TATOC CONFERENCE, MARCH 8th-10th, AT CREWE HALL,CHESHIRE; Finding Solutions

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vernon

    A brief overview of this years TATOC Conference.
    John.

    TATOC CONFERENCE, MARCH 8th-10th AT CREWE HALL,CHESHIRE.

    Finding Solutions

    The 2013 TATOC Conference titled "Finding Solutions" was about how the Industry could tackle the on-going problems that it faced and how it could help in implementing these, into a positive conclusion.

    Held at Crewe Hall, a grade 1 listed Jacobean mansion located near Crewe Green, described by Nikolaus Pevsner as one of the two finest Jacobean houses in Cheshire.
    Built in 1615-36 for Sir Randolph it was one of the county's largest houses in the 17th century, and was said to have "brought London into Cheshire", a fitting venue for this year's conference!

    Members and delegates sat down to music that was relevant to conference style, Mr Robin Mills, the conference moderator welcomed all to this years conference of "Finding Solutions" and emphasised the importance of the interaction between speakers, sponsors and all members.
    He thanked all of this years sponsor's namely Aroma, DAE, Diamond Resorts International, First Resorts, II, Livesharetravel, Macdonald Hotels & Resorts, Merlin Software, Needham & James, Perspective, RCI, Silverpoint, Thomas Westcott, Travel & Leisure Group, and Worldwide Timeshare Hypermarket.

    Robin then introduced Mr Harry Taylor who referred to the sponsors of this year's conference, his "behind-the-scenes" team and the work they do in making TATOC "tick".

    Mr Geoff Chapman then welcomed all to this conference and was pleased to see so many new members, Geoff then proceeded to give an up-date vision of the incredible journey in many directions that TATOC was embarking on.
    The Five Year Plan, (in booklet form was available for members to read) and is also available to read on the Internet at http://www.tatoc.co.uk/images/emilyf...eyrplanfa1.pdf
    He then referred to the TATOC mission statement, the TATOC beliefs, the constitution, its objectives and how far they had come since 2008.
    Reference was made to the 90 member resorts, 433 individual members, 25 TATOC affiliated companies, 31 accredited resorts with many more awaiting inspection of receiving TATOC accreditation to the code of conduct and practice.
    Reference was given to the new office, how the Sharetime magazine was progressing, then hoped more members would be able to contribute, this being the 16th conference and how far they had come within this period.
    On how they were working within the European Directive, the TATOC logo and brand being protected around the world, how the helpline had saved people in excess of £5m and gave various examples etc.

    Harry Taylor referred to "Finding Solutions", the 5-year plan, of Timeshare facing the many challenges from all party's within Industry, an aging owner base, the very difficult environment, the ongoing requirements from the consumer and asked members for feedback.
    Of the need for TATOC to work with the Industry for a positive outcome, to look after the ever changing needs of present and future members, the need for impartiality, of working with committees and resorts.

    Mr Jim Wehrle, the vice president, C.A.R.E. and e-business director of Sunset World group, based in Cancun, Mexico explained all about C.A.R.E.
    An international trade organisation with members from the USA, Canada, Mexico, Europe and Australia, an association established in 1985 comprising of representatives from several timeshare resorts who found that by exchanging holiday inventory amongst themselves were able satisfy the needs of owners with increased vacation opportunities.
    Jim enlightened us with a presentation about C.A.R.E., of being able to promote ethical and outstanding vacation services by providing education and networking opportunities, all complying to the required strict code of standards.
    With membership growing, members were able to enjoy more opportunities at more resorts.
    The use of many graphs and statistics to measure the response that one is getting, mention was made about web-based communications and solutions based on social media, of reputation management, the use of basic online communication whether it is a web page blog, the use of Twitter, of Facebook (350 million users suffer from
    Facebook addiction syndrome), it was apparent from the many gasps of astonishment and amazement from amongst the delegates and certainly raised many eyebrows as to this huge following.
    The use of "e-blasts"(an electronic mailing, sent all at once to a large mailing list), e-mail marketing software to manage databases must be in place, of using all this data and information with schedules to track the results.
    Using Google analytics to measure ones advertising, tracking your Flash, video and social networking sites, of more women using Facebook than men.
    Under the banner of Reputation Management he gave an example from Henry Ford ..."You can't build a reputation on what you are going to do, it has to be on what you've done".
    Jim thanked everybody in listening to his presentation and finished with a photograph encompassing a happy team, all-looking to the future.

    A coffee break then took place.

