale: these have been separately defined and will need to meet separate requirements and be disclosed. Long-term holiday products (LTHPs): have been well-defined and include all current forms of ‘holiday clubs’ as well as future looser arrangements; LTHPs will only be able to demand staggered payments spread out over the duration of a contract. Consumers will be permitted to cancel deals every time a new ‘instalment’ is due.
a partner with DeCottta McKenna & Santafé, said arbitration was a formal procedure where a judge gave a written opinion. The decision was binding in law although it could be appealed. Mediation was a more informal process where both parties work to reach a solution. “It is particularly suitable when two parties are not too far apart in their dispute,” said Ms Wrightson. Ms Sandra Wrighton explained how litigation is not always the only option
Exchange Chief gives
‘warts and all’ view of timeshare The TATOC conference is “a fitting arena for an honest appraisal of the timeshare industry - warts and all”. So said David Lilley, managing director of Dial An Exchange Europe. Giving an overview of current timeshare business, he said he had carried out detailed research before reaching certain conclusions. The research involved numerous meetings with Europe’s leading timeshare players including Diamond Resorts, Club La Costa, Interval, Group RCI, Seasons Holidays, the Anfi Group, Macdonald Hotels & Resorts and the Resort Development Organisation. The exercise also included meetings with more than 2,000 timeshare owners. “There is no substitute for face-to-face discussions,” said Mr Lilley. His research had revealed that, while there were many happy owners, the timeshare industry had an aging owner base. Most major companies had failed to attract new clients from the under40 age group.
Marketing practices remained old-fashioned while data protection laws were broken in a prolific manner. Mr Lilley said many existing owners were being “over-sold.” Repossessions represented a major challenge for owner-run resorts and careless rental programmes caused owners to question the value of their timeshares.
To address these issues, he said his company was committed to a series of remedial actions: • Arranging more face-to-face meetings with timeshare owners and assisting wherever possible. • Informing customers how exchange really works. • Straightening out misconceptions. • Holding more workshops. • Offering robust data protection advice, and • Creating customer-friendly products. A former top executive with Group RCI, Mr Lilley cited the secrets of Britain’s most trusted brands, including Readers’ Digest, Virgin, Nokia, American Express, Tesco, Macdonald Hotels & Resorts, Hapimag and Marriott Vacation Club International. “What is fundamental to their success?” Mr Lilley listed a number of essential principles: • They tell their customers the truth; • They communicate effectively; • When they mess up, they invariably correct their mistakes; • Their products generally work well; • They regularly measure their performance; • They strive to be the best; • They employ excellent talent, and • They mostly convert (reasonable) unhappy clients with their positive customer service. “As a business, do we really deliver in all these areas?” he asked. “We could all benefit from observing and replicating what they do.” In the context of the timeshare business, Mr Lilley asked what owners and club members expected from their resorts? “They need to understand what they own and how it works and to feel that the value they receive from their apartment is worth the recurring monetary commitment.”
The magic of Merlin A new product is set to “revolutionise” the way the world-wide timeshare industry does business. According to Mr Mike Ashton, director of business development at Merlin, the international technology specialist, the new system - named TRUST - is a completely new secure on-line trading service for the holiday ownership industry. “It’s a business-to-business trading platform not a business-to-consumer application, he said. “It covers rentals, re-sales and reciprocal exchanges.” Giving details at a special breakout session, he said it was “ rare to arrive at a conference of this type and see something new and exciting and then find that participation is free.” Over the past 20 years, he said, Merlin products had been developed by industry professionals. Its latest TRUST system “helps clients to
open up new distribution channels and increase revenues.” The system comprised a secure online software application which allows resorts throughout the world to trade rental, exchange or re-sale space between themselves – and earn an income from doing so. Mr Ashton told delegates: “I would not be over-stating the magnitude of this development if I told you that what you see today will change the way our industry does business over the next five years.” Through using Merlin, he said, industry professionals “ can unlock their potential.” Because it operated internationally over the Internet, “the system gives access world-wide, requires no IT department, no servers and links other resorts and distributors.” More importantly, it needed no capital outlay, no monthly fees and no risk.
David Lilley - M.D. (Dial An Exchange Europe)
They also wanted to see their apartment maintained in excellent condition, feel respected and valued “and be able to speak to someone who understands” their needs. At the same time they wanted to hear the words ‘Yes, we will try and there is a chance’ rather than ‘No, sorry we cannot help’. It was also important to understand customers who needed to dispose of their timeshare due to changed personal circumstances. Mr Lilley told delegates: “As an industry there are huge gaps in our service and offerings. I have heard a lot of hot air and not seen enough sustained and determined action. We have many opportunities to improve.”” Timeshare owners and club members were the most important element in the industry. “It would not exist without timeshare owners,” he said. “The way you are treated is fundamental to the success of the business.”
RCI honours chairmen, rewards resorts Six committee chairmen and six timeshare resorts have received accolades from exchange company Group RCI, which this year marks its 35th anniversary Committee chairmen were recognised for their work in maintaining high standards of quality and service at their resorts. Presentations were made to Leslie Vaill, of the Osborne Club, Torquay; Amanda O’Garrow, on behalf of Broome Park, near Canterbury; Geoff Hill, of Macdonald Elmers Court Resort, at Lymington, Hampshire; Fred Crouch, of Langdale, near Ambleside; Moira Pollock, on behalf of Scandinavian Village, at Aviemore; and Roy Colquhoun, of Hilton Craigendarroch, on Royal Deeside. Awards recognising holiday resorts which have been RCI affiliates for between 25 and 35 years were presented to The Osborne Club, Broome Park, Macdonald Elmers Court Resort and Langdale, all in England, and Macdonald Forest Hills Resort and Scandinavian Village, in Scotland. Presentations were made at the conference by Dimitris Manikis, vice president, global business group, and Marj Anderson, affiliate services manager. In the U.S.A. RCI co-founder Ms Christel DeHaan was honoured during a birthday celebration.
ISSUE 2 • JULY 2009
First resorts win new ‘BEST PRACTICE’ award For some time TATOC has been keen to give full recognition to resorts that are truly customer-driven in their approach to timeshare ownership and are willing to commit to all requirements of the association’s code of ethics, After months of planning and discussion with industry experts, the TATOC board announced last year its new Resort Accreditation Programme (RAP). The plan: to award accreditation status to resorts which meet thorough and detailed operating requirements. Resorts who apply for Accreditation undergo an inclusive on-site inspection and audit. If successful, they can use the TATOC Accredited Resort logo at their resort and in all company advertising, publications and websites. A modest fee is charged for the inspection.
the sales team adheres to it. All sales and marketing literature is examined to check that consumers understand what they are being invited to buy.
