Category Archives: consumer-awareness

Living online: Social media and Timesharing

Living Online is a new feature written by our newest contributor, Kristina Payne! This article was originally published in the September/October 2017 issue of Timesharing Today.

By Kristina Payne

Millions of eyes are on social media every day. Many of those eyes belong to Millennials—people born from the early 1980s through the first years of the 21st century. This emerging generation is becoming a prime market for timesharing, but Millennials aren’t attracted by the timeshare industry’s traditional marketing, sales, and customer-relations techniques.

I am a Millennial. To connect with me and my generation, your enterprise has to be on social media in a significant way, individual to each specific resort or company and to each target consumer base. It is possible; it just has to happen on our terms—in the little spaces between our normal daily activities.

The first thing I do in the morning is look at my Twitter account. A lot of my friends do that, too. I find it’s to be a nice way to start my day. I like seeing what happened last night while I was sleeping, and it’s an easy way to get my brain started and ready to take on the day.

Twitter isn’t the only thing I check in the morning. My routine goes Twitter, Reddit, Tumblr, shower, breakfast paired with some YouTube, makeup and hair while listening to music, and then starting some school work or regular work—whatever my day calls for.

Throughout the day

But that’s not the only place for social media in my life. I check between classes, at lunch and dinner, before bed, and just when I’m bored. There’s no rhyme or reason to when or why I check social media. I just use it. It’s part of my life.

I think social media enhances life in a way that normal interaction doesn’t. The internet has anything and everything you want to know and also access to any person you want to know about at any time.

If I want to know everyone’s opinion of the most recent news or product or controversy, I can go to any number of websites that will let me know what everyone thinks. I can also participate in a bigger discussion, and defend or change my opinion when listening to others. Social media is a great big constant discussion.

It’s a complement to normal life, too. I can be at school in Connecticut and still talk to my best friend who goes to school in New Jersey. I never have to feel isolated if I’m just sitting home alone. I can always talk and interact with people.

This has obvious problems. You can become so obsessed with online engagement that you ignore a physical social life. People can say terrible things online without suffering the same repercussions as t in real life. It’s a balance.

Most Millennials use social media to talk to real-life friends who aren’t physically in the same place. We use it to make plans, discuss homework, or any number of topics. The biggest way we all use social media is to connect and communicate with each other.

Online interaction has social norms and mores about that are vastly different from real life, and even different from website to website. The way I act on Twitter is not the way I act on Facebook. That’s the same in real life, too; the way you act at a party with friends is not the way you act at a family party.

So, what is each website for and how is it useful to you?

Facebook is the place everyone is on, from your favorite celebrity to your parents. You act a little nicer and more professional on Facebook.

Twitter is like a school hallway; you can post only 140 characters at a time, and it can be anything—nonsense, advice, a joke, political discourse—and anybody can chime in.

Instagram is where you post artsy pictures with cute captions; it’s where you go to make your life look better than it actually is.

Snapchat is where you post pictures of your actual everyday life. It has a nice dose of realism.

Other social-media websites include Tumblr, Reddit, Pinterest, and YouTube, but the four I mentioned are the really big ones that everyone will be on. These are free-to-use websites on which anyone and everyone will take part. Use them to your advantage.

Kristina Payne is a senior at Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, CT. She also runs the TSToday social media pages! Go to our Facebook or Twitter to ask any questions you might have.

 

How Are Hurricane Categories Determined? What Do They Mean?

The strength of hurricanes is rated using the Saffir/Simpson scale in the United States. This scale assigns a storm to one of five categories based on its wind speed. Category one is a minimal hurricane and category five is the strongest. Using this scale helps estimate the potential property damage and expected coastal flooding from a hurricane.

Categories are determined by Maximum Sustained Winds as follows:

  • Category 1. 74-95 mph
  • Category 2. 96-110 mph
  • Category 3. 111-130 mph
  • Category 4. 131-155 mph
  • Category 5. 156+ mph

What is a tropical disturbance?
A tropical disturbance is an organized system of clouds and thunderstorms without a defined circulation.

What is a tropical depression?
A tropical depression is an organized system of clouds and thunderstorms with a circular wind circulation and maximum sustained winds less than 39 mph.

What is a tropical storm?

A tropical storm is an organized system of strong thunderstorms with defined circulation and maximum sustained winds of 39 to 73 mph.

What regions around the globe have hurricanes?
Hurricanes develop over tropical or subtropical waters around the world. There are seven tropical cyclone areas (basins) where storms occur:

  • Atlantic basin (North Atlantic Ocean, Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean Sea)
  • Northeast Pacific basin (from Mexico to the dateline)
  • Northwest Pacific basin (from the dateline to Asia)
  • North Indian basin (including the Bay of Bengal and Arabian Sea)
  • Southwest India basin (Africa)
  • Southeast Indian/Australian basin
  • Australian/Southwest Pacific basin

What is the “eye” of the storm? What are rain bands?
The hurricane’s core is called the “eye.” The winds closest to the eye, typically averaging about 60 miles from the center of the storm, are the strongest and bring the most potential for damage. Rain bands, or outer spiral bands, are the bands of clouds and thunderstorms that trail away from the eye wall in a spiral fashion and are capable of producing heavy bursts of rain and wind. The spiral bands also make hurricanes appear to cover a much larger area with damaging winds than they really do. This is the reason why damage during strong storms does not cover the entire area the storm passes over.