    After the coffee break we had the chance to receive an informative presentation from Ms Christine Roberts, general manager of Melfort Village that nestles in the hills and oak woods at the head of Loch Melfort, resulting in a well respected and very popular holiday destination for visitors from around the world.
    Christine spoke on "Delivering the Resort Solution" at Melfort Village with 1600 weeks of timeshare being divided amongst the 32 cottages, developed in 1983, fully sold out in 1995 and now with members wishing to keep any development to a minimum.
    These cottages are situated as 11 inside the walled garden, 16 in the inner village, 3 at the farm and 2 by the pier, all these within an area of natural beauty and fantastic scenery.
    She then went on to say how the resort was run, of having six committee members, two being over forty years of age.

    Robin Mills then asked questions to Christine on how the resort was attracting new members, she replied saying how they listen to owners, the various holiday breaks that are available, on not needing a sales team, of creating a social media website for the resort, on the need to listen to owners and the need to provide for all age groups and families.
    The resort was looking at ways for an exit policy for members without cost, so that the burden did not fall on the other members.
    Christine's finished in acclaiming the TATOC accreditation for the resort had been a "Godsend" in bringing Melfort Village to the attention of visitors who were looking for a well run resort, achieving exceptionally good standards of quality, all within a pleasant environment to relax.

    Breakout Sessions followed where members could choice any two from Aroma, DAE, RCI, First Resorts and Worldwide Timeshare Hypermarket and listen to "up-to-date" information from staff.

    Lunch was then taken with many topics being discussed amongst delegates about the morning's session.

    Paul Gardiner-Bougaard, the CEO of RDO commenced the afternoon session with a "down-to-earth" presentation on "Working Together" and touching on subjects ranging from timeshare legacy, spin, of working together for the truth, of the need for ethical selling within RDO.
    Mr Gardiner-Bougaard mentioned how important it was for R.D.O. to improve the image of Timeshare, working closely with TATOC and the support they gave with help to the running of the Helpline.
    Reference was made to Mytimeshare in Spain and that every RDO member should look sympathetically towards urgent cases from members who were looking for an exit strategy.
    Mention was also made on how they "embraced" the various Timeshare bodies via magazine publications.
    Reference was made to the UK being the largest timeshare country in Europe followed closely by Germany.
    Paul emphasised to the delegates that a tremendous amount of work was going on "behind the scenes" that one never gets to hear about, the enforcement in Europe of tackling scams, the follow-through investigation of links re Google and You-tube.
    Getting round the table with the "big boys" from the Tourism Industry to discuss any problems that had arisen was on going.

    Delegates did not know what to expect from Rioma Cominelli managing director of Optima Holidays with her presentation "Engaging the Senses".
    Ms Cominelli commented that South Africa faced similar problems to what the timeshare industry in Europe faced 15 years ago, with 5-8 k new members in South Africa, then comparing other holiday products and options encompassing caravans, camping, cruising, the all-inclusive holiday etc.
    Of developers who had repackaged their discarded timeshare weeks into points systems and clubs, of members then being able to source finance, this resulted in a market opening up to this sales explosion.
    Rioma then explained on how South Africa had overcome their timeshare problems using terminology that certainly made members smile.
    An example of interview results, a mystery questionnaire, a need to find new owners and in getting everybody involved.
    She touched on the transformation of timeshare stock, of the dream vacation, the holiday club, star club, Club Trafalgar, Flexiclub, Premier Club, Golf Club with 54% of timeshare stock owned by clubs in South Africa.
    She embarked in showing us some truths that had been carried out with research in South Africa.... the way the guest feels is key to their opinion of the resort, a well run timeshare resort is no longer adequate, of engaging the senses of sight, touch, taste, sound in getting a better rating.
    The focus of engagement with the holidaymaker, of singing from the same hyme sheet and a remark of...the busier the guest, the higher the rating.
    On checking in at any resort we need to be greeted with a "wow" factor and then gave a list of how resorts can provide the essentials on a cost-effective basis, with Wi-Fi in the past was being viewed as a luxury, now a basic necessity.
    Her presentation was finished with a video clip.
    Various questions from the floor were answered.

    A coffee break for members and delegates was available.

