I’ve got some exciting news for you. Probably the most exciting news I’ve ever shared about the revolutionary transformation taking place as we speak, for all of you loyal RCI Weeks members out there. RCI may look like it’s closed for business this weekend, but I can assure you the office is anything but closed. The office is buzzing with activity like I’ve never seen before. RCI teams are working around the clock, across all departments to revolutionize the RCI Weeks membership. This takes a lot of work and coordination. RCI’s technology systems are going through a big redesign. This is an upgrade that has been practiced, tested and planned for over the course of years, as the changes we are making to our systems are nothing short of monumental.
Why, you might ask, is RCI going through all of this effort? To bring you, members, vacation enthusiasts, the best, most flexible weeks exchange program in the history of timeshare! You asked for it and you deserve it!
My colleagues at RCI are so excited about these membership enhancements and are so dedicated to making this upgrade a huge success that it feels as if there is nothing the team here wouldn’t do to accomplish this mission. During the wee hours of Monday morning, while I hope all of you are enjoying the last few hours of weekend rest, RCI will be turning the systems back on. One-by-one, they will launch into action, as the team at RCI carefully monitors each step of the way, checking that everything is working seamlessly.
As many of you know, working with technology is challenging. All of the best planning in the world sometimes cannot predict system issues that may arise with a system upgrade of this scale.
My colleagues and I are optimistic and I know that each and every RCI Associate will not rest until our systems are back up, performing at a high standard of quality. So, stay tuned, and once the changes are complete, I think you’ll be in for a very pleasant surprise.
Just in case you wanted a first-hand look at what is going on here at RCI, check out this photo…
A few months ago, I blogged about the fun and exciting tools we created to help you learn about RCI and our affiliated resorts. Well, we are adding to the list!
We recently launched an RCI Facebook page and Twitter account (we're @RCI_Timeshare) and we’re also planning big additions to our RCI app for the iPhone®. All of these are fantastic ways to stay in touch with RCI, but Facebook and Twitter are great ways to meet and interact with other RCI subscribing members. Which brings me to today’s topic: What are we trying to accomplish with all this social and online stuff?
Simply stated, we’re giving you more useful information in a setting where you can hear from other folks who love to travel. I love the idea of creating a tight-knit community of RCI members who share travel ideas and tips and wish each other well on vacation travels. I can see a day where someone may spot an RCI hat or beach towel at one of our affiliated resorts, and approach that person and say, “Hey, are you an RCI member? So am I!” (This is where the high five comes in.) “This is my wife. How is your vacation going? Have you tried the spa yet?”
So jump into Facebook and Twitter and start hanging out with others who are passionate about travel. While doing so, you’ll find fun and informative updates from RCI – like vacation tips, polls, trivia, updates on our affiliated resorts, and suggestions on FS2D (Fun Stuff to Do) when visiting destinations.
But more importantly, you’ll see what other members are saying about their trips and you can post your own suggestions and tips. And the best part of our Facebook page? Our new app called Share Your Vacation by RCI! It lets you plot all of your vacations on a map and see where your Facebook friends have been. Or, you can just see where other RCI members are traveling to get an idea of where the new hot spots are. Now that’s cool!
If you like hearing from RCI, but prefer to keep it short and sweet (like 140 characters or less short and sweet), then follow us on Twitter.
And by all means, if you’re at one of our affiliated resorts and hear someone talking about RCI, introduce yourself and jump into the conversation. And give them a high five!
iPhone is a registered trademark of Apple Inc.
On my way to Asia — for the first time!
Traveling has been a part of my job description for the past 20 years. And while I have been to dozens of different countries and to every state in the U.S., I have never been anywhere in Asia…until now!
I'm packing my bags and heading off to Bangkok, Thailand and Nha Trang, Vietnam to film a beautiful timeshare resort and to film another episode of our RCI® TV travel show, "New Ways to Play." The travel show will take place in Bangkok and the timeshare resort is on an island off the coast of Nha Trang. Villas overlook the sea and have their own plunge pool right outside your door. They have a renowned spa and feature ancient, traditional Far East massage treatments. Sounds perfect to me!
