Getting BIGGER: November 15, 2014

It's Happy Hour at The GateHouse

Levitin Group is growing its business internationally with Azure (Malta) and IFA (South Africa) both coming on board to access the company’s successful online training system.

Azure’s Director of Membership Gavin Dickinson says, “Azure’s Golden Sands resort keeps 30-40 sales representatives on staff and, in addition to the general system, each one of them can utilize the system and access particular modules which fit their individual needs.”

IFA in South Africa is also using the method and according to Shari Levitin, “We can see that their usage is off the charts from our system analytics. They are using it to train all aspects of their organization. We are very excited that we now have content for marketing teams as well on everything to the basics to overcoming objections when touring.”

Hands-on training is a good thing, but digital training is also good. Levitin Group seems to have it all together.

cheerleaderLevitin Group: getting BIGGER!

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The Weekly Wisecrack: November 8, 2014

“Bienvenido al Club de México, pinche gringo.

RE: ¿Beneficios?

Are djoo kidding me? We don’t got no stinkin’ benefits y no salario o nada más. Y also nosotros sólo pagamos en pesos.

Buena suerte, pendejo. Have a good day.”

(Leave your own caption in the
Comments if you’re so inclined…)

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Timeshare Odds and Ends: November 8, 2014

It's Happy Hour at The GateHouse

What is a “Braggie” and how have “Braggies” been “sweeping the global hospitality universe”? What’s the story on that, and what is Scoop trying to tell us?

He points out that this year (2014) there will be nearly 2 Billion social media users on planet earth and just between three of the big social media outlets – every day – those three are collectively reporting that about 800 MILLION photos are uploaded by folks all over the world and that includes a whole bunch “Selfies”.

So what’s the Scoop? “Selfies?” “Braggies?” Are they related? Find out at Scoop du Jour: The Hottest New Craze For Timeshare Developers!

The ARDA International Foundation (AIF) has released its new Shared Vacation Ownership Study and it contains some interesting information. For instance, the study says a new influx of owners is 10 years younger, has higher incomes than current owners and represents a more culturally diverse cross-section of U.S. households.

Thirty-nine percent are Gen Xers and thirty percent are Millennials, with the median age of thirty-nine. Forty-two percent are African American or Hispanic. They are also highly educated, with seventy-two percent being college graduates and twenty-three percent of those having graduate degrees.

Their median household income is $94,800 and they have plenty of disposable income—forty-seven percent of new owners made just a single payment to cover their purchase and fifty-seven percent spent $10,000 or more on their timeshare. In terms of financial commitment, the new timeshare owner values the long-term vacation savings and flexibility timeshare provides: thirty-six percent purchased timeshare to save money on future vacations and thirty-one percent bought for the flexibility the product offers.

I’m curious about something, though. In study after study, whether issued by ARDA or RCI or timeshare companies themselves, the word “median” is consistently used to describe various demographics: The “median” age; the “median” income; the “median” this that and the other thing.

But when it comes to the price of timeshare purchases the word “average” is used. This study says “the purchase price having risen to an average of nearly $20,000”. There’s a big difference between “median” and “average”. Why do they all do that? Educate me.

Anyhow, for a copy of the full study, visit (Warning: It will cost you a pretty penny)


Where are YOU going this year?



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ITG Weekly Jukebox: November 8, 2014

In honor of our veterans, past, present and future, in all branches of the Allied and United States of America Armed Forces. I salute you.

And as a useful guide for civilians, I give you the Veteran’s Inner Monologue (aka “Shit Veterans Want to Say”) Presented by . Rated R for Ranger.

Pay attention!

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?

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Florida USA Timeshare News: November 8, 2014

It's Happy Hour at The GateHouse>> EASTERN USA TIMESHARE NEWS:

FORT LAUDERDALE: BFC Financial Corp. has reported financial results for the three and nine month periods ended September 30, 2014. And this matters to us why?