    Members then re-joined the conference where a panel consisting of Ramy Filo from DAE, Jim Wehrie from Sunset Group, Rioma Cominelli from Optimum Holidays, Dimitris Manikis from RCI and Harry Taylor from TATOC, all engaging with timeshare owners in asking questions that were relevant at this time.
    Six questions were asked from the floor....
    1) Is the timeshare industry in good health?
    Rioma Cominelli referred to the diagnosis having been identified, now we must accept this diagnosis.
    Dimitris Manikis explained about the fundamental changes that were taking place, of Wyndham and Marriott becoming more involved.
    Harry Taylor explained that the developers hadn't defined their own target market.
    2) Is better education about timeshare exchange needed simply because people complain they can't get the exchange they require?
    Dimitris Manikis remarked that 5m families went on holidays through timeshare each year, an incredible achievement.
    Jim Wehrie said that their company had created its own exchange company to deal with the problem.
    3) Should we re-brand timeshare to holiday bonds?
    Jim Wehrie remarked that if it looks like a duck, then it's a duck and the industry must do a lot of reputation management and deal with it.
    Dimitris Manikis said he had been working in timeshare for 25 years and he had not told his mother who thought he was a car salesman! Then referred to the many happy timeshare owners.
    4) I could have a great time at my resort and yet some people will go to the resort and only pay £400 for 10 days with younger people just wanting a good deal and how do we deal with this?
    Rioma Cominelli mentioned the need to provide a programme to fix this, to be able to compete against the all-inclusive resort and to provide the product experience.
    Ramy Filo mentioned that 80% of their bookings were for people who want to travel within the 90-day period.
    One must change the product to suit the market.
    5) Have we priced out the younger buyer?
    Ramy Filo remarked about the use of credit and the need to create a will to buy.
    Jim Wehrie emphasised the facilities that people want and if we have it then they will come.
    Harry Taylor then remarked that he didn't think so.
    6) What was the one change resorts should do in the forthcoming year?
    Ramy Filo said one must bite-the-bullet and renovate now in bringing the resort to a competitive standard.
    Jim Wehrie spoke of the need to listen to customers and respond.
    Harry Taylor took the view that owners committees must raise their profile with more memberships on committees.

    Harry Taylor then presented Phil Watson of Worldwide Timeshare Group the prestigious TATOC certificate of excellence for accreditation, the first resale company to receive this award.

    Christel House, Cape Town was the next presentation with the conference viewing a video and Harry Taylor giving his experiences of a visit.
    He explained to the floor that the experience left him "emotionally drained", the children with their new toy, of visiting the children's homes, the many problems they faced with nothing to do resulting in boredom, of not wearing shoes and the teachers having to "toilet-train" some of the children.
    Harry was very pleased in seeing the children reaching education at high levels.
    For many years, Christel House has benefited from TATOC's donations and again at tonight's dinner he hoped a target of over £2200 could be bettered.

    A summary of the days events was given by Mr Robin Mills and at this conclusion members and delegates left and prepared for dinner.

    After dinner, we were entertained to a professional, on-going performance that was successfully tailored with clean down-to-earth jokes by Mr John Woodland. His rapport with a South African delegate was excellent and had people in stitches, questions he asked and answers given, were soon turned into something that was good, clean and laughable.
    At the finish, many thanks given to a man who had entertained and captivated his audience with his after-dinner presentation.
    We were then informed that the target to exceed last year's donations, by a raffle and auction this evening, had been exceeded and.
    Thanks to everybody's generosity with the fund-raising raffle and auction prize, a total sum of £2750 was handed to Mr Ron Haylock who expressed his grateful thanks.

    Robin Mills welcomed everybody to the Sunday morning session and proceeded to introduce the first speaker.

    Ramy Filo of DAE spoke in true Aussie style about the timeshare industry in Australia and how they had combated and addressed the present problems.
    It's not the way it used to be, resorts are older, owners are older, owner usage has changed with people using serviced apartments, thanks to discounted accommodation that was available on the Internet and the use of cheap flights.
    Ramy them gave some solutions that could be of benefit to the Industry.
    We must retain and attract new members, the need to offer corporate bodies membership for staff and certainly look at investing in professional sales teams.
    The need to manage delinquent member resorts in updating their constitution, the need for transfer plans, of loyalty and rental programmes that we can stay on top of the issue.
    Mr Filo gave a definite "no" to rental pools.
    He then encouraged resorts to act proactively with planning and focusing for the future, in educating all staff, members and guests.
    Of using industry benchmarks to educate one-self, look at any trends or opportunities that occur, focus on the problems one at a time and fix them.
    Ramy then replied to various questions then giving answers of...going through the "pain" barrier of change and special levies, losing 12% of original members in implementing these changes in bringing your resorts up to standard.
    In making these and any changes, it is always best to give advance notice.

