More from Myles
A good place to get started: “Hot Deals.”
Sheri moved up the ladder to KOALA’s new Platinum “tiered” level membership! Today she shares her progress and thoughts about KOALA. My husband and I shared our first KOALA experience back in March of 2022.
By Sheri in Minnesota
I signed up for KOALA’s Platinum membership about six months ago. Prior to finding KOALA, our timeshares had turned into timeshare disasters. KOALA has been a big help, so I wanted to explain the various tiers and how our family has benefited from enhanced service.
Our journey to KOALA began after we had been promised by our The Colonies/Vacation Village sales agent, that renting out Colonies weeks to defray costs would be easy to do. It is not easy. The real estate agent our Colonies sales agent referred me to, her friend, charged us $199 to list a Colonies week. Nothing happened.
Next, as advised by our Colonies salesperson, we lost $299 paying her friend for a listing to sell our Westgate week for over $30,000, promised it would be “easy” to sell our Westgate week so we could afford to buy at the Colonies. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Frustrated, a few timeshare members suggested I look into KOALA. I decided to give it a try. I started out with KOALA’s free service. KOALA provides their rental service to owners without an upfront fee. It felt safe knowing I would not be putting out money with no results. After Myles launched KOALA’s “tiered” program levels, I upgraded to KOALA Platinum.
I explained my frustrations to KOALA co-founder, Mike Kennedy. He researched my Westgate week and unit and determined that my rental listing was not overpriced. With a little boost from KOALA, I successfully rented my week! But remember:
NO ONE SHOULD BUY A TIMESHARE PROMISED AND COUNT ON THE ABILITY TO RENT TO COVER THE COST OF THE TIMESHARE OR MAKE MONEY. You also need to check with your resort to make sure renting is allowed.
We used KOALA’s HGV (Hilton hub) to rent our Hilton timeshare. Hilton acquired Diamond in 2021, launching their new HGV MAX program. Diamond members who upgraded to HGV MAX, to gain access to Hilton properties, are not allowed to use third-party rental platforms. From The Club HGV MAX Member Directory 2023 – 2024, page 13, 7.7:
You may make a reservation in your name and pass it on to friends and family for their personal use by obtaining a Guest certificate. However, you are not allowed to make a reservation in your name and exchange it with anyone other than an approved exchange company. Reservations found to be made available to third parties other than with a valid Guest certificate or through an exchange will be cancelled, and the points used will be forfeited. This could also result in a suspension of membership.
I first took my Covid accumulated weeks and, with the help of a KOALA associate, created a listing. I then took some of our Hilton Grand Vacation (HGV) points and fulfilled a vacationer’s request posted on KOALA’s HGV Hub. This is a service where people interested in vacationing at a specific time and HGV location can place a request for their desired vacation destination. Those who own points with HGV can, in turn, book the trip with their points. KOALA does the rest. The booked trip is sold (rented) to the interested party and then the owner of the points gets paid.
Mike has watched as KOALA has grown to be a preeminent player in the Timeshare Industry over the last four years. It has taken time to try to convince resorts that he and his team are working to maximize their owners’ products, not stealing owners from resorts. I asked Mike how he has fared over the years since KOALA launched.
It has been a struggle to be perceived as a viable secondary market and a friend to the industry at the same time. We at KOALA work towards building good relationships with all or most timeshare brands. Developing relationships with timeshare companies is a good thing in that it creates advocacy for owners and timeshares alike,” Mike explained.
Over the last two years, Mike and Myles have employed a team of technological experts and former senior people from RCI and AirBnB. They learned that many owners need and want more guidance and services along with education about their properties. This demand prompted the team to create “tiered” memberships to accommodate varying needs. Mike says sometimes even people who own $100,000 worth of timeshare or more have little knowledge of what they have or how to best use their timeshare. KOALA’s in-depth analysis provides a REAL resort orientation – without the dreaded attempt to upgrade.
The free Silver Tier offers free listings, and a support network, and is secured. It covers bookings and payments, and comprehensive rental guides. When I had listing questions or needed help, the staff quickly returned my phone calls. At the Silver level, I was able to rent one week and fulfil a request from the HGV Hub.
The Gold Tier has a nominal yearly fee offering all the Silver benefits plus:
- An owner’s insurance policy for each booking,
- full-service listing support,
- a VIP Profile Badge, much like a “super host” rating,
- HGV Hub access, and verified listings.
The Platinum Tier offers all of the above and, most importantly, education about what the owner actually owns. Those who want a “hands-off” approach when renting their units can retain KOALA to “do it all” at this level. Services include:
- KOALA Concierge,
- Vacation Ownership Advisory,
- Featured Listings,
- Exclusive Travel Deals and more
These features and benefits make this tier the most likely to obtain bookings. If owners have a lot of points or weeks, this tier is the way to go. One of the most useful benefits of the Platinum level is an in-depth analysis of your resort.
KOALA Pro, the highest tier, is by invitation only, and is steered toward small timeshare rental businesses to “enterprise solutions looking for technological integrations.” All of the benefits of the other tiers are combined, along with bulk listing uploads, early payouts, and flexible date listings.
As KOALA gains traction, more people will find a way to alleviate their frustrations with failed attempts to rent. Owners who follow the advice of KOALA experts are almost always able to obtain a booking and resorts that develop a working relationship with KOALA will soon see that there will be fewer complaints and happier owners.
KOALA Community Outreach across the Atlantic
During the COVID pandemic, KOALA sponsored a fundraiser with Ukraine and World Central Kitchen. World Central Kitchen helped turn a restaurant that Mike was involved with in Brooklyn into a food bank during the pandemic, with a mission to feed healthcare workers. KOALA matched their member’s contributions. When we last reported, they had raised over $3,000.
The Ukrainian National Anthem – Family Purity amidst Devastation
An interview with KOALA co-founders Mike Kennedy and James Burbridge
Below is a link to a July 29, 2021 interview with Mike and James, hosted by timeshare expert John Raymond. Mike and James explained the insight and research that went into KOALA’S development and launch:
Thank you, Sheri, for sharing your experience with Koala and Irene for the editing, we first heard of Koala when running the old Inside Timeshare, so have watched it develop since its conception. At that time Mike and James explained their vision, their promise was that it would be ethical and transparent, and they certainly seem to be living up to that promise.
We know it has not been an easy ride, there have been many hurdles for them to jump, trust being the biggest, especially in an industry that is known for fly-by-nights and deceit. It is a service that timeshare owners have needed for a long time, a way of renting out your “time” which would otherwise go unused with maintenance fees paid. Well, that is not strictly true, the developer will use it and make more out of it for themselves.
As with everything, it may not be the solution for you, but it is worth investigating and finding out for yourself, you never know you may just be pleasantly surprised.
That is all for this week, we do unfortunately have some bad news, an old friend and follower of IT & AIT for many years has sadly passed away, RIP Chris Pearman.
Have a great weekend and join us again next week, Baby Dog wants to repeat last week’s trip to the mountains where he can run free.