At this point, an Accreditor will look at complaints processing and handling. This will be completed with TATOC staff contacting a selection of names on the complaints database. The inspection process then turns to health, fire and safety for confirmation that the resort adheres to standards prevailing in the region. Accommodation and public areas are also examined to see that they are fit for purpose.
to appropriate legislation in its resale operations and is a safe and reliable investment in holidays. All accredited resorts declare themselves to be open and honest operators with “nothing to hide.” The new programme is seen as the best way for TATOC to take a positive interest in all activities at European timeshare resorts. It also ensures that its mission statement of safeguarding and enhancing the timeshare holiday experience “is not a hollow one.” Macdonald Villacana Club and Club Las Calas were the first resorts to undergo the accreditation process, with Taylor heading the investigation. Both evaluations were successful. Villacana, on the Costa del Sol, was established over 25 years ago and has 82 units set out in traditional Andalucian court yards. There are over 4,000 members. Resort facilities include several outdoor swimming pools, an indoor leisure centre with pool and sauna, a gymnasium and tennis courts. Simon Jackson, managing director of Macdonald Resorts, says of the TATOC accreditation:
The Accreditation process is rigorous, robust and comprehensive. The association believes it is essential that the award is seen as hard-earned and meaningful.
Included in this section is a look at the resort’s role as an employer: evidence of an employee’s manual is required.
“This protects TATOC’s credibility and reputation, and gives the award the respect and recognition it deserves”, says chief executive Harry Taylor. The award is for an initial period of three years and is then renewable following a subsequent audit.
TATOC also looks at the financial condition of the resort to check that it can meet its responsibilities to guests, owners and suppliers. This may involve requests for copies of resort and refurbishment accounts. Also important is confirmation of the of the resort’s legal standing in relation to any Trustee Agreement or similar legal status.
The Accreditation process began in late 2008 with onsite visits by Taylor, the first of a number of Trained TATOC Accreditors (TTAs). The process considers all aspects of resort activities including:
Finally, TATOC looks into the activities of the owners association or committee, concentrating on how the resort takes an active interest in its owners, communicates with them, solicits their opinions and acts upon the feedback.
• • • • •
TATOC believes resorts have clear benefits from gaining Accreditation status, especially in marketing and resale programmes. By displaying the TATOC plaque and flag “resorts can demonstrate they have been accredited by an independent, widely respected consumer body,” says Taylor.
The standards of accommodation and leisure facilities; The marketing that brought a guest to the resort; The health, fire and safety standards at the resort; The sales practices at the resort; and The customer service levels provided
Once on site, the accreditation process begins with an investigation of evidence that the resort complies with all current European timeshare legislation and has a system for identifying any potential new regulations. The focus then moves to full disclosure of the resort’s code of ethics for sales. This includes a written summary of the code and confirmation that
All Accredited resorts will be included on the TATOC website and receive a special banner to add to their own sites. “As the timeshare industry continues to struggle with its damaged reputation, an accredited resort can turn such negative perceptions into a positive message,” says Taylor. Accreditation provides assurance that the resort offers the highest levels of hospitality, adheres
“There is no better accolade for any resort to achieve than one awarded by the leading consumer-focussed organisation within the timeshare industry. It is a great testament to how far both Villacana and Macdonald Resorts have come in the last few years in terms of improving our customer experience”. Club Las Calas. at Puerto del Carmen, in Lanzarote, is a committee-run resort and managed by Resort Solutions. There are 147 one-and two-bedroom units divided over four areas each with its own swimming pool. Facilities include a gym and a well equipped Kid’s Club. “Committee chairman Adam Johnson welcomed the Accreditation of his Resort saying: “The fact that Club Las Calas has gained this accolade with the highest possible marks is a tremendous achievement on the part of our team - both in Lanzarote and Market Harborough - and should give existing and prospective owners every confidence that our Club is being managed in an honest, professional and effective manner.” Harry Taylor said he was particularly impressed with the professional operations of both resorts and the regular communications between the management team, the committee and the owners. “It is refreshing to see that both resorts listen to their owners and their guests and act on the feedback,” he says. “The result is two superbly run resorts”.
Govt. body wants facts on
fraudulent re-sale The U.K. Office of Fair Trading has launched an appeal for information from timeshare owners who have received unsolicited approaches by ‘scammers’ claiming to be re-sale agents. Callers promise a ‘guaranteed buyer’ and a high price for their unwanted timeshare. Many owners have already lost hundreds of pounds to bogus timeshare re-sale companies. Some have also been conned into paying thousands of pounds to obtain bogus holiday club membership on the basis of false promises.
OFT research shows that 78 per cent of bogus holiday club victims are aged between 35 and 64. The average loss per victim is £3,030. Unfair trading practices of bogus holiday clubs and their marketers are estimated to cost EU consumers millions of euros every year. The OFT has joined with partner organisations in mainland Europe to work on a project aimed at reducing the harm caused by unscrupulous marketing and re-sales operators. Timeshare owners typically complain that they have received an unsolicited telephone call from a bogus re-sale company claiming that a ‘definite buyer’ has been found for their timeshare and that an above market offer has been made to buy it. According to the OFT, consumers are first tricked into making an upfront payment of several hundred pounds to cover ‘administration costs’ or ‘land registry charges’ but then the ‘definite’ sale falls through. The consumer is subsequently asked to attend a meeting with another buyer, often referred to as a ‘corporate buyer,’ to discuss their offer. Often, these meetings take place abroad, most commonly in a Spanish resort or other holiday destination, where the consumer is made to sit through a high-pressure sales presentation often lasting several hours. They will be offered membership of a bogus holiday club in exchange for their timeshare plus an additional payment of several thousand pounds. The OFT warns timeshare owners to be cautious if they receive an unsolicited approach by a company claiming to be able to sell their timeshare. Particularly if it: • • • • •
Requires an upfront fee; Offers an unrealistic purchase price; Claims to have a confirmed buyer or ‘corpo rate’ buyer; Pressures for an immediate decision; and Requires a trip abroad to complete the sale.