In Bangkok, we are going to meet up with one of the city’s most famous tailors to have him make my own custom silk suit in just 24 hours (I've been told I clean up fairly well). We're also taking a bicycle tour of the city with a company whose name says it all: "Grasshopper Adventures."
I've always admired the rich history of the many cultures that make up Asia and I cannot wait to experience a part of two of them in the coming weeks. What places have you visited in Asia? Any tips you can give me for my travels? Or timeshare locations you can recommend? Please comment below to let me know!
Whenever we launch a sweepstakes for our RCI members, one of the biggest questions we get from our subscribing members is, "does anybody really win these things?" As the lead for RCI sweepstakes on the North America marketing team, I can tell you the answer is, of course, yes! We recently heard from Rick K. from Kelseyville, CA (last year’s winner) who just returned back from his amazing grand prize vacation at the Grand Mayan in Nuevo Vallarta. If you didn’t win last year or are new to the sweepstakes, lucky for you, we just launched a new sweepstakes!
What do you think of our RCI Explore MoreTM 2010 sweepstakes? Comment below and let us know! Where would you go if you won a timeshare vacation? Do you have any suggestions for what next year's grand prize should be? We'd love to hear from you!
In my position here at RCI, I get to hear directly from subscribing members about their timeshare vacation experiences. A lot of our RCI® subscribing members choose a California vacation for one reason or another, especially in the winter. They talk about the beaches, the wineries, and the good weather — a great combination to warm up any winter. Some of them are planning a stay at a timeshare for a wedding, honeymoon, or anniversary. Some of them are just planning for some time away. Here’s what other RCI members had to say* about their California vacation:
Robert, Palmdale, CA: Our trip to Arnold, California in March was awesome. The Big Trees State Park was just down the road and the kids went snowboarding 20 minutes away. Lots of hiking and fishing. The nearest lake was gorgeous and we saw lots of wildlife. People in the town were really friendly and helpful. The resort was comfy and had a warm feel to it. We want to return there.
Joyce, Salem, NH: My husband and I were excited to plan our exchange trip to Capistrano California. We exchanged our Cape Cod timeshare for a beautiful two bedroom, two bath timeshare in the Capistrano Surfside Inn. The timeshare was huge and immaculate and the ocean was just across the street. Also within walking distance was Dante Point which not only had an active harbor and walking areas with fantastic restaurants and shops, but bikepaths as well for those who wanted to bike around the area. We visited The Mission at Capistrano and walked the small streets with many unique shops. We chose this place to have a restful holiday and it was, yet there was plenty to do if we chose to do so. I would highly recommend this paradise area to anyone who wants to vacation in California. We would definitely visit again, but there are so many beautiful resorts with RCI, we want to try them all. We love RCI and the wonderful opportunities it offers us in trying new places and seeking new adventures.
Christine, San Bernardino, CA: In the summer of 2007, my husband and I experienced the most wonderful, relaxing vacation week that we have ever had. We decided to stay at WorldMark Angels Camp, California. During the day, we spent time visiting a couple of local wineries and sightseeing. In the evening, we barbecued dinner, relaxed, and escaped the reality of everyday stresses. It was a wonderfully simple and non-hurried vacation and we are looking forward to getting away again in the future!!
* Although we've corrected some spelling and technical errors, these vacation stories from RCI members are otherwise unchanged. They are not meant to inform you about resorts, destinations or about RCI products and services. RCI always recommends that you do your own research when making travel plans.
As the head of North America retention and loyalty at RCI, I sometimes hear from RCI subscribing members who are interested in knowing what types of non-exchange benefits are available to them. There are many members who use their own timeshare week the same time each year, and some of them don’t know all the valuable advantages they have just by being members.
There are many more reasons than ever before to be a timeshare exchange member. Our focus has always been on you as a consumer as well as you as a timeshare owner. The benefits we’ve added recently are what I call "everyday benefits" for the simple reason they can provide value every day in your regular non-timeshare consumer life. For example, do you travel on business or for long weekends? Take advantage of the up to 20% discount RCI members get on select hotels. Buying something for your home or a gift for family? Go right to an online "shopping mall," the RCI Shopping PerksSM program, and get Cash Back rewards on thousands of qualified items — it’s like getting paid to shop!
