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Owners Timeshare News

What Club Wyndham’s Updated Guest Policy Means for You

Oops, they did it again. Club Wyndham dropped another very divisive bomb on their owners without much notice. If you remember, a few months ago (March 15th to be exact) we announced that Club Wyndham added blackout dates for guests within a few select Holidays and peak seasons and certain resorts throughout 2021 and 2022.

Mike Kennedy - Jun 22, 2021
Club Wyndham Ocean Boulevard

Last Friday evening, Club Wyndham expanded this Guest Certificate Policy to include most weekends and Holidays through 2022 in many high-traffic resorts such as Bonnet Creek and Nashville. That means, after June 18th 2021 at midnight, owners may not apply more than 2 guest certificates to any of the blackout dates, regardless of your ownership tier. This includes any owner renting to family members, or any owner that was counting on rental revenue to cover costs. 

Club Wyndham’s purported sentiment is reasonable. “Club Wyndham resorts are taking steps to prioritize your owner reservations by temporarily limiting access by non-owners, including guest reservations, during peak holiday travel dates, giving you maximum availability and opportunity to vacation during major holidays and special events. While of course that’s good in some cases, it also has a significant impact on those who were explicitly sold higher ownership tiers as a means of earning rental revenue if they couldn’t use all their points. Hence the divisiveness. 

Firstly: we hope it’s abundantly clear by now that no one should be buying timeshare to make money. That said, as our owner community will tell you, most timeshare sales presentations include rentals as an easy way to defray one’s annual fees or monthly payments. These can be costly and, in my experience, are the main obstacle to a sale. So it’s understandable that many salespeople convey this as a means to overcome said obstacle; even if they shouldn’t. 

That last part is important. Owner rentals are still something of a conundrum in the timeshare industry. In fact, we were prohibited from mentioning rentals in our presentations at The Hilton Club – so, to be clear, I didn’t. But many do. It’s not that you aren’t allowed to rent your timeshare as an owner (you typically are*). It’s mostly because they’re unassisted, unregulated and prospects can easily be misinformed or misled into buying for the wrong reasons. At its worst, timeshare can be portrayed as an income-earning investment property. Yes, that happens sadly. Owner rentals can also compete with the timeshare company’s own rental market, as most brands rent empty suites on sites like Expedia or Booking.com. But, if nurtured and embraced properly, owner rentals could be a powerful tool to intrigue new audiences and safely reroute current owners away from nefarious exit scams. 

This month’s ARDA convention, which my Cofounder James and I attended (and even sponsored), had one overarching key message from many of the speakers: How does the industry entice younger generations, improve the industry’s perception by increasing ethics and transparency and (most importantly) open them up to the concept of timeshare ownership? The issue is, fundamentally, younger generations are more intrigued by experiences than ownership. They’re less likely to own a home than previous generations, much less a timeshare. They also grew up with exciting and easy new travel platforms like Airbnb and limitless access with technologies like Uber and Grubhub that offer consumers control and convenience

While this latest mandate was perhaps more of a “shot across the bow” than a direct hit, it certainly emphasizes Club Wyndham’s ambivalence about owner rentals. While developing KOALA, we often received this feedback: “why would anyone buy a timeshare today if they could just rent one?” Yet when sharing-economy sites like Airbnb reign supreme, why would anyone buy a timeshare today if they couldn’t rent it? 

So, whether the root cause here was a genuine effort to increase owner’s availability at a unique time for travel or simply a strategy to disrupt the owners using their excess points for rentals (or perhaps a little bit of both?) we’ll never know. What we can say is that the timeshare industry is at an interesting inflection point. Let us know your thoughts at hello@go-koala.com.

*HGV owners can rent their Home Week only and rules & regulations vary between brands, particularly for commercial use.
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