My Sunday morning was enlivened by an email from my colleague Robin Mills forwarding on a copy of Mr Grey’s latest tome on the timeshare industry rather grandly entitled (“The Rise and Fall of Timeshare in Europe” – Shades of Edward Gibbon’s “Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire” first published 1776?). Once I had elected to spend some of my valuable Sunday delving into this work, it became clear that much of the 55 pages were a re-hash of a lot of his older stuff (clearly not up-dated) and I suspect much of it was also lifted from his old “Crimeshare” website which ended up with him being sued for defamation and condemned in substantial costs, when he finally admitted the website was his (sued by the very same Bob Trotta that Sandy Grey spends a lot of time attacking in his report – I wonder why?)
Enough of the negatives, and this is what happens when you go through his report- it sits like a great black cloud over you as you read. Sadly Mr G is stuck in a bit of a time warp when it comes to the industry and as a so-called “consumer’s champion” he appears to treat most of the current 1.2 million timeshare owning families in the EU – of which nearly 600,000 are UK citizens as duped simpletons. He repeatedly ignores issues such as satisfaction rates of 80% plus amongst existing owners from surveys carried out by university bodies independent of the industry, and he points to the fact that as with most business sectors these days, there is growing concentration within the industry – this is according to him, a sign the industry is in trouble, he obviously isn’t an economist and he is obviously ignoring the new groups joining RDO – such as Karma Resorts – (headed by John Spence, twice voted Australian Business man of the year?) and the expansion of new hotel groups into timeshare. Indeed RDO will be producing its latest members’ sales figures during the Conference, showing that sales are holding up well during this double dip recession – another factor he ignores. As a “consumer’s champion” you would think he would be more sensitive to the needs of existing owners not to talk the product down, but perhaps Mr G can garner more business for himself by panicking people into worrying about their timeshare rather than helping them enjoy it?
Not content with slating the industry he also has a go at the Timeshare Owners Association and Harry Taylor its Chairman and long time multiple timeshare owner himself. Here’s an organisation that has worked hard to promote the interests of some 450,000 owners, mainly in the UK, which is completely independent of RDO (we do have the occasional disagreement), yet according to Mr Grey, Harry is somehow in the pocket of RDO! I have news for Mr G, RDO does contribute through its industry trust (The Timeshare Partnership Trust) toward the running of TATOC’s Helpline, which does a sterling job in helping owners and the general public. That is the extent of our support other than the fact the two sides of this industry work together when they can for the betterment of the product and to enhance the experience of owners. Perhaps Mr Grey is hoping for some financial support himself?
Unfortunately for Sandy the very latest consumer study we had carried out by Bournemouth University’s School of International Tourism showed that the 35 to 45 year olds who were surveyed about timeshare, had heard nothing negative about the product and believed it represented an interesting and value for money alternative to the average package holiday and wanted to know more about it. The industry is looking hard at fashioning new products that will appeal to today’s consumer conscious buyers and of course these consumers will provide resale opportunities for those owners needing to sell as they reach an age when they no longer want to travel and have had their years of enjoyment from their weeks.
Oh dear Mr Grey, looks as though you missed a whole generation there – isn’t it time you retired?