VIEWS AND INTERVIEWS
Talking to end-customers of timeshare
Lakshmi started her career with the Times of India, moved to advertising and finally migrated to the world of IT. She's a Bangalorean, born in Kerala and married to a Mumbaite - Dinesh Iyer. This young couple is based in Bangalore - Lakshmi works as a Business Analyst and Dinesh is a Project Manager. They are parents of 10-month old Ishan, lovers of literature, bloggers and extensively traveled in the United States and Europe.
Q: When did you first get to stay at a timeshare resort?
A:One of the good things about getting married is taking stock of the plentiful gifts that come your way. So can you imagine our surprise when we found a plain vanilla envelope among hundreds of elaborately wrapped gifts. The envelope – oh my God - contained an invitation from my uncle, to take a pick from his timeshare weeks for our honeymoon.
We were terribly excited because we could actually choose more than one honeymoon location. Obviously, they had to be ones where Mahindra had a resort, so we picked Coorg for the hills, and Goa for the beaches. We made the journey between Coorg and Goa a lovely road-trip along the western coast.
Q: Tell us about your holiday experience at the resorts – the food, the service, the facilities…
A: Each resort was a unique experience. It was clear that the Mahindra mantra was to capture the essence of the place in which the resort is located.
The resort at Coorg was nestled in the wilderness, surrounded by trees and hills. The wood and gold décor with the tiled roof added to the quiet elegance and was perfect to enjoy days listening to bird-calls and rustling of leaves, and nights listening to crickets and watching the stars. The service was excellent, and so was the food (they had taken the time to incorporate some of the Coorgi flavors in their menu). The living space was well equipped with all the appliances we would need, tastefully selected furniture for each room, with just the right balance of accessibility and privacy.
The resort at Goa was bright and bursting with the energy of the ocean. The living space had a certain nomadic charm to that would appeal to the free-spirited. The service was excellent and the food had a lovely coastal touch to it. Complete with a private beach, and tour guides, the resort at Goa was everything one would ask for in a holiday setting.
Q: Was there anything about the facility or service that could do with some improvement?
A: Insect-proofing at the porches of the Coorg resort would have been a relief. We would have also welcomed early morning dusting/cleaning - I know it was our honeymoon, where nothing else in the world mattered.
I wonder if resorts can have a more flexible policy on personal items left behind by customers. A personal request or email should help to release them, rather than the customer personally visiting the resort. On a side note, they were nice enough to release a watch that we left behind, after one year had passed by.
Q: Getting a first hand experience at a timeshare resort, do you think you’d be interested, as a prospective customer?
A: Yes, if we get a good deal. We would like a timeshare with a resort that has holiday spots in the places we would like to visit (maybe some out-of-the-way places in India, rather than the more touristy ones.)
Timeshare might actually help us plan around our busy schedules, to take-a-break for an annual holiday. It will also help us share vacation times with family members and friends.
Q: Any feedback you could have for timeshare resort owners?
A: We are wary of timeshare plans with inflexible rules and regulations. We want to be sure there are no hidden conditions that will show up a couple of years after we take the plan. We expect excellent customer service, both from the plan administrators and the resorts themselves.
Q: Have you heard about AIRDA – the All India Resort Development Association ?
A: Not really. How is AIRDA connected with timeshare?
Our answer to Lakshmi’s question may be useful to other timeshare customers / prospects who have not heard of AIRDA.
The All India Resort Development Association is a self-regulated, independent advisory dedicated to the timeshare and vacation ownership industry. AIRDA’s primary members are resort owners, who benefit from AIRDA’s constructive sharing of ideas and strategies on the running and promotion of timeshare. AIRDA works closely with members to cut a clean image in the industry and offer fair value to end customers.
AIRDA also represents the industry and lobbies with the government on policy issues that could have a bearing on timeshare and vacation ownership in the country.
AIRDA has a balanced end-customer focus and provides updated information on the official website. This covers the timeshare marketplace, advice on making informed choices on vacation ownership and assistance on complaint redressal, if any.
AIRDA is an affiliated member of the American Resort Developers Association.