As we continue to analyze the COVID-19 responses by major timeshare resorts across the country, nothing said has been too surprising. At the same time, vacation owners are still left with their questions unanswered – some even feeling trapped in their agreements. Although Wyndham Hotels and Resorts was one of the first resorts to publish a statement, it didn’t provide much more information than the rest. On the last day of March, they announced that they were “forced to make incredibly difficult decisions that affect our entire Wyndham family.”
The more you begin to analyze these Coronavirus updates, the more you realize there is a common theme. It’s almost as if each company is seeking pity for the financial toll it’s taken on the business. When you think about it, timeshare owners aren’t exactly treated like family. Wyndham Hotels, in particular, has recently struggled to communicate this type of atmosphere. So if timeshare owners can’t reap the rewards of billion dollar earnings, why are they expected to endure the hardships as well?
It might even be fitting to ask if they’re even being offered a seat at the family table. History tells us timeshare owners have never had a say in resort decisions. The simple fact that most resorts are avoiding these realities – and the direct impact of timeshare contracts right now – while putting company losses on a pedestal is despicable. Although job loss is never good to hear, it’s discouraging to know that many families are directly hindered by timeshare fees during this pandemic. To some, every penny counts.
What Wyndham Discussed Regarding COVID-19.
According to the timeshare company’s statement, their cost cutting endeavors included layoffs, reduced work hours and salary reductions that impacted “nearly half” of their “2500 corporate teams members around the globe.” The announcement also explained how Wyndham Hotels and Resorts planned on using furloughs and property closures similar to other high profile brands. What made their public notice a little more elaborate than others was a verbal promise of goodwill by some of the company’s leaders.
President and CEO, Geoffrey A. Ballotti, told the press that he was planning on forgoing “100% of his salary” due to the impact of the Coronavirus. Wyndham’s board of directors also stated they were going to forgo all of their “cash compensation.” At the end of the day, there’s no way to tell if this will ever occur – or if it’ll actually impact the lifestyle of any of these wealthy businessmen. But it’s probably safe to say they’re going to be just fine now that less important people have been let go. Like most of their competitors, the message seems clear. Protecting equity is a priority.
Is Wyndham Actually Helping Franchisees and Interval Owners?
The COVID-19 response from Wyndham Hotels and Resorts went on to say, “We also know this is an incredibly challenging environment for our thousands of franchised hotel owners. To help them weather operational difficulties, we’ve taken a number of proactive measures around the world to support our franchisees during this challenging period.” It would be good to know the details of this “help” and if vacation owners can expect similar programs. Today, most buyers probably view ownership as a burden.
Although Wyndham earned more than $2 billion in 2019 alone, it appears they’re only willing to offer advice to vacation owners in the midst of the pandemic. “We’re also providing guidance and resources designed to help owners identify and, if appropriate, leverage government-sponsored programs that may help them and their businesses.” Are they offering financial assistance or even a helping hand to their owners though? So instead of reassuring timeshare owners in this press release in any kind of way, it seems like Wyndham is waiting on the government to step up.
Why not take care of your highest paying customers then pursue government relief on their behalf? This is a huge opportunity for timeshare companies to rejuvenate their market share. These resorts can’t really expect owners to remain compliant in the event that they can’t use what they paid for, can they? A willingness to only help distraught buyers seek federal aid so they can continue making payments doesn’t seem like the best course of action. Especially if they plan on penalizing them for walking away.
What About Wyndham Resort Safety in the Future?
At the end of the the day, the timeshare industry’s updates haven’t provided owners with much clarity. Financial relief isn’t buyer’s only concern. There has been almost nothing said about protecting guests in the future. While safety is recognized, a plan of action is rarely present. “While these are extraordinary times, we know they will pass. We remain confident in the strength and resiliency of our business and we are committed to the health and safety of our team members, owners and guests,” they said. If owners have a chance to use their week at some point in 2020, it would be nice to know the status of the environment they paid for.
Nonetheless, the timeshare industry doesn’t seem the least bit worried about the outcome. Maybe it’s because timeshare owners are still expected to foot the bill – for better or worse. But high expectations are usually the culprit of failed relationships. So will Wyndham recognize this? Will it be addressed?
The statement concluded with: “The travel industry will inevitably rebound, and when it does, Wyndham will be there, ready to welcome the everyday traveler to its approximately 9,300 hotels around the world.” They seem pretty confident that a financial rebound is on their horizon. So will vacation owners be able to say the same? It’ll be interesting to see how much maintenance and assessment fees are at the end of the year.