Nearly all timeshare owners have difficulties making the reservations they want, when they would most like to go. They give up and think their ownership does not work well.
My synopsis of vacation ownership is this: you got a nice gift to go tour a resort; you then spent thousands of dollars; then, the company slapped you on the butt and said “Have fun.” Most companies do not properly train you on how to actually use what you bought in various situations. Without training, people continuously cannot get what they want and end up losing their points or time while still paying all of the fees.
Owners can go years without using their programs while paying thousands of dollars, and many have no idea what options are available to them. If you go to the resorts to get help, you end up with a salesperson who tells you the only way t Tony Avitia 10 “actually” want to go to. You may find that you cannot use your units every year, and the options of what to do are very limited or not well known. Even when you actually know what you want to do, you might call and talk to someone who makes it seem so difficult that you decide to pay cash for another room, defeating the purpose of ownership. You might also like to do other, more non-traditional, types of trips, which you may believe are unavailable to you or your program. Even after you finally get a reservation, you may find that a lot of the resorts are not kept up as well as they should be for the amount of maintenance they charge.
This chapter will cover the general procedures for making reservations properly, taking into consideration both deeded and points weeks. If you follow my advice, you will get more reservations when you want them and where you want them, as well as doubling or tripling your time at the properties you choose.
Just as with everything else in life, it is good to know someone on the “inside.” I have not worked at all sixty vacation ownership companies, but nearly all work the same. If this information is not pertinent to your ownership, check back and I will probably have another guide relating to your ownership in the future.
There are two important questions to take into consideration when dealing with any type of company: how do they make money, and which laws and rules must they follow? If you know the answers to these questions, you will give yourself a tremendous advantage over Timeshare Simplified 11 every other person who does not think outside the box. Utilizing your ownership to increase the money-making opportunities for your developer will allow you more time with your ownership as well as a lot more value.
First, we will discuss how to get prime time weeks in prime time locations at fantastic properties. I do not know how many times I have heard, “I can never get into New York, Hawaii, Alaska, San Francisco, Tahiti, China, Japan or numerous other places of high caliber.” The reason you cannot get in is obvious: everyone wants to go there, and there are very few rooms. If you would like a prime week inside your resort group, there are not a lot of tricks besides booking early if you are not going to trade. My advice to you is this: Deeded week owners Find out the business hours for the reservations department as well as which time zone they are located in. Ask if there is any special part of your membership that allows you to book out farther than standard owners. This will make a big difference. For example, if you are a Wyndham owner, you have priority at the resort where you are deeded as well as reservation assistance to book out up to three months ahead of regular owners who do not have a deed at that location. If there are any advantages such as these, you must definitely exploit them to get what you want. In nearly all cases, just booking a couple of weeks ahead of everyone else will yield you nearly every reservation you could ever want.
Tony Avitia 12 If this is the case and you do have a priority booking window, make the reservation for New Years, Mardi Gras, or whatever prime location and time you want on the day that window becomes available. Book your time whether you know you are going, or even if you think you might go. Do not be afraid to make reservations even if you are not sure you are going, because you can always cancel them with no penalty in nearly all cases, as long as you do it in the right time frame.
If you are a standard owner who has not made the financial commitment to be in the elite memberships don’t be upset. People who invest more money usually get perks that standard owners do not. Do not get bitter; just get better. In most cases, you can do the same things just by being knowledgeable and without spending the extra money. Most deeded week resorts have standard check in and out dates, such as Friday to Friday, Saturday to Saturday, Sunday to Sunday, and so on. All you need to do is decide which dates you want to go. Example: You want to spend New Year’s Eve in Las Vegas. The booking center is in Orlando, Florida and the hours are Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m., Saturday 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., and closed on Sunday. These are Eastern Standard Times. Resort rules say you can book Insiders Tip: It is always best to not leave your points sitting in your account, especially if you like to travel on short notice.
Timeshare Simplified 13 twelve months in advance if your stay is a full week and six months if it is less than a week. The correct and typically only way you are going to get this reservation on a continuous basis is if you live on the West Coast and call on Monday, December 26, 2010 at 5:00 a.m. Pacific Standard Time to reserve the week of Sunday, December 25, 2011 through January 2, 2012 with a Sunday check-in. This would ensure you New Year’s Eve every year. Once you have this reservation, you can always potentially change it that following Friday at 5:00 a.m. to see if you can get Friday, December 30, 2011 to January 6, 2012, if that would be more accommodating. The main points of booking reservations at deeded week resorts are:
• Know the booking guidelines for the property or club where you own your timeshare.
• Find out the earliest day you can call to reserve the time you would like to book.
• Call five minutes before the exact time when the reservation lines open up (check to see if you can book even further ahead if you do it online).
• Make a reservation early enough to get the dates you want, even if you are not sure you can go. You can always cancel or change it.
• If you own a specific week, book it in the appropriate time frame allotted to ensure a confirmation.
Tony Avitia 14 The reason to make your reservation like this is in most cases if you book a shorter reservation, you have a shorter booking window, like ten, six, or three months, for example. What typically happens if you wait for that window is that everything is booked up and you do not get the reservation. Most resort reservation systems have rules against that, but there is usually a way around everything. In most cases-not all-you can cancel reservations during the appropriate short-term booking window. Ask to speak with a manager and plead with him or her to change your seven night reservation to a shorter one using your skills of persuasion. Most developers do not want to upset owners, so if you ask nicely, more times than not you can get them to switch the reservation without losing the extra time. Therefore, if you just wanted to go to Lake Tahoe for three nights on New Year’s but you had to book the whole week to get it, you can save your days or points. Some computer systems will not allow the companies to make this type of change, but it is always worth a try. Insider Tip: If your developer allows you to use your deeded week in smaller increments, such as two, four, or five nights at a time, make sure to get the whole week ahead of time and switch the reservation to the smaller increments later, when your preferred booking window is available.
