In today’s world we are surrounded by so many choices, we have become used to getting pretty much exactly what we want. And, if we feel we will get something better somewhere else, we often don’t hesitate to take our buying power elsewhere. We carry this ‘user decides’ mentality through to our timeshare.
This has created a positive ripple effect in the timeshare industry – it resulted in changes to traditional timeshare models in our favour. Long gone are the days when we were compelled to stay at the resort we originally bought into, on the exact same week. We can exchange it for another week in our resort. You can use it to stay at countless other properties in a seemingly endless selection of countries across the globe. You can bank and save your weeks across a number of years to take an extended vacation. We can add to it with low cost rentals. We can buy additional discount bonus weeks. We can gift it to a friend. We can use it to go on a grand tour. This level of choice has become industry standard, irrespective of which exchange provider you use.
Free and easy. Or is it?
There’s no doubt that owning timeshare will allow you to continue to enjoy wonderful vacations in a plethora of fantastic places. In fact, you never need stay at the same place twice – if you so choose. However, the question is: just what does it cost you to do that? Wrapped up in all the multiple choices that exchange companies offer these days, there can be hidden contractual limitations that make exchanging your week anything but free and easy.
To start with, many of the big exchange providers charge you a joining fee; or a compulsory membership fee. You can be charged a lot more than you need be to make an exchange. And, sometimes, when you try to make the exchange, you discover that you don’t really have the freedom to make that choice: because the week you own won’t get you the week you want. In short, you’re with the wrong exchange provider.
“The wrong exchange provider?” you may wonder. “But I wasn’t given a choice!”
The fact is some owners don’t even know they have a choice, because their resort managers never tell them. Which is a crying shame, when you consider that there are a number of companies that offer you choice – without penalties, and for free.
Dial An Exchange (DAE), one of the world’s largest independent timeshare exchange organisations, is an excellent example of such an exchange service. Fee to join, and without a compulsory annual membership fee, it offers low cost exchanges to timeshare owners. “This is something that has become even more valid in today’s world where costs are escalating out of control,” said Francis Taylor, DAE’s CEO. “Owners still have to pay maintenance levies and resort fees and don’t really want to have to pay exorbitant fees when they change where they take their weeks’ vacation.
“Our exchange fees are less than many other companies. Our members don’t have to deposit their week upfront. And they only pay their nominal exchange fee once they get what they’re after” he continued. “And they only add extra value to their membership with a low cost membership upgrade if they choose to.
This should make a whole lot of sense to owners – considering most buy into timeshare because of the ability to exchange. We actively want many different sorts of vacations. And we want to keep them at an affordable price no matter what inflation is doing. “Considering people buy into timeshare to keep the cost of those vacations at an affordable level, it seems counterproductive to limit them to an exchange provider that charges them compulsory annual membership fees and high transaction fees when they want to change where they take their weeks’ vacation,” said Francis. “This is particularly relevant for those who do not choose to exchange every year and still have to pay for their membership.”
Have you made a good choice?
“I’d even go so far as to say that I encourage my own members to see what their choices are with multiple exchange companies like DAE,” continued Francis.
“Each week can only be banked and exchanged once so when I look at it from an owner’s perspective it makes total sense for them to look around until they find exactly what they want. Between our consistent innovation and commitment to customer satisfaction, I have total confidence that we will always compare favourably,” he said.
When you consider that DAE has just picked up three prestigious Industry Awards at the recent GNEX Conference in the Bahamas, his level of confidence is understandable. And it’s no coincidence that the three awards – Best Industry Leader, Best Customer Service and Best Place to Work – all revolve around ‘real people – looking after real people’.
Perhaps one of the reasons why DAE won three awards that revolve around excellence in customer service is because of their attitude towards it.
“From the DAE point of view, we have three customers, not two,” said Francis. “Two of them are obvious – our industry partners and our individual timeshare members. However, there is a third very important customer – our staff.
“Without them, we are unable to provide the high level of care and commitment to customer satisfaction that has allowed us to stand out from the other exchange companies. So one of senior management’s important focuses is on looking after them,” he said.
“We spend time making sure they not only have the level of knowledge necessary to serve our customers, but are comfortable with how to deliver it. One of the ways to achieve this is to build real relationships with our staff. After all, we started out as a family business over 14 years ago and while we may now have eight offices worldwide, we still act as though we’re a family. Because we are. And it makes all the difference,” Francis concluded.
For Ann Burns of Eastcoast Vacations, there are many facets to her satisfaction with DAE.
“Not only do I manage a resort company with a number of different resorts in highly sought-after areas, I am a timeshare owner myself,” she said. “So I experience what it’s like dealing with them from both sides of the fence. [member]
“DAE is an extremely easy company to deal with and their cost is lower. More importantly, they actually deliver!” said Ms Burns. “I’m not at all surprised that DAE achieved those accolades. No matter what, they speak to you like a person. You’re not just an account number. They always seem happy to take time to work with you and explain what you don’t understand. And they give members what they want. As Burns continued, “One of the big selling points is that they have always offered a week for a week. When that first began, it was very refreshing.
“I am a great fan of the ability to save the weeks you own for 3 years. It’s a great advantage and allows me to create a ‘big holiday’. “As for their bonus weeks, they’re fantastic. Such good value. You can purchase them for yourself and your family or friends without paying a guest certificate fee. They’re very easy to access and book. There are no hidden extras, and you don’t have to use your exchange week either. In one word, they’re excellent.” she concluded.
It’s about understanding needs.
“DAE is a very dynamic company,” says Ivan Hill, General Manager of the stunning Silver Sands Resort in Mandurah, Western Australia, “largely due to the obvious business acumen of their principals.
Mr Hill believes that it’s the simplicity of DAE’s systems and their excellent customer service that puts them way out in front of others. “All you need to do is answer two or three simple questions and you get to where you need to be to exchange weeks or book bonus weeks,” said Mr Hill. “It makes all the difference.
In 2001, DAE pioneered an interface between the exchange management system software that they use and their timeshare resort partners’ systems.
“Basically it means that we are interfaced with the resort’s reservations system in real time, so when our system accepts and confirms a booking, full guest details including check-in dates, names, address and contact details, number of guests – everything the resort needs to know – is automatically loaded, with no time spent by staff. It’s a 2-way system so resort availability is also automatically added to our exchange pool, making the week available for uptake instantly, again with no staff involvement.
“They have advanced their technology to such a stage that our members can bank, find out exchange availability and make their exchange – all on our own website,” said Phillip Dixon, General Manager of the highly popular Sunraysia Resort on the Murray River in Victoria Australia, “which means our members don’t have to worry about multiple passwords.
“And, if the owners prefer us to do it for them, I can just log into our resort account, see everything that’s available, talk my members through it and book or hold right then and there,” he said. “It’s an extremely professional way to do it. I can do it straight away… and my owners get what they want.
Ms Burns of Eastcoast Vacations has the last word. “This focus on the customer – whether it’s a timeshare owner or an industry affiliate – is their unfailing strength. In addition, they seem to have the health of the timeshare industry as a whole in mind with their innovations. It’s a combination that’s hard to beat.” [/member]