Why are hurricanes named? Who names them?

The National Hurricane Center is responsible for naming tropical cyclones in the Atlantic basin. Hurricanes are named to provide ease of communication and reduce confusion between forecasters and the general public regarding forecasts, watches and warnings.

 

Hawaii timeshare associations win tax case

By Kristina Payne

Maui County has been ordered to return $10.7 million to Ocean Resort Villas and Ocean Resort Villas North.

Maui Now and The Maui News reported that the litigation began after the county assessed additional taxes for the timeshare properties, claiming that they owed a total of $10 million in property taxes for 2006, 2007, and 2008.

The timeshare associations claimed that this additional tax was imposed in response to another lawsuit that started in 2013 and is still pending.

Judge Peter Cahill sided with the timeshare associations because of the way the county reassessed the property tax. This sets a precedent in favor of timeshare buyers. The judge was worried that future buyers would not fulfill their tax obligations if the tax can change at any time.

The county is appealing the decision.

What does this case mean for the timeshare industry? Tell us what you think on our Facebook or Twitter page.

For more information, Visit Maui Now and The Maui News.

Identity-Protection Tips

By Kristina Payne

In this new age of fast-paced technology, keeping track of the best ways to protect your information from thieves and criminals is becoming increasingly difficult.

A lot of online articles will give you quick tips on how to protect your identity while you’re on vacation, but protecting your information isn’t that simple any more.

Most websites, online retailers, and even walk-in stores keep your credit-card information on their corporate servers. Web browsers such as Internet Explorer and Google Chrome have options to save your credit-card information for easier checkout. This seems pretty convenient, until you think about recent news of hacking and website outages all over the internet.

This is scary and seems to be out of hand, with corporations collecting personal information without regulation.  Although major hackings are hard to control and predict, you can take three main steps to help protect some of your information.

  • Never input or post your Social Security number anywhere on the internet. No website should ever ask for that information, and no bank will ever ask for that information over the phone or in an email. If someone asks you for that information, hang up the phone or delete the email right away. If a website asks you that information when you’re checking out after some online shopping, do not make a purchase and leave the website. Your SSN is just as unique as you are. It’s the number-one way a thief can steal your identity.

 

  • Use gift cards and cash while on vacation. Going to a nice resort for your vacation can be a great time, but do you know how safe that resort is keeping your information? A risk is associated with using your credit card when purchasing and planning that vacation online. Many companies, including like Visa and MasterCard, have gift cards that look and act just like a debit account, to which you can add money as you go. Using one of those while on vacation can help you protect your information as well as stick to a budget. In a foreign country, using cash is always better than anything else.

 

  • Keep a close eye on your bank account. Sometimes you need to input your credit-card information on a website, or maybe a store that you’ve recently visited reported the theft of some credit-card information. To help protect yourself in such situations, check the amount of money in your bank account daily, and keep a close eye on your credit score. Most banks will deactivate a debit or credit card when you alert them to suspicious activity on your account. Fixing issues with your credit score can be more complicated, but the sooner you find a problem, the sooner you can work toward a solution

To prevent massive damage to your identity and credit, keep track of when and where you use your credit-card accounts and provide personal information. With proper planning and simple precautions, you can enjoy a worry-free vacation.

Kristina Payne is the social-media coordinator for TimeSharing Today.

Viewing The Solar Eclipse

By Kristina Payne

On August 21, 2017, everyone in the continental United States will be able to see the first solar eclipse since 1979. The next one that will encompass the entire U.S. won’t be until 2024.

A solar eclipse occurs when the moon passes between the earth and the sun, blocking the sun’s light and casting a shadow over the earth. It will not be as dark as nighttime because the eclipse emits light just as the sun does.

Looking directly at the eclipse isn’t safe. To view it safely, either buy special solar-viewing glasses, or create a projector for it. To create a projector, poke a small hole in a piece of white cardboard, and hold it over a piece of white paper so it creates a shadow. The hole will mimic the sun and show you the progress of the eclipse.

The total eclipse will be visible in 14 states. Moving from west to east, it will cross Oregon, Idaho, Wyoming, Montana, Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina. The rest of the U.S. will be able to see the moon cover most of the sun.

More information on the eclipse is on NASA’s website: https://eclipse2017.nasa.gov/eclipse-who-what-where-when-and-how. Mark your calendar with the time the eclipse will occur in your location.

Kristina Payne is the social-media coordinator for TimeSharing Today.