Many points developers like WorldMark and others will also do an audit of your account if you book a week and check out early. Resorts legally cannot charge twice for the same room, so if you book a week and don’t stay the whole reservation, you can call the owner services or reservation department and ask them to audit your account. If they rented that room out to another owner or for a cash rental, they will refund your extra points back.
Timeshare Simplified 15 By knowing just this one trick you can get tremendous value out of your timeshare, as well as the dates you’ve always wanted. Even if you are not sure where you want to go in a particular year, try to get a good week reserved, just in case. Having a prime week reserved gives you the ability to trade for multiple weeks, stay at the best resorts, or rent your timeshare out for an above average price.
The key to the game is leverage, which means having what people and companies are looking for. Everything boils down to the same thing; where is the money? If you want to use your timeshare at the good times of the year at top-notch places, you need to know how to work the game. If you are like me, you work hard all year to provide for your family, start new businesses, take care of the house, or attend to your family business. All you want is a nice week of vacation; vacation where you do not have to wake up at dawn, listen to people complain, drive in traffic, and spend many hours at work. But when you call, they say “I’m sorry, that’s all booked. You should have called two years ago or last Sunday at 9:00 a.m.” I know that is not exactly what you want to hear after you spent $20,000 up front and are paying $400 to $1000 a year in maintenance fees when you have only used the property once. If this has happened to you before, you’re going to be very grateful for this advice. I live in Las Vegas, so when you come see me, you will be hugging me, taking pictures, and bringing me some nice cigars. Nearly everyone has had trouble booking a room at one time or another. If you have ever tried to book holidays at one of your resorts without a huge advance notice, you Tony Avitia 16 know what I am talking about. If you have ever called Resort Condominiums International (RCI) and asked if you could trade for a vacation in New York, Chicago or Hawaii, you understand.
If you ever want to stay at the best resorts in the cities you want to see at the times you want to travel, then please do the aforementioned whenever possible.
Points owners If you own at a points resort, it works very much in a similar way to deeded weeks, except the nice part is that you can usually book your reservation beginning on any day of the week with a few exceptions. Offhand, I know Diamond Resorts points and probably Marriott points still have to check in on certain designated nights, like Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Whatever the case is, the rules are still the same:
• The first thing you do is decide exactly which reservation dates you want or approximately when you want to go. Book those dates at the particular resort you would like to visit.
• For those of you who are looking to trade your weeks for a nicer resort or somewhere your company does not have property, remember: every year, whenever possible, try to have a little game plan to make your life easy. Vacation planning is supposed to be fun, not work. I am lazy so I try to make my vacation planning as easy as possible. This is my plan to try to make your life easier. Timeshare Simplified 17 Tony Avitia 18 You are going to make your reservation on February 26, 2011, which is a Tuesday, at 5:00 a.m. Pacific Standard Time, because the call center is in Florida. If you simply set a reminder on your phone or computer once a year, you will get the reservation you want a majority of the time. Also always make sure you book a two-bedroom over anything else. At this point you have a great week reserved and you can get nearly anything you want for it.
Many companies say they have the best trading power with RCI or II because of the location of their resorts, but the industry changes so often that in many cases these companies can lose their exchange power. It is important to stay knowledgeable about the industry and which areas are in the highest demand year after year. If you have any questions just refer to the travel demand index of any exchange company. Nearly every resort you will go to will tell you they have great trading power; however, I believe that sticking with the old fashioned way that makes the exchange companies money will yield the best results.
Developers are still able to charge more for holiday and prime time weeks because of the fact they still have a higher exchange value with the exchange companies. Exchange companies make money off exchanges, so Insider tip: Wyndham, Starwood and a few others have relationships with RCI and Interval International (II) in which you do not need to deposit an actual week. This allows RCI and II to simply pick whatever week they want out of their inventory. This means you do not have to reserve a week to deposit in RCI or II, but all other exchange companies will require it. Timeshare Simplified 19 the better weeks they have the more exchanges they can get, which equals more profit. That is why RCI got in trouble for having an internal rating system for their weeks that no members knew about. This is why other exchange companies, like Dial an Exchange only charge $1 to trade a prime time week in Hawaii, Las Vegas, California coast, etc. Now that you have waited until the morning of the first day of your booking window and you have the confirmation number, you can relax.
By planning this out, you have saved yourself a lot of time and aggravation, and it only took a few minutes of planning and a few minutes to book. Now you have excellent negotiating power when you are ready to book the reservation you really want. In short, my advice is to book what you want at a precise time rather than just willy-nilly. You will save your time, money and a lot of aggravation even if you have no idea where you want to go.
Once a year, just book out the best week possible. If you want to book less than a week, please follow the same guidelines and see your success rate increase dramatically. It is never much fun when you spend all that money for no results and you still have to pay for a hotel. Even though it is tough sometimes to use a timeshare, I still prefer them over a hotel any day of the week. I just stayed at the Ritz Carlton in Lake Las Vegas and I would prefer nearly every timeshare room to that one, which cost $600 per night.