Harry Taylor, executive chairman and CEO of timeshare consumer association, TATOC, shares his recent experiences at an industry conference – and questions why some industry professionals struggle to accept the association.

Recently, I attended an industry conference and was delighted that so many delegates, representing some of the industry’s major brands, were keen to meet, find out more aboutTATOC’s activities and suggest ways they could support and work with us.

After over 25 years’ representing the timeshare consumer, it was quite an experience and reflected the distance TATOC has travelled as an organisation.

We are now a respected authority – not only as the voice of the consumer, but also a supporter of the legitimate timeshare industry.

And yet despite this, there were still some who shied away.There were delegates who were reluctant to connect with me – let alone discuss TATOC, the services we offer and how we work to protect their owners from scammers.

So I asked myself why? Is our message not getting through? What more can TATOC do, bearing in mind our limited resources, to convince the industry that our mission is straightforward – to safeguard and enhance the timeshare holiday experience for existing and prospective users and to be the voice of owners.

And to do that we know that we must work with the legitimate timeshare industry – not undermine, criticise or jeopardise its future.

Without a successful and strong industry, the very owners we represent would not enjoy the holidays they have purchased and they quality they expect – and might even be scammed by dubious operators. It really is as simple as that.

Surely, we all want the same thing?

As we come to the end of 2015, I thought it would be a good opportunity to explain whatTATOC does today to support timeshare resorts, dispel the rumours and challenge some misconceptions. I soon realised that it really is, all in the name.

Often abbreviated to the acronymTATOC, the organisation set up in 1989 was called theTimeshare Association (Timeshare Owners and Committees).

Set up by a group of chairmen from committee/HOA-managed mature resorts as a networking group to share experiences, ideas and knowledge, TATOC has always been about the timeshare owner and the committees who represent them.

These committees comprise owners who just buy purchasing a week of timeshare and volunteering, are suddenly responsible for the operation, management, marketing and sales of a holiday resort. And we all thought holidays were supposed to be fun and relaxing. Timeshare ownership was never meant to be hard work.

While many rely on the services of a professional management company, this relationship still requires considerable input from the owners’ committee or HOA – many of whom have to endure a steep learning curve about hospitality, operations, accounting and marketing.

And this is whereTATOC steps in.The Association’s annual conference provides access to the experiences of other committee members, TATOC’s affiliated businesses and speakers on a wide range of industry-relevant topics.

Legislation, the consumer experience and social media marketing are just some of the areas covered by our speakers.

Our quarterly magazine Sharetime provides information and advice on resort-related matters and the board and I are on hand whenever needed to provide information on legislation, mediation, consumer issues and much more.

TheTATOC Resort Health Check is a free service provided by the Association to highlight areas where mature, committee-run resorts can improve their operations – ensuring they are following legislation correctly, are set up properly to protect the interests of their owners and even consider new ways to market their inventory.

Today,TATOC represents the interests of over 90 resorts across the U.K. and Europe. Our input is essential for the future growth and success of the timeshare industry and the development of legislation that has the potential to, at best, clip its wings, and, at its worst, to destroy it.

A recent report from the U.K. government department the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) on the disposal of timeshares and other long-term holiday products is a case in point.

When the first draft was released and read by theTATOC board, we were horrified. Clearly, a department team with little understanding of the timeshare industry had written it.

The report, sanctioned by BIS (the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills) and written at a time when Europe is considering the success of its own timeshare directive, will have a major impact on the future of timeshare legislation including the implementation of exit policies.

And yet, because we are a recognised consumer association representing the interests of timeshare owners, we were able to comment, question and have an input in future drafts.

The report was subsequently changed and a preface included which acknowledges the work of TATOC and the Resort Development Organisation (Europe’s trade body) and the encouraging efforts made by these bodies to address exit and perpetuity issues.

TATOC board member Geoff Chapman explained: “We are not trying to be the timeshare police spying on resorts, but we need to have an input in the development of new regulations. After all we all sail in the same ship.”

So why, in a time when we should all be working together to secure the future for the industry for the benefit of all, can there be suspicion towards TATOC?

In the last few weeks, I have represented TATOC in a number of radio interviews on the topic of exit strategies and perpetuity contracts, attended several resort annual general meetings and worked closely with the Citizens Advice Bureau on the provision of independent, unbiased support for consumers.

The TATOC team has fielded numerous calls and emails from consumers worried they have been scammed and looking for information and advice. We have issued the cold callers list highlighting the companies that do irreparable damage to the industry.

We have issued the 32-page Sharetime magazine, which provides a positive view of the timeshare industry as well as educating, informing and entertaining timeshare owners and committees.

The industry itself cannot do it all alone.The focus of the RDO must be on ensuring that large developers and those in active sales follow its guidelines, implement best practice and self-legislate.

TATOC can then support the mature, legacy resorts managed by owners for the benefit of other owners.That is our remit and our mission – and our name confirms it.

Further information
The annualTATOC Conference will take place on March 4-6, 2016 at the Park Royal Hotel in Warrington. Further details are available from theTATOC head office on info@tatoc.co.uk.

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 theTATOC website for further information.

Website: tatoc.co.uk Tatocconsumerhelpline.eu Sharetimemagazine.com Telephone: +44 (0) 161 237 3518 Email: harry.taylor@tatoc.co.uk Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ TheTimeshareAssociationTATOC