Because of BFC’s 52% ownership interest in BBX Capital Corporation and its ownership interest in Bluegreen Corporation, a wholly owned subsidiary of Woodbridge Holdings, which is owned 54% by BFC and 46% by BBX Capital. So here we go:

Bluegreen Overview for the Third Quarter, 2014, Compared to Third Quarter, 2013

  • System-wide sales of Vacation Ownership Interests (“VOIs”) were $151.4 million vs. $130.2 million
  • Legacy sales of VOIs under Bluegreen’s traditional business model were $63.2 million vs. $63.8 million
  • Sales of VOIs under Bluegreen’s ”capital-light” business strategy (1) were $88.2 million vs. $66.4 million
    • Secondary market sales of VOIs were $21.4 million vs. $12.9 million
    • Just-in-time sales of VOIs were $7.8 million vs. $9.7 million
    • Sale of third party VOIs – commission basis were $59.0 million vs. $43.8 million and generated sales and marketing commissions of $38.7 million vs. $28.8 million
  • Other fee-based revenue rose 14% to $24.1 million
  • Bluegreen managed 49 timeshare resort properties as of September 30, 2014, compared to 46 as of September 30, 2013.
  • Income from continuing operations before provision for income taxes was $32.1million vs. $33.9 million
  • Income from continuing operations was $21.0 million vs. $22.3 million
  • EBITDA was $38.1 million vs. $38.6 million

System-wide sales of VOIs, net include all sales of VOIs, regardless of whether Bluegreen or a third-party owned the VOI immediately prior to the sale. The sales of third-party owned VOIs are transacted as sales of timeshare interests in the Bluegreen Vacation Club through the same selling and marketing process Bluegreen uses to sell its VOI inventory. The growth in system-wide sales of VOIs, net during 2014 as compared to 2013 reflects an increase in the number of tours and an increase in the sale-to-tour conversion ratio. During the three months ended September 30, 2014, the number of tours increased by 9% compared to the same period in 2013. The increase in the number of tours reflects efforts to expand marketing to sales prospects through new marketing initiatives. Additionally, during the three months ended September 30, 2014, Bluegreen’s sale-to-tour conversion ratio increased 1% compared to the same period in 2013. Get more of Bluegreen’s stats

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Virginia USA Timeshare News: November 8, 2014

It's Happy Hour at The GateHouse >> EASTERN USA TIMESHARE NEWS:

McClean: Hilton Worldwide Corp. has filed its third quarter 2014 earnings report and of course the part that most interests us is their timeshare segment, Hilton Grand Vacations. So here’s the basics:

Timeshare segment revenue and Adjusted EBITDA for the third quarter of 2014 were $295 million and $78 million, respectively, compared to $302 million and $86 million, respectively, for the same period in 2013. Resort operations revenue increased $7 million compared to the third quarter of 2013. As a result of the deferral of revenue recognition on sales of certain of our owned timeshare inventory, timeshare sales revenue decreased approximately $20 million, offset by a $4 million increase in fees for selling timeshare intervals on behalf of third-party developers. On a year-to-date basis, timeshare segment Adjusted EBITDA increased 13 percent from the same period in 2013 to $232 million.

During the third quarter of 2014, 58 percent of intervals sold were developed by third parties. Hilton Worldwide’s supply of third-party developed timeshare intervals was approximately 106,000, or 81 percent of the total supply, as of September 30, 2014. Hilton Worldwide continues to expand its overall supply of timeshare intervals and as of September 30, 2014, had approximately 131,000 intervals, or six years of projected supply at the current sales pace.

The adjusted EBITDA for the full year 2014 in its timeshare segment is projected to be between $315 million and $330 million, respectively.

Timeshare capital expenditures for inventory additions were $23 million and $32 million for the three months ended September 30, 2014 and 2013, respectively, and $67 million and $72 million for the nine months ended September 30, 2014 and 2013, respectively, and timeshare costs of sales were $31 million and $40 million for the three months ended September 30, 2014 and 2013, respectively, and $101 million for the nine months ended September 30, 2014 and 2013.

What I didn’t find in the schedules were details such as average price for timeshare intervals, vpg, number of sales, number of tours, etc. Perhaps I just overlooked them?

I found this bit about Hilton Worldwide’s development of particular interest, though. So might you:

As of September 30, 2014, Hilton Worldwide had the largest rooms pipeline in the lodging industry, according to Smith Travel Research, Inc. (“STR”), with approximately 215,000 rooms at 1,269 hotels throughout 74 countries and territories, of which 56 percent, or approximately 119,000 rooms, were located outside of the United States. Over half of the development pipeline, or approximately 109,000 rooms, were under construction. According to STR, Hilton Worldwide has the largest share of rooms under construction and rooms in the pipeline on a global basis. They’re getting seriously BIGGER!

