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Your Location: Timeshare Users Group Advice: RCI Frequently Asked Questions    |updated: 4/23/08


"Ask RCI" Frequently Asked Questions

 RCI has provided a representative to answer TUG Members' general RCI questions.  This FAQ contains a selection of the most frequently asked questions, and the answers RCI has provided us.  Everything in this section is property of Timeshare Users Group, 2003-2006.

 

I. Exchanging In General 3

A. Gold Crown/Resort of International Distinction Designation and Trading Power 3

B. Unit Size and Trading Power 4

C. What happens when the comment card scores for a particular resort are consistently low for a particular unit and/or section or sections of  that resort?. 4

D. How often does RCI check out the quality and maintenance of a resort? Do they make personal inspections or just rely on the comment cards?. 5

E. How do I modify an on-going search on-line?. 5

F. Do you lose your place in line when you change an on-going search request?. 5

G. Would RCI ever consider implementing a shop before depositing feature such as II has?. 6

H. HOLDS-If we receive a match for our exchange request and are not home when RCI calls, does that mean that we will lose our hold?  Do we have to call RCI every day to check to see if there is a match?. 6

I. What happens when I decline a match?. 6

J. Why am I charged a fee for canceling an exchange?. 6

K. Why does RCI charge to transfer a deposited week, confirmation, or membership?

L. Why are fees required to hold a unit or start a search?. 7

M. Why can't I use my existing exchange balance for online transactions?. 8

 

II. Vacation Experience Profile ("VEP") Issues. 8

A. Does RCI have a rating system?. 8

B. Can VEP scores be displayed online?. 8

C. Does the VEP of the underlying resort matter in RCI Points?

D. Bonus Weeks and VEP. 9

 

III. One-in-Four Rule. 9

A. Does the one-in-four year rule apply to an entire account, or to the individuals using the confirmed vacations? If I send a guest to a one-in-four resort, will I also be restricted?. 9

B. Does the one-in-four year rule apply to Points resorts?. 9

 

IV. Bonus Vacations. 9

A. Why are Bonus Vacations so expensive? Some are priced as high as $7800.

B. How is marketable inventory determined? At what point does it become marketable inventory?  10

C. What are "Bonus Breaks"?. 10

D. Bonus Weeks and VEP. 10

 

V. Special Benefits/Promotions. 10

A. What are the One-Plus-One weeks that appear in my account?. 10

B. Passport Club. 11

 

VI. RCI Rentals. 12

A. Generally-Comments from a Vice President, RCI 12

B. Why can't rental inventory be used solely for member exchanges?. 14

C. How many rental units are made available to non-members every year?. 14

D. How come there are many weeks available through outlets such as RCI Holiday Network for rent, yet I am unable to find availability directly through RCI?. 15

E. What happens to weeks that are given to RCI as part of its Cruise Exchange program?. 15

F. Rental of Units to the Armed Forces - AFVClub.com.. 15

i. Wouldn't it be fair and equitable for RCI to provide me with an account (or membership) number in order to purchase $249 vacations via websites such as AFVClub, the government employees site, and others?. 15

ii. What I fail to understand is why RCI members don't get the BEST deal, period!! Why should a (non-RCI) government employee be given a better deal at an RCI affiliated resort than an RCI member?  16

 

VII. RCI Points. 17

A. General Questions. 17

i. Does RCI want to become Points only in the future?. 17

ii. Do Points members receive priority over Weeks members for their searches?. 17

iii. What are the priorities of Points members in searching the Weeks system for "crossover trades"?  17

iv. "If a member of RCI Points exchanges points for an interval from the RCI Weeks system, an interval of equivalent value is moved from the RCI Points system to the RCI Weeks system. How does RCI determine what is "equivalent?"  Taken from Endless Vacations Magazine, March-April 2001, Ken May states: 18

v. Expiring Points.  Points may be held and accumulated in an account for 24 months and then, if not used, they are removed. Will this policy change? Or will I be forced to use my points for things that I do not want?  18

vi. Points for Deposit 18

B. Conversion fee issues. 19

i. How much does RCI charge to convert a week to Points?. 19

ii. Resorts are charging varying prices for conversion to the Points program. Can RCI establish more consistency with this? Some resorts are charging very high prices. 19

iii. If I convert to RCI Points and later sell my timeshare, does the resort have the right to decide whether or not the new owner will be in the Points program?. 19

iv. After such a sale, can the HOA "Home Owner's Association" charge any fees to keep the new owner in the points system? If so, is there a cap on said fees?. 19

v.  If I convert to RCI Points and later sell my timeshare, does the resort have the right to decide whether or not the new owner will be in the Points program?. 19

vi. Are there double subscription costs when you have both a Weeks account and a Points account?  20

C. On-line Exchanging with Points. 20

i. When will Australian and European Points members have online access to their accounts?. 20

ii. Why doesn't RCI plan to implement online points access for Aussie members at this time?. 20

iii. What is being done to allow Canadian Points members to search online?. 21

iv. When searching with a Points account, it is not possible to get a week from a resort that has joined Points, even if only one member has converted his week to Points. Why is this?. 21

 

VIII. Other Points Clubs (Hilton, Fairfield, etc.) 21

A. Are members who are part of a club like Fairfield or Hilton given priority in RCI's system? Are subscription fees the same?. 21

B. Will Worldmark owners be allowed access in the near future to conduct trades on-line?  If not, why not?  22

 

 

I. Exchanging-In General

 

A. Gold Crown/Resort of International Distinction Designation and Trading Power

 

