Categories for ARDA

Welcome to Summer, While a Soggy Florida Braces for Hurricanes

RedWeek just returned from a long road trip where we attended industry conferences in sunny Las Vegas and supposedly sunny Orlando, but as soon as we got to Orlando, we got the word: Rained Out.

Not really, but the Sunshine State turned into the Soggy State during our visit, just in time for the start of Summer, which in Florida rhymes with Hurricane Season (June 1 to Nov. 30).  The region deserves a break, because it’s still recovering and rebuilding from the last two years of hurricanes.  The sticky weather took a huge bite out of Florida and Caribbean tourism and timeshares in 2016 and 2017, and it looks like the weather gods are hungry for more.  Meanwhile, big brand hotel and timeshare resorts are rebuilding while independent timeshares are still negotiating with, or suing, their insurance companies to cover repairs from 2016 and 2017.  Welcome to 2018, ready or not.

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Industry Tries to Debunk 6 Myths about Timeshare Owners

Timeshare owners are a mixed bag: younger, older, wealthy and educated

Younger.  Smarter.  Wealthier — and tougher to fool.  That’s the new look timeshare owner for 2018, according to surveys commissioned by the timeshare industry’s trade and lobbying group.

In a recent column posted in Developments Magazine, Howard Nusbaum, president of the American Resort Development Association, debunks 6 “fluffy myths” about timeshares that have haunted the industry’s public persona for years.

The results of ARDA’s survey are interesting but not always conclusive.  But they should trigger many spirited conversations around your resort’s hot tub.

Here are the top six myths that Nusbaum wants to eliminate:

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2018 Starts Off with a Bang as Timeshare Universe Adapts to Major Changes in Travel Industry

Forget January.  February 2018 is a great start for the new year.  All maintenance fees should be paid by now, and if you want to go to your Hawaiian timeshare next winter, now is also the time to make that 12-months-in-advance-of checkin reservation at your home resort.

But it’s also a good month for most timeshare football fans, and they tend to go together, based upon our experience watching NFL games from swim-up pools and hot tubs in all the places that snowbirds escape to during winter months. The Eagles surprise Super Bowl victory over the Patriots was a win for all underdogs, which pretty much takes us all back to our roots as regular people struggling to make our mark in the world.

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ARDA Reaches Out to Timeshare Owners

The national trade association that represents timeshare developers has quietly launched a new educational website — vacationbetter.org — to help rank and file owners and prospective owners wade through the sometimes murky waters of timeshare.
“This is aimed at the consumer who wants to become educated about timeshare products,” said Peter Roth, vice president of marketing and communications for the American Resort Developers Association (ARDA).  This is not a commerce site; it does not lead to a transaction.  Instead, it’s designed to be informative and fills a gap in consumer education.
ARDA’s vacationbetter.org

The gap in consumer education is a big issue in the industry because, while 83 percent of timeshare owners claim to be satisfied with their ownership, a whopping 17 percent say they’re unhappy.  One way to ramp down the dissatisfaction index is to increase awareness and understanding among buyers before they sign contracts that lock them in to pay maintenance fees for the rest of their lives.  Since most owner issues revolve around availability, maintenance fees, hyperbolic sales pitches and resale values, it makes sense for ARDA and its owner affiliate, the Resort Owners Coalition (ROC), to ramp up their outreach to the people who make the timeshare industry a $70 billion behemoth in the United States.  

This is not a gratuitous feel-good site for the industry.  ARDA is an action-oriented trade group that has led regulatory efforts at state and federal levels to protect timeshare buyers for years.  Its legislative affairs arm also monitors and actively pursues legislation that impacts developers and owners in heavy timeshare states (Florida, California, Hawaii, Nevada, etc.).  States that try to raise property taxes on timeshare owners, for example, get lots of attention from ARDA’s lobbyists and its timeshare member companies.

The new website is rolling out just as ARDA’s members gather for their annual World Conference in Las Vegas April 6-10.  Many of the conference’s sessions are also designed to educate members about changes in the industry, such as the aging demographics of timeshare owners, the sagging fortunes of the resale market, and the worldwide boom in timeshare development.

Lots of Room for Growth in Timeshare Industry

Not surprisingly, ARDA’s management is bullish on the industry. The timeshare industry represents less than 10 percent of the overall travel industry, so there is plenty of room for growth.