“If you haven’t got anything nice to say about anybody, come sit next to me.” –Alice Roosevelt Longworth

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Wisconsin USA Timeshare News: November 8, 2014


THE DELLS: Last June I reported on the sale of the old Polynesian Water Park Resort to a Myrtle Beach, SC-based company named Polynesian Acquisition Partners, LLC The new company purchased the resort out of foreclosure with the aim of turning the former KAL property into a timeshare resort (the City Council has approved a conditional use permit to replace the hotel’s 227 rooms with 145 timeshare units/condominiums.. The Registered Agent on file for this company was Robert S Guyton, a Myrtle Beach attorney, but that did not tell us which timeshare company was associated with the purchase.

I finally got around to doing some research on this and what I found out is that the Polynesian is now owned by a subsidiary of Premier Resorts At Barefoot Resort LLC, aka Barefoot Resort Vacations, A Division of Beach Vacations, LLC and so forth. In shorthand, it’s now a Burroughs and Chapin-owned resort. (Burroughs & Chapin bought Barefoot Landing for $43 million, closing the sale on March 1, 2013.)

For the uninformed among you, B&C is one of the premier developers in Myrtle Beach, with a long history and a wide variety of real estate projects under its belt. Among other things, they own the 2,200-acre Grand Dunes development in Myrtle Beach and Broadway at the Beach, which was developed in partnership with Springfield, Missouri’s John Q. Hammons at a cost of $250 million. The company’s first timeshare resort, South Beach, opened in 2003 and that was followed by Crown Park Resort in Gatlinburg, TN (now called Smoky Mountain Resort). Both of those resorts were sold in 2009 to Orange Lake Resorts/Holiday Inn Club Vacations.

All things being equal, if one can assume that B&C are not getting back into the nitty gritty of timeshare resort development, sales and management then I think the odds are pretty good that the new timeshare component at the soon-to-be-refurbished Polynesian Water Park Resort in the Wisconsin Dells might be branded as and sold by Holiday Inn Club Vacations since the two companies have had prior timeshare dealings. Logical? Do you have a better idea?

ANYhow, as I reported in June an attorney for the new owners says the resort will initially be used as a hotel and that a block of rooms at a time will be remodeled and turned into timeshares. Sales will probably not begin until sometime next year.

I guess we’ll find out the details soon enough.

GREEN BAY: Following a six day jury trial, Jason D. Schultz (age: 31), and Jessica M. Gilbert (age: 25) of Green Bay, Wisconsin, as well as Jessica Weinhart (nee Hensen) (age: 31) of Neenah, Wisconsin were convicted of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud. The jury further found that they had engaged in a telemarketing scheme that defrauded at least 10 individuals over the age of 55 thus subjecting each to enhanced penalties under the “Senior Citizens Against Marketing Scams” or SCAMS Act. Each faces a maximum term of imprisonment of 30 years. Sentencing hearings have been scheduled for January 27, 2014, before Chief District Court Judge William C. Griesbach, at the federal courthouse in Green Bay, Wisconsin.

Names of the bogus companies used to operate the scam include Administrative Timeshare Resales, Integrated Advertising Solutions, Midwest Timeshares and National Timeshare Resales.

Evidence presented in court proves that the scam resulted in over three thousand victims in all fifty states and Canada being defrauded of approximately $2.5 million. The fraudulent scheme spanned from April 2007 to April 2011.

Numerous witnesses and victims testified that timeshare owners, most of them elderly, were contacted by telemarketers and told that “interested buyers” were prepared to purchase their timeshares in exchange for upfront fees ranging from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand dollars. After handing over their payment information, victims received a one page contract which informed them that they were merely paying for “advertising” on the company’s website.

Evidence showed that telemarketers determined the fee amount based solely on the vulnerability and susceptibility of the victims to their untruthful sales pitch. Victims who contacted the companies seeking a refund or inquiring about the status of the sale of their timeshare were repeatedly told lies or given excuses designed to keep them from contacting their financial institution and stopping payment to the fraudulent entities. Twelve victims from around the country ranging in age from sixty-nine to ninety-one testified at trial that they were guaranteed buyers in exchange for the up-front fee.

There are now eight people awaiting sentencing in federal court for their involvement in that scam. Five other individuals previously pled guilty for their participation in the fraud, including the primary figure in the scheme, Mark S. Parks. Parks, 40, is scheduled to be sentenced Nov. 14. His wife, Mindy Parks, 34, will be sentenced Jan. 5. Tina Baalman, 29, is to be sentenced Dec. 1. Ashley Conant, 29, is scheduled for Jan. 6. Eileen Goltz, 52, has no date set.

