Among the many things I look at with renewed interest for our website, is the aspect of consumer education and awareness. It is important for consumers to be fully aware of the timeshare product from many points of view – right from the initial purchase price when you sign up, to annual maintenance fees - and of course, what it takes to keep your membership active year after year.
I now share extracts from a media interview, where I stress upon the need for customers to be better informed. The more you know about timeshare, the more you get to understand its features and benefits.
Useful to do your homework on the product
Prospective buyers should be clear about the vacation ownership format –the plan or scheme you have subscribed to, what you are entitled to every year, maintenance charges and payment deadlines. You also need to know about options available through exchange partners, and what they cost.
Customers should also be clear on the total costs for the tenure of a membership. Apart from the basic membership fee, there is an annual service fee. This varies with the scope of the product and services, and is subject to increase to cover maintenance and inflationary aspects. In case the seller company is charging any other fee (utility fee, for example), the buyer must fully understand what it means before going ahead with the purchase.
Reading the fine print
Before you sign on the dotted line you must evaluate the sales contract in detail – evaluating locations, size of units, seasonality, etc. All services offered by the seller must be in writing. Verbal assurances and buyer incentives can sometimes be attractive, but misleading if they are not part of the contract.
The seller on his part should disclose all charges involved. To make this easy to understand, there are basically two costs involved – your initial membership fee (with a defined tenure) and an annual service fee. Optional costs are exchange company membership and exchange fees. The buyer should be clear if the seller has a utility fee add on. If there is such a charge, the buyer is free to look at other options – because AIRDA member resorts do not charge any utility fee for intra-AIRDA exchanges.
Evaluating exchange partners
As a buyer, would you limit yourself to just one holiday destination every year? If that’s the case you could choose a single resort company that fully satisfies this requirement. In case you wish to explore a new resort destination every year within the timeshare network, you need to approach a company that offers multiple choices.
Once you have your basic membership in place, you can study and review the plans and offerings of the exchange partners associated with your resort – this can extend your holiday horizon to thousands of resorts across the world.
All AIRDA member resorts are committed to high standards of business ethics and consumer focus. In line with what I have outlined in this article I would advise timeshare to buyers learn about product, features and offerings – it is also important to know what their responsibilities are to keep memberships alive and valid.
Personally, I think timeshare is a brilliant way to explore your world - and have a lot of fun, doing it.
B. S. Rathor
Advisor & Member - Executive Committee
What does an AIRDA membership mean to resort owners and developers? AIRDA comes in as your industry partner, conscience keeper and business catalyst - with a wide portfolio of support services.
What does AIRDA mean to holiday seekers and prospective customers? AIRDA comes in to provide information and offer guidelines on making the right timeshare decisions.