Lisa Ann Schreier, The Timeshare Crusader is the founder of Timeshare Insights, a consumer consulting company serving the more than 10 million consumers worldwide who attend a timeshare sales presentation or “pitch” annually, as well as the more than 6 million who already own one or more timeshares. She is the author of two best-selling books on timeshare – “Surviving A Timeshare Presentation—Confessions From The Sales Table” and “Timeshare Vacations For Dummies” Both books have been a hit with consumers who are confused by the industry’s outdated sales and marketing techniques and at a loss as to where to turn for unbiased information. Her blog is now considered required reading for those looking to keep up to date with the sometimes convoluted world of timeshare.
Timeshare Insights is an education and consultant based company dealing with timeshare issues.
They do NOT sell, rent, buy, broker, list, transfer any timeshare nor are they affiliated with any timeshare or timeshare entity.
Their goal is simple…to provide unbiased and independent services to consumers, educate the public and the media about timeshare and serve as a catalyst for positive change in the industry.
MO: How did you come with the concept for Timeshare Insights?
Lisa Ann: I was a timeshare salesperson and sales manager for more than 5 years. Early into my career, I was disheartened with the lack of control that I had in choosing the clients and with the high pressure sales techniques that were (and are) prevalent. I thought it would make far more sense to have consumers have a basic knowledge of timeshare prior to the sales presentation and to understand what goes on at a sales presentation. This then evolved into realizing that I was much happier teaching timeshare than selling it. The more I learned about the industry, the more the I broadened into consulting services. Consumers are truly at a disadvantage when it comes to timeshare issues, so I’m on a mission to bring them unbiased insights and bring trust back to timeshare.
MO: What are some of the questions and considerations a person should take into account before committing to a timeshare?
Lisa Ann: Terrific question! You need to have some idea of the type of timeshares that are available and what works best for your situation. You also have to be truthful about your past vacation habits and your future vacation goals. There are also the financial considerations-a timeshare may or may not be cheaper than renting a hotel room every year, so you need to take a look at the financial implications of each. Those are good starting questions; there are many more.
MO: What are some of the biggest issues you see people facing when it comes to investing in a timeshare property?
Lisa Ann: Right off the bat, I would say that people need to stop using the words “investing” and “timeshare” in the same sentence. Timeshares, unlike most other forms of deeded real estate, are NOT investments at all. The other big issues are the fact that even after 40 year of being around, people simply don’t understand the benefits and drawbacks of a timeshare. Add to that the outdated and antiquated marketing and sales practices still employed by the majority of timeshare resorts out there and it’s no wonder than people are clamoring for the truth. The explosion of the secondary market for timeshares is also a huge issue for both buyers and sellers. It’s basically an unregulated market fraught with opportunity for consumers to be taken advantage of.
MO: What are some ways that a person can determine if a timeshare company is legitimate or a scam?
Lisa Ann: It’s important to say that the vast majority of timeshare resorts are NOT scams, even though their marketing methods often leave the consumer feeling that they may have been scammed. The vast majority of actual scams concerning timeshare have to do with people getting contacted by companies claiming to have a buyer for their timeshare, or some other way “out.” That being said, consumers need to understand that they should not buy anything without a) fully understanding it, b) sufficient time to make an informed choice and c) working with an independent consultant or at the very least, doing a cursory Internet search. If a consumer already has a timeshare, the best way to determine if a company is a scam is if they contacted you first. Legitimate companies don’t do that. There are also an unfortunate number of growing issues concerning timeshare resorts exercising more control over owners. It’s imperative that all timeshare owners have their documentation thoroughly reviewed by a timeshare savvy attorney. I work with a group of such attorneys.
MO: Why do you think that in such a massive industry that the marketing efforts remain outdated and are you starting to see a shift?
Lisa Ann: Two words spring to mind: Complacency and Greed. There is a LOT of money being made despite the slowdown from the high of 2007. People in the industry continue to surround themselves with likeminded people, rather than looking around and seeing how other industries thrive. If that continues, I seriously doubt if the current timeshare model can survive another ten years. The shift that I do see comes on the part of the consumer who is far less likely to purchase a $20,000 timeshare on a whim. As word spreads and as I continue to build Timeshare Insights’ platform, consumers are getting more educated and sharing more knowledge…the industry will be forced to adapt to that.
MO: Are there any trends in the timeshare industry that you’re excited about or think that our readers should be paying attention to?
Lisa Ann: The industry is finally paying attention to the secondary market and realizing that not everyone wants a timeshare forever. It’s a small step in the right direction. One thing that I am excited about is International Timeshare Appreciation Day which I initiated in 2012. This year, our second, will be even bigger and better as more companies and more owners join in. It’s November 1st and there’s a dedicated Facebook page and a Twitter hasthag (#YES2TIMESHARE) that’s already going strong.
The other thing that is tremendously exciting for me, is seeing how many timeshare owners and potential timeshare owners are actively seeking out information before doing anything timeshare related. I firmly believe that companies that have nothing to hide don’t hide anything. Timeshares can be great for some people—consumers have to realize that knowledge is power and they are responsible for seeking out that knowledge.
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