Since its formation 30 years ago, C.A.R.E. (Cooperative Association of Resort Exchangers) has become recognized as a major force within the vacation industry. Its members have serviced approximately one million vacation owners since 1985 and its members currently offer more than 2500 vacation properties. Members are located in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Europe and Australia.
According to Linda Mayhugh, current volunteer and member-elected President of C.A.R.E., “The organization was launched in 1985 after owner service representatives from two resorts recognized the need for an exchange alternative when they were unable to obtain fulfillment from their existing exchange companies. They envisioned a system that would enable them to orchestrate even exchanges between properties and offer additional inventory and vacation fulfillment to the industry. Their vision is now a reality with nearly 130 C.A.R.E. member companies helping create positive vacation experiences for their members.”
C.A.R.E. is an international non-profit trade association established by representatives of timeshare resorts who discovered that by exchanging vacation inventory among themselves, they were better able to satisfy their owners with increased vacation opportunities. As the timeshare industry has evolved, the increasing popularity of vacation clubs has created continuous requests from various members to buy, wholesale, and/or exchange their inventory.
It is important to understand that C.A.R.E. is not an exchange company. It does not own or control inventory. However, many of its members own and control inventory and offer it for exchange or wholesale rental through a networking platform that provides the tools for individual business enhancement while requiring its member companies to adhere to its stringent Code of Standards and Ethics. The organization’s online directory helps members find suppliers of inventory as well as buyers, exchangers, and other providers.
Members include resorts and resort developers or organizations with a need to utilize inventory and generate revenue through wholesale rentals while continuing to offer expanded exchange and fulfillment options. Other members are travel clubs, travel agencies or exchange companies that desire to deliver high service levels to their owners as well as resort service providers selling travel-related products, such as travel insurance or collections.
In 1997, C.A.R.E. addressed the need for an industry-wide establishment of a professional value system with its first Code of Standards and Ethics. Companies are attracted to the organization because of its commitment and active enforcement of this Code, which promotes standards of excellence that apply to practices occurring throughout the vacation industry.
“We are serious about implementing this Code,” adds Mayhugh. “If, at any point, a member company does not fulfill its commitment, an ethics complaint is filed. If the member company is found at fault, the membership will be suspended and possibly terminated if a violation is not properly satisfied. This Code has a lot of ‘teeth” and is great at protecting members and giving them peace of mind. They know they will have excellent fulfillment results for their members.”
Other membership benefits include the opportunity to lease, rent, wholesale or exchange unsold inventory and the ability to streamline exchange and wholesale transactions through C.A.R.E.’s state-of-the-art online membership directory and message boards.
Additional benefits occur at semi-annual conferences held in the spring and fall of each year, providing training, educational and major networking opportunities. The association has held two annual conferences since 1985 and is gearing up for its 61st conference in Denver from September 26-29. A conference committee selects the cities and seeks suggestions from members as to where they’d like to meet. After RFPs are presented to the board, the list is shortened to two with the final site selected by members at a conference preceding it.
Adds Mayhugh, “We stay membership focused on everything we do, especially our conferences. We generally feature a keynote speaker who shares relevant topics that help our members grow their business as well as extensive networking opportunities. One of these is a ‘speed networking’ session where members have two-minute face-to-face meetings with fellow members to pitch what they do and collect business cards. At our popular ‘roll call,’ every member is invited to come to the podium and share what they do in a two-minute presentation or to explain what type of inventory they are seeking, followed by another networking session. We are continuously improving our conference platforms to be educational, fun, and cost effective for our attendees.”
C.A.R.E. also helps companies to develop effective yield management and fully utilize their inventory, thus creating additional revenue and exchange opportunities.
Travel clubs, resort developers, management companies, exchange companies, resort service providers, and other companies that have an active interest in the travel industry have found that C.A.R.E.`s diverse membership greatly enhances opportunities available to their companies, owners and members.
According to Jim Carey of RSI Vacations, “My late Mother, Terry Carey, was a founding member and I’ve been a proud member for 25 years. Originally started to bring alternative sources of resort inventory to timeshare owners, C.A.R.E. has grown into one of the world’s largest and most dependable inventory marketplaces. My company, RSI Vacations, utilizes the network every day, and with two regional conferences annually, our staff gets to meet the people with whom they do business. C.A.R.E. is an invaluable resource.”
C.A.R.E. currently offers two types of membership, General, for $400 a year, and Associate for $500 a year. General members own or control inventory and Associate members do not control inventory but have an interest in C.A.R.E. as a means of business enhancement. Membership information is provided on the association’s website at www.care-online.org.
Linda Mayhugh has been professionally involved with C.A.R.E. for over 15 years and just started her three-year term as its President, where she serves on five separate committees. She is also Chief Operating Officer and one of the owners of Advantage Travel, a Lakeland, Florida-based full-service travel agency that owns several travel clubs and acts as their own fulfillment agent. Linda is responsible for the administration, finance and compliance side of operations. She has been with them for 22 years and involved with the timeshare industry since 1980 when she was 15 years old and worked in the Day Care center at an Indiana timeshare resort. She later spent several years in the membership camping industry, utilizing her skills in operations, compliance, legal and consumer protection issues.
Mayhugh was elected to serve with eight others on the C.A.R.E. Board of Directors are Debbie Sansom of I.C.S. Management, Inc.; Vikki Lessard of Club Resort Intervals, LLC; Tina Hill of Resort Inventory Group; Jeff Ingram of Carefree Journeys, LLC; James Kwock of The Timeshare Kahuna, LLC; James Wehrle of CTC Travel and Spence Witten of Pied-a-Terre. Alain Carr is Immediate Past President.
Linda is responsible for leading the C.A.R.E. organization by managing its administration and operation, rendering final decisions, and overseeing board meetings, conference planning and committees.
Commented Linda, “I believe in C.A.R.E. because I know it brings value to my organization, solutions for inventory utilization and opportunities for vacation fulfillment. But it is also vibrant, super friendly and full of energy. The organization sets the platform for networking to make great things happen. Everyone helps each other. Because our events are small, we have become very tight-knit. The relationships we build at our conferences last a lifetime. We are constantly working on maintaining our existing membership and adding new industry professionals, happily welcoming new members throughout the year.”
She admits that her greatest pleasure is the happy feedback she receives after each conference when members tell her they were “wowed” with the contacts they made and how much they benefited from educational sessions.