At the same time, your RCI timeshare exchange membership provides you with great travel perks including low-cost Extra VacationsSM getaways and cruise benefits such as cabin upgrades or savings of up to $500 USD!
Benefits for travel and benefits for every day tell the whole story of why an RCI Subscribing Membership can be a good value all the time. If you have any ideas for new benefits to enhance your membership, I’d love to hear them. Leave a comment, and let us know what you think.
As a member of the e-commerce team, I think one of our most exciting projects in 2009 was an enhancement to the search function on www.rci.com. Historically, members would say "just tell me what you have" when it came to searching for timeshare exchange. Now we do exactly that, but it's easier!
Searching used to require many inputs before you could see what RCI had "on the shelf." Now, once you’ve deposited your week, you can see every timeshare exchange available for you without inputting any criteria.
In order to navigate through the thousands of properties available, we’ve added many filters to narrow down the results to help you get just the vacations that are right for you. You don’t even have to choose a geographical destination – you can choose dates instead and see everything that’s available for you throughout the world during a particular time…or choose ski vacations from the Vacation Type filter and see your ski options available everywhere from Argentina to Zurich.
After we released this fantastic new search tool in 2009, we got lots of great comments from members who loved it and started booking their family vacations on RCI.com. We also got some great recommendations from you on how we could make it better. So, in June 2010, we launched two new search tools based 100% on member feedback.
My Favorite Searches lets members save search queries they are always doing. Next time you come back you can simply click the "self-named" saved search and you will immediately see the results that match your criteria. But don’t confuse this with Ongoing Searches. Ongoing Searches are still the best way to get in line for timeshare exchange vacations that haven’t been deposited in the system yet.
Advanced Search provides those of you who know what you want the ability to add multiple criteria before getting to the timeshare exchange search results. (You can also save these searches, too.) This can be a quick way to get deeper into search results within one page. Keep in mind that adding multiple criteria at one time could limit available options and may result in zero search results. I suggest adding one criteria at a time in order to see which options are available as you narrow them down.
These search improvements have significantly improved how you can find family vacations. There’s been a tremendous increase in the number of online activity and bookings, and we’re happy to see you are asking for new features. As you can see, we’re listening to you and want to make finding the right vacation fun and easy.
How are we doing? If you like what we're doing, let us know. If you want to see any changes or improvements, please comment below and we'll see if we can include them in future upgrades.
With so many new additions to RCI this year (the RCI® app for the iPhone®, new RCI.com search functions, RCI TV and the RCI channel on YouTube, etc.), you didn’t think we’d forget about Endless Vacation Magazine, did you? We know that you are always looking for more ways to get the most out of your vacation timeshare ownership – and as the Publisher of the North American version of Endless Vacation Magazine, I know you’re excited when we add more to the magazine - so, starting with our first issue of 2010, we added a 10-page RCI Member Section.
In every issue, you’ll now find tips and information to help you understand your RCI subscribing membership and member benefits (like when it’s the best time to deposit or how RCI.com can help you plan your vacations), updates on RCI, and membership news (did you know that RCI follows environmental-sustainability best practices?). You can also see a listing of newly affiliated resorts that have recently joined the RCI exchange network, special member-only offers, and RCI vacation stories from subscribing members like you!
We’re constantly working on ways to make it easier for you to get on vacation. I know the RCI Member Section will help you in your planning journey. So, what do you think of this new section? What other information would you like to see? Let us know by commenting below.
iPhone is a registered trademark of Apple Inc.
A few weeks ago, I wrote a blog entry called "A Few Timeshare Exchange Tips". In that post, I shared what I learned from a subscribing member when I first started with RCI ten years ago as a Vacation Guide. If you thought that members knew everything about timeshare resorts, keep reading to see what another veteran vacation planner taught me!
It was my very first call with multiple bookings. The member was a self-proclaimed family reunion planner, and planned a huge event for her family every other year. Her requirements? A new vacation destination each year, at least five 2-bedroom units, and it had to be in the summertime. To top it off, she only owned one week per year!