    A panel of committee chairman comprising David Eastburn of Lakeview Country Club in Cornwall, Harry Taylor of Royal Sunset Beach Club in Tenerife, Jim Smith of The Osbourne Club in Torquay, Roger Goodwin of Club Vista Verde in Gran Canaria, James Miller of Barnsdale in Rutland, David Francis of Crown Resorts in Spain.
    Answers to many questions included the need to obtain finance for refurbishment and the difficulty if the resort was in the trust system enabling the resort to develop as a business.
    We need to have younger members on resort committees; on getting them would be another problem.
    We need to address the poor communication within the Industry very quickly.
    Although the future is looking more positive, a lot of hard work still needs doing.
    The need to communicate, listen to present and younger members, all with a positive attitude.

    Mark Caldicott, TATOC, Consumer Helpline Manager gave an in-depth presentation on "Reeling in the Rogues".
    His varied role at TATOC encompasses answering calls, organising Harry's diary right through to making coffee or tea maker, then remarking on how Harry was dreadful at this small task.... much laughter from the floor!
    He explained about the Sharetime magazine and how it was going from strength-to-strength, the Helpline which gave many diverse answers to timeshare owners who were at there wits end, re-sale questions relating to bogus legal and re-sale companies, the many cold-callers and said they now have 500 companies on the list that had been brought to their attention.
    At this stage he remarked that this was the most visited page on TATOC's website with 50k views per year.
    Of taking 35 calls and e-mails per day, which equates to 45k per year.
    He informed us they receive calls for advice from police forces, Citizens Advice Bureau, OFT, banks, government bodies and many others.
    From Sept-March they had helped to recover between £345k-£418k for timeshare owners who were conned out of their money, equating to 82% success rate.
    Of contact with Cheshire police and subsequent arrest of a person owning 5 bogus re-sale companies scamming £5m from people.
    Of the need for more resorts to contact them if members had been cold-called and the harsh fact that some members paid a company £15k to get out of timeshare!
    In the question/answer time between Mark and Robin Mills, it was brought to everybody's attention of rogue companies who used the TATOC name and logo to further their illicit gain.

    A coffee break was then taken.

    Mr Alan Bentley presentation "The importance and benefits of resorts and members working together" started with the statement that DRI were the 2nd largest timeshare operator in the world, Wyndham being the largest.
    DRI operated in 28 countries, on every continent except Antarctica.
    Reference was made on how they tackle the many changes in tourism; travel and timeshare saying that rogue traders were not as bad in the States as in Europe.
    Mention was made to stable growth being achieved in 2012 with anticipated modest growth in 2013 and increased bookings in alternative accommodation for private villas all within 13 time zones.
    Al explained to the floor that members were looking for shorter duration of ownership and more flexibility of usage.
    The "fractional ownership product" was being rolled out with certain specifics at date-of-sale as per the market place, changes in the competitive landscape, and a consolidation of middle-market companies resulting in larger competitors to DRI.
    Six DRI collections were placed around the world with "growth" being of paramount importance.
    DRI had spent millions of dollars into new technology.
    In reply to two questions Al mentioned the big difference in property prices around the world and gave an example that everything in Hawaii had to be imported resulting in a higher cost base.
    O n the strategy for sales, it was a points-based product, that worked well and to bring in new members, mini holiday programmes were being advertised and most new owners bought into "three year product" which enables them to take 5-6 weeks holidays at various resorts.

    For the last presentation Nigel Risner spoke about "how to create an impact everytime"; and he certainly did!
    It was like creating something out of nothing!
    Asking members what are they going to do differently on what they have learnt from this conference, many members making loads of notes, going home and then placing these on a shelf; Nigel remarked...this is called shelf development.
    He showed a short video about multi-tasking, that no one could go back and then make a brand new start, anyone can start right now and make a brand new beginning, that resorts copy what others do instead of finding out what the best companies do and gave an example on what John Lewis stores did through employee motivation, communication and commitment, where everybody was made to feel that they were part of this organisation.
    The delegates were in laughter when Nigel used a simple animal matrix of a zookeeper to identify personality traits remarking that. It's a zoo around here and asked the delegates to decide on whether they were a monkey, lion, dolphin or elephant and to remember which their own personality was and not change his or her personality.
    All this was very simple, constructive, well put together and was a fitting presentation to finish this year's conference.

