Today, Dial An Exchange (DAE) is the world’s largest privately owned timeshare exchange provider with worldwide destination availability, an extensive network of corporate customers, and a nearly 450,000member base.
Since its formation in 1997, the company has dramatically changed the way exchanges have been offered in the timeshare industry.
In the DAE model, exchange fees are not charged until an exchange transaction is confirmed.Even though a timeshare owner may be an RCI or Interval International member, they may also use DAE for an exchange alternative. Vacation owners can choose who they want to use as their personal exchange service. And more often than not, they simply don’t know the options exist. Dial An Exchange is trying to change that with marketing campaigns educational campaigns and through HOA’s, management companies and resellers to get that message out to millions of timeshare owners. A task that takes a lot of effort, time and money!
In an age where companies aspire to do too much for too many, DAE company founder and CEO Francis Taylor has steadfastly modeled his company as a business based on a simple and easy-to-use system that keeps its members happy while delivering on its promises.But he and his staff know that creating a business that is defined by excellence in customer service takes constant vigilance and commitment.
To delve further into the workings of this company, Resort Trades spoke withFermin Cruz, VPof the Americas Region responsible for servicing members and business partners in North, Central, South America and the Caribbean who responded to our questions.
Considering the short time that Dial An Exchange has been in business, , your growthin timeshare has been pretty amazing. How has this happened?
We launched our company in Australiain 1997 and didn’t open other offices until we gained traction in the Aussie market two years later. A New Zealand and European office was opened in 2001 and in 2003 we came to the U.S. to partner with a small, boutique exchange service, which we have since purchased and expanded, relocating it to Phoenix, Arizona. During ensuing years, we have opened offices in Thailand, China, India, and South Africa as well as our new customer service locations in Italy and Bulgaria to serve members across Eastern Europe.
What has stimulated your growth?
The prospect of being able to exchange an owned week for destinations all over the globe was a powerful catalyst for initial timeshare sales. Today, we are perched at a precarious time in our industry’s history. We believe that the inability to exchange to a desired location is a contributing factor for so many delinquencies, forfeitures, resales and other exit tactics being used by owners worldwide. First generation timeshare owners are trying to sell, bequeath, or just walk away from their timeshare. Second-generation timeshare owners are looking for fewer fees, instant, intuitive online capabilities and more value from their ownership.
Witha real need in the marketplace for choice in exchange services, Dial An Exchange is breathing new life into timeshare ownership by offering a simple, transaction-based exchange service that is totally transparent and backed by a clear priority: The Customer Exchange Experience is of supreme importance. We believe being a part of an exchange network shouldn’t cost any money if you don’t see value in the exchange service received.We don’t charge for a membership or any exchange fee before the exchange requesthas been filled. A personal approach on the phone and a simple online mechanism for conducting transactions has been key to our continued success.
How do you acquire members?
Our target customer is the seasoned timeshare owner as well as the second-generation timeshare owner who bought on the secondary market.More than 50% of our new members are acquired as a result of referrals from resorts or other members. We also work with HOAs to help them add more value to ownership at their resorts. They often introduce us to entire owner bases to explain how we can help. We receive even more new members via online searches, utilize consumer advertising in magazines, online advertising on affinity sites, and active participation in online timeshare forums. Because our business model is transaction driven, we really don’t rely on paid membership fees to keep us running a successful business. We earn our revenue per exchange, one exchange at a time.
What are member benefits?
- The exchange service is the core of our business. It includes a three-year credit for a member’s banked week. We do not charge an exchange fee until the exchange is confirmed and we do not charge any guest fees. We also offer a Cancellation Protection Option that covers the booking member should a situation arises that keeps them from going on vacation.
- Last-minute vacation rentals (our bonus week collection) are utilized for members at a reduced rate if our exchange inventory is not booked and the check-in date is closer than 60 days away.
- While DAE offers a free membership option, we also offer a premium membership called Gold Advantage. This is designed for frequent users and offers members a host of discounts and additional ownership benefits
- daeOptionsallows Gold Advantage members to either rent or exchange into non-timeshare resorts in destinations where there is little or no timeshare presence.
How have industry affiliations helped spear growth?
Being a part of ARDA has definitely helped our launch into the North American markets. We support their efforts through sponsorships and advertising and find that the networking opportunities that ARDA hosts are of great value to us as a company. In turn, we educate members on the efforts of ARDA-ROC and supply links from our website to theirs to help foster a greater education on the consumer front showing there is a group going to bat for them from a legislative perspective.We have worked with the Timeshare Board Members Association (TMBA)since its inception and been a charter sponsor of their events and education efforts aimed at HOA board members. Part of our success has also come from important relationships with other companies and associations like CRDA, TUG, Timeshare Forums, Developments Magazine, Timesharing Today, Perspectives Magazine, the Florida Timeshare Owners Group, The Licensed Timeshare Brokers Association, the Toronto Timeshare User Group, the Better Business Bureau, Alderwood Management, RedWeek, Festiva, Hotelblox, Exotic Travelers Club, Grand Palladium Resorts, and new groups like Oombaga, and others.
What are the challenges of working internationally?
There are significant challenges in growing a global company. We work within different monetary systems, different languages and cultures, plus multiple time zones. We must be careful to permit enough autonomy to allow each regional office to run its own business, catering primarily to their respective markets. But at the same time, we need toensure we are united in goal and purpose, while remaining in concert with what we want our company to represent worldwide. As a result, wework together cohesively in a manner that strengthens–rather than fragments–our message. Our core principles are simple: we help vacation owners find their dream exchanges simply and affordably with the highest quality of service possible … one exchange at a time. Everything we do worldwide follows this charter. We have global meetings every year and keep in touch regularly with internal newsletters, region-to-region communications and take advantage technical tools that enable is to communicate on a scalable and economic manner.
To learn how your resort, board, management company or development company can be part of the expanding Dial An Exchange worldwide system, please visit their website at www.daelive.com or contact Fermin Cruz at Fermin.C@daelive.com or via phone at 602-516-7680.