The Biz According to Snidely: February 10, 2018

worker_stressedout 

Captious Captions by Sam Snidely

Tom has been working as an independent contractor (I/C) and earns a decent living closing deals in the timeshare industry.

But unfortunately one of his children recently needed surgery for a small bowel resection. With no health insurance, costs quickly climbed to around $48,641.82 and, sadly, he had to dip into the family nest egg, borrow some money from a couple of relatives and take a 3rd out on the family home to cover everything.

Hopefully Tom will finally figure out that he’s been played for a sucker and will move on to a timeshare developer who will be happy to provide him and his family the security of full benefits that include medical & life insurance as well as paid vacation time, paid sick leave, an employer-contributing or sponsored retirement plan plus, of course, spiffs, bonuses and a commission structure far better than what he’s being paid as an I/C.



This column, formerly known as “Weekly Wisecrack” is primarily (but not always) a somewhat snarky look inside the workings of the timeshare industry, usually from the viewpoint of sales and marketing representatives. It strives to shed light on the real-life issues faced by timeshare professionals working in the industry. Do you have a different point of view? Leave your own caption or opinion in the Comments if you’re so inclined…
Image Source: hasslefreeclipart.com

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Timeshare Odds and Ends: February 10, 2018

Timeshare news 24/7
  ♪ ♫ I’ve thrown away my toys/ Even my guns and trains/ I want to make some noise/ with real live aeroplanes/ Some day I’m going to fly/ I’ll be a pilot too/ and when I do/ how would you/ like to be my crew/ on the good ship/ lollipop?
sing

What does that have to do with life in the Land of Time? Has the ship sailed without us? Are we now rowing in a sinking dinghy? Headed for an iceberg? Afflicted with Legionnaires disease or generic sea-sickness? What’s up?

“When will timeshare developers stop being their own worst enemies,” asks Scoop. “Perhaps the time has long since passed when The Good Ship Lollipop set sail.”

So what’s the Scoop?. What does it all have to do with lawyers, exit schemes and whistleblowers? See Scoop du Jour: Whistleblowers



A wise wiseacre I happen to know had this to say about the current volatility of the stock market:

When talking about stock markets, there are three rules you have to remember. First, the stock market is not the economy. Second, the stock market is not the economy. Third, the stock market is not the economy.

That is all. 😉



Hey, did you see that news release from an organization called AirbnbWatch, an affordable housing advocate and consumer watchdog group? They released a report showing significant price gouging by Airbnb hosts in New Orleans, Louisiana for rentals during Mardi Gras weekend and leading into Fat Tuesday.

The report shows rates for many Airbnb rentals increasing by thousands of dollars per night during the Mardi Gras festivities. These are similar to a finding in a previously released report during the Super Bowl. During Mardi Gras, an apartment in downtown New Orleans, which is normally rented for $299 per night, was being advertised for $1,800 per night for the weekend and Fat Tuesday. A typical three-night stay at that apartment would cost a total of $897, but the same length of stay during Mardi Gras would cost more than $5,400.

This is a pretty damning report, but good for those of us working the little round tables. If I were you I’d print it out and take it to work to help educate your sales guests. Seriously. You’ll find it at this link.

You can thank me later. 😉



TWEET OF THE WEEK:

Have you seen the world yet?

Where are YOU going this year?

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Weekly Jukebox: February 10, 2018

Neon Jukebox 

We all know who former boy band member Harry Styles is, right? Sure we do. I mean, as of this writing nearly 293 Million people have watched the video below, so he must be doing something right, amirite?

“Sign of the Times” is the debut solo single by Styles for his self-titled debut studio album, which was released on April 7, 2017. It was filmed on Scotland’s stunning Isle of Skye, which certainly added to the epic feel of the song. And in case you should wonder the video’s stunt pilot, Will Banks, stated that Styles flew more than 1,550 feet high during the shoot and that no green screen or CGI effects were employed during filming. A stunt double was used for some scenes

Seriously, this is totally awesome.

What are YOU listening to tonight? And what would you like to hear?



The Weekly Juke Box aims to feature good music/good fun regardless of era or genre. Send in your own favorite and if I can find a good version on YouTube I’ll post it for you! What would you like to see or hear? gatekeeper@insidethegate.com

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Timeshare Business News: February 10, 2018

Monopoly Board 

$$$► End-of-year 2017 data gathered by Spain-based consultancy firm ForwardKeys, which helped forecast future travel by analysing almost 17 million flight booking transactions a day, global long-haul flight bookings were 10.4 % ahead of the same time in 2016 — except for the USA, which was down from the rest of the world.

