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Take Time Out

Joy Roy Choudhury delves into the current scenario in the time-share industry, which is gaining momentum inspite of the economic downturn

“Contrary to some apprehensions cast by critics, the time-share business in the country has been growing at a rate of 25 per cent inspite of the downturn in the economy,” said V K Singh, chairman and managing director, VCI

Time-share was introduced in India a decade-and-a-half ago as a new concept in ‘holiday ownership’. The industry gained momentum in the late 1980s with the thrust given to time-share by some groups, which set up time-share resorts. But the time-share concept received a severe blow, as unscrupulous players and developers duped the gullible customers with tempting offers. Since then the time-share industry has continued to survive and is currently on a growth curve with some quality players. Vacation ownership, or time-share as it is commonly known, offers consumers an opportunity to purchase fully-furnished vacation accommodation in resort condominium, for a percentage of the cost of the whole condominium.

Time-share exchange adds flexibility and variety to vacation ownership by allowing time-share owners to trade their unit for another similar unit through exchange companies. Exchanges are a win-win situation for everyone: members enjoy greater flexibility by trading their week for time at another resort. Vacation Club International Limited (VCI) is a leading name and an acknowledged player in the vacation ownership industry and provider of services like sales, marketing and management training and consulting, offering sales solutions through its array of programmes to sharpen the selling skills of the staff and increase the turnover of the company. VCI undertakes exclusive marketing rights of time-share properties, where a developer is guaranteed business throughout the period of the marketing agreement with VCI. The Rs 32 crore company also undertakes off-site and on-site marketing and the developer is free of the hassles of marketing and revenue generation through the period of its association. VCI also takes over the marketing rights of quality urban clubs. VCI has taken over the exclusive marketing rights of several such properties spread throughout the country. Vijay Kumar Singh, chairman and managing director, VCI, said: “We have taken over the exclusive marketing rights of The Ffort Holiday Klub, Raichak-a unit of Ambuja Cement, Special Holiday Schemes of Usha Shriram Hotels, The Luxury Club at Le Royal Meridien, Mumbai, and The Luxury Club at Le Meridien Residence, Mumbai.” The Lake Land Country Club at Howrah near Kolkata and The Pearl Beach Club & Resorts, Puri, are also significant properties marketed by the VCI.

“We are also exclusively marketing the international class Health Club and Spa set up at Golden Palms Resorts & Spa on the outskirts of Bangalore. Soon we would start marketing the Le Meridien at Kathmandu. We are also the first player to start the RCI points system at the Luxury Club based in Le Royal Meridien, Mumbai,” revealed Singh.

Ascribing this achievement to three attributes, namely reliability, services and the product, he claimed that VCI is the only organisation in the country that gives its customers a grace period of 10 days before signing on the dotted lines of the final agreement. VCI even returns the entire amount, if the client so desires. People have reposed confidence in the time-share business after players like VCI entered the time-share arena. VCI with its 600-strong sales and marketing workforce have been able to instill a sense of confidence among the buyers. “Quality infrastructure, strong sales and marketing team and marketing rights of international-class luxury properties are our inherent strengths. In fact, we foray into the cities not because of their importance, but due to the luxury properties set up in these places,” divulged Singh.

Outlining the other services offered by VCI, Singh added, “We offer comprehensive programmes that cover the entire sales and marketing operations, hiring and training of the staff to take advantage of the latest research and new proven techniques to achieve a competitive edge. VCI training offers complete full service training programmes both off-site and on-site in sales and marketing techniques, call centre operations, lead generation, customer services and collections, upgradations and more.” VCI training programmes are tailored to meet the special needs of each resort. Lately, VCI is developing prime resorts on its own, the first of the group, Royal Banon Resort at Manali is set amidst verdant apple orchards with a backdrop of majestic pine and deodar forests nestled in the lap of the great Himalayan mountain ranges. The resort is also affiliated with Resort Condominium International (RCI), the international exchange company, and the largest facilitator of time-share exchanges in the world.

VCI has recently diversified into the beauty business through its subsidiary company Touch & Glow India Private Limited and inaugurated the first-of-its-kind Beauty Spa at the Swabhumi, a heritage and amusement park in Kolkata. The company has plans to open a chain of beauty spas in metros specialising in beauty and hair care. The second Beauty Spa is soon coming up at New Delhi. Commenting on his future plans, Singh concluded, “VCI would be soon venturing into virgin territories like China and Southeast Asia. The company plans to set up its first overseas office in Shanghai soon.”