The Gold Crown/RID programs are separate from Trading Power and VEP (Vacation Experience Profile), but both are determined at least in part by member comment cards. Member comment cards are one of the criteria used to award Gold Crown and RID, but these  awards are not factored into VEP or Trading Power calculations. However, the awards do indicate that the resorts receive consistently favorable comment card scores, and consistently favorable comment card scores does also factor into VEP. Trading Power is based upon the VEP based upon the actual comment card scores, and not from GC/RID designations. Comment card data includes several categories as follows:

 

Check-in/out
Resort Hospitality
Resort Maintenance
Resort Amenities
Resort Activities
Unit Quality
Unit Maintenance
Unit Housekeeping
Unit Amenities
Overall Vacation Experience
Weather (tracked separately)

 

A separate set of criteria is used to determine eligibility for the Gold Crown and RID awards. These criteria can vary by market, since overall conditions can be different. These are as follows:

 

Unit quality
Hospitality
Housekeeping
Maintenance
Check-in/check-out

 

Additionally for Gold Crown: 

 

Resort amenities
Unit amenities
Guest services

 

Although GC/RID does indicate higher quality, it does not always indicate higher Trading Power.   Trading Power guidelines are as follows:

 

Supply, demand, and usage of your Home Resort
Supply, demand, and usage for your resort's region
Comment Card ratings for your Home Resort
Size and configuration of your unit
Seasonal designation of your Week
How far in advance you deposit your week with RCI

 

B. Unit Size and Trading Power

 

All other factors held equal, two units with the same size and occupancy will have the same Trading Power; square footage is not a component of the unit's Trading Power. Even among units with similar square footage, there can be differences in amenities, layout, etc. However, Trading Power does not vary any further with regard to individual unit configuration. Keep in mind that Trading Power does include all of the following:

 

Supply, demand, and usage of the week, resort and area
Unit size and occupancy
Vacation Experience Profile
How far in advance the week is deposited

 

C. What happens when the comment card scores for a particular resort are consistently low for a particular unit and/or section or sections of  that resort?

 

If we see a significant disparity between units or sections at a resort that is pulling the comment card scores down for the whole resort, we can pursue a couple of different options.  The best option is for the resort to bring the lower-scoring units or sections back in line by refurbishing. However, when that isn't possible, we may see the resort split into separate entities for RCI's program. Resort splits are more often the result of ownership or management changes and are rarely used for the purpose of isolating VEP.

 

 

D. How often does RCI check out the quality and maintenance of a resort? Do they make personal inspections or just rely on the comment cards?

 

RCI's staff does make periodic visits to resorts; however, these are announced visits. The resorts and RCI pay close attention to comment card scores to watch for trends between visits. We also provide “secret shopper” service through our Ragatz Associates affiliate to help resorts monitor and improve quality and service as an added client service, but RCI is not provided with this data and the results are not used by RCI in any way, only by the resort.

 

It is also important to mention that people have widely varying expectations and perceptions. I can remember speaking with two members about the same resort one day years ago. It was a small, older resort on a rocky beach in a nice location. The first member was very upset about what he perceived to be the poor quality of the furnishings, small cramped room, and very few amenities. The very next member raved about the location of the resort, the cleanliness of the unit, and the attentiveness of the staff. That really taught me that comment card scores capture overall member impressions, but that there can be wide differences in individual ratings. It's always a good idea to check for online journals, such as those found on the RCI Community at RCI.com, or contact resorts directly to inquire if you haven't visited before. And continue to provide us with your comment card ratings! When we see trends in housekeeping, maintenance, hospitality, etc., the resorts see them too, and they can work to resolve any problems that the trends identify.

 

E. How do I modify an on-going search on-line?

 

Once you've logged in, options are listed just above the box with your personal data. Click on "View Your Travel Plans" and then "Modify Search". Make your desired changes and click on "Submit". Once you receive results of your search, you may choose to "Conduct an Ongoing Search with my Modified Search criteria" or "Continue searching for original location and date request."

 

Can't view or modify resort choices in ongoing search -- The New Weeks will allow you to search for 3 different timeframes - 2 as Area searches and 1 in the specific Resort Choices section. However, within the Resort Choices section, all dates must match or you will not be able to access the choices to modify them. And, if your request only includes specific resort choices with multiple date ranges, you may not be able to see the Resort Choices section at all. This means you will need to speak with an RCI Guide to make any changes, or ask the Guide to change your dates so that they match, at least within the Resort Choices section.

 

 

F. Do you lose your place in line when you change an on-going search request?

 

You can change your search as often as you wish, and as long as you don't stop the search altogether, it will retain its original entry date and priority.

 

G. Would RCI ever consider implementing a "shop before depositing" feature such as other exchange companies offer?

 

RCI remains committed to our deposit-first policy. If members could request exchanges without depositing their own vacation time, our exchange system would not function effectively. The exchange you request would only be available to you after another RCI member first deposited the unit with us. In this way, most exchanges would work like pending requests, rather than RCI being able to confirm a very high percentage of exchange requests on the same day, because the units have already been deposited. We believe that this system satisfies the greatest number of members with the best possible exchanges.

 

H. HOLDS-If we receive a match for our exchange request and are not home when RCI calls, does that mean that we will lose our hold?  Do we have to call RCI every day to check to see if there is a match?

 

We do leave messages when we are unable to contact members about units holding; however, we make a few attempts first. Being able to talk with members in person provides the best service. However, if we try a few times over the course of a couple of days without success, we then leave a message. Our computer system allows a few more days for the member to call us back before releasing the unit.