Looking back on 2017, global intercontinental flight arrivals rose +7.0%. Inbound air travel to the Asia Pacific region was up 4.4%. To Africa and the Middle East, intercontinental flight arrivals were up 11.5% and to Europe, they went up to 13.3%.

The only negative was the Americas, where growth was virtually nothing, 0.1% up from 2016.

ForwardKeys’ data implied that President Donald Trump’s ban on nationals from seven mainly Muslim countries entering the USA appears to be deterring travellers from other countries around the world, too. The findings show that after Mr Trump’s initial travel ban (imposed on January 27, 2017) net bookings issued from those seven countries (Iraq, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen) between January 28 and February 4 were down 80% on the same period in 2016.

Significantly, ForwardKeys also looked at wider international trends in bookings to the US and discovered a 6.5% negative variation compared with the equivalent eight-day period the year before. It suggests the turmoil over his ruling is putting off people travelling to the US from many regions of the world.

Bookings from Northern Europe were down 6.6%, from Western Europe were down 13.6% and from Southern Europe down 2.9%. Travel from the Middle East was down 37.5% and from Asia Pacific down 14%. If one analyzes total outbound bookings from each of those regions to provide a benchmark, in every case, the USA has lost market share as total outbound travel from Northern Europe was flat, from Western Europe was down 1%, from Southern Europe was up 3.1%, from the Middle East was down 13% and from Asia Pacific was down 8.9%.

If you’re thinking “So what?”, then think what that means in terms of dollars. In 2016, the U.S. travel and tourism industry generated over $1.5 trillion in economic output, supporting 7.6 million jobs, according to SelectUSA, an international trade analyst firm. That represents 2.7% of overall GDP.

Imagine this: Just over the first three months of Donald Trump’s presidency, 697,791 fewer foreigners visited the U.S. than normal, down 4.2% to 15.8 million people, according to new figures released by the U.S. Department of Commerce. That drop accounted for a whopping loss of $2.7 billion in spending, according to Tourism Economics.

The demand for flights to nearly every major US city fell this year, according to the booking engine Kayak. Kayak found that British interest in Philadelphia, San Francisco, Orlando and Las Vegas fell by at least 10 percent compared with 2016, while demand for flights to a further eight – including New York and Los Angeles – dropped by five percent or more.

The trend has been labelled by the travel industry as “The Trump Slump”. Is that realistic?

Did you guys and gals notice a drop in foreign guests at the little round tables last year? What do your numbers look like?



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Florida Timeshare News: February 10, 2018

>> EASTERN USA TIMESHARE NEWS:

Timeshare news 24/7
BONITA SPRINGS: Hyatt Residence Club is getting BIGGER.

GATES Construction has signed a contract to add a new building at Hyatt Residence Club Bonita Springs, Coconut Plantation on Florida’s Gulf Coast. The three-story structure, built over covered parking with enough space to accommodate all guests, will feature 24 studio, one- and two-bedroom residences with private balconies that overlook the Raptor Bay Golf Course.

The structure will be on the north side of the property and will mirror other Residence Club buildings. Architectural design is being provided by Zabala Erickson, LLC.

Amenities at the current resort will be available to guests and members at the new building; they include four pools, a 1,000-foot lazy river pool, world-class golf, spa services, fitness center, and close proximity to the white sandy beaches of its private island.

The new building is scheduled to be completed this fall.

I’d suspect that memberships in those 24 units will sell fast. 😉



ORLANDO: Work on the Margaritaville Resort Orlando is moving right along. As you probably know, at full buildout the project will feature a 187-room Margaritaville hotel, 900 resort rental homes, 300 timeshare units, a retail and entertainment portion and a 12-acre waterpark. It will also include a wellness center, miles of wooded fitness trails, a water taxi system, and a three-acre swimming area.

The $750 million vacation destination celebrated the groundbreaking of its 187-room hotel in July last year; it is expected to open late this year. In November, 2017, the company shared its vision of the proposed vacation cottages in “a tropical garden path that winds through lushly landscaped gathering spots adorned with communal fire pits, hammocks and outdoor grills,” according to a news release. It went on to describe the cottages thusly: “The cottage design features vibrantly colored exteriors, open entertaining floor plans, Caribbean-style siding, gingerbread trim and louvered shutters. Cottage to cottage, the resort offers distinctive roofing options which include synthetic thatch, corrugated tin, smooth slate and standing seam metal in various colors.”

