Dial An Exchange On….. Being Direct

Dial An Exchange has been in business since 1997 as a relatively new addition to the exchange space globally, but an even newer addition to the North American Markets specifically, only having done business here for the past 5 years.

“It’s been a tough pull” says CEO and co-founder Francis Taylor, “We decided early on that we would approach the North American market by employing a direct-to-consumer strategy rather than a channel strategy and while it is paying off now, the first few years were a real test.

“We’ve marketed our services to consumers by way of resale and rental platforms, online communities, user groups and forums, webinars, seminars, direct mail and more” Taylor continues.

“When we find a timeshare owner and explain what we do, how we do it and how we are different, folks try us…. It’s that simple.”

It’s been 5 years and Dial An Exchange North America is going strong. They have established a name for themselves in the market, secured key relationships and channel partnerships and have been growing revenue and member counts ever since.

Referrals. Dial An Exchange had to come into a market with several existing players. Many exchange companies are backed by management companies that have a group of resorts to call their own. DAE has consistently marketed themselves as a ‘direct-to-consumer’, transaction-based company, and has proven it by growing its business one transaction at a time, rather than with affiliation fees, membership fees, or rental revenue.

“Referrals currently account for over 50% of the incoming memberships to DAE. Whether they come from individual owners or resorts that have owners with specific needs, DAE has become the choice for over 300,000 members worldwide, with over 100,000 in North America” said Francis.

When marketing directly to the consumer, DAE makes its core competencies well known up front.

“We keep things simple, we give the members good old fashioned, personal customer service and our fees are reasonable and more than competitive” he concluded.

Keeping it simple
One week equals one week. DAE is just a simple, transparent exchange service that offers week-for-week exchanges. There are no evaluations, no points and no trading power concerns.

For owners of “prime time” weeks they offer Primetime Rewards where owners receive great added value for banking their week. What qualifies? Simple – the most desired weeks in their request system.  Primetime weeks and destinations are constantly being updated and are listed on the Primetime Rewards page online at www.daelive.com.

Plus DAE will always offer a free membership option, eliminating any barriers consumers might have to trying a new exchange service. DAE even offers the consumer the ability to place a request for non-available inventory without making a deposit first!

“It gives the consumer time to look at what DAE has to offer and it gives us a chance to prove ourselves to the enquiring prospect and earn the business without requiring the consumer to take any perceived chances before trying us” explains Fermin Cruz, VP of North American Business. [member]

“By not affiliating specific resorts, we can take deposits from any resort that is willing to verify ownership” he said.

DAE strongly believes that owners should not be cornered into doing business with only one exchange company. They should be offered a choice and let the best service providers benefit. Owners appreciate that and, given the information, are very receptive to trying new service providers.

Give the members good, personalized customer service
One significant point of difference between DAE and other companies is their policy of issuing customers with phone numbers and emails that go direct to the Exchange Counselor’s desk, so a member can always talk to the same rep they dealt with on their last call! Or even better, develop a relationship with one of the many DAE Exchange Counselors that have been in the job for years! All members of DAE are referred to by name and DAE Exchange Counselors are trained professionals who like what they do for a living. Why is that important?

“Because if our Exchange Counselors are happy, they tend to want to make others happy too” smiled Fermin.

Enhancing the Timeshare Lifestyle
“At DAE we believe Timeshare Ownership is more than just taking a week’s vacation; timeshare ownership is a lifestyle” he said.

There is a reason why timeshare owners spend thousands of dollars to purchase their timeshare. Timeshare owners enjoy staying in nice, self-contained accommodations, cooking in their own kitchens, and being able to host family and friends while they travel.

In response to DAE members looking to enhance their timeshare lifestyle, DAE launched its Gold Advantage program in 2008. For only $89 the first year and $59 per year for renewal, Gold Advantage members receive some great DAE member perks.

As Cruz says, “The primary benefits of our Gold Advantage membership revolve around the exchange services themselves. Gold Advantage members can book newly arrived inventory for 14 days prior to our free members gaining access.

“Gold Advantage members get Priority Requests, meaning their requests are moved to the front of the line. Gold Advantage members also receive 10% off all exchange and bonus week purchases.

“But Gold Advantage membership is much more than just requests and exchange discounts,” continues Cruz, “Gold advantage also offers lifestyle discounts and benefits.”

For example, Gold Advantage members have access to a 24/7 concierge service that provides roadside assistance, currency exchange assistance, emergency medical assistance, travel assistance, and more. Gold Advantage members also get membership buying discounts, cruise and tour discounts, shopping and golf discounts, travel discounts, movie discounts, and more.

DAE also recently launched daeOptions, which offers timeshare owners the ability to rent or exchange a timeshare week for a non-timeshare stay at a high-end resort or hotel with the suite-style rooms that timeshare owners expect on their vacation.

How Can Timeshare Owners Help Themselves?
States Cruz, “One question we often get at DAE is, what can I do as a timeshare owner to get the most value out of my timeshare?”

“Happily, we feel we’re the perfect ‘partner’ to help them. The first thing we tell timeshare owners is to be active owners. Timeshare owners need to use their weeks, trade their weeks, and be active in their Association to best understand how things work with their home resort company.”

“When it comes to exchanges,” continues Cruz, “Timeshare owners need to temper their expectations or shop multiple exchange services to get what they want. The chances of exchanging into Hawaii six weeks from now are not very good, so request early and often. Timeshare owners need to also think not just what destination they want to go to, but what kind of vacation they want to take.

“At DAE this is something we find out upfront. For example, while Hawaii may be difficult to exchange into on short notice, if the owner wants a good fishing vacation, there is probably a good chance we can find them a beautiful resort in Cabo San Lucas where they can have the kind of vacation they’re looking for. Same thing applies for a skiing vacation. Everyone wants to go to Vail to ski, but there are fantastic lifts all throughout the western Rocky Mountains, including Utah, Idaho, and up in Canada. We’ll help our members find one that will be every bit as good as Vail.”

“Another thing owners would get great benefit from,” explains Cruz, “is actively participating in the timeshare community’s conversation. Maybe an owner doesn’t know they would be just as happy fishing in Mexico or skiing in Canada, but talk to another owner – they all have fantastic stories to tell. We tell our members about owner forums and publications as well as webinars and seminars that might prove helpful.”

The Future of Dial An Exchange
“The future is very bright!” says Francis Taylor, “We are growing our membership base and have a great set of partners and clients spreading the word. We are looking forward to a great 2011 and beyond.”

“We’ve created a portable exchange platform that can be used by other companies and timeshare groups to launch or enhance their internal exchange services as well, so our business to business or channel partnerships are now taking shape.

“But our best business is still word of mouth – owner-to-owner or resort-to-owner,” continues Cruz.

“Our members are happy, and we hear from them all the time, letting us know just how happy they are with Dial An Exchange. That’s why we don’t feel the need to use business practices that attempt to lock people into a ‘single exchange provider system’. We’re very happy to let the end-user be the judge of quality and service, and let our success stand on its merits” concluded Fermin.

Dial An Exchange was founded in 1997 in Australia and now has offices all over the globe, including New Zealand, Asia, Europe, South Africa, and Phoenix, Arizona. Dial An Exchange now services over 300,000 members worldwide and is growing. Dial An Exchange recently acquired the RedWeek.com exchange service. [/member]