Genuine timeshare re-sale companies do exist but the OFT advises owners always to take advice first, do some research on the company making the offer and check out the truthfulness of any promises before making a decision. The OFT is asking any UK consumers who have lost money to re-sale scammers to make contact and provide written information and documentation. It is also appealing for information from consumers who, having signed up, attended a holiday club presentation in Spain and, having purchased a membership, found the services not as promised by the sales staff. While the OFT cannot intervene in individual cases or get consumers’ money back for them, any evidence provided could strengthen any enforcement action to be taken by the Spanish authorities. Consumers with a complaint should write to the OFT at: Scambusters, Bogus Holiday Club Project, OFT, Fleetbank House, 2-6 Salisbury Square, London, EC4Y 8JX.
Dial, Hapimag sign pact Dial An Exchange has signed an inventory sharing agreement with Hapimag, the Swissbased international resort operator. Under the deal, members of each organisation will have access to the other’s holiday destinations. The new agreement was negotiated by David Lilley, managing director of the DAE’s European region, and Robin Nicholson, Hapimag’s head of business development. Dial An Exchange has more than 250,000 members around the world, some 40,000 of them in the European region. Historically, DAE has focused on working direct with consumers. In the last 12 months, however. it has widened its approach by seeking business alliances with existing operators and new entrants into the timeshare industry. With 58 resorts and some 140,000 members, Hapimag is the largest provider of rights of residence in Europe. The new deal allows Hapimag members access to an increased number of resorts.
Mike Haley, director of consumer protection at the OFT, said: “As the public has become more aware of the dangers of bogus holiday clubs and the tricks used, so the scammers have changed their tactics.
“Increasingly timeshare owners are being targeted with the bait of a fictitious timeshare re-sale used as a means of hooking consumers into buying a bogus holiday club membership.” Elisabetta Sciallis, from the U.K. European Consumer Centre, says fraudulent re-sale programmes and non-timeshare holiday clubs represent a major issue for consumers. In supporting the OFT initiative, the U.K. ECC has seen an increase in the number of complaints relating to dubious re-sale operators. “Overall 40 per cent of the cases dealt with by the Centre involve re-sales, holiday clubs and similar products,” she said. Footnote: The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) is the UK’s consumer and competition authority whose mission is to make markets work well for consumers. The UK European Consumer Centre (UK ECC) provides free and confidential information on consumer rights in the European Union and assists consumers with cross-border disputes.
Jan Tilley - board member
Jan Tilley: Message of sympathy Friends and colleagues of TATOC board director Jan Tilley have expressed their condolences following the death of her husband Martin at the age of 68. He passed away peacefully in March at their home in Dowbridge, Lancashire. The couple have been active supporters of TATOC for many years. Mrs Tilley chairs the owners’ committee at Pine Lake Resort close by the Lake District. They were also members of the Diamond Resorts International points’ programme and enjoyed cruise holidays. At the funeral TATOC was represented by chief executive Harry Taylor, board director Geoff Chapman and Mark Caldicott, who is based at the TATOC offices in central Manchester.
Challenging times require radical thinking and decisive action! Dial An Exchange host unique “not for profit” seminar to support timeshare owners and owner managed resorts across Europe. The current economic climate has delivered a punishing impact on many industries around the world. Timeshare is no exception! As readers of Sharetime will most probably appreciate, even before the “credit crunch” gripped the world, timeshare was already troubled by a tarnished reputation and growing challenges in a variety of important areas. New sales of timeshare in Europe have been on the decline for a few years now and many an industry expert would find it difficult to dispute the fact that the industry has not found an effective and ethical “escape route” for those owners who wish to relinquish their timeshare ownership after many years of satisfaction and happy holidays. Add to this the fact that most timeshare operators focus their efforts on selling more timeshare to existing owners (no timeshare player has truly mastered the art of generating new interest from consumers who have had no
previous exposure to timeshare) the future seems somewhat uncertain.
owners to come in and replace those owners that wish to exit?
Dial An Exchange feel there are some critical questions that need to be considered and answered:
How might resorts overcome continued shrinkage to survive and prosper for the next generation of families?”
Are there practical solutions to many of the issues that confront timeshare?
How can timeshare finally shed its tarnished reputation?
What solutions can be introduced to allow timeshare owners to relinquish their ownership smoothly and without legal reprisal?
What is the best way to truly deliver owners with quantifiable value and satisfaction through the timeshare exchange system?
How can owner run resorts overcome the repossession issues that slowly threaten to grind down their revenues and stretch the patience of remaining owners?
How does trading power really work and is it fair?
Is there an effective rental solution available for timeshare resorts - one that can provide valuable and rejuvenating income but not serve to devalue timeshare ownership? How can re-sales be “beefed up” and reengineered to deliver a service that allows new
These questions have been raised many, many times over the last decade. Industry conference and events have “talked about” the issues but solutions have simply not been shaped and developed to a significant enough degree. Dial An Exchange wants to host this “not for profit” seminar to unearth the issues but to focus on solutions - not just to talk about the issues!
Dial An Exchange seminar will be hosted on Tuesday 29th and Wednesday 30th September 2009 at Barnsdale Hotel & Country Club. The total objective of the seminar is to discuss and shape solutions to acknowledged industry challenges. The two day event is being held at Barnsdale Hotel & Country Club in Rutland, England to respect the volume of owners in the United Kingdom. A line up of experienced and respected
industry professionals will tackle some of the toughest questions and focus on shaping solutions. This is not a time to gloss over and shirk the issues. There will be breakout workshops staged to share ideas and solutions surrounding those important subjects such as:
Exchange Resales Rentals The options for those resorts who wish to sell the whole resort General resort management.
David Lilley, Managing Director of Dial An Exchange Europe said, “There are some serious issues that confront timeshare in Europe. Whilst we do see many happy owners (and I absolutely do not want us to lose sight of that) for almost 7 years now I have listened to so many issues. Burying our heads in the sand will not address these issues. After running a small event in February this year, we decided that there was a need to hold a higher profile event to help shape solutions to recurring and entrenched industry challenges. This event will be like no other seminar before it. All of the speakers have been briefed to suggest creative solutions to acknowledged issues - not just to simply embellish them. I hope this seminar will be the catalyst to change and contribute towards a brighter future for timeshare resorts and owners here in Europe” Dial An Exchange have negotiated competitive prices for the event. The intention is to make the event attractive and affordable for owner run resorts and even for individual timeshare owners.
Book your place by visiting www.daeseminar.com Significant discounts apply to early bookers.
