Category Archives: news-and-views

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.

Trip to Wallowa Lake

Phil and Shirley Hixon are avid readers and supporters of Timesharing Today! This is the review they wrote about their recent vacation to Wallowa Lake, OR.

We took a short trip down to Wallowa Lake in northeastern Oregon for a couple days last week.  Weather was fantastic; even got a little afternoon shower each day.  It just happened to be “Chief Joseph Days” in the town of Joseph, OR so lots of vendors were set up for selling items related to the rodeo.

The lake was as beautiful as ever. Wallowa Lake is about six miles long and is bordered on both sides by some pretty hefty looking glacial moraines.  There is an equally impressive terminal moraine at the outlet end of the lake.  There were probably as many paddle boarders as there were kayakers and other boaters enjoying the lake both days.

Deer are prolific in the Wallowa Lake resort community.  It is really a very unsafe situation.  This guy was one of four bucks (all about the same size) freely roaming around munching on yard landscaping and grass.  You can literally walk right up to these guys as they have little fear of humans and of course most humans don’t know how dangerous they can be if they get spooked and kick someone.

We hiked up the river to the first bridge.  It was a short hike of only about 4 miles round trip.  There is still enough snow in the high country at the end of July to keep the river running bank to bank.  If you travel further on this trail you will eventually enter the Eagle Cap Wilderness Area.

We had dinner at Vali’s, our favorite Hungarian restaurant (actually it is the only Hungarian restaurant we’ve ever eaten at) at Wallowa Lake.  The current owners are the son and daughter-in-law of the couple from Hungary who opened the restaurant over forty years ago.  Michael, the father died about 7 years ago and his wife, Maggie has retired and moved to Portland.  Maggie used to be the “life of the party” as she waited on customers and served our meals.  She would generally have everyone in the restaurant talking with each other before the meal was over.  She still comes over to the restaurant a couple times during the summer to help out.  They serve only one main entree each evening and it is imperative that you make reservations for either the 5:00 p.m. or 7:00 p.m. dinner.  Their cold cucumber salad was superb, as was the strudle and ice cream desert.  The main entree was three pieces of chicken served in a creamy paprika sauce accompanied by spätzle(small dumplings); a very interesting dish.  I always get a bottle of their Hungarian imported raspberry Malna soft drink to go with my meal.

In one of the shops in Joseph I came across a poster that showed a big ole rooster crossing a road.  His thoughts were: “I dream of a world where chickens can cross the road without having their motives questioned.”  One other poster showed a rather overweight fellow trotting down the street saying: “Life is too short to eat rice cakes.”  I am in total agreement with that one.

Breakfast at the Cheyenne Cafe in Joseph is always a treat.  After the first time we ate there many years ago, we decided that one breakfast was plenty big enough for the two of us.  Their biscuits are humongous and go great with their country gravy.  

On the way home we drove by to see the first house we owned in Clarkston, WA when I started working for the Corps of Engineers in 1978.  We were surprised to see the growth of the trees we planted about forty years ago.


As we drove around town, we were equally surprised to see how much both Lewiston and Clarkston have changed over the years.  There has been a lot of home building going on.  The hospital in Clarkston has more than doubled its size.  The schools our boys attended are still very much in use.

Turned out to be a great way to spend a few days away from home. 

Phil

Did you recently go on a vacation? Send your story to articles@tstoday.com and you might get published on our blog!

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.

 