And now Encore Capital Management is concentrating on the retail part of the community, having recently unveiled the first retailers to join the 200,000-square-foot SunsetWalk at Margaritaville Orlando. The largest tenant to join SunsetWalk so far is Studio Movie Grill, a 40,000-square-foot theater that will feature 12 screens and more than 1,000 recliners. Also announced are:

  • GameTime will open a 24,000-square-foot entertainment center that will include a restaurant, sports bar, video arcade games, prize machines and more than 60 TVs.
  • Country band Rascal Flatts will open a themed restaurant at the development that will feature a full-service bar, live entertainment and retail space.
  • Rock & Brews — a restaurant associated with musicians Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley

Other confirmed tenants at the development include Skechers, Bahama Bucks, Avalon Day Spa, Café Rio, Cold Stone Creamery, Paradise Spirits and Wine and BugerFi

The first phase of SunsetWalk is expected to open in November.

I’m not sure, but I suspect that if someone wanted to offer me a residence there I wouldn’t mind taking it. 😛



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New Jersey Timeshare News: February 10, 2018

>> EASTERN TIMESHARE NEWS:

Timeshare news 24/7

CAMDEN: It’s time to give an update on the status of Adam Lacerda’s and Ian Resnick’s appeals, for those of you who are still interested. This is Re: the VO Group scam, as a result of which Lacerda received a 27-year sentence in the Big House and Resnick got 18 years.

First off, the court docket still mentions Genevieve Manzoni as one of the appellants, but she has already served her 3.5-year sentence and was released on Jan. 26, 2018, so I don’t understand what’s going on with that. Maybe the appeal would affect her period of supervised relase?

As far as Lacerda and Resnick go, their appeals were consolidated with Manzoni’s in August 2016. Since that time there have been a boatload of requests for continuances due to the complicated and massive amount of data and documents involved. Lacerda and his co-appellants were facing a January 15, 2018 deadline by which to file their briefs and joint appendix but Resnick and Manzoni apparently were slow and as of Dec. 13, 2017 Lacerda had not received the necessary contribution from his co-appellants concerning the joint appendix.

So, since Lacerda was anxious to move the appeal along (27 years is a long time, after all), he petitioned the court for his case to be separated from the others. You can read that request if you want to. It’s pretty interesting.

ANYhow, on January 8, 2018, the court denied his motion for relief from the consolidation order and a new date for getting their sh*t together was issued for Feb. 8. But things do finally seem to be moving along. In the court docket for February 5 you will find this entry:

    TEXT ONLY ORDER (Clerk) granting Motion to suspend deadline for filing opening brief and joint appendix filed by Appellant Adam Lacerda in No. 15-2812. As Appellants are filing a joint appendix, the briefing schedule in all 3 cases is hereby stayed pending disposition of Appellant Lacerda’s motion to exceed the word limitation for his opening brief. If either of the other two Appellants intends to seek leave to file an overlength opening brief, a motion requesting such must be filed on or before Thursday, 2/8/18. Any such motion must contain sufficient justification in conformance with the Court’s January 9, 2012 Standing Order. [15-2812, 15-4023, 16-2220] (HAG) [Entered: 02/05/2018 02:39 PM]

In short, Adam asked for permission to be more loquacious in his opening brief, and the court granted all three parties until Feb. 8, to git ‘er done.

Stay tuned.



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Japan Timeshare News: February 10, 2018

>> INTERNATIONAL TIMESHARE NEWS:

Timeshare news 24/7
KANAGAWA PREFECTURE: Last week I told you about the new Hilton Grand Vacations resort 30 miles from Tokyo via bullet train. In case you’ve already forgotten, HGV completed a real estate purchase from Hilton that includes existing buildings and land for development within the Hilton Odawara Resort & Spa.

HGV didn’t include a very good photo of the resort in its press release, so I went looking for one so we could all get a look at what the whole resort looks like- and I found it on the company website.

HGV-Odawara

That’s pretty impressive.

The resort will open sometime this year, and don’t forget about the land that’s available to build more units. I wonder what HGV will build on that land, and in what form?

Stay tuned.



Tip JarTip us off! Share news and info with us securely and confidentially. Some of the most important stories published by the GateHouse have come from anonymous or confidential tipoffs. If you have something sensitive to share, you can safely email the Gatekeeper. We will never reveal your identity without your permission. As well, if you have something positive to share, we’d like to hear that, too! CONTACT: gatekeeper@insidethegate.com

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Mexico Timeshare News: February 10, 2018

>> INTERNATIONAL TIMESHARE NEWS
Mexican timeshare news

EVERYWHERE: In the “I TOLD YOU SO” category, it has finally been confirmed that resale scammers (many of whom operate from Mexico, as you well know) are impersonating attorneys in the U.S.A. in order to legitimize their very sophisticated scams.