Projects in hand to Improve facilities By the end of 2009, the programme at Quaysiders Club to replace all the windows and outside doors with new PVS double glazed units will be finished. Already14 apartments out of 18 are complete, writes Ian Davison – resort manager.
boost for UK holidays
“All kitchens are being replaced and we are about half-way through this work. This is a nine year programme and we are in the fifth year.
One in five tourists who took an overseas holiday in 2008 may switch to the U.K. this year to save money.
We have two housekeepers (Roselynn and Veronica) who work four days a week each. Both are excellent and always go that extra mile. Apart from housekeeping - a full-time job - they also work in the gardens helping keep them as good as possible. The directors and I would very much like to thank them for all their hard work over the years.
Research by VisitEngland - the country’s new tourism body - also reveals that the strength of the euro is a barrier to overseas travel. Some 60% of those surveyed said that the exchange rate currently puts them off taking holidays abroad.
We have a number of specially priced rentals available throughout the year with most of these being reduced by £100 for 2009 only. We decided to do this to try and help with the credit crunch. The Lake District in general at present does not seem to be suffering from the economic situation but one can never be too complacent. We have found ourselves with ten (out of 880) unpaid management fees which is very rare for us as we usually don’t have any. Resales are very slow indeed. However, rentals and hotel rooms are doing well and are certainly as good as at this stage as last year. Do you have hardworking resort staff that you wish to acknowledge or good news you wish to tell? Send your resort news to firstname.lastname@example.org.
In the wake of the survey VisitEngland has launched a £3million marketing campaign that sets out to persuade UK residents to consider their free time as an opportunity to take a domestic holiday or short break.
While some 90 per cent of the population are cutting back on their overall spend, the importance of holidays means that domestic short-break holidays are more protected than other areas. The multimedia campaign, which includes TV and print advertising, features a series of stunning aerial photographs of the country, illustrating the different ways people can spend their holiday time. Amanda Smyth, head of marketing, says: “This
campaign is designed to inspire and stimulate consumers to take day visits, short breaks and holidays this year based on the range of experiences, fantastic quality and value on offer. We are working closely with the tourism industry to help this campaign deliver its full potential.” In a separate development, a report by leading market research company Mintel, says that while the travel bug has prompted a major expansion of overseas holidays at the expense of the U.K., “this trend could be reversed as the economic climate encourages Brits to seek experiences closer to home…”
As U.K. residents look to evaluate domestic holiday options, key resort centres in the U.K. are enjoying a revival. This type of holiday accounts for an increasing proportion of U.K. domestic tourism and currently stands at 16 per cent.
In 2008 the holiday centre market in the U.K. is estimated to have been worth £1.3billion with 6.4million visitors.
Resort news round-up Sunset Bay
Two lifts are now in operation and being well used by guests and owners. One lift is based at the entrance to the main square while the second operates between reception and the top pool level.
Five units at Wychnor Park have been refurbished to a high standard and a new sauna installed in the leisure centre. A wrought iron fence now surrounds the ponds. Recycling facilities for glass, tin, paper and card have been installed to make the resort environmentally friendly.
A state-of-the-art disabled apartment is now available and more are planned as they have proved very popular. There will be a ‘film by the pool’ night once a week. New ‘Aqua-spheres’ - giant plastic moulds that allow guests ‘to walk on water’ - are now available.
The major refurbishment of the lodges is continuing and the latest batch is now available and looking great. The long-awaited refurbishment of the restaurant has been undertaken.
The pool at Sunset Bay
Cromer Country Club At Thurnham Hall pathways have been upgraded and many apartments fitted out with new sofas, armchairs and dining chairs.
A new Freeview digital TV system has been installed in all units. Stairwells, lounge bar and snooker room have been redecorated and the sports hall now has parquet flooring. The reception area has vertical blinds and new leather couches.
The new £440,000 roof restoration project has started (in conjunction with English Heritage as it is a Grade I listed building). The carpet in the library has been lifted and floorboards restored to their original condition.
Installation of the new electricity supply throughout the resort has been completed, the fire alarm system fully upgraded and a fire panel installed at reception.
ISSUE 2 • Summer 2009
Owners help open free school
for deprived children Timeshare resort owners and developers in Europe, the USA and Africa have helped finance construction of a new, free school for deprived children in Cape Town. The Christel House School, situated in one of Africa’s poorest areas, is one of five such projects around the world. The others are in Mexico, Venezuela, India and Indianapolis. Resort members have contributed by donating an extra £1 added to their annual maintenance fees. Developers have staged fund-raising events – including a charity climb of Mount Kilimanjaro, the London to Paris cycle tours, an annual world-wide golf tournament and gala dinners; The first South Africa school was started in rented premises in 2002 when 260 children in grades one to five were enrolled. As the school expanded in successive years, a second rented unit was added. When the roll call reached over 530 – and in order to accommodate matric-level classes - it was decided to construct a new, purpose-built facility.The new building – in Otterly, near ” Mitchell’s Plain –accommodates 665 students, with the senior class, grade 12, now in matriculation year. The new facility includes classrooms, computer and science labs, a library, dance and art studios, a playground and sports fields. There are 64 staff. Christel House was the brain child of Ms Christel DeHaan, joint founder of RCI. After selling the company in 1998 she was asked to help finance an orphanage in Mexico City. Although sympathetic to this cause, she decided
that free education would be the key to helping children break the cycle of poverty and become contributing members of society. As president of the operation and major donor to its development, Ms Dehaan looks to charitable contributions for support and the timeshare industry plays a significant role in raising funds. Mrs DeHaan has established a permanent foundation which meets all head office administration costs. All income goes directly to the schools. The new school was opened by Mrs Helen Zille mayor of Cape Town and leader of South Africa’s Democratic Alliance party. Mrs Zille played a major role in having the authorities speed up the regulatory building approval process. The school’s 665 students (called learners in South Africa) come from and live in shanty-town conditions. Houses, often comprising of one room for six people, are built of corrugated iron, wooden slats, plastic and other collected materials. Washing and toilet facilities are communal.
