-by TS Newshound
Nov. 16, 2009 – To catch up the yanks in the audience to what’s happening across the pond, here are a few updates on industry business in Europe and the UK.
Maybe of most interest to the bulk of us who work in the business is what’s happening to the industry in the current financial crisis. It’s a mixed bag, but at least it isn’t all bad news.
Club la Costa, one of the most prominent timeshare companies in Europe, did recently close down four of its five off-site sales operations in the UK, those off-sites being underperforming. In their place, CLC will be focusing on new programs aimed at increasing the fly-buy marketing, using their Essex-based marketing operation as the centre of that activity. This office handles data from different sources, such as shopping centre booths, e-mailings and website, while independent marketers have promotions at airports both in the UK and Spain.
The sales operation that remains open is the company’s sales and exhibition centre in London’s tony West End and that seems to be doing well.
UK off-sites have been integral to CLC’s success across its 25-year history, so the closure of those sales operations speaks volumes.
Founded in 1984, CLC has more than 50,000 members and 23 wholly owned resorts in England, Scotland, mainland Spain, Tenerife and Austria as well as a presence in Turkey, a Yacht Club and more. CLC is also a founding member of OTE, now renamed to the RDO (more on that below).
Also in the not good news scenario, in case you missed the announcement back in Sept., Marriott said it is halting further timeshare development in Europe, at least for the time being. How long that scenario will last is anyone’s guess.
On the brighter side, Hapimag, that iconic Swiss operation that started the whole timesharing thing back in the 60’s, is seeing very good occupancy in its resorts along with reasonable sales numbers. The company reports occupancy remained high during the summer months at 87.6 per cent, with 1,130,000 overnight stays, a level similar to last year’s, despite the economic crisis.
The most popular resorts were La Madrague in France and the recently extended resort in Tonda, Italy, as well as Hapimag’s German resorts, which reported an average 98 per cent occupancy rate.
Winter bookings show the same trend, with the Alpine resorts of Saalbach in Austria, and Flims in the Czech Republic, as well as the year-round destination of San Agustin in the Canary Islands already selling well.
The RDO: Formerly known as OTE (Organisation for Timeshare in Europe) renamed itself in March 2009 to Resort Development Organisation (RDO). The organisation said the new name “is reflective of developments in the vacation ownership industry, which has changed dramatically since the 1960s when timeshare was first sold.” The RDO is actively seeking new members from other forms of holiday home ownership such as fractional ownership and destination clubs.
RDO (Resort Development Organisation) is the trade body dedicated to excellence and fair trading in the European vacation ownership industry, while promoting and fostering industry growth. As such, it serves its members through public relations, legislative lobbying, research and member and consumer relations management. It is headed up by chairman Richard McIntosh, Managing Director of Hilton International Grand Vacations Company (HIGVC), whose 2-year term will expire in Nov. 2010.
RDO is an international non profit making association registered in Brussels with company number 0457.984.213. Its registered office is at Oak House, Cours St Michel 100/3, 1040 Brussels, Belgium. http://www.rdo.org/
FSOTA: The Fractional and Shared Ownership Trade Association (FSOTA) became a member of RDO in April 2009. While remaining a stand-alone association, FSOTA members are now bound by RDO’s code of conduct and consumers. (And might I say that unlike ARDA, RDO’s counterpart in the USA, the RDO sometimes really takes action to help consumers against rogue companies– though not so much against its own members.)
The FSOTA promotes the growth of the fractional and shared ownership industry “in a responsible, honest, and transparent manner, based on principles of fair trading, professionalism and quality of products and services.” The chairman of the organisation is Piers Brown. http://www.fsota.org/
It is worthy to note that timeshare complaints in Europe have dropped significantly since the adoption of new timeshare regulations throughout Europe and the UK a few years ago, but complaints against fraudulent holiday clubs and the like have been on a steep rise. Addressing that issue, RDO’s Enforcement team in Spain has confirmed that five companies have been recently been closed down by the Spanish authorities on the Costa del Sol, on suspicion of fraudulent activities related to timeshare.
The companies closed include First Legal Services, a class action company operating from Estepona, and Multisur, a resale company operating from Fuengirola, where five people were arrested. This company had been approaching timeshare owners with an offer from a potential buyer, demanding up-front payment to carry out the supposed sale, which never materialised.
Also raided were Iberia Market & Trade, a resale company operating from Mijas, and two of its associated companies: Pasaporte Ltd and Vicmar Cabopino.
And that’s all the Hot Stuff from across the pond for today.
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