Stay tuned to learn the ultimate fate of the eight. slammer time

“If you haven’t got anything nice to say about anybody, come sit next to me.” –Alice Roosevelt Longworth

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California USA Timeshare News: November 8, 2014

It's Happy Hour at The GateHouse>> WESTERN USA TIMESHARE NEWS:

TRUCKEE: Welk Resorts’ Lake Tahoe area Northstar Lodge, located just outside of Truckee on Northstar Mountain, has added a new amenity to its already substantial portfolio of amenities.

Welk Resorts' new Northstar Lodge jacuzziAlready boasting a ski-in/ski-out private club, complete with its own unique, pulse-driven gondola, private decks with outdoor fireplaces, a private owners lounge, media theater, ski and boot valet (winter) and bike valet (summer) — among other amenities — Welk has now added a brand new jacuzzi for the exclusive use of its guests and members.

It looks pretty inviting, doesn’t it?

This property was previously a Hyatt Residence Club resort, which Welk acquired in May 2013. The resort was built in 2008, and the first phase of this LEED Silver Certified luxury property development included 34 two- and three-bedroom vacation ownership residences. The acquisition by Welk Resorts included the 23 remaining unsold whole ownership and fractional residential units, in addition to two entitled development parcels for future phases of the project.

The adjacent development parcels are entitled for an additional 67 units totaling 102,619 sq. ft. In an operating partnership with Resort Equities, a luxury resort real estate company with a specialization in shared ownership, Resort Equities Realty was put in charge of overseeing sales of some residences within the existing phase of the project.

When do you suppose Welk will proceed with those additional units? (Just idly wondering.)

“If you haven’t got anything nice to say about anybody, come sit next to me.” –Alice Roosevelt Longworth

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Texas USA Timeshare News: November 8, 2014

It's Happy Hour at The GateHouse >> WESTERN USA TIMESHARE NEWS:

DALLAS: Silverleaf Resorts is going after Advocate for the Consumer (Mediation) dba Legal Advocate for the Consumer and its owners Charles H. Williams and Glenda Williams, suing them in Dallas County Court for tortious interference with contracts, intentional interference with prospective business relations, defamation and business disparagement.

Silverleaf is seeking actual and punitive damages.

The defendants in the lawsuit are timeshare transfer/relief/rescue/disposal entities that allegedly “made false allegations and published defamatory statements about Silverleaf in order to induce Silverleaf timeshare owners to pay significant up-front fees on the basis that defendants would ‘assist’ owners in terminating their contracts with Silverleaf”, according to the complaint filed on Nov. 6.

According to Silverleaf, “Once owners paid their fee and signed up for these services, defendants continued to defame and interfere (so as to lure their next victim), but performed no work on the owners’ individual cases aside from providing and/or mailing in form letters.”

The complaint says the defendants promote their business “as a mediation company, equipped with a team of lawyers, paralegals and former timeshare executives, that could assist consumers in ‘getting out’ of their timeshare contracts and obtaining refunds of their timeshare membership purchase. Defendants also promised that they would negotiate with Silverleaf for refunds of funds that owners had already paid under their timeshare contract.”

Legal Advocate For The Consumer- Facebook screenshotSilverleaf laid out the modus operandi of the defendants pretty extensively in its complaint, paying great attention to detail. Among other things, the complaint alleges the defendants posted “Silverleaf Resorts are liars” on Advocate for the Consumer’s Facebook profile — and that is true according to a screen shot I took of that page. Even more interesting, though, is what else is on that Facebook page. (clic on the pic to see it bigger) Besides the pious, self-righteous rhetoric on its timeline, look at the comments from clients on the left side of the screenshot. They’re not exactly paens of praise, are they?

The company has an “F” grade with the Better Business Bureau, and at least two of the main websites associated with them are no longer operative.

It’s a familiar profile and familiar complaints against timeshare disposal companies, from the convicted felons of the former VO Group to the notorious David and Cindy MacMillan of Timeshare Relief and at least 17 other companies.

In April 2013 the Texas Attorney General, in an action initiated by the Consumer Protection Agency, sued the same defendants (and their associated entities) in Dallas County Court, making similar accusations of no work being performed; an injunction and asset freeze were issued in May 2013.

The Order requires Legal Advocate for the Consumer to stop false, misleading and deceptive acts in their service to negotiate on behalf of timeshare owners to cancel timeshare contracts. Additionally, the Order requires the business to stop practicing law without a license and representing that the Office of the Attorney General has approved any goods or services sold by the business, or approved of any of the Defendants’ business practices.

(Note that Charles H. Williams has at least two known aliases that he used to do business, those being Chip Townsend and Charles Robertson.)