Timeshare developers upbeat at annual ARDA World conference

By Jeff Weir, for TimeSharing Today
NEW ORLEANS — At a decidedly upbeat annual conference, US timeshare companies exuded confidence that the long road back from the recession of 2008-2009 is just about complete as sales inch closer to the coveted $10 billion mark in 2017 (not counting resales, which is an indeterminate number).
At panel after panel over four days of meetings, from educational seminars to legislative roundups and CEO sessions, developers said they are looking ahead to another year of 5-6 percent growth as well as increased sales to new buyers, rather than existing owners, which were the bulwark of sales after the banking-and-mortgage crisis of 2008. With a new pro-business president in the White House, industry consultants and lawyers also anticipate a rollback of regulations and potential timeshare-finance investigations that, during the final two years of Obama’s presidency, hung over the industry like a sword of Damocles. According to government insiders who spoke at ARDA World, the industry’s primary regulatory threat, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, is quietly dropping investigations as staff members scramble for new jobs to avoid the possibility of getting fired — or emasculated — by a Trump Administration that is vocally hostile to the CFPB’s penchant, under the Obama presidency, to investigate any industries that lend money to consumers
Sixteen hundred people attended ARDA World, which was hosted by the American Resort Development Association, which serves as the industry’s primary public advocate and lobbying organization in the US, the Caribbean and beyond. Drawn from all over the world, attendees seemed eager to soak up the idea that more good times are ahead for an industry whose original resorts are 25 to 35, or more, years old.
“This product is a product people want,” said Stephen P. Weisz, President and CEO of Marriott Vacations WorldWide and outgoing chairman of ARDA. “We have weathered the storm – and come out stronger.”
There appears to be plenty of room for CEO optimism. The industry’s not only growing, it is building again.
Hilton Grand Vacations, which was relaunched in January as an independent, public company, just opened a new timeshare property in Waikiki. Vistana, formerly Starwood, is about to open a luxury timeshare in Maui (its third on the island, occupying one long stretch of Kaanapali Beach), . Marriott will open its Waikoloa Beach Club timeshare on the Big Island in May. Wyndham continues to push westward to gain a dominant foothold in the Asian travel market. Disney Vacation Club, meanwhile, plans to open its new Copper Creek villas and cabins property (in Orlando, next to Disney World) in July.
And those are just examples among the major brands. In the timeshare world, as in other major industries, if the big brands do well, smaller companies and suppliers also bask in the benefits of a travel-tourism industry on the rebound. There are always exceptions to this trickle-down effect, but that’s the trend. An improving US economy tends to lift most if not all boats in the travel industry.
From a sales standpoint, it’s been a slow climb back from the brink.
The industry hit-an-all-time high of $10.6 billion in retail sales in 2007. When the bottom fell out in 2008, many companies retooled to “asset light” business models where, instead of building capital-intensive new resorts, they partnered with other companies to share inventory (or take it over) so they could continue to provide more vacation options for owners. This is the so-called “fee-for-service” model, which is still popular today. It enables companies, when financing for new construction tightens up, to expand inventory and, as a result, continue to ramp up retail sales.
Since 2010, according to figures provided by ARDA, developers have averaged sales growth of 5.5 percent, capped by 8.8 percent growth in 2015. They are expecting 6 percent growth in 2016 (the final numbers for 2016 will be released in May). Insiders also expect similar growth for 2017, which would push sales close to the $10 billion mark — and set the stage for a “complete” recovery in 2018, 10 years after the recession of 2008.
Optimism and persistence outweighed all the math at the 2017 ARDA conference. Barring an international incident that would throw the world economy into chaos, attendees anticipate a bullish year for timeshare companies and owners, alike.
“We’re fortunate to be in a business that makes people happy,” said Howard Nusbaum, ARDA’s ebullient president and CEO.
Noteworthy at this conference. The word “owners” crept into more and more conversations as developers debated issues that affect the entire timeshare universe: owner-data privacy; attracting millennials to the sales table; the impacts of continued consolidation; do-not-call regulations; the challenges facing legacy resorts; owner delinquencies and, in some cases, the threat of litigation from activist owners and their attorneys. Based upon what they said at the conference, companies are trying to overcome some owner concerns (such as the lack of exit programs in the industry) by stressing the need to keep providing new and different vacation experiences for owners and club members. They are promoting timeshares as a means to an end — a way to provide owners with a fantastic family vacation experience (this may not sound new, but it is. In 2017, experiences top destinations). In an Internet era where social-media communications compete with corporate announcements (or trump them altogether), timeshare developers and vacation clubs are embracing the opportunity to provide owners with more information, more choices, and, most of all, more EXPERIENCES.
Through ARDA, companies are also stepping up their communications with lawmakers across the country, usually in efforts to block states from imposing new taxes on owners or to promote legislation that updates obsolete or unduly restrictive (in ARDA’s eyes) timeshare laws and regulations. Here are some examples that were discussed at ARDA World.
In South Carolina, ARDA and ARDA ROC (The Resort Owners Coalition, which represents 1.5 million owners who donated nearly $5.5 million to ARDA-ROC this year) are promoting a bill that would provide a five-day rescission period, outlaw transfers to entities that have no intention of paying maintenance fees, and update escrow and contract rules in a way that benefits companies and owners.
In the US Virgin Islands, ARDA-ROC approved at $150,000 budget request to mount a legal challenge to a newly imposed “Environmental/Infrastructure Impact Fee” that amounts to a $25 tax, per day on timeshare users and owners. According to ARDA executives, this is just another example of a local government gouging timeshare owners who have no electoral voice in the taxing country. The money will be spent researching legal ways, including litigation, to overturn a law that goes into effect May 1.
In Hawaii, ARDA is launching an economic impact study that should provide ammunition to block future attempts by Hawaii lawmakers to increase taxes on timeshare owners. Hawaii is not only full of fancy timeshares, but it is a constant hot-spot for timeshare taxation in a state where virtually all timeshare users come from somewhere else.
In Florida, which is home to approximately half of the 1,500 timeshare resorts in the US, ARDA wants to update long-standing timeshare laws in order to give HOA boards more flexibility to extend or terminate their timeshare plans. With many resorts rapidly approaching the end-date of their timeshare plans, the legislation would amend the voting requirements needed to wind down or extend a plan.
Send comments about this article to staff@tstoday.com Subject: ARDA

Jeff Weir