Twenty years ago, I was selling timeshare at a resort in Orlando after being summarily dismissed from my advertising role with a hotel that I had moved from Chicago to take. I wasn’t a very good salesperson. I talked…a lot. Far more than I was supposed to do. I had yet to learn the lesson of listening twice as much as I talked. I didn’t know it then, but I was teaching timeshare. My managers used to say that I had the best educated non-owners around.
While I was still selling timeshare, I wrote two books for consumers. Both books were mistakenly looked upon as being anti-timeshare by some people in the industry. Obviously they didn’t take the time to read a word in either book as in reality, the books were written to alleviate many misconceptions about the product and encourage consumers to, at very least, find out more about this exciting vacation experience. I also co-authored a college level textbook on timeshare and timeshare management.
It took me longer than it should have in retrospect to get out of selling timeshare—people who know me will say that I’m a “bit” stubborn—-but now in 2020 I’ve embraced my role as an independent unbiased educator, consumer advocate and for those timeshare organizations that understand that I’m their best friend, I’m The Timeshare Crusader.
So what does The Timeshare Crusader do? Let’s start with what I don’t do:
- Buy, sell or rent any timeshare
- Offer or dispense legal advice
- Discourage consumers from purchasing timeshare
- Encourage owners to stop paying their loan and/or maintenance fees
- Encourage owners to work with one of the myriad of self-proclaimed exit companies
It’s important to understand what I don’t do for timeshare related organizations to see the value of working with me. I operate with the simple viewpoint of “An educated consumer is the timeshare industry’s best friend.”
An educated consumer tends to purchase what they’ll use, know how to use the product, be pleased with their timeshare vacations and refer friends and family to the product. Does this sound like your typical owner?
Or, as is increasingly the case, are your owners upset, confused and angry and posting their woes on social media channels where the unscrupulous underbelly of the industry is ready, willing and able to offer “assistance” for $4,500 or more?
So, as a crusader, I write, I consult and I educate. Not being beholden to anyone, I’m frank, outspoken and call things as I see them. I’ve been known to skewer one of those self-proclaimed exit companies on Monday and on Wednesday point out that despite what the salesperson said, the developer does not have a program whereby there are no more maintenance fees if the existing owner merely cough up an additional $20,000 to become a “Super Duper Platinum Level” member.
I’m also the creative force behind International Timeshare Appreciation Day, celebrated each November 1st. It’s a way that owners from around the world share all the wonderful things about their timeshare(s).
You’ll be seeing and hearing more about my work in the coming months as I have started to work with ARDA-ROC leadership on some exciting new projects.
Questions We Asked Lisa
- What would you say is the general consensus about the current state of the industry among the timeshare owners with whom you are acquainted?
I’d say the majority of the social media chatter that I see and the conversations I have with owners centers around what, if anything, their resorts/exchange companies will do for them if they haven’t been able to use their timeshare this year due to the pandemic. Unfortunately, there’s also a large segment of owners who have been pitched non-existent COVID related schemes. They are not happy about this…and neither am I. While it’s never a good idea to lie to owners, it’s particularly troubling to hear these accounts in a time where so many are in dire straits.
- Do you ever speak with any HOA board members and, if so, what can you tell us about their motivation to hold office, their expectations from resort management and/or developers, and their level of satisfaction with the direction of their resort (or, conversely, dissatisfaction)?
Unfortunately, most of what I hear concerns well-intentioned owners who run for a seat on their board only to be met with an avalanche of votes from and for the developer. These owners should be embraced, in my opinion as they clearly have the resort’s well-being in mind. Far too many developers fear their owners when in fact, most are happy and as I’ve said before, a happy owner, particularly one that is playing an active role in the running of the resort, leads to more happy owners.
- Tell us more about International Timeshare Appreciation Day.
I started it eight years ago. It’s a day for timeshare owners around the world to celebrate all the great things about timeshare. There’s a Facebook page and a Twitter hashtag-#YES2TIMESHARE-that resorts, exchange companies and any company in the industry can use. The idea was to let other owners as well as prospective owners that there’s plenty to like about timesharing and that millions around the world have had and continue to have wonderful experiences. There’s no cost to participate and no one way resorts can get their owners involved. It’s held each November 1st, so everyone has plenty of time to come up with ways of engaging their owners and getting the word out for next year’s observance!
Lisa Ann Schreier lives in Orlando, where she stays current with ‘all-things-timeshare.’ As she says, “You can keep up with me by reading my blog (https://thetimesharecrusader.blogspot.com), or following me on Twitter (@LisaLooksAt). Questions? Hit me up at email@example.com.”
Lisa Ann Schreier co-authored a college-level textbook, “Timeshare Management, the Key Issues for Hospitality Managers,” with Conrad Lashley (a professor in the U.K.) and Tammie Kaufman, a professor at The University of Central Florida.