Club La Costa posts TripAdvisor “2021 Travellers’ Choice Award”. But what travellers?

Timeshare news (or lack thereof)

Timeshare Consumer Association (TCA)’s research team was scouring the Resort Development Organisation (RDO) website for their coverage of M1 Legal’s massive recent win against Barclays Partner Finance (BFP).

Staggeringly, despite £48 million in timeshare loans handled by disgraced Maltese company Azure being overturned, potentially setting the precedent for hundreds of £millions more in loans arranged with other timeshare companies and other finance houses to be challenged, the RDO is silent. Nothing but crickets…

Amazingly one of the most seismic developments in recent timeshare history, has not been deemed worthy of comment by self described trade association, RDO.

A critic could infer that the industry funded RDO is hoping consumers don’t notice the BPF situation, especially as those consumers might start challenging their own hurriedly arranged timeshare loans. If this were to happen, RDO member resorts could face devastating financial consequences.

2021 Travellers’ Choice Award

In the absence of actual news, what we did find was an article boasting that Club La Costa (CLC) has received the prestigious 2021 Tripadvisor ‘Travellers’ Choice Award.’

According to the TripAdvisor website: ‘The Travellers’ Choice award (formerly Certificate of Excellence) recognizes businesses that earn consistently great traveller reviews. Approximately 10% of businesses listed on Tripadvisor receive a Travellers’ Choice award’

So, hats off to CLC…. But wait, how is this possible, when for most of 2020 and (so far) 2021 the resort has been closed, certainly to foreign visitors?

TripAdvisor do not define a minimum number of visitors to enable a resort to qualify for this award.

There is however an instruction to ‘Visit the section of your Widget Centre called “Marketing Tools” to download a badge for your website.’

Does this mean the award is self regulated? Or do Tripadvisor validate the numbers?

TCA had a look at Tripadvisor page for CLC World, the largest of the CLC resorts:

It shows a total of 2,077 reviews for CLC.

During our team’s manual count of 2020 and 2021 comments we found no more than 65 English entries and 11 Spanish. These are not overwhelmingly excellent, and plenty are very poor.

We were only able to find 2 English comments for 2021, both pretty scathing.

Low visitor numbers during the pandemic are to be expected, but can we really trust the pedigree of an award seemingly granted on less than 80 opinions?

RDO & Kwikchex vs TripAdvisor

Although CLC are proud to claim this TripAdvisor award, surprisingly the RDO (of whom CLC are prominent members) has attacked the credibility of TripAdvisor in the past, via their paid apologists, KwikChex.

In 2011 KwikChex filed a complaint with the UK Advertising Standards Authority challenging TripAdvisor’s claims to provide trustworthy and honest reviews from real travellers.

The Advertising Standards Authority found that TripAdvisor ‘should not claim or imply that all its reviews were from real travellers, or were honest, real or trusted,’ and as a result of the investigation, the complaint was upheld and TripAdvisor was ordered to remove the slogan ‘reviews you can trust’ from its UK website. It changed its hotel review section slogan to ‘reviews from our community.’

Interestingly a similar case took place in the USA and was lost. The judge concluded that TripAdvisor could not be held liable for third party comments. A headline at the time pronounced:

“TripAdvisor wins defamation suit over “Dirtiest Hotel” and Kwikchex”

Credibility in question

“Claiming awards on questionable grounds, and failing to confront the catastrophic timeshare loan scandal are just two more reasons that the timeshare industry has lost credibility with the public,” comments Daniel Keating, Information Officer for the Timeshare Consumer Association (TCA). “Nobody wants a polished, sanitised version of the current state of timeshare from the industry funded RDO, they want the truth.

“In the same way they want to be able to trust in the significance of awards from renowned sources like TripAdvisor.

“Anyone who wants free, independent, unbiased advice or help with timeshare related issues, get in touch with us, at the Timeshare Consumer Association.”

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Timeshare Consumer Association. Contact us on: T: +44 2036704588 or +44 2035193808 (ask for Daniel), E: enquiries@timeshareadvice.org (Address to Daniel).

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TCA provides a central resource of consumer information on timeshare matters for the media and other organisations — We work towards encouraging responsible, honest, timeshare operators. We also publicly expose negative consumer practices and organisations which operate in a manner detrimental to timeshare buyers and owners.

An important part of our mission is to lobby UK and European Governments and regulatory bodies for improved consumer protection in the timeshare environment and collect information on frauds and mis-selling, for action by enforcement authorities.

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First published on MyNewsDesk June 2021

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Timeshare Consumer Association

Timeshare Consumer Association

Friendly, impartial advice from timeshare experts: owners, ex timeshare owners, even ex timeshare industry insiders