TATOC: A year of supporting timeshare owners and member resorts

As we approach the end 2015, it is tempting to look back at what you have achieved, compare your results with previous years and determine if you have reached your goals.

So, in this last issue of the year, I thought that I would highlight just some of our successes from the past 12 months.

Support for timeshare owners

Launched in 2008, the TATOC Consumer Helpline has been a registered charity now for over a year. This registered status acknowledges that it operates ‘wholly and exclusively for the public benefit’.

It is recognised by, and works with, Citizens Advice, Trading Standards, the Competition & Markets Authority, police forces and many other national and local government agencies and other bodies.

The Helpline was set up to address the increasing activities of disreputable companies and fraudulent practices that were preying on timeshare owners and damaging the reputation of genuine timeshare businesses.

The team receives more than 1,000 calls each month and averages around 100 contacts every week.

Around 80 per cent of contacts are requests for help and information, but 20 per cent are complaints against specific companies, often where consumers have lost money or about to do so.

Timeshare should be very proud. Only a very small percentage – less than two per cent – of contacts are complaints against genuine timeshare products or companies.

However, as our statistic show, our services are still clearly required.

In 2014, timeshare owners reported to the Helpline that a total amount of £977,765 had been lost to scammers.

In response, the team issued TATOC Consumer Helpline guides covering topics such as using the 1974 Credit Consumer Act and the Visa chargeback scheme to help consumers recover some £777,573.00, if the advice was taken.

Unfortunately, we were unable to help consumers recover the outstanding £200,192. This had been paid in the U.K. through direct bank transfer or cheque, which provide no protection or recourse if things go wrong.

This year the Helpline team has already received reports of £1,096,183 lost to scammers – an alarming annual increase of over £118,000 – and is set to increase further when the final figures for 2015 are calculated.

Again, the team has been active and issued guides and advice that should help consumers recover £704,050. The remaining £392,123 was again paid by bank transfer or cheque and is lost.

In a 2012 survey, 97 per cent of consumers found the service relevant and helpful, and 99 per cent found the helpline good or better at meeting their expectations when they called.

But, we must never become complacent. The Helpline must remain vigilant and responsive to owners’ evolving needs and to emerging consumer threats.

A new and much larger survey is now taking place in which all customers who contact the Helpline are asked for their feedback on the quality of help and information they received.

This will not be a one-off exercise. It will be a continuous process to ensure the service provided is what consumers are looking for when they contact us – and is to the highest possible standard.

Supporting our member resorts

TATOC was invited to attend the Crown Resorts annual general meeting (AGM) in Leeds in early autumn.

Crown is a group of five TATOC Accredited resorts, all located within a short distance of each other, midway between Marbella and Fuengirola, in the heart of the Costa del Sol.

The Crown Resorts AGM was a fine example of timeshare at its best and demonstrates why it continues to be such a unique and exceptional holiday product.

Owners enjoy high quality resorts in great locations, and there are genuine opportunities for owners to have a direct involvement and influence in their holiday ownership and how it is delivered.

Annual general meetings provide an ideal opportunity for members to have direct discussion with their elected committee and with fellow members.

Geoff Chapman, senior accreditor, writes: “Visiting the annual general meeting was an enjoyable opportunity to engage again with Crown Resorts and their members.

“What people want from their holidays and how they book them is continuously evolving, and timeshare must also move forward if it is to stay at the forefront of high quality holiday experiences.

“This evolutionary process is fundamental to all resorts and owners’ committees, and the Crown Resorts meeting was a superb example of a club working closely with members to ensure their continued high quality holiday experience at competitive prices.”

TATOC is keen to engage with owners and their resort committees at every opportunity and we will be delighted to attend AGMs and other resort meetings whenever possible.

Our support for resorts continues with the TATOC Resort Accreditation programme, which continues to go from strength to strength.

Resort Accreditation is TATOC’s kite-mark of quality and is the highest accolade the association can give.

It is awarded as recognition that a resort is delivering the highest standards of accommodation, facilities, and services and an excellent overall holiday experience to its owners and guests.

For a resort to achieve accreditation, it must demonstrate it fully embraces the TATOC Code of Conduct. The timeshare product must be sold correctly and the resort well managed and maintained – with the consumer as the principle focus.

The last 12 months have been an incredible period for the accreditation programme – the busiest and most successful since its launch in 2009.

In the last year, 15 resorts have been visited to have their accreditation status renewed for a period of three years. Five new resorts have been TATOC recognised for the first time.

There are now 44 accredited resorts; four more have applied and are awaiting inspection.

An ambitious target was set at the 2015 TATOC conference to have 50 accredited resorts by conference 2016 and this target has almost been achieved.

Support for charity

Give Us Time is a U.K.-based charity launched by British Member of Parliament, Dr. Liam Fox and is an organisation fully supported by TATOC.

Since 2001, more than 458 British forces personnel have lost their lives in Afghanistan, more than 2,000 have experienced physical or psychological damage, and families across the country have seen their lives profoundly changed.

Recognising the impact an operational tour can have, Give Us Time takes one-week holidays donated by hosts and matches them with British soldiers in need of rest, rehabilitation and reconnection with their families.

The charity is appealing to owners and managers of timeshare resorts to donate accommodation to British military personnel and their families.

In 2015, TATOC affiliate CLC World donated 40 holidays to military personnel. The charity is hoping to increase its number of partners in the hospitality sector this year.

To this end, in December this year, I attended a function for the charity held by Baroness Floella Benjamin at the House of Lords.

This was a great honour for TATOC and gave me the opportunity to spread the message about TATOC to a wide audience (including the Chancellor George Osborne, MP) and learn more about this amazing charity.

At this time of year, let’s spread a little holiday cheer and I urge all of our member resorts and affiliates to assist how and when they can.

Looking forward

The TATOC Conference 2016 will take place from Friday, March 4th to Sunday, March 6th, at the Park Royal Hotel, Warrington.

This is a unique event in the industry’s conference calendar as it is the only time when timeshare owners, the committees who represent them and timeshare industry professionals get together to discuss the challenges and opportunities facing the industry today.

Visit the conference hub for further information at: www.tatoc.co.uk/tatocconference

Join us
If TATOC is an association that you would like to be part of then join us and support our work. We’d love to have you – either as an individual member, through your resort owners’ committee/HOA or as an affiliated company. Check out the TATOC website for further information.
Website: tatoc.co.uk
Telephone: +44 (0) 161 237 3518
Email: harry.taylor@tatoc.co.uk
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TheTimeshareAssociationTATOC