Gang warfare is rife, causing major psychological problems for the young children. To help school learners adapt, there are special counselling staff working alongside teachers and assistants. Each day the learners are bussed to and from school. They are given breakfast and a mid-day meal, along with uniforms and free books, sports equipment and other free-time facilities. There are no fees payable. Along with the educational syllabus, the school is involved in a programme of activities which range from choral and drama work, sporting activities (including fencing!) and inter-school competitions. The Christel House education record has been significantly successful with official inspections resulting in top honours and recognition. The school is open for 250 programme days a year, has a 99 per cent student retention rate (students returning for 2009 school year) and a 97 per cent student attendance. A part of the programme involves parents. Special workshops are held where they are given a full insight into the school’s activities and learn how they can contribute to the school and improve their own education. Special workshops on family violence were attended by 98 per cent of communities. The school’s most senior learners are now preparing for matriculation exams. A considerable homework programme is required but this is often impossible as there is no room for them to study at home. To help, a number of school teachers have invited children to their own homes where they can complete their homework in quiet conditions. In a progressive approach to social service delivery, the Cape Town City Council has asked Christel House to anchor a “social services corridor”. This will eventually include other qualified non-government organsations providing services that will include health and welfare, adult learning and employment training centers.
‘A must’ for good management Goals are an essential part of the management process. But resort committees must set goals “that support their strategy”. So claimed Mr Adam Johnson, chairman of Club Las Calas, in Lanzarote.
An Objective “has an individual target and contributes to overall achievement” .
Leading an informative and interactive session with the theme ‘Setting and Achieving Goals’, he said: “Most objectives and goals are interrelated and mutually supporting.”
Mr Johnson gave an example of each: • A sample Aim - to promote your resort; • A sample Objective - to achieve positive publicity for your resort in the UK national press; and • A sample Goal - to employ in 2009 an agency that will seek to issue at least one press release a month to the UK national press as a means of highlighting the benefits of resort ownership.
Goals were best achieved by effective planning, provision of necessary resources, monitoring progress and rewarding success. It was also important to encourage involvement and commitment and, if necessary, to adjust a plan.
Addressing delegates Mr Johnson said: “Goals are an essential part of the management process. Goal setting is all about planning, estimating and providing resources.” Achieving goals required effort and attention – “ it isn’t rocket science”.
He went on to differentiate between an aim, an objective and a goal. An Aim, he said, “is an over-arching target – a test for what you propose to do”.
A Goal is “a bounded, defined and resourced objective” for an individual or group.
Rules covered teamwork, discipline, commitment, quality, participation, cooperation and evaluation, he said. “They address behaviour not performance.”
Mr Johnson said that goals had to be compatible with a committee’s strategies, vision, plans and capabilities They had to be purposeful, measurable, achievable and motivational. “But a goal is not the rules,” he said. Rules addressed behaviour and not performance and covered teamwork, discipline, commitment, quality, participation co-operation and evaluation. Mr Johnson produced an acronym for the characteristics of a goal: SMARTIES. This translated to: Specific; Measurable; Achievable; Relevant; Time-bound; Inspirational; Empowering; Simple.
Patrick Duffy - CEO Diamond Resorts International
The business of hospitality How important are holidays to the average family and individual? In the United Kingdom most workers get four weeks holiday a year, in America the entitlement is just two weeks.
The view that attitudes to re-sales were changing in the timeshare industry was endorsed by Phil Watson, of Worldwide Timeshare Hypermarket.
She told delegates: “We have got to stop consumers being victims of scams that are out
Club committees must not confuse goals with rules. They are separate and distinct.
He warned that committees should not confuse goals with a resort’s rules.
a top priority
Sarah Hulme, of Diamond Resorts International, said it was time “to bring back respect to the industry”.
Role of laws
“A goal must be compatible with your overall strategy, vision, plan and capabilities,” he said.
Legal re-sales “For a long time,” he told delegates, “developers would not speak to re-sale companies. That has changed. “My company now has a portfolio of resorts that are working with us.”
Club Las Calas chairman Adam Johnson (left) and TATOC chairman David Eastburn (right)
there now. Legislation has to work for us as a business.” The EU Directive and other regulations would help drive out the fraudsters whose activities tarnished the image of timeshare.
“Think how important we are in that context… the part we play in their holiday experience,” said Patrick Duffy, who holds the novel job title of chief experience officer at Diamond Resorts International. In a motivational presentation he told delegates: “As hospitality-driven professionals, we can bring reliability and dependability together. It’s what our owners have come to expect when they arrive at our resorts.” Sensitivity to the needs of owners and club members was “the oil in the engine” of resort hospitality. If you generate that along with care, loyalty and respect, “then you will enhance their holiday experience”.
ISSUE 2 • JULY 2009
Interval looks to
emerging markets and new products by Chris Sheldon regional sales manager
Despite the doom and gloom reported by the media, timeshare has historically been resilient in tough economic conditions.
easily accessed by travellers seeking accommodation for their holiday travel and that enquiries are handled quickly and efficiently.
Because timeshare owners have already made their investment in holidays, many are still travelling to either their home resorts or exchanging elsewhere, resulting in many developments still experiencing good occupancy levels.
Yet another option to broaden the potential market is to work with local tourism suppliers on creative ideas to attract guests in the quieter shoulder periods.
We are also seeing new markets emerging and have affiliated a number of new resorts in Central Europe. Here consumers are beginning to develop a thirst for travel and see timeshare as a cost-effective way to gain new holiday experiences.
One of the keys to successful developments remains location, regardless of whether the developer is a multi-national or an independent. Increasingly, however, owners are seeking more than just the standard amenities of accommodation with a restaurant/bar and pool. There is a growing trend towards more upscale resorts at which owners will buy the location and even a particular unit and week. Flexible-use resorts are still proving popular for large developers with a mid-range product selling across all seasons. Due to its inherent flexibility. timeshare continues to appeal to a range of audiences. Resorts can provide a variety of amenities that attract both younger owners while still caring for their more mature owners. Facilities such as crèches or playgrounds for a younger family market can be combined with the provision of better signposting or handrails for mature guests.
Improvements do not have to be ‘big ticket items’. For example, some developers include a range of activities that appeal to multigenerations from youth programmes or activity areas for kids and also offer golf or spa holidays for adults. Others create areas that are quieter and more conducive to relaxation. This approach to targeting audiences is also relevant to resorts and committees looking for alternative ways to generate rentals in order to bring in revenue. The internet can play a major role. But it’s vital that the resort’s web site can be
Such projects as food and/or beverage tastings, a cookery course or even yoga /pilates programmes do not require good weather and may help fill empty apartments. These kinds of activities and events can provide new, fresh content for web sites that in turn ‘attract’ visitors online. Finally, a word about our new Interval Insights and Interval Ideas services. These are designed to offer quick and easy access for members to go on line and communicate their opinions and preferences to the company. Interval Insights allows members to weigh in on specific topics via surveys, while Interval Ideas provides them with a facility to make suggestions about new products and services. Both are available at IntervalWorld.com, the company’s members-only web site.
