As our country’s lockdown progresses, more timeshare companies are publishing news releases to speak on the impact of the Coronavirus. No matter who we’ve covered over the past few weeks, all resorts seem to be singing the same tune. The Hyatt Residence Club is the latest conglomerate to promote patience and appears to be pointing blame at the government for induced inconveniences. In the meantime, vacation owners are waiting in limbo for answers on how they’re to use their expensive interval in the future.
Even though the purchase may not have been a burden in the past, it most certainly can be viewed that way today. Millions of people are jobless and grounded and it’s only a matter of time before those experiencing hardship speak out. Expecting them to wait on something they’ve spent a lot of money on isn’t exactly realistic. But for whatever reason, timeshare companies continue insisting that owners should stop worrying and focus on “what’s most important right now.”
How Hyatt Residence Club is Following Suit.
Keep in mind, the above quote comes directly from a recent COVID-19 statement made by Hyatt Residence Club. Apparently, the obvious cost of ownership isn’t worth considering right now. It’s almost as if buyers are supposed to accept that the perpetual agreement they signed gives them no choice but to adhere. While it’s nearly impossible to speak on all timeshare contracts, we do find it hard to believe that most are binding during a global travel ban and resort closings. So why is there no wiggle room here?
When you take the time to assess the strategies behind the timeshare industry, you’ll quickly realize that decisions rarely benefit timeshare owners. Whether it be an increase in maintenance fees or unexpected assessment charges, resorts clearly have an agenda: To make a lot of money. Vacation ownership is one of the easiest ways for them to guarantee income. Binding contracts always allow them to spread out costs or losses so their obligations remain low.
Timeshare Companies Want to Avoid Complaints.
To resorts, vacation ownership only becomes a hindrance when a majority of buyers complain. This is why they usually downplay disappointment or concern and blame other factors for the poor experience. Hyatt’s opening statement regarding COVID-19 clearly avoids the financial strain their agreements could be causing.
It says, “We understand you have a lot on your mind. You’re facing unprecedented disruptions to your day-to-day life — and your vacations.” Instead of acknowledging that the customer’s primary concern is the cost of ownership (and no return), they’d rather distract and deflect. The intent of this introduction is to establish a sense of understanding or empathy and is followed up by an attempt to garner trust.
“We are here to help, with the most current information on reservation flexibility.” But if you really read between the lines here, information is the only guarantee. It seems like Hyatt Residence Club believes this is all they owe timeshare owners. Their promise is to provide up-to-date information regarding the “Novel COVID Virus.” Nothing in the publication actually communicates a plan to aid their primary customer with relief, rewards, benefits or any type of restitution. They simply ask for patience.
Are Hyatt Cancellation Policies Really Altered?
While the response is quite vague, Hyatt Residence Club did mention adjustments to their cancellation policy* (see below). This is something other resorts have yet to address. Truth be told, many timeshare owners have been penalized for untimely reservation cancellations while quarantined – waiving their right to use the property in 2020. Although it’s refreshing to see an olive branch being extended for those stuck at home, we’re still not sure what this actually entails (as a login is required).
What’s Really Important to Hyatt Residence Club?
No matter what Hyatt thinks, telling timeshare owners to “pause now [and] play later” probably won’t sit too well with most. Even though resorts are losing money, those that were looking forward to a vacation (that they already paid for) can’t be too happy. But if you’re a Hyatt Residence Club owner, the resort only wants you to focus on, “taking care of yourself and those closest to you,” right now.
But what if you need to get out of a timeshare in order to do so? What if the financial burden isn’t allowing you to focus on important things – like your family? These are all questions owners shouldn’t have to ask. Listen, nobody thought a global lockdown would last this long, but buyers shouldn’t be forced to foot the bill.
How Long Will Timeshare Owners Wait For Answers?
At the end of the day, timeshare companies are fully aware of the hindrance their perpetual agreements cause. Unfortunately, it seems as though most are content with blaming the outbreak, government, CDC, W.H.O. and the timeshare owners themselves for the current hardship they may be enduring.
The longer they’re able to buy themselves time and keep owners in limbo, the better the outcome will be – for them. It’s why their salutations include stuff like “we’re in this together,” when it’s not even close. In the meantime, Hyatt Residence Club (and the timeshare industry as a whole) could easily debunk this with adequate updates that actually address the current concerns of many timeshare owners. We’ve heard from plenty over the past few months.
Maybe ARDA could even take the time to shed light on anything that timeshare owners would find valuable. After all, they claim to represent more than 1.5 million timeshare owners. Since vacation owners pay them a fee alongside maintenance costs, it would seem they’d be inclined to keep owners informed. It can’t be easy to make payments if you’re struggling financially from COVID-19.
What Should Owners Ask and What Can They Do?
Many questions remain unanswered. Will Hyatt Residence Club reimburse the annual dues of those that couldn’t use their timeshare? Will they free up the inventory that’s sold to Expedia and Priceline for their owners? Or will they continue to profit off the general public, making it even more difficult to find availability? How are they ensuring the timeshare offers a safe environment when an approved cure for COVID-19 doesn’t exist?
While we wait for the industry to respond accordingly, we urge vacation owners to publicly share any information that might help somebody else. If you’re a Hyatt Residence Club member and you’re not sure “what your vacations are about” anymore than we’re always available for a free consultation.
* “Applies to HRPP, CUP, ORP, HRC Exchange and Portfolio Exchange reservations. Due to continually changing conditions, these cancellation options may be changed or modified as needed.”