 

Your ongoing search is assigned a Contact Date automatically when it is initiated. We will then contact you by mail or telephone to advise of any matches or discuss your search. However, if you contact us prior to the scheduled Contact Date (or view the search online), your account will be assigned a new Contact Date, based upon the fact that contact was already made. We do not yet have a system in place to contact members by e-mail. When a unit matches to your search, it is placed on hold and your account information is loaded into a dialer program so that an RCI Guide can call to offer you the unit.

 

I. What happens when I decline a match?

 

Your search priority is not changed at all when you decline a match. We encourage members to enter broad searches to allow for the greatest possibilities! Feel free to decline any unit that you don't think will work for you!

 

J. Why am I charged a fee for canceling an exchange?

 

At the bottom of each RCI Exchange Confirmation, there is a Terms & Conditions section that fully explains this policy. RCI's exchange fee is a processing fee, and when we cancel an exchange it takes additional processing. We give back partial fee credit for cancellations received more than 60 days in advance, because it is more likely we will receive another exchange fee in connection with that week. When you cancel, Trading Power is reduced commensurate with the amount of time the unit was confirmed and held out of inventory. If you had not contacted us to cancel, the unit you confirmed would have stayed empty and you would not have been able to use your deposited week for another exchange. We offer vacation insurance for $25 per confirmation. This provides coverage in the event of emergencies such as illness or injury. Coverage would include the exchange fee as well as maintenance fees and other costs that can be associated with emergencies preventing travel or occurring during your vacation. For more details, you can contact our provider, BerkelyCare Ltd. directly at 800/722-5676.

 

K. Why does RCI charge to transfer a deposited week, confirmation, or membership?

 

When you allow someone other than yourself to use one of your deposited weeks for an exchange vacation, it requires additional processing by RCI. For Guest Certificates, and for member transfers, there is extra paperwork and staff time involved. For this reason, the $49 fee applies in both situations.

 

The Membership Transfer Application or "MTA" form can be ordered by any RCI Guide directly from your account to be sent by mail. Or, you can download it from our website. Just click on the following link:

 

https://www.rci.com/CDA/tmpMTA/1,5394,,00.html

 

Include the $49 MTA processing fee by check, money order, or credit card. If using a credit card, please provide your account number, expiration date, and name as it appears on the card. You may send the MTA to us at:

 

 RCI, attn: Customer Service, PO Box 80229, Indianapolis IN 46209-8097 or fax it to 317/805-9335.

 

L. Why are fees required to hold a unit or start a search?

 

The exchange fee is required for each exchange request or hold.  Collecting the fee in advance streamlines the process once an exchange is confirmed, and ensures that the Member knows and can pay the fee prior to work being undertaken on his or her behalf. Please be assured these fees are fully refundable if you do not confirm an exchange.

 

M. Why can't I use my existing exchange balance for online transactions?

 

RCI Guides are required to collect the exchange fee for each request in our computer. Since our mainframe computer does not associate a specific exchange fee to a specific request, it cannot see whether there is enough money in your account to cover all ongoing searches. For this reason, our web-site will require an exchange fee for every exchange request entered.

 

This means you will need to contact an RCI Guide to use a remaining exchange balance or request a refund. When you cancel an ongoing search or hold online, you do have the option to receive a refund of the fee you submitted. Using that option will make life easier for you when using our web-site.

 

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II. Vacation Experience Profile ("VEP") Issues

 

A. Does RCI have a rating system?

 

RCI does not rate resorts, however, our members do, and we track that information . We compile VEP scores for the sole purpose of matching resorts in quality for exchanges in our program.

 

B. Can VEP scores be displayed online?

 

VEP scores are used behind-the-scenes to help us determine value-for-value exchanges. When you confirm an exchange vacation, our system has determined that the comment card data of the deposited resort is comparable to that of the requested resort at that time. Because VEP scores change continuously, it's possible that the VEP score of a resort will be higher or lower than it was at the time of confirmation. VEP scores are proprietary and will not be publicly posted. Resorts are at liberty to provide their VEP scores to owners at their discretion, bearing in mind that these scores are subject to change.

 

C. Does the VEP of the underlying resort matter in RCI Points?

 

Yes. When Points members use the Weeks system for Bonus Vacations and exchange vacations, quality guidelines are applied, just as they are for Weeks members. By applying these guidelines based upon member comment cards, we provide the greatest number of resort options possible, while still protecting the overall vacation experiences by preventing resorts with lower quality from matching to Points requests.

 

D. Bonus Weeks and VEP

 

I'll have more coming on the VEP topic, but for now I wanted to reassure you that when you request Bonus Vacations, our system will filter for VEP DOWN only. If it's surplus availability, we want everyone to have a chance at it as long as the quality will be at least as high as it is at your home resort -- within a fairly wide range. But resorts of higher quality are still available.

 

For standard exchanges, VEP is considered as a component of Trading Power, and wide differences upward from your deposited resort can result in a match later in the process (45 days or less).

 

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III. One in Four Rule

 

A. Does the one-in-four year rule apply to an entire account, or to the individuals using the confirmed vacations? If I send a guest to a one-in-four resort, will I also be restricted?

 

Typically, the one-in-four year rule applies to an account, not to an individual. If you send a guest to a one-in-four year resort, you will not be able to visit that resort yourself for four more years.