    Harry Taylor then closed the conference saying that TATOC is sound; was going forward into the future with confidence, of the new five-year plan being in place and the need to communicate with fellow members from around the world.

    Lunch then followed.

    Leaving Crewe Hall with members discussing that this years successful conference being the best undertaken, we had learnt so much about the "positives and negatives" facing all in timeshare, through the many subjects covered and it was now up to every member to spread the good name of TATOC and always remember their statement of intent....
    "TATOC exists to protect and enhance the timeshare holiday experience for users and to be the voice of owners".


    John Woodward.
 


Carolinian

Thanks for the report.  Melfort Village sounds like a particularly well run resort.  Is it member-controlled?  It seems to me that more experiences like that and less presentations by developers would be helpful for future conferences.  Also some panel discussions on things like the resale market and exit programs might be useful.
 

charlie1

Another good report from you on the conference Vernon.

Heres a solution to help attract new members For all the individual resorts that did not attend and are not members I would put together a DVD with a little introduction and centre this around the interview with Melfort Village and have a little summery with relative information to them with the opportunity to feed back questions. I would send this out ensuring that this reached the right people.

Would this not enable them to relate to this and perhaps reach out?

I assume this was recorded? Its little ideas like this that will help educate the resorts and build membership that would introduce more funds that would enable TATOC to accelerate its program.

Theres a lot more that could be done it just needs to think outside of the box so you maximise your return in terms of new members with a small outlay.
Timeshare Weekly is an Independent website working with those who share similar ideals. We are here to guide the consumer make the very best of timeshare. We encourage positive change and solutions. Your either living in the problem or your living in the solution. Contact graham@timeshareweekly.com

West Coast Lassie

Good and accurate overview of the Conference! Thanks for that Vernon!

I can confirm that Melfort Village is member-run by a Committee of 6 democratically elected members. Members are invited to air their views which are recorded at the resort and reviewed regularly.

I think the whole conference was recorded by LiveShareTravel.  TATOC would have the rights to this but maybe they are thinking of sending out to all of their members resorts already?  Seems like a good idea.

An exit strategy for small resorts is always a problem to deal with. Something we have been working on for a while and hope to eventually find a solution.

charlie1

Hi West coast Lassie my idea is that they send this to non member resorts. A direct copy would be too long and all they would be interested in mainly is what your input was with perhaps a summery of how you can all support each other by sharing information as a member of TATOC.

Quote from: West Coast Lassie on March 21, 2013, 11:18:57
Good and accurate overview of the Conference! Thanks for that Vernon!

I can confirm that Melfort Village is member-run by a Committee of 6 democratically elected members. Members are invited to air their views which are recorded at the resort and reviewed regularly.

I think the whole conference was recorded by LiveShareTravel.  TATOC would have the rights to this but maybe they are thinking of sending out to all of their members resorts already?  Seems like a good idea.

An exit strategy for small resorts is always a problem to deal with. Something we have been working on for a while and hope to eventually find a solution.
Timeshare Weekly is an Independent website working with those who share similar ideals. We are here to guide the consumer make the very best of timeshare. We encourage positive change and solutions. Your either living in the problem or your living in the solution. Contact graham@timeshareweekly.com

Carolinian

Thanks, West Coast Lassie.  I thought from the presentation that Melfort Village was democratically member-run.

What worked for us on the North Carolina coast as an exit strategy was to accept deedbacks from members who were in a pinch.  That was a heck of a lot cheaper and quicker than having to go through the foreclosure process for the HOA and more painless for the member.  The member paid the closing costs on the transfer.  We did not advertise that we did that because we did not want to encourage it, but members in true distress almost always called the office to ask if any such thing were possible.  Then we had a multi-faceted program to resell the weeks (without an onsite sales staff) that worked.

I think the experiences of resorts like Melfort Village are what make conferences such as this helpful.  I note that the next TBMA conference in the US next month has six member run resorts making similar presentations.   The TBMA holds its conferences twice yearly.



Quote from: West Coast Lassie on March 21, 2013, 11:18:57
Good and accurate overview of the Conference! Thanks for that Vernon!

I can confirm that Melfort Village is member-run by a Committee of 6 democratically elected members. Members are invited to air their views which are recorded at the resort and reviewed regularly.

I think the whole conference was recorded by LiveShareTravel.  TATOC would have the rights to this but maybe they are thinking of sending out to all of their members resorts already?  Seems like a good idea.

An exit strategy for small resorts is always a problem to deal with. Something we have been working on for a while and hope to eventually find a solution.
 

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