A lack of understanding of how the timeshare rental industry operates, and the ability for any individual to misuse social media to operate under the guise of being a legitimate timeshare rental agent, can turn your dream holiday into a disaster.
Third party or ‘rogue’ timeshare rental agents – individuals without any formal training and experience in timeshare rentals –acquire holiday rentals via social media where timeshare owners advertise their week for rent. Other sources are through word-of-mouth in large close-knit communities and through contacts they may have within the timeshare clubs.
By operating on the fringe of the industry, their business operations are open to abuse. This includes making false promises to relieve timeshare owners of their levy if they hand over full access to their membership login. In some cases, owners end up having all their points used and never receive a cent or hear from the ‘agent’ again.
Typically, these ‘agents’ are not registered with any regulatory authority or the timeshare industry association, VOASA. Because they don’t run professional booking systems or a Trust Account, there is no accountability for monies paid to the agent and double bookings often occur. More damaging are the poor online reviews that are then leveraged against the resort or vacation club which had no involvement in the booking.
A myriad of issues has ‘come to light’
- Copying VOASA members’ resort marketing material and posting pictures on their own social media platforms to entice sales without consent.
- Thinking all resorts are the same and not understanding the different check-in procedures.
- Not having the correct administration procedures in place, especially if there are problems like cancellation or double booking which end up leaving families without any accommodation when they try to check-in.
- Not getting guest certificates issued from the resort or vacation club and instead producing their own guest certificate – which creates chaos at the reception check-in.
- Timeshare owners are either over-promised on rental returns and/or don’t receive their promised rental money.
- The renting out of certain timeshares that are not permitted.
Upholding industry best practice
As the timeshare industry body, one of VOASA’s key priorities is to uphold the reputation of the industry and aid the protection of timeshare vacation owners and consumers. As a condition of membership, VOASA members adhere to a Code of Conduct which is aligned with legislation applicable to their business and includes registration with relevant industry regulators such as the Property Practitioners Regulatory Authority and the Consumer Goods and Services Ombud, amongst others.
Below are a few tips that can protect you and your hard earned money from holidays that don’t deliver on the promises made!
Before you sign – ask:
- Do they have the required permission to rent the timeshare.
- Are they registered with a regulatory authority or the timeshare industry association, VOASA.
- Will you receive a guest certificate that has been issued by the resort / vacation club.
Before you pay – check:
- The status of the company to establish whether the agent is operating a legal business with a professional booking system.
- That you will receive a reservation letter so that you can confirm your booking directly with the resort.
- That they are registered with a regulatory authority or the timeshare industry association, VOASA.
Where to find a registered timeshare rental agent
Registered timeshare rental agents who hold a Fidelity Fund Certificate can be found on the VOASA website or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. VOASA members display the ‘VOASA 2023 MEMBER’ logo on their website and have a membership number which you can verify with our office.