These new forums enable us to connect with members and quickly check the pulse on a number of issues, a significant step in increasing member engagement. Currently, members are sharing information on Interval Insights about how technology plays a role in their vacation planning. Previous surveys explored members’ intent regarding future exchange behaviour, plans for cutting costs while on holiday, and the impact of fuel prices on travel plans. Gaining these insights and ideas from members allows us to respond more effectively to their needs and priorities. And, sharing this information with our resort clients will ensure that they, too, are aware of what’s important to their owners and guests.
Profile: Chris Sheldon Regional sales manager, Interval International Based at Interval’s European headquarters in London, Chris Sheldon is regional sales manager for the U.K. Ireland, Malta, Greece, Cyprus and Scandinavia. He oversees Interval’s presence in these markets and manages the day-to-day marketing, sales, operations and service support activities for the territory, He is also responsible for building Interval's developer client base in the region. Sheldon joined Interval International in 2000 as regional sales manager with responsibility for the U.K., Ireland, and Malta. Previously, he held both administrative and management positions with First National Commerce Bank and First National Bank. He is a member of the Resort Development Organisation (RDO) timeshare and membership councils and also sits on the organisation’s fractional and resale committees.
New Chairman at Crown Resorts Mr David Francis has been elected chairman of the Crown Resorts committee. The previous chairman, Mr Mike Hope, has resigned for personal reasons, but remains a serving member of the committee. Mr Francis, who has been on the Crown Resorts committee for 12 years, said that although he was 'taking the reins' at a time when the world in general - and timeshare in particular - was experiencing severe difficulties, he was confident that Crown was well equipped “to see out the storms”. Crown Resorts, situated on the Costa del Sol between Malaga and Marbella, is one of the largest independent timeshare clubs in Europe. It covers five separate, but close, locations and comprises 454 mainly two-bedroom apartments.
ISSUE 2 • Summer 2009
£15m improvements at Macdonalds resorts In the past four years £15.5 million has been invested in improvements and maintenance at Macdonald Hotels & Resorts. Funding has come from the developer and resort owners. Now in the last of a five-year refurbishment and maintenance programme, more than £1.5 million has been spent in the past 12 months improving accommodation units and public areas, including swimming pools and restaurants. While refurbishment work is in the hands of external contractors and suppliers, maintenance teams at each resort have been employed in implementing support programmes for each location. Each Macdonald Resort is member of TATOC. Developments include: SPAIN: A total of 109 apartments have been refurbished: 63 at Doña Lola, 35 at Villacaña and 11 at Leila Playa. Phases III and IV at La Ermita, due for
completion this year at a cost of £4.3 million, will include 31 extra apartments. a new indoor heated pool to and new underground car parking. At Dona Lola the swimming pool, adult pool, indoor leisure club, tennis courts and restaurant have all been upgraded. The annual meeting will be on 21 October 2009 at Elmers Court Country Club. (GM is Angel Pareja). The Leila Playa resort has a new pool terrace, upgraded sunbeds and external paintwork and landscaping. The annual meeting is set for 14 October 2009 at Inchyra Grange Hotel, Polmont. (GM is Deigo Salinas) At Villacana there is a new adult pool and outside restaurant pergola. The indoor leisure centre, sauna and steam room have been upgraded. The annual meeting is planned for 13 October 2009 at Inchyra Grange Hotel, Polmont. (GM Diego Salinas). U.K. Fully refurbished are: 31 lodges at Dalfaber; 19 lodges at Forest Hills Lochside; 11 lodges at Elmers Court; 15 lodges at Plas Talgarth; amd 13 lodges at Lochanhully Woodland Club.
Swiss firm buys Burnside Park Burnside Park has been acquired by Hapimag, a Swiss company which manages and constructs high quality self-catering hotels and apartments. Though a significant force in Europe, Hapimag has had limited exposure to the U.K. market. The organisation has 140,000 members ad 58 holiday resorts in 18 countries in Europe, Africa and the U.S.A. Burnside’s acquisition by Hapimag follows completion of the final phase of construction. The Lime Grove Development of seven two-bedroom, two-bathroom sleep six units have high quality fixtures and fittings, under-floor heating, halogen lighting and wet-room style bathrooms. Rental business has gone from strength to strength over the last couple of years, with a pronounced spike in enquiries in the first quarter of 2009. Although demand has significantly exceeded supply, there has been a shortening of lead-in dates with everyone on the lookout for a bargain. Companies operating at the high end of the cottage rental market should hold their nerve and not discount rates too quickly. It might be preferable to reward best customers rather than pander to bargain hunters. It’s an ill wind, as they say, that doesn’t blow anyone some good. “We think the credit crunch will provide opportunities for domestic tourism and to those who can adapt quickly to the changing demands from a sophisticated and informed consumer.” says Candy Philip, resort manager.
At the recent conference a new membership initiative was outlined. Traditionally, TATOC has comprised resorts that are “sold out” - those whose management and control are in the hands of the owners committee or board. Just as the industry has grown so has the association. There is a need therefore to attract and include a wider membership base. But we also have to ensure that TATOC’s integrity, independence and purpose are not compromised.
Membership fees are deliberately set low because we understand the financial constraints in a resort but, more importantly, we feel that the support of the association must be available to all.
The resorts are also advised that individual owners can become members for the princely sum of £10 a year. Naturally there is a certificate and all the papers that go with membership. However, apart from fees, the most important aspect of any membership is “what do I get out of it?”
by Jennie Thompson - TATOC board member
TATOC’s main objective is to “safeguard and enhance the timeshare holiday experience”. It can only move forward and be productive by having an enthusiastic and dedicated membership to work for and with.
very fairly to the number of units in each resort. The letters introduce TATOC and invite the resort to join. Once a request has been received an application form and benefits list are sent to the committee or board.