 

The "One-in-Four Year" guideline, as well as geographic area restrictions, are common among resorts still active in sales. The resorts want to maximize their exposure to new audiences of potential owners. RCI does agree to enforce these restrictions for resorts in our exchange program; however, the rules are created by the resorts, and they can change.  We do not yet have programming in place to prevent confirmations from being made against resort restrictions. That is why you will not be given the option to confirm these resorts online. It will be necessary to call and have an RCI Guide double-check for any restrictions that might apply.

 

B. Does the one-in-four year rule apply to Points resorts?

 

Thus far our Points resorts have not requested and are therefore not enforcing a one-in-four year rule for Points transactions. However, when Points members confirm Weeks exchanges, they are subject to the same rules as Weeks members.  This includes the one-in-four restriction.

 

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IV. Bonus Vacations

 

A. Why are Bonus Vacations so expensive? Some are priced as high as $7800.

 

It is important that RCI work with resorts to preserve the value of timeshare weeks while providing attractively priced vacation options for its members. If Bonus Vacations are priced too low, it can undermine resorts' sales efforts. It is just not a true reflection of resorts' values, and in the end, can negatively affect the timeshare industry overall. RCI is committed to providing quality vacations for its members at fair prices, and Bonus Vacations represent an excellent value for RCI members. When you see rental properties online with unusually high prices, they may have been provided by resorts and include special options for European members. These options may include lift tickets, airline tickets leaving from European destinations, certain gratuities, and fees, etc.  Unfortunately, it's exceptionally difficult to separate these units from those that do not offer the special options. Hence, all of the units are priced the same way online. If any non-European members wish to confirm this space, they may call their respective call centers. An RCI Guide will quote them the price of the unit without the special options and confirm it for the unit price alone.  

 

B. How is marketable inventory determined? At what point does it become marketable inventory?

 

Timeframes for marketable inventory vary by the type of inventory, and when it is deposited. Inventory that is very heavily supplied but lightly demanded may become marketable shortly after being deposited. Where supply is forecasted to be only slightly greater than demand, inventory will typically be designated as marketable only much closer to its check-in date. Where demand exceeds supply, inventory will become marketable only as a result of last-minute deposits or cancellations.

 

C. What are "Bonus Breaks"?

 

Bonus Breaks is the new name for Weekend Escapes. It's the three-day version of Bonus Vacations. Currently, only week-long Bonus Vacations are available online; however, the inventory for Bonus Vacations and Bonus Breaks is the same. If you see a location/date of interest, just call an RCI Guide to hold or confirm. Pricing for Bonus Breaks ranges from $169.99 to $399.99. We also frequently offer promotions that provide additional discounts.

 

D. Bonus Weeks and VEP

 

When you request Bonus Vacations, our system will filter for VEP DOWN only. If it's surplus availability, we want everyone to have a chance at it as long as the quality will be at least as high as it is at your home resort -- within a fairly wide range. But resorts of higher quality are still available.

 

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V. Special Benefits/Promotions

 

A. What are the One-Plus-One weeks that appear in my account?

 

When you confirm an exchange in an area targeted for the One-Plus-One promotion, an additional vacation week at special rates is deposited into your account automatically. It appears online as a One-Plus-One week; however, it cannot be accessed online. You will need to contact an RCI Guide to confirm these. For every regular exchange confirmed into targeted areas, members may confirm an additional week into any of the same areas for $241.99 domestic (296.99 CD) and $296.99 international (351.99 CD). Availability is in the following regions:

 

East Coast - Virginia Beach, Virginia to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
North Interior US - Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, West Virginia, Kentucky, Virginia
Pennsylvania
Tennessee & Smoky Mtn Resorts in North Carolina and Georgia
Canada - Ontario & Quebec
East Coast - Maine to Maryland
Great Lakes Area (Wisconsin, Michigan, Minnesota, Iowa, South Dakota)
Ozarks (Missouri, Arkansas, Oklahoma)
Texas - Inland

Southeastern Florida (Vacation Village at Bonaventure #4025 and Vacation Village at Weston #5773 only)
All International Destinations

 

The One-Plus-One program is not available online. You will need to contact an RCI Guide for assistance. These weeks are valid for two full years, for travel dates up to two years in advance. However, they are only valid for the areas outlined above. You do not have to confirm the same resort/area with your One-Plus-One week as you confirmed to qualify for it. And you don't have to confirm consecutive weeks. After you confirm a standard exchange in one of the targeted areas, the One-Plus-One week is deposited into your account automatically overnight. You may also confirm the extra week on the same phone call if you want - the RCI Guide can deposit it for you immediately.

 

B. Passport Club

 

Here's a brief sampling of Passport Club benefits:

 

Free companion airline ticket

Free travel book

Free last-minute unit upgrades

Purchase Bonus Vacations and Bonus Breaks in advance

Discounted Guest Certificates

Customized travel itineraries

Great low rates on cruises

Discounts on travel merchandise

 

Passport Club members can request free upgrades to confirmed RCI Weeks exchanges between 1-3 days before the confirmed check-in date. If a larger unit is available, the confirmation may be changed without any penalty. The company that provides us with the companion ticket option is Lifestyle Vacation Incentives. On this site, there is a list of 103 U.S. cities to which the free fare applies. You can also click on the link below the drop down menus to see a fare/zone chart. To visit Lifestyle Vacations, click on the following link:

 

http://www.ecarrots.com/LVI.dll/Products?S=72385&P=2

 

For more information about RCI Passport Club membership, please call 1-877-367-6443. Information about RCI Passport Club is also available via RCI Community at RCI.com.