There are 8 million timeshare owners and 1548 timeshare properties in the US.  Moreover, 82 percent of all timeshare properties, worldwide, are located in the US, with one in five headquartered in Florida, where Orlando is the unofficial global capital of the timeshare universe.

Howard Nusbaum, ARDA’s CEO and president, says his organization represents 98 percent of all legitimate timeshare companies — from the mega-developers (Marriott, Westin, et al) to smaller vacation properties — and is responsible for promoting all of the regulations that protect consumers from unscrupulous business practices.  The organization also works closely with attorney generals, postmaster generals and consumer protection agencies in key states to watchdog timeshare business practices.

The timeshare resale market, in contrast, is largely unregulated, which is why owners (this reporter included) get unsolicited calls from unknown companies offering immediate help, for a fee, to sell or walk away from their timeshares.  Many of these pitches are outright scams flying below the radar of state and federal watchdog agencies.  As Nusbaum conceded in a recent interview, the only timeshare issue that makes him lose sleep at night is “a healthy secondary market.”

Resale issues get ample exposure in ARDA’s own website, arda.org, and the new consumer site, vacationbetter.org.  If you’re looking for extreme detail on owner issues and legal developments, arda.org is the site to search.  But if you’re looking for an easy introductory way to soak up the overall issues of timeshare ownership, vacationbetter.org is a friendly place to start.

Learn the Basics (Before You Buy) in Timeshare 101

The new website promotes timeshares and timeshare travel without promoting individual companies.  The site is simple to navigate, uncluttered, and includes many pictures of prime vacation vistas.  On a subliminal level, it puts you in a vacation frame of mind while scrolling through the ins and outs of timeshare terminology, owner testimonials and the do’s and don’ts of ownership.  No doubt influenced by its member companies — who are expert, in general, at creating user-friendly websites — ARDA deliberately set out to create a website that would put the average traveler into a comfortable space while contemplating whether to buy a timeshare product.

“We wanted the site to embody the energy and vibrancy of the industry we represent,” said Roth, the marketing chief at ARDA.  “That’s why we use large scale images and lots of white space.  This is like going to a beautiful place that’s relaxing.

The site also works as a mirror, allowing timeshare owners and would-be buyers to see who they are.  The opening page features a quiz, What Kind of Traveler Are You? then segues into Timeshare 101, a quick tutorial for new owners.  It also posts vacation suggestions, exchange information, and FAQs on timeshares.  One section, called Snapshots, offers a profile of today’s owners: 47% work fulltime; 21% are retired; 64% have no kids living at home; 74% are married or in a partnership; and their median household income is $74,000.

This is a business-to-consumer site, Roth said. We’re agnostic — we’re not tied to a particular brand.  We want this to be a trusted place to go for people to learn about timeshares.  There are plenty of other websites out there, and lots of chat rooms, but they are hit and miss.  We launched this site because we want a well-educated purchaser or prospect that understands what they are doing.  The more they know, the more satisfied they’ll be if they make a decision to buy.

RedWeek.comalso offers consumers, buyers and renters information about timeshare issues.

For more information about ARDA’s outreach to consumers, visit vacationbetter.org.  For information on ARDA’s activities, visit arda.org or call ARDA owner issues: 855-416-6187.

FYI: ARDA is funded by timeshare development companies and their affiliates.  ARDA-ROC mounts grassroots lobbying campaigns on behalf of one-million-plus timeshare owners who contribute $3-$5 per year through their maintenance fees.

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This article provided by RedWeek’s new investigative reporter, Jeff Weir.  Jeff is a California-based journalist who has covered California, Congress and the White House. He also has roots in Silicon Valley, where he directed public relations and marketing programs for high-tech companies. He is also a timeshare owner and member of RedWeek.com.

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ARDA Announces “The Timeshare Effect”

The Timeshare Effect initiative, a look at how timeshare vacations have a positive effect on lifestyle, family memories, and finances, is inspired by the “Travel Effect,” a campaign by the U.S. Travel Association.

The Timeshare Effect was developed by the American Resort Development Association (ARDA) to highlight the link between timeshare vacations and their effect on owners.

“We hear from our owners every day about how their lives have changed because of their timeshare ownership,” said Howard Nusbaum, president and CEO of ARDA.

