Without pre-empting the content of this week’s session at RDO5 “Self Regulation –too tight or too loose?” nor indeed the Breakout Session “Mitigating the Risk”- this topic has been under consideration these last few days as we look at the budget for 2015 – as always, a balancing act for any trade association between what we would like to achieve and what we believe members are prepared to contribute.
No-one can pretend the media coverage this year in the UK, Germany and Scandinavia has been particularly good, indeed one could say it has been a bit of an unmitigated disaster, but it has to be said – little if any of it has involved RDO or its members. The depredations of the activities of the Kaiser companies have continued to make news, particularly in the Nordic countries. ITRA and its associated operations have been featured in the UK by BBC Radio 4, and we know the ECC in Germany has continued to fret at the lack of exit routes for legacy owners in that country. The situation is not helped by poor journalistic standards as evidenced by the Glasgow Herald articles this summer concerning the Macdonald Resorts new proposals on exit terms from their clubs. Whilst Macdonald Resorts is not an RDO member, this didn’t stop the Herald from linking controversy over those exit terms, to essentially what can be termed “broken promises” by RDO! Trying to correct this sort of poor journalism is a little like pushing water uphill – what price the Leveson recommendations?
The fact is that however tight our operating budget in 2015, we do need to push on and not let the fraudsters and ambulance chasers get the upper hand. Can we do things smarter and more efficiently, I think we can and do need to do so. We do have to recognise though, that often we can only present the evidence to the relevant prosecuting authorities, others over whom we have no control have then to follow it up and take action, and with budget cuts around the EU generally this can be and is a frustrating exercise at times. That said files of evidence are at this time being presented in both the UK and Spain and we continue to press for action – we also know as a result of this that there are active investigations going on against various companies in both these jurisdictions.
There is no doubt the Internet remains a fertile operating environment for these people and many of them are spending big sums each month in trying to get to the top of the pile over some of our members’ sites. It is a sad fact of life that it is surprisingly easy if you are a fraudster with a degree of ingenuity and intelligence, to make a living as a fraudster – it is our job to continue to make that harder and to prod the authorities whether in individual member states or in Brussels to do more than they are. As we have said many times during the current Directive review – further legislation is not a panacea for these issues – enforcement of the existing law should be the first step. Unfortunately this is not necessarily what the law makers in the Commission want to hear as it is something they have little control over – from their perspective it is more a case of create a new directive and the job’s done! We have thus far and will continue to dis-abuse them of that notion and stay ahead of the curve by making sure our own self-regulation ticks the necessary boxes.
I do however genuinely believe there is light at the end of the tunnel – and no it isn’t a train coming the other way!