 

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VI. RCI Rentals

 

A. Generally-Comments from a Vice President, RCI

 

Many people have asked questions regarding our rental programs; where does the inventory come from? Is RCI renting weeks we have deposited for exchange?

 
Before I try and clarify what is a complex subject, let me say first of all that we take this issue VERY seriously. We are audited annually by Deloitte & Touche to ensure that we are managing inventory consistent with our stated policies. This is an area which is highly regulated in many states so we have to do it. But it's also true that we started this audit process long before we had to do it so we could confidently state that we have a fair exchange policy.

 

One of the reasons that many of RCI's new programs are so complex is because we go to elaborate lengths to make sure we're doing everything we can to ensure that we're giving our Members the best possible opportunity to get the exchange they want. We have a large Inventory Management department dedicated to delivering this. I know that this sounds like spin so far (it's not) so let me lay out the facts.

 

When I say "deposited for exchange," that means that I am not including those weeks that RCI Weeks members exchange for cruises through RCI Cruise Exchange. Those weeks are transferred to I.C.E. Gallery, our cruise provider, which rents them to cover the costs of the cruise. In this situation, no week was deposited for exchange, and no week was taken away that another member had a right to. No RCI member has lost their opportunity for a fair and comparable exchange, but a Member has gotten the vacation they wanted, which is what we're in business for. This is the same way we provide the Points Partners program that allows RCI Points members to use their Points for airfare, rental cars, cruises, etc. They deposit a week, but do not take a week out of our inventory. Their points are used for something else, say an airline ticket, which RCI pays cash for; we then rent the week to cover our cost for the airline ticket. Again, no member has lost their opportunity for exchange, because this member chose to utilize the value of their timeshare in a different way, and again, that's what we're in business for.

 

Now, it would make everything nice and simple if I could tell you that the RCI Weeks member who exchanged his week for a cruise, let's call him Joe Smith, that we took Joe Smith's week out of our inventory, and that's the week we rented to cover those costs. It would be easier for us, without question. But we'd be missing an opportunity. Because sometimes, Joe Smith's week, exchanged for a cruise, might be a week that's in very short supply, one that other members want, perhaps at a small resort with few units, for example. At the same time, we may have weeks in our RCI Weeks system that are considered identical in quality to Joe's, but are in more abundant supply, and we will take one that is more plentiful and rent it rather than one that is rare.

 

When we do this, one member gets an exchange that represents a great vacation, but another might look at the RCI Holiday Network Web site and see a week for rent that they requested for exchange, but is up for rental. Again, we see that as Joe's week, which he utilized not for exchange but for another vacation option, and so it's not a week that belongs to the entire membership, as would normally be the case. Remember, there can be no assumption that Joe would have deposited his week for exchange were we not to offer any other use for it. He might have rented it out himself, and used the money for his cruise. But we all know how difficult it can be for individual resorts and HOA's to rent out weeks, and so our program guarantees that Joe can gain the value of his vacation ownership. These programs, our RCI Points Partners and our RCI Cruise Exchange, have proven to be enormously popular. Almost a fifth of all our Points transactions go to Points Partners, and our Cruise business has skyrocketed through the added service and offerings of ICE Gallery, our cruise provider. Even though we have rolled out these new programs it is true to say that there has been growth in our inventory supply for exchange.

 

There is another, similar situation in our new rental business which is likewise an example of RCI going the extra mile for members, but which can very reasonably appear to be something we're doing at members' expense. This is in the area of weeks supplied to RCI by our developers.  The RCI Holiday Network was designed to help our developers better utilize their excess or available inventory, to supplement their marketing efforts and increase occupancy (which, by the way, contributes to the trading power of other owners at those resorts!). 100% of the weeks in our rental pool come from four sources: from developers for the above reasons, from RCI's Resort Management group, which represents individual owners like you who might want to rent their week out rather than use it or exchange it; from the Points Partners and Cruise Exchange programs to cover the cash costs; and from our traditional marketable inventory, which are the weeks that year in and year out go unwanted and unused.

 

All of these weeks in RCI's rental inventory are first made available to RCI members for rental, by virtue of your ability to make a pending request. If you have a pending request for a week, and you don't have trading power for it, or there's nothing in the inventory when you make your request, and then that week gets deposited at a later date, or goes unrequested by those members who do have the trading power, it is claimed from the system before it is placed in the rental pool. And, all of the weeks in RCI's rental inventory are offered to members at a significant discount off the price charged to the general public.

 

With respect to those weeks provided by developers, this represents a substantial member benefit, as members are being given access to highly desirable vacation weeks that may not have been available via exchange through lack of member deposits. These are weeks that many members may lack sufficient trading power to access via exchange; these are also quality weeks that members can enjoy in addition to those which they obtain through exchange, and at prices that represent another benefit of vacation ownership. For many members, who own weeks with very low trading power, this may be the primary benefit of their vacation ownership, and that's what we're in business for, to unlock the value of your timeshare. And it's been a big success. In the first six months following the launch of the RCI Holiday Network, more than three-fourths of the rental weeks provided to RCI by developers were rented by RCI members, members who were able to get the vacations they wanted.

 

Unfortunately, there is presently no way for our members to know that the week they rent is one provided by developers specifically for rental, so it is understandable that in some situations some members have gone onto the RCI Holiday Network site or even the Bonus Weeks site, and seen a week they may have requested, and erroneously assumed these weeks were taken from RCI's one-for-one exchange inventory. That is never the case. Finally we also source inventory for rental programs from the weeks or timeshare interests owned by consumers at resorts managed by RCI Resort Management, which acts as a rental agent for owners looking to rent out their units, rather than participate in an exchange program.