Here’s how she planned: She saved her deposits for two years at a time, and then used them for two of the units. She always planned a year in advance, deposited early to help maximize the Trading Power of her week, and picked an area where there was Extra VacationsSM getaways inventory so that she could easily get the extra three units. She explained that timing is everything. This is true whether you need five units or one unit!
I’m not saying this strategy will work for everyone, but the biggest thing I learned is that no matter what kind of vacation you are planning - whether it’s for a reunion, a romantic getaway for two, or a place the kids would enjoy – you can be really creative in using your existing timeshare resorts ownership (plus, if you familiarize yourself with our Extra Vacations getaways inventory available to RCI members, you open up the doors to even more vacation opportunities beyond just your exchange options!).
Are there any additional tips you have? If so, please comment below.
Some of my most favorite memories are of the times I spent in Mexico.
As “the RCI Guy” on RCI TV, I get to travel all around the world hosting RCI’s online travel show “New Ways to Play” and showcasing RCI affiliated timeshare resorts. Every time our schedule brings us back to Mexico, I am reminded of my earliest vacations here…which date back to the 1970’s.
My first trip to Mexico was about 35 years ago. After that, I knew I wanted to come back. In fact, in the early 1980s, I was traveling in the coastal city of Mazatlan and bought my first timeshare and became an RCI subscribing member.
What drew me to purchasing my timeshare here in Mexico was that I knew that whether I wanted to golf, take a long walk on the beach, lie in the sun, go scuba diving or deep sea fishing, I could do all of that here and so much more.
One of my most favorite things to do is to go off the beaten path and see how different a town or village is within just a few blocks from the touristy areas and timeshare resorts. Some of the most memorable times for my family and I have been when we simply took a side detour to see more of what this country has to offer. In my opinion – and limited Spanish – Mexico es perfecto!
If you want to check out some of my favorite things to see and do in Mexico, check out the Destination Review Channel on RCI TV. Comment below and let me know what you think!
When I started at RCI as a Vacation Guide 10 years ago, I was a college student with absolutely no discretionary income so needless to say, my exposure to “timesharing” was quite limited. I can guarantee that when you first joined RCI, you knew more than I did in my first days.
Trading Power is very important for you when you are booking a timeshare exchange with RCI! This is how we determine what timeshare exchange offers to provide you.
The RCI Weeks program is based on a like-for-like principle. This means we will always work to provide you with a timeshare exchange similar to the deposit you provided us. That is, if you provide us with two weeks in a very popular destination, we will try to give you two weeks in another equally popular destination.
Most of the inventory in our timeshare exchange program is provided by members who deposit their ownership week with us. RCI members have up to 24 months before their start date to make a deposit. Within that two year window, other members may ask for that same start date for their vacation. So our job is to try and match everyone we can with all the deposits we get from other members.
Although all exchanges are made based on Trading Power, it takes higher Trading Power to travel to highly demanded areas with limited supply, or during highly demanded weeks of the year (like Christmas Week, 4th of July, etc.).
The Trading Power of your deposited week is based on a lot of factors, including how many members have historically asked for your type of deposit, how many deposits like yours we get, the quality of your resort, and the size and season of your deposit, just to mention a few. We compare all of these to the vacation that you request, and if the Trading Power is similar (or if your deposit has more Trading Power), then you will have a great chance of getting what you are asking for.
You probably have heard our Guides talk about depositing early. That's because you can usually help to maximize your Trading Power by depositing early. If you don’t deposit your week until 3 to 4 weeks before your vacation, we cannot give your week to someone else until then. And I'm sure most of you would want to know if you had an exchange long before that!
Also, other members are depositing into our timeshare exchange program all the time. So, if the vacation you want is not available right now, enter an ongoing search for your choice of destination or time of year! These searches get prioritized for matching new member deposits. So an ongoing search helps improve your chances of getting the timeshare exchange you want.
Finally, to maximize the number of people we can send on vacation, we are always acquiring inventory from our resorts and other sources like hotels, especially in big cities where there are not many timeshares.
Our goal is to use every unit we get and to get you on the best resort vacation we can. So deposit early, enter ongoing searches if a unit is not immediately available, and be as flexible as possible! Have a great vacation!