RCI to acquire DAE

RCI, part of the Wyndham Worldwide family of brands (NYSE: WYN), has reached an agreement with vacation group Beneficium to acquire DAE Global Pty Ltd. (DAE), operator of Dial An Exchange, a leading timeshare exchange company headquartered in Australia, and @Work International, a software company also based in Australia. The deal is subject to customary conditions precedent, including receipt of applicable regulatory approval.  DAE’s offices in Australia, New Zealand, US and Egypt will become part of RCI upon completion of the acquisition. The addition of DAE will complement RCI’s existing business, broaden its appeal to a new base of travelers and strengthen its position as a leader within the global alternative holiday accommodation sector.

As part of the RCI family of brands, DAE will benefit from the core competencies RCI has developed over the past four decades as the leader in vacation exchange, including inventory management, member marketing and analytics. The company will also enjoy the added resources that come with being part of a global hospitality leader.  DAE, which has established a strong loyal consumer base, will continue to run as an independent brand and be marketed separately from RCI. However, the similarities among these exchange-oriented businesses will allow for greater collaboration between the companies to foster growth.

Massive Power Outage Impacts Outer Banks – State of Emergency Declared.

The Governor of North Carolina, Roy Cooper, declared a State of Emergency and is urging authorities to work as quickly as possible to restore power to Hatteras Island in Dare County and Ocracoke Island in Hyde County.

The outages happened on July 27th, possibly due to construction being done on Bonner Bridge. The damage is to a transmission line that’s underwater, so officials are working to safely evaluate the damage. Until the damage is evaluated, officials cannot determine how long it will take to resort power to the affected areas.

Officials from Dare County and Hyde County orders a mandatory evacuation of all visitors from the affected areas. So far, the state government is reporting that about 3,782 people and 1,485 cars have been evacuated as of July 29th.

What to do if your power cuts out while on vacation.

If you ever experience something like this, make sure to contact your resort, exchange or rental company to keep updated about the situation.

Update yourself on what rights you have as a timeshare owner or vacation renter. For example, in North Carolina, you are entitled to a refund for the nights you couldn’t stay in your vacation rental, unless you were given the chance to purchase insurance. Keeping up to date on the laws in the state you’re vacationing in can help you in case disaster hits. Check with the State Attorney General’s office about your rights.

Read more about the situation: Governor’s call for repairs.

If you’ve ever experienced a power outage or disaster while on Vacation, we’d love to hear your story. Come and leave a comment on our Facebook Page or Twitter, or email your story to Kristina Payne, TSToday social media coordinator.  kristina@tstoday.com

NOTICE TO: OLYMPIC VILLAGE INN OWNERS

The Board of Directors’ Election at OVI will be held prior to the October 7, 2017 Annual Meeting of Members.  OVI owners should receive their ballots in September 2017.  The current Board of Directors continues to withhold the List of Candidates from the individuals who have requested that they be included on the ballot.  We must win this election and force the incumbents out of office.

There are four candidates who form a coalition team dedicated to reversing the trend set by the current Board to deliver OVI to Wyndham Resort Development Corp.  These four candidates are Sandra Farrow, Greg Rankin, Julie Feldman and Robert Bone.  In order to accomplish the needed change on the Board of Directors there will need to be a change in the majority and these four candidates supply the necessary change.  All four offer unique expertise in their own professional background – Real Estate Management; Timeshare Sales/Management and Resort Development; Legal Expertise; Corporate HR and Operations.  This team of candidates built a website SAVEOVI.ORG and they would like you to see what is happening from their perspective.  Robert Bone is available for any questions or comments at Law Office of Robert M. Bone, 707-525-8999 or via email at robertbone@att.net.

Welk Resorts files racketeering lawsuit

By Kristina Payne

Welk Resorts recently filed a federal racketeering lawsuit against Reid Hein & Associates, operating as Timeshare Exit Team (TSET); and two law firms.

The suit was filed July 25. 2017, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California.

Welk Resorts alleges that TSET representations are false, and that TSET purposely leads customers to break contracts with their timeshare resorts and destroy their credit. Welk Resorts says that the negotiation process is a one-page demand letter that claims to represent the owners. Welk Resorts also alleges that the fee, $5,000 or more, was spilt between the two law firms.

Timeshare Exit Team offers to help customers get out of their timeshare obligations forever. Its website claims to negotiate with timeshare resorts on the customer’s’ behalf, with a guarantee to either relieve them of the timeshare or return their money, with no effect on their credit scores. The website makes no mention of the price of this service, or how TSET negotiates with the timeshare resorts. TSET says it is endorsed by multiple radio stations and TV personality Steve Harvey, and is accredited by the Better Business Bureau. In a news release on July 27, Timeshare Exit Team called the lawsuit “meritless” and said it “intends to vigorously defend itself in court.”

Welk Resorts, started in 1964, is a family-vacation resort brand. Welk executives pride themselves on their family values and want to protect their owners from fraud. In a news release, Welk Resorts claims that TSET broke multiple California laws, including the California Vacation Ownership and Time-Share Act and the California False Advertising Law.

Kristina Payne is the social media coordinator for TimeSharing Today.