 

I realize there's a lot to absorb and it's confusing even to a lot of people at RCI, but I hope that this brings some clarity to our rental programs.

 

B. Why can't rental inventory be used solely for member exchanges?

 

Rental space is available only for rental -- because RCI pays for some of this inventory, and uses some of it to offset Points Partner and cruise exchange costs, we must collect rental revenue for this space. It is not included with one-for-one exchange inventory.

 

C. How many rental units are made available to non-members every year? 

 

I cannot provide you with a specific number for our non-member programs.  Regardless of the exact number of vacations confirmed to non-members, the space offered is still made up of surplus space that historically goes unused by our members, or which covers the expense associated with providing alternative exchange products like cruise exchange and Points Partners.

 

D. How come there are many weeks available through outlets such as RCI Holiday Network for rent, yet I am unable to find availability directly through RCI?

 

Inventory supplied by developers specifically for rental is usually available to members for Bonus Vacations. It is available at a higher price to the public, but at the lower BV price to members. The units that RCI places for rental to cover points partners transactions and cruise exchanges are set aside within RCI Holiday Network because they must carry a higher price than member BV prices in order to cover the transaction costs.

 

E. What happens to weeks that are given to RCI as part of its Cruise Exchange program?

 

Inventory used for Cruise Exchange and Points Partner products is targeted for replacement revenue purposes and rented. This inventory may include some Weeks inventory that has been swapped with like-value inventory (based on Trading Power) from the Points system. David Roe referred to this in the post above.

 

F. Rental of Units to the Armed Forces - AFVClub.com

 

i. Wouldn't it be fair and equitable for RCI to provide me with an account (or membership) number in order to purchase $249 vacations via websites such as AFVClub, the government employees site, and others?

 

The rental price for the Armed Forces Vacation Club is determined in conjunction with the Department of Defense and was set at a level that would permit more military and government families to be able to enjoy an annual family vacation, regardless of their grade/pay level. The joint objective of the program is to provide a product that is a true benefit to these families.

 

The terms of the AFVC contract were established in 1998, with an effective/implementation target of Jan 1,1999. At that time, the original price of $209 was above that of Bonus Vacations. After the first 2 years, we were able to make price increases, which we did in 2001 in 2002. The AFVC rental price is now $249. The space available in the AFVC program is also available to RCI members, but at a lower price.

 

Not a single unit/week is held in reserve or designated only for the military to use. Only after members have had exclusive access to inventory is it made available for the military to use. Members continue to have access to the inventory for exchange or rental after it is opened for military use up to the time it is rented. RCI offers no additional discounts or special offers to military personnel through AFVC.

 

While we recognize that the AFVC program will require adjustments from one contract period to another, we are proud of what this program has meant for many military families. Still, our members come first, and we make every effort to protect the value of your subscription dollars.

 

Your access to RCI's surplus inventory is via rci.com and Bonus Vacations at lower prices. Some inventory is shared with the AFVC, but only where there is exceptionally high surplus availability. In other words, you will see space in Bonus Vacations that will not appear on the AFVC website, but you will not see space on the AFVC website that you do not see in Bonus Vacations, and the prices for that space in Bonus Vacations will be lower.

 

*I need to clarify my statements about pricing. Almost always, pricing is lower for Bonus Vacations than for AFVClub. However, it is possible for it to be higher in some instances. Pricing for AFVC is set by contract at a fixed rate, whereas pricing for Bonus Vacations is variable. Overall, pricing is still more favorable for RCI members using Bonus Vacations.

 

ii. What I fail to understand is why RCI members don't get the BEST deal, period!! Why should a (non-RCI) government employee be given a better deal at an RCI affiliated resort than an RCI member?

 

The reason RCI began marketing space to non-members was to increase utilization of space that sat empty year after year. Our members just weren't confirming it - not for exchanges and not for Bonus Vacations.

 

We've discussed before in the ASK RCI forum that the rental price for AFVClub.com and getravelop.com is determined in conjunction with the Department of Defense. Pricing is contractual; however, it is reviewed annually for adjustments.

 

Bonus Vacations pricing is typically lower than the AFVClub price. However, it is possible for BV prices to be higher in some instances. Pricing for AFVC is set by contract at a fixed rate, whereas pricing for Bonus Vacations is variable.

 

More than half of the space RCI offers to members via Bonus Vacations is priced at $249 or lower. Most of BV space is priced at $330 or lower. It is also important to mention that RCI frequently offers its members promotional pricing discounts of 25-35% off Bonus Vacations. AFVC members are not eligible for such promotions. Overall, pricing is still more favorable for RCI members using Bonus Vacations.

 

We wanted to create an economical program for members of the U.S. Armed Forces -- especially since our members had not shown an interest in the vacations we would be offering. However, we are also acutely aware that the continued success of our business relies most heavily on the satisfaction of our members. Please know that we make every effort to protect the value of your benefits as a subscribing member.

 

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VII. RCI Points

 

A. Generally

 

i. Does RCI want to become Points only in the future?

 

Flexibility is one of the most important aspects of vacation ownership. RCI developed the RCI Points program to offer our members more flexibility and more vacation options. We also wanted to support our affiliates by leveling the playing field somewhat for those smaller, independent resorts that are not part of a large club that can offer points-based timesharing or vacation time at multiple properties and more flexibility in the lengths of vacations. This enables owners who purchase at smaller resorts the same level of flexibility as those who purchase from the big developers.