“We wanted to capture this anecdotal sentiment with hard facts for other would-be timeshare owners,” Nusbaum said.

The Timeshare Effect covers three areas: finances, lifestyle, and family.

1. Financial
On the financial side, it’s clear that owning a timeshare enables families to take annual vacations for much less than what they would pay for a traditional hotel.

On average you can save 50% to 60% of what you would normally pay for a vacation. And your money stretches farther when you consider that instead of staying in a cramped hotel room you will be staying in condo-like accommodations at luxury resorts.

The timeshare kitchen alone is a big help in saving money since you don’t have to budget in the huge cost of eating out for three meals a day.

2. Lifestyle 
In addition to the financial savings, owning a timeshare has significant effects on lifestyle.

Since timeshare owners have essentially prepaid for their annual vacation, they are much more likely to take that vacation, which leads to many health and wellness benefits.

Owners enjoy beautiful resorts in great locations that offer flexibility and space for everyone.

3. Family Memories 
And there is nothing better than a regular vacation to create lifelong family memories.

Three out of four adults over 55 say they still have vivid memories of their childhood vacations, and 55 percent of adults want to create similar memories for their children and grandchildren.

A whopping 93 percent of kids say that vacations mean a chance to spend quality time with their parents. When traveling with grandparents, 60% of kids say it brings them closer together.

See The Timeshare Effect infographic for more fun information.

Consider buying a timeshare resale. You can also vacation in a timeshare rental first, to see how timeshare vacations can have a positive effect on your family’s vacation finances, lifestyle and family memories.

Source: ARDA
* All statistics from U.S. Travel’s Travel Effect

Photo Credit: sanddollarestate.com

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ARDA – American Timeshare Vacationers Are Leaving Work at Home

Vacations are important and necessary, and going on a timeshare vacation this summer may be one of the best things you can do for yourself.

Americans traditionally have a hard time not only taking the time to go on a vacation, but unplugging when on one. 

The good news is that a recent study by the American Resort Development Association (ARDA) finds that people have begun to understand the health benefits of a vacation, especially as to how a break from work does, in the long run, make that job easier and more productive.

In order for a vacation to be beneficial, however, leaving that work at home is also part of the equation. The ARDA study results show that contrary to popular belief, Americans do know how to unplug, unwind, and rejuvenate on vacation.

A recent survey of 1,000 vacationers, conducted by The Research Intelligence Group (TRiG) for ARDA, indicates an impressive 75 percent of respondents not doing any work on their vacations.

“Our industry has long advocated for taking a true vacation—not just working from a nicer place,” said Howard Nusbaum, president and CEO of ARDA.

“Today’s leading health studies reinforce our message—that there are so many physical and mental health benefits that come with really ‘unplugging.’ And we’re happy to see so many people doing so.”

Only 12 percent of respondents admitted working one or two days while on vacation, and 13 percent said they did some work over three days. But a full 87 percent said they would prefer to vacation without having to do any work.

Vacationers are still bringing their technology on leisure travel. However, in most cases, it is for pleasure and not work. Fifty-one percent brought their laptop, but only 17 percent of them used it for work. Thirty-nine percent brought their iPad or tablet device, with only nine percent using either device for work.

Taking a vacation at a timeshare resort, whether you buy a timeshare on the resale market, or stay in a timeshare rental, makes unplugging almost a no-brainer.

The timeshare is spacious, giving you an opportunity to truly relax. And the timeshare resort is chocked-full of amenities, including pools with waterpark features, hot tubs, tennis courts, and even arcade game rooms. 

Many timeshare resorts also offer more opportunities for relaxation and fun, such as golf, water sports, arts and craft classes, dancing classes, on-site clubs with karaoke, barbecue get-togethers, volleyball tournaments, ice cream socials – the list is endless.

You’ll be so busy relaxing that you won’t have a chance to even think about work.

Take a look at budget-friendly timeshare rentals available around the world.

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ARDA World 2013 Annual Convention and Exposition April 7-11, 2013

This year, the annual American Resort Development Association (ARDA) Convention moves from its bi-annual location in Orlando to the beachside resort destination of Hollywood, Florida. The Westin Diplomat Resort and Spa will host the convention from April 7-11.

This premier gathering for the vacation ownership industry attracts more than 3,000 participants from over 20 countries and offers attendees a myriad of educational, networking and social opportunities. This is the largest show specifically geared toward the resort development industry.