However, a world without people is an empty lonely place; an association without members is merely a shell. Just as people equal members so members equal income. It’s therefore doubly important to attract more members - which is why an initiative has been launched. Membership is open to all resorts whether “sold out” or in active sales. There is also an individual membership. This offers the same support and assistance to members of a resort which has not joined TATOC. Shortly after the 2009 conference closed a personalised letter was sent out to all U.K.-based resorts and to those with a predominantly U.K. committee. All of the exchange companies assisted so as to ensure that there was no violation of data held by those organisations. This was important to TATOC as we wanted to give each resort the exact cost of joining, which is linked
Most of benefits are outlined on the website. They will be increased as we continually seek to ensure that membership is worthwhile.
The future is never certain and it is far better to work within a team and not alone. TATOC gives resorts the opportunity for their members to draw on available experience, skills and knowledge. In so doing TATOC can stand by its commitment both to its members and to the consumers within the industry. So…if you are not already a member and you are reading this then can I ask you to put the magazine down for a moment…switch on the computer and type these letters into your web browser www.timeshareassociation.org and support us... you know you want to really! There will also be a membership/ media event later this year to increase the association’s stature and reputation.
New members sign up The De Vere Seasonal Ownership group has joined TATOC. The four De Vere Collection resorts in the UK are Slaley Hall, in Northumberland; Cameron House and the Carrick, on Loch Lomond; and Belton Woods in Lincolnshire. All offer luxurious seasonal or fractional ownership in idyllic countryside locations with superb on-site leisure facilities.
• Daphne E Gaskins (Palm Oasis)
• Jean and Peter Maskell (Diamond Resorts)
• Eric Jenner (Paradise Club)
• Julie Robinson (Diamond Resorts)
• Victor A Ashlee (Grand View,
• George and Angela Warren (Diamond Resort)
Regency Palace Madeira; Grand Leoniki) • Fred Elliott (Seasons, Carlton Madeira Beach Club) • John Patrick (Cameron House) • Jeffrey Elder (Seasons. Carlton Madeira Beach Club) • Alex Radford
TATOC has welcomed the first of its individual members. This new type of membership was launched last year for timeshare owners and industry participants and is part of TATOC’s expansion plans. Our new individual members are: • John Michael Child (Macdonalds at Elmers Court); Steven Sands • Merion Jones (Cherry Orchard);
• Isobel and Brian Turnbull • David Lilley • Kevin Lake • Steve Jackson • Robert Dawson
The TATOC Business Directory is also going from strength to strength with new businesses signing up all the time. Recent affiliates include management company Grand Holidays, Resort Solutions Limited, Merlin Software and Evencharge (Fairways and Pueblo Evita). The Business Directory was established to provide committees with a trustworthy source of industry suppliers from management companies and
• David Sexty
trustees to software providers. All affiliates are ap-
• Lee Morris
proved by TATOC and must adhere to TATOC’s
• Cyril Ellis
rules and ethics. Further details can be found
• Jacqueline and Ian Kerr (Sunset Bay)
at www.timesharedirectory.org An entry on the
• Caroline and John McKewan (Sunset Bay)
Business Directory costs from just £500.
ISSUE 2 • Summer 2009
Life in the day of...
Ian Davison: general manager at Quaysiders Club
size really matters
Holidays are made up of many parts, with key players involved. What is their role? Their responsibilities? In this series we take a look at a life in the day of industry management My life as general manager of Quaysiders Club is somewhat governed by our size. We have 18 two-bed (sleep six) apartments so demands on me are different from those imposed on GMs at larger properties. Being the manager of a small resort means having to get involved with everything, including all the administration and accountancy work.
Then it’s time to prepare all the paperwork for the next week’s arrivals and and send information and documentation to guests scheduled to arrive in six weeks’ time.
I usually have at least two appointments with prospective new customers each day; these are either pre-booked meetings or just off the cuff. SATURDAYS With Saturday being check-out/check-in day the workload is similar to that of a weekday - with quite a bit extra! Bills have to be prepared for outgoing guests. Cleaners (we have 11 ladies) need to advised which apartments have to be serviced - and in what order. Any extra work for the following week has to be allocated. Cleaners’ wages are prepared and the previous weeks’ customer invoices analysed and linked to the accountancy system.
Ian Davison - general manager at Quaysiders Club
WEEKDAYS During the week my days go something like this: Sort out the newspapers and dairy products so that they can be delivered to the apartments. Check and replace video cassettes in the CCT system and talk with the staff on what and how I expect the day to go . I have two part-time housekeepers (work four days each week) and a full-time maintenance man (five days a week). The post has to be opened and everything analysed. At certain times of the year, for example when maintenance fees are received, the post and follow up work takes a lot longer to deal with than during ‘quieter’ periods. Throughout the day I go ‘on line’ and check all incoming e-mails and answer them. There are usually about 120 per morning covering bookings and sales plus a further 100 or so during the afternoon. Supplier invoices are posted to the applicable ledger. Also entered are the weekly diary details of guests booked to stay at the resort including, for example, newspaper and dairy requirements. Fortunately, our accountancy system is totally computerised so I handle whatever accountancy work is necessary for that day. When the first admin tasks are completed, it’s time for a walk around the resort to make sure all is well. There’s time to talk to guests and answer questions on the Lake District region and also make bookings for those wanting local bus tours, boat rides, theatre visits and so on.
As apartment servicing continues, help is often needed with carrying linen boxes and with maintenance jobs if there’s too much for our expert to deal with. It’s getting near to guest arrival time. Housekeepers must be advised which apartments to check – and in which order - and telephone lines are re-opened before arrivals check-in. Guests arrive from 3pm onwards and are welcomed with our normal check-in procedure. RCI and DAE exchange guests have to be shown to their apartments and given a ‘tour’ of the accommodation amenities and resort services. Meanwhile, questionnaires completed and comments made by outgoing guests are entered into the applicable computer software programme for future analysis and, if necessary, action. As we await our last arrivals there’s time to sort out the cleaning and drivers’ rotas for the following week and prepare guests’ newspaper requirements which are then e-mailed to the local newsagent.
Most weeks I have to remain at the resort until much later than the 6pm ‘close’ in order to greet late arrivals – and those who have not contacted us to say they’ ll be late! MONTHLY During the month time is set aside for financial updating and performance reviews. Salaries are prepared and linked to the accountancy system and any outstanding invoices from suppliers are reviewed and settled. Monthly accounts and
cash flow reports have to be completed and sent to the directors and the bank reconcilliation report prepared. Our performance history is updated when RCI’s scrores and ratings received from the internet are entered into the resort performance programme.
