In other words, do you need to own a timeshare with a top brand-named hotel company to get the best RCI resorts and the best Interval International resorts? Are RCI and Interval International saving the best exchange weeks for special members?
We’ll first take a look at some numbers to help clarify the answer.
The Top 13 Timeshare Companies
As of 2017, there are approximately 12 million timeshare owners, 5,000 resorts in 1,600 destinations. And the industry is still growing. The biggest timeshare company is Diamond Resorts International with nearly 400 resorts and millions of members.
Club Wyndham and WorldMark by Wyndham, which owns RCI, is second with more than 200 resorts and nearly 1 million members.
Hyatt, Marriott, Westin and Hilton each have about 60 resorts and more than 500,000 members each, and Disney, with only 15 resorts, may be the gold standard of the industry along with the Four Seasons and Ritz Carlton.
Other well-known timeshare companies in the industry, but not household names are Westgate, Shell, Bluegreen, and Vistana.
Altogether, the 13 largest timeshare companies provide RCI and Interval International an owner base of approximately 4 million members.
Although not all of them will be exchanging their weeks each year, and consequently paying RCI and II’s ~$200 fee, many of them are paying the company’s annual membership fee of ~$100.
If only 2 million of the members from the 12 largest timeshare companies are paying RCI and II’s yearly fee, they are raking in $200 million in dues alone. And that’s not counting the money they make on exchange fees, trip insurance, cruise and travel packages and more.
Contrast that with the average timeshare.
The average size of a timeshare has 130 units.
Developer’s sell approximately 50 weeks/year out of each unit. A fully sold out timeshare of this size will have at most, a member base of 6,500. If half of those are paying the membership dues, RCI and II are splitting up only $325,000. (I say “only” as a juxtaposition. Obviously, timeshare is a money making business!)
So, if you were RCI or II, who’s bread would you butter?
Surprisingly, it’s my opinion that timeshare members with these brand name resorts don’t get extra special treatment simply because they are members. And members of the little guy resorts aren’t being penalized either.
To understand this seeming disparity, we have to explore 2 of the top 6 criteria that RCI and II evaluate when a member deposits or banks their week to do an exchange.
Two of the Six Criteria That Determine Exchange Power
Those are supply and demand of the week deposited and customer experience. By understanding just these two things, you will be on the road to getting much better exchanges.
To be clear, customer experience at resorts like Disney, Hyatt, Marriott, and Hilton will always rank the highest when compared with the little guy resorts or even giants like Diamond, Westgate, Bluegreen, and Shell.
The reason is that Disney, Hyatt, Marriott, and Hilton are hotel companies first. They have had years of experience in servicing their guests, running and maintaining their hotels, and when applied to their timeshare division results in the highest customer satisfaction in the industry.
It does come at a price, however. That price comes in the form of a higher purchase price and maintenance fees.
Companies like Diamond, Westgate, Bluegreen, and Shell often have mixed results when it comes to customer experience because their business model was the development and sales of resorts with little to no experience in management.
What about the little guy resorts? They too come with a mixed bag when it comes to customer experience. Many, however, offer a superior experience because they are managing only one resort rather 20-50.
Members of major brand name timeshares are getting the best resorts in the RCI directory and Intervalworld because of the superior customer experience and not because of special treatment.
And while the rest of the timeshare community may not enjoy as much exchange power, many come close in this category. But customer experience is just one of the six criteria that are evaluated by RCI and Interval International when it comes to exchanging timeshares.
Supply and Demand of The Week Deposited
The operative words above are “ The Week Deposited.” Many timeshare members don’t realize that to do an exchange with RCI or Interval International, they must deposit a week out of their resort.
It’s especially confusing to timeshare members that own points. They commonly think that points are deposited with RCI and II when in fact, their points are converted to a week and then deposited.
The week deposited will have a specific start and end date. It may be the first week in April or the last week in October, but it will be a length of eight days and seven nights.
And every timeshare week banked will have a certain amount of trading power based on customer demand.
For example, what sounds better to you; Going to the Westin on Kaanapali Beach in Maui in February or going to a little guy resort in Palm Springs in July? Silly question, right?
But let’s turn that storyline around to vacationing at the Westin Palm Springs in July or the little guy resort on Kaanapali Beach in February! Obviously, there will be more demand for Maui in February than Palm Springs in July regardless if it’s the Westin or little guy resort and that demand translates into more trading power.
It’s even possible that a February week banked out of a very nice little guy resort in Maui will have MORE trading power than a Westin Palm Springs July week.
The Supply Side
For discussion sakes, we’ll use two different locations again, but this time Hawaii and Orlando.
The majority of people that buy timeshares in the Orlando area end up depositing their weeks with RCI and Interval International more frequently after they’ve taken the kids there a few times, where the people that buy timeshares in Hawaii tend not to give up their weeks for exchange nearly as often.
While the Orlando area enjoys a very high demand by timeshare members, it suffers from a very large supply of timeshare weeks, if not THE largest, being deposited with the exchange companies. In other words, high demand and high supply.
Just the opposite is true with the resorts in Hawaii. The overall amount and size of timeshare resorts in Hawaii aren’t that big. Coupled with the fact that the members tend to hang on to their weeks results in the perfect storm in the timeshare exchange world…high demand, low supply.
Again, it’s possible that a Marriott week out of Orlando has less trading power than the little guy resort out of Hawaii. Once again, special treatment will not be given to the Marriott member over the little guy resort simply because of the name brand. It’s all a matter of supply and demand, customer experience and more.
What’s the Verdict?
All in all, I’d say no. These high end resort clubs have great built in trading power for their members, and they usually charge more for their product. But the best little guy resorts can have as much, or even more trading power depending on the location and other factors I’ve discussed.
Most importantly, you need to learn the things that you can do to maximize your exchange power regardless of where you own.
Customer experience and supply and demand of the week deposited are only two of the six criteria both RCI and Interval International use to determine whether your request will be granted.
There are many things that YOU can do to enhance OR destroy your trading power. To help you out I have created The Timeshare Exchange Checklist with 7 simple tips you can and should apply when it comes to exchanging.
It’s totally FREE to you but comes with this warning: I’m not going to make grandiose claims as to the effectiveness of applying these tips. You’re not going to get Christmas skiing in Aspen or the Westin in Maui simply by doing as I suggest.
You will however, get better exchanges in a shorter amount of time regardless if you own a brand name or little guy resort and have a much better understanding of the process. And knowledge is power.
Once you’ve gotten the Timeshare Exchange Checklist, and you see that I know what I am talking about, we can explore what it takes to master the exchange system and be in the top 3% of timeshare exchangers in the world.
You’ll get a 1 page PDF followed up by an email explaining each tip in detail.
Are Marriott And Disney Members Getting Special Treatment From RCI & II? by Jeff Pierce – The Timeshare Expert