Dan the RCI Guy: Off to Asia!


Dan "The RCI Guy" - Vacation Travels with RCI TV's Dan "The RCI Guy"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!

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California Vacation: More than Just a Summer Timeshare Destination


Susie M. - RCI Subscribing Member Vacation ExperiencesIn 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.

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Why Timeshare Owners Should Also Become Members of RCI


Barbara E. - RCI Subscribing Member BenefitsAs 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.

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Italy: A Lot of History and A Lot to Do!


Susie M. - RCI Subscribing Member Vacation ExperiencesWho hasn’t dreamed of visiting Italy, even if it's just for a short while? Picture it: lounging in the espresso shops, reading by one of the fountains, dining al fresco with friends, taking a break for gelato…

Some RCI subscribing members have already enjoyed a vacation rental or timeshare exchange vacation in Italy and everything the country has to offer. Since my position at RCI allows me to hear from members about their European vacations, I thought I’d share a few stories* with you:

Larry, Olympia, WA: Last May, when we arrived at Il Poggio, our first week’s stay, it was 9:50 p.m. The resort office closed at 10 p.m., and we were worried we wouldn’t make it. We had a stressful drive from the Rome airport, and were hungry and tired. Il Poggio is located in a small town in Tuscany, and by that time of night, the few stores and eateries were closed. The owner graciously sent a tray of salami, cheese, and bread to our room, and it was even enough for breakfast the next morning. We thoroughly enjoyed our week there, followed by a lovely week on Sardinia, and another week in northern Tuscany.

George, El Cajon, CA: Our trip to Italy was fantastic. We went from Assisi to Sicily. All four weeks were with our RCI weeks. Assisi and Tropea were our favorite. This was a chance for my wife to explore her roots in Sicily and we had a great time with long lost family. Thanks RCI.

Richard, Monroe Township, NJ: Just got back from a wonderful week in Montegrotto Terme. We were a 10-minute train ride from Padua and a 60-minute train ride from Venice. The property was wonderful and located near the train station. The hotel staff was great and the room was immaculate. The town’s shops were very good for browsing and shopping. The food on the half-board was very good and we would return to this property again.

Now it's your turn! Do you have any experiences from your trip to Italy you’d like to share? If so, comment below.

* 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. Some stories mention unusual exceptions made or circumstances that may not be typical for most vacationers. RCI always recommends that you do your own research when making travel plans.

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Improved Vacation Search Tools Make Finding Availability a Breeze


Jen V. - Improved Vacation Search ToolsAs 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.

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Canyons, Hiking, Beautiful Scenery and More… All on an Arizona Vacation!


Susie M. - RCI Subscribing Member Vacation ExperiencesThree years ago, my family planned a winter vacation to sunny Sedona, Arizona. We bought our Red Rock Pass and picked up a trail map from the local Chamber of Commerce, then we hiked, and hiked, and hiked, each trail offering more adventure and more scenery than the last. We all enjoyed the area immensely, hiking, shopping, dining, and enjoying the fabulous resort pool and hot tub to our hearts’ content.

Making the most of our timeshare travel, we’ve visited Las Vegas, Washington, D.C., even Disney during our winter vacations, but this is the area we like to return to the most. We’re not alone in our adoration of Arizona! At my job with RCI, I am fortunate to hear vacation stories from our RCI subscribing members. Here’s what other timeshare owners had to say* about their Sedona resort vacations:

Linda, Wilmington, NC: We absolutely loved our trip to Arizona. We stayed in Sedona for the week. It is impossible to describe or photograph how beautiful it was. It was also our base for the Grand Canyon, Painted Desert, Petrified Forest and Page Canyon. What a wonderful week. We will return to this destination.

Alan, Ankeny, IA: Wanting to take a great winter vacation, my wife and I invited a couple to go with us to Sedona, Arizona. It was February and we found the weather to be great jacket weather. It was warm enough to golf and reasonably priced golf courses were found. Our condo exchange was the most beautiful we ever had and had a small lock-out unit attached which was wonderful for two couples. The scenery was beautiful and we really enjoyed the vacation.

Elaine, Milford, CT: Sedona, Arizona, is a dream destination. We have used our timeshare there several times, and never cease to marvel at the natural rock formations and of course the people. Best adventure is the side trip to Grand Canyon close by — don’t miss it!

Robert, Galt, CA: Our trip to Sedona, Arizona, was one of the funniest and most relaxing vacations we have taken in the 20+ years we have been members of RCI. Stayed at Sedona Summit, a great place. Each day we explored the area seeing some of the most beautiful scenery, Indian ruins, red rocks, beautiful homes, interesting rock formations, and talking to the locals about the area. The entire trip was one of awe. Fortunately, we had fantastic weather. We had the time of our lives.

* 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. Some stories mention unusual exceptions made or circumstances that may not be typical for most vacationers. RCI always recommends that you do your own research when making travel plans.

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Even More Timeshare Exchange Tips


Beth S. - Timeshare Exchange TipsA 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.

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Trading Power at RCI: How Our Timeshare Exchange Program Works


Gordon G. - RCI Membership and Timeshare Vacation InfoTrading 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!
 

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