DIRECTORS’ MEETINGS ( 4 per year) Four meetings of directors are held per year. Each involves the preparation and despatch of agendas (usually 11 items each time) along with relevant supporting reports. I play an important part in these directors’ meetings, take the minutes and distribute them afterwards.
AS AND WHEN In November I prepare all 650 management fee invoices and send them to members along with a newsletter (one of three per year). When fees are paid – receipts are returned, along with details of the following year’s holiday start dates. The club’s annual meeting requires preparing a draft agends and discussion papers for the director’s February meeting. The final papers are agreed and distributed, the actual meeting organised and held - with my active participation – and the minutes prepared and circulated. During the year the resort has to deal with and meet all legal requirements such as health and safety and fire precautions. There is annual liaison also with Visit Britain and other project inspectors who check our apartments and hotel rooms every year to see we meet our star rating. Finally, there’s planning and reserving advertising for the year – and having to deal with any other items that may crop up at the resort, of which there are very many.
Resort industry forum axed The global economic slump and credit squeeze have forced the Resort Development Organisation (RDO), formerly OTE, to cancel its annual conference. This year’s event – officially billed as the European Timeshare Business Forum -- was originally planned to take place in Athens towards the end of the year. A possible relocation to London was considered as a less costly option and a way to facilitate access for delegates. The decision to cancel was spurred by a fall off in sponsorship and an expected drop in attendance. RDO says that many companies are being forced to cut costs because of the financial crisis and recession.
most likely to fall again By Brian Folley
Rogue scammers con U.K. consumers out of £3.5 billion a year. Previous victims of a scam are consistently more likely to show interest in responding again to further offers or deals. These are two principal findings of groundbreaking research into why consumers fall victims to scams as well as the psychological techniques used by scammers to con U.K. consumers. The new research, entitled The Psychology of Scams, was undertaken by the University of Exeter on behalf of the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) It found that many scams use a range of highly persuasive techniques. A common tactic is to exploit basic human emotions such as excitement or fear to provoke a spontaneous ‘gut reaction’ to the scam offer.
Such scams also abuse people’s trust of authority by making a scam look like a legitimate offer from a reputable business.
Many offers relating to timeshare-based products fell outside European and national regulations until the EU Timeshare Directive was enacted by the European Parliament ” earlier this year. The new regulations addressed and closed loopholes that had become readily apparent in earlier legislation. Earlier this year the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) appealed for documented information from victims of bogus holiday clubs and fraudulent re-sale timeshare schemes. The agency readily acknowledges that not all holiday clubs are dodgy products and that there are legitimate avenues for timeshare re-sales. However, it says that rogue operators con hundreds of consumers out of thousands of pounds a year.
• A good background knowledge of the subject of a scam offer may actually increase the risk of becoming a victim through ‘over confidence’.
Mike Haley, director of consumer protection
• Victims are not in general poor decision makers. They may, for example, have successful business or professional careers. However, they tend to be unduly open to persuasion by others and less able to control their emotions;
• Victims often keep their decision to respond to a scam offer private and avoid speaking about it with family or friends. “Scams often have a devastating emotional as well as financial impact on victims,” said
at the OFT. “This research will help us to develop more effective methods to counter the
Footnote: Scams are an OFT priority. In September 2005 the agency launched the Scambusters Team and set up the Scams Enforcement Group with partner organisations focusing on law enforcement, consumer education and cooperation with private sector businesses to disrupt scammers’ routes to market.
NEWS IN BRIEF… The Organization for Timeshare in Europe (OTE) has changed its name to Resort Development Organisation (RDO) to reflect the evolution of the vacation ownership industry since its beginnings in the 1960s. Richard McIntosh, RDO chairman, said “I believe that RDO truly reflects the extensive range of holiday options now available in the vacation ownership market. By widening the scope of the organisation’s membership, we are representing the industry as a whole rather than just focusing on timeshare”. The Pestana Promenade Ocean Resort Hotel in Funchal. Madeira, is the sixth resort to be opened by Group Pestana on the island. The mixed-use development has 125 timeshare suites and 110 hotel rooms. The company has 12 resorts in Madeira and on the Algarve and 26,000 ownerfamilies. Three new properties in Ireland have been added to the portfolio of Diamond Resorts International (DRI). They are Dangan Lodge Cottages, East Clare Golf Village and Fisherman’s Lodge, all located in County Clare.
The research findings will help to inform the joint OFT and Serious Organised Crime Agency’s National Strategy for tackling mass marketed fraud, in particular in developing more effective awareness campaigns to help consumers recognise and resist scams.
Disney Vacation Club (DVC) will open three resorts in Florida this year and its first in California. In January RCI became the exclusive thirdparty exchange service for DVC. Established in 1991, DVC has more than 135,000 memberfamilies.
Some of the key findings about victims of scams are that:
Visiting motorists in Spain should be wary of approaches by bogus police officers in plain clothes and travelling in unmarked cars.
” • Up to 20 per cent of the UK population could be particularly vulnerable to scams, with previous victims of a scam consistently more likely to show interest in responding again;
According to travel advice issued by the Foreign Office, in all traffic-related matters police officers will be in uniform. Drivers should be on the look out for ‘highway pirates’ who target foreign registered and hire cars.
While the exchange rate with the euro is causing anxiety for many holidaymakers, tourist industry sources say that traditional destinations such as Spain, Italy and Greece continue to provide “reasons to go”. In 2008 timeshare owners at Macdonald resorts in the UK and Spain received over £827,000 from a rental programme that is available when they are unable to travel for whatever reason. In January all nine properties became members of TATOC. Marriott Vacation Club International (MVCI) – the first branded hotel company to enter the timeshare industry – claims a customer satisfaction rate of 91 per cent. More than 50 percent of its business comes from owners purchasing additional weeks and referring friends. The Moness Hotel and Country Club in the Scottish Highlands, part of the Worldwide Leisure Group, recently hosted the stars and film crew of Transatlantic Sessions, a series of music programmes to be shown on BBC (UK) and RTE (Ireland) later this year. Now in its fourth series, Transatlantic Sessions brings together the best of American, Irish and Scottish music, putting singers and instrumentalists in a relaxed environment with scenic surroundings where they can concentrate on the sheer joy of making music. The recording venue was in Perthshire and Moness Hotel and Country Club was selected “for its rest and relaxation for musicians and crew after the long hours of filming.” The programme is scheduled for transmission on BBC Scotland, BBC4 and Ireland’s RTE in the autumn.