ARDA World Convention is the premier opportunity for industry leaders to network, share insights, and discuss issues on a global basis with attendees from varying backgrounds and markets. The convention also provides prominent exposure for sponsors, exhibitors, and attendees among a diverse collection of over 3,000 industry players.

“Along with our terrific new location, we have also shifted the schedule to better accommodate the attendees,” said Howard Nusbaum, president and CEO of ARDA.

“Monday is Key Constituent Day for our most involved members, and we are featuring several new receptions and networking events,” Nusbaum said.

This year’s convention has a full schedule including meetings, exhibitions, and outings. On Monday, Key Constituent Day, ARDA’s most engaged and involved members can attend committee meetings and forums, as well as four targeted fundamentals sessions for new industry entrants.

Also on Monday is a VIP Exhibitor Networking Reception. This year’s keynote speaker is Don Tapscott, a best-selling author and speaker. He will share his insights on the strategic value and impact of information technology on the timeshare industry.

Popular convention sessions throughout the week will include educational discussions on innovations in the industry, such as the new fee-for-service model, hot industry topics such as aging resorts, and best practice sessions on subjects from marketing to technology.

The ARDA-Resort Owner’s Coalition (ARDA-ROC) is the first line of defense against legislation that may negatively impact timeshare owners and their well-being. Through ARDA-ROC owners can be part of an effective grassroots lobbying coalition of timeshare unit owners dedicated to preserving, protecting nd enhancing vacation ownership.

The American Resort Development Association (ARDA) is an industry leader in advocating members’ interests, providing advanced professional education opportunities, educating the teleservices industry, and acting as the industry’s information clearinghouse.

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How is the Timeshare Industry Going Green? Part 2

The American Resort Development Association (ARDA) recognizes the important contributions its members make to create a greener, more environmentally friendly world, and announced the names of six of its members who develop and carry out major green initiatives. Part 2:

4. Wyndham Vacation Ownership (WVO) supports the Arbor Day Foundation by implementing a variety of initiatives at its resorts, including serving Arbor Day Coffee, which is organically grown under the canopy of the rainforest. Each cup preserves one of our most precious resources and ensures indigenous farmers earn a fair wage and have access to healthcare and education.

To date, Wyndham Vacation Ownership has purchased 280,000 pounds of Arbor Day Coffee for use at its resorts, saving more than 28 million square feet of rainforest.

In addition WVO has launched the Wyndham Million Trees Project, an initiative to plant one million trees throughout U.S. national forests in partnership with the Arbor Day Foundation, to help replace the devastation created by this summer’s forest fires across the nation.

WVO also switched all personal amenity products to the Eartherapy brand, an environmentally responsible company that uses biodegradable and fully recyclable packaging. The packaging contains an organic-based additive, allowing the containers to fully biodegrade into water and dust when in contact with soil for three to five years, taking less than four percent of the time to degrade than traditional plastic packaging.

Currently you can stay in a Wyndham Pagosa Springs Resort timeshare rental in the beautiful San Juan Mountains of southern Colorado for just $86/night.

5. Orange Lake Resort in Orlando, FL, the Holiday Inn Club Vacations flagship, recently implemented a resort-wide recycling program—a huge undertaking for the 2,478-unit, 1,450-acre property. The program was piloted in one area of the resort in 2011 and introduced resort-wide in June 2012. It’s a simple, easy-to-follow program: green bags in villas designate where guests can place paper, plastic, metal, and glass to be recycled.

According to Orange Lake’s partners at Waste Management, the recycling program has already saved 208 cubic yards of landfill space per quarter.

Other milestones the resort has reached include saving 258,576 kW-hours of electricity, 357,000 gallons of water, and 1,224 gallons of gasoline per quarter. To further communicate the property’s recycling program, the resort created a recycling video for their guests that demonstrates the positive impacts of recycling. 

Currently stay at an Orange Lake Resort timeshare rental for just $71/night.

6. Interval International’s Singapore staff recently participated in the 21st International Coastal Cleanup Day on Tanah Merah Beach on Singapore’s East Coast. Despite sweltering heat, the volunteer team gathered 614 pounds of discarded items, clearing a mile stretch of the coastline.