 

However, I can be very clear about the fact that RCI has no plans to eliminate the Weeks program. We know that many Members prefer RCI Weeks, and so not only do we do not plan to remove the Weeks option for resorts or members, we continue to enhance our traditional exchange program, with new resorts, new exchange features, and improved service. RCI's foundation was built on the one-for-one exchange -- we will continue to stand proudly on it.

 

ii. Do Points members receive priority over Weeks members for their searches?

 

Weeks inventory is assigned a Points value based on region, quality, season, and bedrooms. Weeks inventory can then be accessed based on these values by Points members with sufficient point balances in their accounts. When a Points member confirms Weeks inventory, Points provides Weeks with inventory of similar value, based on Trading Power, in order to keep the Weeks system balanced.

 

iii. What are the priorities of Points members in searching the Weeks system for "crossover trades"?

 

Points member requests for Weeks exchanges have strong Trading Power, based on the fact that the Points system will provide a unit of sufficient Trading Power in return for the unit they confirm. This is based on our standard Trading Power Guidelines.

 

If there are several Weeks members with strong Trading Power as well as a Points member searching, we will assume that they all have sufficient Trading Power to confirm the unit they are requesting. When a unit becomes available, it will match to the first account it circulates to in our system, without preference to the Points search.

 

In the case where the Weeks members do not have sufficient Trading Power, the Points member will likely confirm the space first. This is based again on the fact that the Points system will provide a week that has sufficient Trading Power for the unit he confirms.

 

The number of points required for the Points member to confirm that vacation is a separate issue and does not affect the Weeks program.

 

RCI Points members have access to both programs, whereas Weeks members do not. Providing more vacation options for our members was what drove us to create the RCI Points program. However, as I've said in other strings, Points members do not deplete Weeks inventory. In fact, the Points system adds last-minute inventory to the Weeks program when Points units are not assigned. It is also important to mention that if a resort is affiliated with the Points program, Points members must use points to reserve time there. That resort will not be available to Points members for a Weeks exchange.

 

iv. "If a member of RCI Points exchanges points for an interval from the RCI Weeks system, an interval of equivalent value is moved from the RCI Points system to the RCI Weeks system. How does RCI determine what is "equivalent?"  Taken from Endless Vacations Magazine, March-April 2001, Ken May states:

 

The same system that RCI uses to establish trading power - the ratings derived from member comment cards plus our personal on-site inspections -- is the basis for assessing points valuations on RCI Points resorts. Therefore, a unit taken from a Points resort to compensate for a Weeks unit taken by a Points member will be essentially the same in terms of Gold Crown, or RID or standard overall quality; similar in regional demand, and member demand for the resort; similar in size; and so on down the line. It will be equivalent, based on similar Trading Power guidelines to those used within the exchange program.

 

v. Expiring Points.  Points may be held and accumulated in an account for 24 months and then, if not used, they are removed. Will this policy change? Or will I be forced to use my points for things that I do not want?

 

Your Points can be used for a number of travel-related products, including resort stays, hotel stays, cruises, and airfare. However, these products can sell out for certain times or areas. RCI must be able to limit its liability, both when providing exchange vacations and points redemption. Members have up to two years to exchange deposited weeks or to use their points. The RCI Points program provides more avenues for members to use value of their timeshare ownership; however, there is still a preset period of time during which the points must be used. I'm sorry to hear you're in danger of losing points and do hope you will be able to make satisfactory arrangements to use them.

 

vi. Points for Deposit

 

Points members who also own at Weeks resorts can now choose to receive points for their Weeks deposits via the Points for Deposit program. The Weeks ownerships aren't actually being "converted"; however, the individual deposits can be used to request additional points. Members decide which weeks to use in Points and which to leave in Weeks, one deposit at a time. If they choose to take points, the deposits are moved to Points, and instead of confirming exchanges, they will reserve points resorts or Points Partner services.
 
Please note that in order to use the Points for Deposit program, the deposited weeks must be from non Points-affiliated resorts, and must be in eligible locations. Eligible locations include North America, Latin America, and South Africa. The Points for Deposit Program is offered by RCI as a courtesy and may be discontinued at any time.

 

 

B. Conversion fee issues

 

i. How much does RCI charge to convert a week to Points?

 

$199.

 

ii. Resorts are charging varying prices for conversion to the Points program. Can RCI establish more consistency with this? Some resorts are charging very high prices.

 

Purchase prices among resorts vary widely, and RCI does not control the sales aspect of timesharing. RCI Points is different in that these are already owners who are simply being charged a fee to participate in a different kind of exchange program. When a resort decides to become RCI Points-affiliated, there are several criteria they must meet with their reservations and operations systems. For some resorts, this involves very little change, and for others, it involves a complete revamp of their systems. Because costs vary among resorts to participate in RCI Points, these costs are passed on to owners wishing to convert to the new program. RCI does provide suggested pricing to resorts for conversions to the RCI Points program.

 

If we become aware of pricing that is unusually high, we may contact resorts to try to determine whether their pricing structures could be detrimental to their sales or undermine the integrity of the RCI Points program. Ultimately, pricing decisions are still made by the resorts.

 

iii. If I convert to RCI Points and later sell my timeshare, does the resort have the right to decide whether or not the new owner will be in the Points program?

 

If you have converted an ownership to RCI Points and later sell that week, your new purchaser will have the option to participate in Points or to use the RCI Weeks program. RCI processes the Membership Transfer Application (MTA) for the Points membership, and collects the MTA fee for Points of $199. The MTA fee for Weeks is $49.

