NEWS and VIEWS
A Closer Look Inside Vacation Clubs
This is a big subject and we're not going to bore you with all the various nuances of each club. But when you're done reading this you'll understand why WE DO NOT TAKE LISTINGS FOR VACATION CLUBS!
First you have to understand that Clubs work in different ways. One is a manner that is not much more than a club of nothing! Some "clubs" will promise you the moon and the stars of cheap vacations for a lifetime. You may pick up the phone and make reservations for all over the world at luxury locations! Just join the "club" for a few thousand dollars and pay only a small "reservation fee" when you want to travel, no maintenance fees! Most have, however, a "renewal" fee each year to keep going. The problem is, these clubs own nothing. As in.....no inventory. When you call them and tell them where you want to go, they then scramble to see if they can do some wheeling and dealing to find you something. There are various industry channels for this but the problem is that they're looking for "excess" inventory, or......junk. Happy vacations. Should they luck out and find something decent they'll probably have to pay more for it and so there's an upcharge to your reservation fee. Surprise! Generally through the years these sort of clubs have had horrible reputations and are very prone to going out of business (with your money, of course).
Then, there are the more legitimate clubs who actually own inventory. Now this is where we need to state that some clubs work very hard to do the right thing and get you a vacation that you'll be happy with. Some, however, are.....well, you decide. So an alternate headline for this article could have been, "Where Old Timeshares Go To Die". There are various clubs around with different policies but many acquire their inventory in the same manner. First, we need to look at how the inventory becomes available in the first place.
At times resorts end up with previously sold timeshare units back in their inventory. Generally that's not what they wanted as the sales team has long ago gone their separate ways. Through the misdeeds of "transfer" companies or foreclosures, these time shares end up back at the resort and they need a new home. Unsold inventory means no one is paying the maintenance fees on them. That's not good for anyone. Now most of the time the resort can offer these up to their current timeshare owners at a discount and move the inventory. Older resorts, or "legacy" resorts, can have a tougher time, however. If they can't sell the inventory then maintenance fees for everyone else have to go up to cover the unpaid expenses. When maintenance fees go up it can cause some folks to abandon their timeshares because they don't want to pay the higher fee. Pressure is brought to keep the maintenance fees in check which means maintenance and repairs will have to be postponed. And now you have a vicious cycle. So what's the answer?
Enter the travel clubs. These clubs will buy up the inventory to put into their club to offer to their members. So they'll be able to state things like, "We can provide you with luxury vacations in Orlando, Vail, Hawaii.....". The problem is they just don't get into the specific resort! As with any travel club, you never really receive ownership to anything, just a membership. The ownership of the time shares belong to the travel club.
So what's your experience going to be like? Well, that depends on you and what you're expecting. If you bought into the "luxury" definition of their advertising, you may be disappointed. Keep in mind also that these clubs own the inventory, which means that can use that inventory for other purposes as well. Such as renting it out to someone instead of keeping it available for members to use. Hmmmm.......
So why don't we take listings for travel clubs (when folks want to resale their membership)? Well, in our thirty-two years in business we've built a very fine reputation for ourselves. Our customers look to us for guidance. And we back up everything we sell with a written one year Satisfaction Guarantee. If you don't like it, you don't keep it. So if we're not comfortable with a product, we don't sell it. And we're just not that comfortable with travel clubs. In doing some research for this article we did a certain type of Google search that we do when we need to get a very quick handle on whether a company is legit or not. I'll tell you how to do this in a second **. We searched four different travel clubs. Every one of them had horrible complaints. Some of them had major lawsuits from individuals and different states. And that, my friends, is why we do not handle travel clubs here.
** To do a Google search to see if a company is legit or not it's easy but you need to know what to look for and what you're looking at. First, you enter something like, "ABC Timeshare Company, scam". The word "scam" is the key. Now just because Google brings back 83 million results on this company does not mean there's anything wrong. If the company writes about scams on their web site, Google picks it up. The company could simply be trying to give info to their audience. Here's the key. You look at the Google results for certain web sites that handle complaints. Look for ComplaintsList.com, ComplaintsBoard.com, RipOffReport.com, PissedConsumer.com.......you get the picture.
Tom Tubbs, Broker, R.N.G.
Island Consulting Realty
800-809-6020 or 941-922-3808
Senior Licensed Real Estate Specialist
Co-Founder: Licensed Timeshare Resale Brokers Association
Board Member: Florida Timeshare Owners Group