The International Coastal Cleanup is an annual event conducted in more than 70 countries, coordinated by The Ocean Conservancy, a U.S.-based non-profit organization. The program aims to collect data on and remove debris from the shorelines, waterways, and beaches of the world’s lakes, rivers, and oceans.

How is the Timeshare Industry Going Green? Part 1

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How is the Timeshare Industry Going Green? Part 1

The American Resort Development Association (ARDA) recently announced the names of six of its timeshare industry members who are making a concerted effort to create a greener, more environmentally-friendly world.

“It’s one thing to recycle at your resort or participate in a clean-up once in a while,” says Howard Nusbaum, president and CEO of ARDA. “But it’s quite another to develop and carry out the major initiatives that our members have done. It’s a real model for other industries.”

In a 2-Part series we’ll look at the six, and what specific green initiatives each company has developed. Part 1:

1. Marriott Vacation Club recently announced a partnership with “Clean the World,” a group that recycles partially used bars of soap and bottled amenities from resorts in the United States and distributes the new soap and hygiene kits to communities that lack access to these essential items. Each day 9,000 children around the world die from diseases such as acute respiratory illness and diarrheal diseases, which can be prevented by washing with soap.

Clean the World also conducts soap drives for the collection of new soap that can be immediately used and distributed in hygiene kits to those in need. In just eight weeks, 500 Marriott Vacation Club Owner Services associates based in Salt Lake City turned in a cumulative donation of 16,918 bars of new soap.

Photo is of the Marriott Grande Ocean resort in Hilton Head, South Carolina, where currently you can get a timeshare rental for just $71/night.

2. Bluegreen Wilderness Club at Big Cedar (see photo) is also a participating property in the Clean the World effort. In addition,  Bluegreen Vacations has been recognized for using supplies made only of recycled materials and equipping their guest rooms with a master switch to cut a unit’s power when not in use.

At their Hammocks at Marathon resort, they use non-toxic, environmentally friendly cleaners, have a linen reuse program, and discuss environmental policy at monthly employee meetings.

Currently you can stay in a Wilderness Club at Big Cedar timeshare rental for just $9/night

3.Grand Pacific Resort Management, the California management company of 15 resorts for over 50,000 owner families in the U.S. and Canada, formed a “Going Green Squad”—a group dedicated to a culture fully committed to being environmentally friendly. Several of their resorts are engaged in unique efforts.

For example, The Carlsbad Inn Beach Resort collected a thousand plastic bottles destined for landfills and contributed them to artists who crafted a 10’ x 10’ picture of Marilyn Monroe.

After Grand Pacific Resort Management’s Mountain Retreat resort experienced a fire that damaged its clubhouse, the resort “made lemonade from lemons” and implemented a number of environmentally friendly changes, such as double pane windows and motion sensors to control the resources needed to heat and light the space.

Currently Carlsbad Inn Beach Resort timeshare rentals (see photo) start at just $143/night.

Image Credit (top): lincolnwoodil.org

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Diamond Resorts International® Owners Featured in ARDA’s September Spotlight

American Resort Development Association’s September “Timeshare Fans” Go Around the World.

Featured in this month’s edition of the American Resort Development Association’s (ARDA) ongoing Timeshare Fan series, are six families who own a vacation holiday lifestyle with Diamond Resorts International®.

Originating from various locations all over the world, each owner shares their “once in a lifetime” vacation experiences in a video testimonial.

Chris and Susan Birdsey, loyal Diamond owners for many years, have enjoyed the flexibility Diamond offers through their point system. Diamond’s portfolio offers more than 220 destination choices, allowing members to travel to various locations across the globe.

The Birdseys explain how Diamond has reinvented the timeshare industry and then reflect on their decision to purchase vacation ownership with Diamond. “One of the things timeshare has done for us is to be able to give our children a great deal more of a view of the world,” said Chris Birdsey.

Diamond Resorts International® is the eleventh in a monthly series showcasing the passion of timeshare owners. With nearly 1.4 million owners, members and guests annually, a satisfaction rate of 85 percent, and an occupancy rate that outpaced hotel occupancy by more than 20 percent*, it is clear that this segment of the travel industry is faring well.

Take the time to find out why. Visit VacationBetter for more information. All timeshare fans are invited to tell their story.

Top photo is Diamond Resorts International’s Scottsdale Villa Resort where timeshare rentals start at just $89/night and timeshare resales begin at $600.

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