I’d guess that the AG’s action will be put to good use by Silverleaf in this case, ya think?

But I wonder what the odds are that any of the victims of that company will ever be made whole?

“If you haven’t got anything nice to say about anybody, come sit next to me.” –Alice Roosevelt Longworth

Do you have tips or rumors you’d like to share (ANONYMOUSLY)? Something you’d like us to investigate or follow up on? CONTACT:

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Timeshare Morning Meeting: November 8, 2014

This week’s timeshare sales tip:


REMEMBER:In this biz every sales guest is a vacationer, regardless if they only take an occasional two-day get away, pitch the tent in the back yard and toss the kids in and call that summer vacation, stay with relatives while on holiday or all the way up the travel ladder!

That is why it is important for the rep to learn as much as possible about a prospect’s travel and vacationing ‘lifestyle’ before the actual ‘pitch’ begins and inform the sales guest that what they are going to be previewing simply compliments their vacationing patterns.

Each prospect should also be told that there will be no surprises or complex vacationing formulas to deal with and that the presentation, at its core, is simply a matter of them considering a more effective way of accomplishing something they are doing anyway.

In most cases doing this will grab the prospects’ attention and make them less sales resistant because if they understand they have an opportunity to improve something they are already agreeable to in the first place, then they’ll be more inclined to listen and accept the information and how it pertains to their lives.

For example, if a prospect asserts they only stay in a (e.g.) Motel 6 while vacationing, then during the presentation (and/or on tour) the rep should point out that: “Instead of sleeping in a twin or queen size bed you will now always have a ‘king’; instead of not even having a mini-frig, you’ll now have a full size one (and a coffee maker, too); instead of no microwave you folks will now have that, too, and an oven.”

In a nutshell, this approach is akin to ‘upselling’, or in our ‘biz’ awakening inside the prospect the notion of why not kick it up a notch or two since they are vacationing anyway. Awakening that reality in the prospect’s mind will always help the savvy TS Pro get the ‘message’ across more concisely and then laugh all the way to the bank.

Join us for a pithy morning meeting timeshare sales tip of the week, originally published in, to help you to greater success in selling timeshare. Brief and to the point, these sales training tips are designed to get you thinking, to expand your knowledge, to help you to become all that you can be in the timeshare sales arena.

Whether you’re an industry veteran or a green pea, it never hurts to brush up on your skills!

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Idle Timeshare Thoughts: November 8, 2014

It's Happy Hour at The GateHouseQUOTABLE QUOTES: “No matter how great your marketing campaign is, you can’t sell your dog food if the dogs won’t eat it.” -Old Madison Avenue proverb

I’ve discussed the independent contractor vs employee issue quite a bit over the years, and the continued practice of classifying timeshare sales reps as IC’s has cost various developers and resort companies not just a lot of money but a lot of grief, too, over the years. You’d think they’d catch a clue and stop that misclassification, but some of them are still hanging on, fingers crossed and hoping for the best even though courts and the IRS regularly find against them.

Of course timeshare isn’t the only industry that has wantonly misused that classification for decades. Apparently the construction industry has been doing the same thing, as evidenced by a ruling by the Illinois Supreme Court upholding a State Act under which workers must fall within specific statutory criteria to be eligible for independent contractor classification. The case went all the way to the US Supreme Court, which declined to hear the case, leaving the Illinois Court’s decision standing.

The statutes in Illinois closely parallel statutes in other states and the IRS’ rulings in several cases. Take heed: In Illinois to qualify for IC status persons must (1) be free from control and direction by the contractor, (2) perform services outside of the usual scope of services performed by the contractor, and (3) be engaged in an independently established business or be a legitimate sole proprietor or partnership under the law, which requires satisfaction of a 12-part test.

That case was specific to the construction industry but you can bet your bottom dollar that it can be cited as a precedent in similar lawsuits covering different professions — including timeshare sales.

A Massachusetts misclassification law applies to all employers (not just employers in the construction industry) and its requirements closely follow those quoted above for Illinois.

This is just one more reminder to the dinosaurs still insisting on that 1099 classification for timeshare sales reps (and OPCs) that they’re playing with fire. When the lawsuits come your way and you lose, you’ll have no one to blame but yourselves.

“If you haven’t got anything nice to say about anybody, come sit next to me.” –Alice Roosevelt Longworth

Do you have tips or rumors you’d like to share (ANONYMOUSLY)? Something you’d like us to investigate or follow up on? CONTACT:

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