 

iv. After such a sale, can the HOA "Home Owner's Association" charge any fees to keep the new owner in the points system? If so, is there a cap on said fees?

 

The only fee from RCI to change RCI Points memberships from one owner to another is the $199 Points MTA fee. Resorts' policies in general vary significantly; however, we have not seen that resorts are charging any kind of separate fee to update their records to reflect a new owner within the RCI Points program. It is best to check with the resort specifically to be sure of their policy.

 

v.  If I convert to RCI Points and later sell my timeshare, does the resort have the right to decide whether or not the new owner will be in the Points program?

 

If you have converted an owership to RCI Points and later sell that week, your new purchaser will have the option to participate in Points or to use the RCI Weeks program. RCI processes the Membership Transfer Application (MTA) for the Points membership, and collects the MTA fee for Points of $199. The MTA fee for Weeks is $49.

 

vi. Are there double subscription costs when you have both a Weeks account and a Points account?

 

When you have both a Weeks account and a Points account, you will only be required to pay subscription fees for the Points account. Your associated Weeks account will remain active without requiring an additional renewal payment.

 

C. On-line Exchanging with Points

 

i. When will Australian and European Points members have online access to their accounts?

 

We have an implementation planned for the Second Quarter of this year that will allow European members online access to their accounts. We also plan to implement this for Australian members; however, it is not in our plans for 2003.

 

When we combined our global Points systems, differing technology was not the only challenge. The programs themselves, as well as currencies, differed as well. RCI is in the process of determining how to correctly fulfill these various programs and currencies online. Some accounts are more easily adapted than others because they started out more similar to RCI Points in the U.S.

 

ii. Why doesn't RCI plan to implement online points access for Aussie members at this time?

 

For reasons of cost, we simply could not include this initiative this year. We do plan to make the necessary changes -- I just cannot give you a firm date as to when those changes will occur.

 

RCI Points members who purchased in Australia have not yet had any online access via rci.com. Initially the RCI office that served members' Points accounts was determined by where members owned versus where they lived. If your Points ownership is based in Australia, you would initially have been served by RCI's office there (RCI Pacific).  There are certainly differences in product pricing for different markets that go beyond simply currency conversion. However, it has long been our policy within the Weeks program to serve members from their country of residence (or the nearest RCI office) and to charge fees in whichever currency is used there. When we combined technologies from various Points systems operating globally, we were able to support that policy for Points as well. RCI now also serves Points members based on where they reside as opposed to where they purchased. For the most part, our North American members were pleased with this change.

 

Developing a world-wide system to be shared by all offices was a big step forward. It will still take some time to make all Points accounts accessible online. We will continue our work to improve the online services available to all of our members.

 

iii. What is being done to allow Canadian Points members to search online?

 

In order for our Points online system to handle Canadian currency, a major upgrade to real-time credit card authorization is necessary. That upgrade is scheduled for the second quarter 2003. In response to the request to be able to search online, even if you cannot confirm, I will only say that this too is fairly involved; however, we are working with our technical staff to see if this might be possible. I'll let you know.  

 

It is clearly in RCI's best interest to provide services that will attract and retain members. Our Canadian Points members have expressed a sincere desire to have online access to search for Weeks and Bonus Vacations. As of this moment, I can give you an expected implementation date of Second Quarter 2003. If  I receive further news on this issue, I will relay it to you.

iv. When searching with a Points account, it is not possible to get a week from a resort that has joined Points, even if only one member has converted his week to Points. Why is this?

 

It is RCI's objective with Points to offer flexibility and additional services without negatively impacting the Weeks program. The philosophy behind allowing Points members to confirm Weeks exchanges is based on that fact that, in the beginning, there just weren't many resorts participating in Points. "Would you like to go to Carlsbad or Vancouver?..." So, we had to find a way to give Points members access to the 3,700 resorts already affiliated with the Weeks system.


All transactions for RCI Points members to Points-affiliated resorts must be based on the Points system. However, you are not limited to only the weeks deposited by Points members. In other words, if there are Weeks units available at the resort, Points members can confirm them; however, they must pay the appropriate Points value. That week of inventory will then be paid back to Weeks by Points as usual.

 

So the real distinction is based on how many points are required to confirm the vacation. The points values may be different for a vacation confirmed as a Weeks exchange. However, Points members must pay the points value specifically assigned to Points-affiliated resorts.

 

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VIII. Other Points Clubs (Hilton, Fairfield, etc.)

 

A. Are members who are part of a club like Fairfield or Hilton given priority in RCI's system? Are subscription fees the same?

 

All RCI resort affiliates and their owners (our members) are treated equally regardless of corporate parentage. Fairfield or Hilton members receive exactly the same exchange benefits as all other RCI members. Resorts offer varying programs, some of which offer points-based vacations and other travel products, such as airfare. RCI processes vacation exchanges for these members according to the same Trading Power guidelines applied to other members. Some members pay for their RCI memberships as part of their club packages, while others renew their memberships with us directly at standard renewal prices. While we value the members our larger resort clients bring us, we value our other members as well and make every effort to offer quality products and services to every RCI member.

 

B. Will Worldmark owners be allowed access in the near future to conduct trades on-line?  If not, why not?

 

RCI has looked into providing online access to Worldmark members and continues to consider it. While Bonus Vacations are available online, the challenge for us is in supporting Worldmark's unique owner benefits online for regular exchanges. No final decisions have been made yet; however, we will continue to work with technical staff here as well as staff at Worldmark to fully explore this issue. It is our hope that we will be able to implement more comprehensive online access for you in the future.

 

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