In this particular case, the North Carolina State Bar has issued an alert to attorneys about the issue. I’ve been warning folks about that in this blog for a long long time, and it’s nice to finally have confirmation from a major source.

Of course the identity theft/impersonation doesn’t apply only to North Carolina attorneys; the scammers are equal opportunity thieves, and will do the same in any state or country – including the identity theft of attorneys in Mexico.

I’ve gone through this so many times, but I’ll let the State Bar have its turn at describing the scam.

According to the bar, the scammers reach out to owners of timeshares, often ones purchased from Mexican companies. They guarantee that they can facilitate sales at or above market value, often claiming to have buyers already lined up. The scammers request upfront legal fees or other advance payments ranging from $5,000 to $9,000. Once the funds are wired out of the U.S. by the owners, the scammers ask for more money or simply disappear.

The scammers maintain an elaborate website showing what purport to be members of a law firm. The website identifies the “lawyers” on the website using the real names and bar numbers of actual North Carolina licensed lawyers.

And here’s what the Bar recommends:

    A timeshare owner who has been contacted by a person claiming to be a North Carolina lawyer may call the State Bar at (919) 828-4620 to obtain the last known address and telephone number of the purported lawyer. Using that information, the timeshare owner may contact the actual North Carolina licensed lawyer before deciding whether to proceed with the transaction.

    Victims of these scams, along with lawyers who have had their identities compromised, should contact local law enforcement, the North Carolina Attorney General’s Office, and the FBI.

I totally concur.



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Idle Timeshare Thoughts: February 10, 2018

idle thoughts 
QUOTABLE QUOTES: “I have a very strict gun control policy: if there’s a gun around, I want to be in control of it.” —Clint Eastwood
 


 
Seriously, is this kind of thing still going on out there in La La Land?

A reader emailed me with a cryptic tale about a new top manager (who shall remain nameless) for all of a certain major resort company’s properties in a certain destination in the American west. The complaint read like this:

This jackass made himself hated by most of the sales people on his first day on the job, at a meeting. He bragged about his $10,000 monthly mortgage, then went on to ask the salespeople (who are barely making a living) if they would like a commission increase. When a few people were naive enough to say yes- he said “Sell more”. What can be done about such a mizz?

My prediction is that this new manager won’t last long in that position, but he’ll soon find another job like it and then another, then a vice presidency somewhere and so on until he’s burned his way through every outfit in the USA and disrupted the financial security of every sales team he “manages” and every developer who has the misfortune to hire him.

Then he’ll go to Mexico and start all over again, eventually ending up operating resale scams that cheat elderly folks out of their life savings and feeling pretty darned good about it — which is where he would have been when he started out if he had known about it sooner.

Eventually the Russian mob or the Mexican cartels will take care of him if he steps on their toes, if you know what I mean, or he’ll be found headless in a field somewhere in retribution for fooling around with somebody’s young sister or daughter.

Is that too harsh? I ain’t making it up. Keep your nose clean and your head down, that’s my advice…

The End.




Tip JarTip us off! Share news and info with us securely and confidentially. Some of the most important stories published by the GateHouse have come from anonymous or confidential tipoffs. If you have something sensitive to share, you can safely email the Gatekeeper. We will never reveal your identity without your permission. As well, if you have something positive to share, we’d like to hear that, too! CONTACT: gatekeeper@insidethegate.com

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Getting BIGGER: February 10, 2018

>>Timeshare Companies Getting BIGGER
Timeshare news 24/7

Interval International has affiliated the D’Monaco Private Residence Club overlooking Table Rock Lake just minutes from Branson, Missouri. The Mediterranean-style, gated property boasts two- and three-bedroom accommodations that range in size from 1,900 to 3,700 square feet and offer a fully equipped kitchen, washer and dryer, flat-screen televisions in the living room and bedrooms, and a private veranda overlooking the lake. Resort amenities include a boat dock, beach area, outdoor pool, concierge service, and Harley’s Restaurant with a swim up Tiki bar.

Plans to expand the development include a new flagship resort hotel that will complement the Club with numerous amenities, including more dining options, three pools, and a day spa that will also be available to members.



 

Tip JarTip us off! Share news and info with us securely and confidentially. Some of the most important stories published by the GateHouse have come from anonymous or confidential tipoffs. If you have something sensitive to share, you can safely email the Gatekeeper. We will never reveal your identity without your permission. As well, if you have something positive to share, we’d like to hear that, too! CONTACT: gatekeeper@insidethegate.com

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