Worth the Money

One of the first things that we did after returning from our honeymoon was to purchase a timeshare. We both love traveling, we were looking forward to starting a family, had experienced REALLY bad vacations in the past, and liked the idea of paying a monthly maintenance fee which we hoped would “force”us to take time away from work.

We recently returned from spending the Labor Day weekend in Branson, MO where we will return later this year, and in between these two trips we will be heading to the Lake of the Ozarks to celebrate my husband’s birthday.

The way that the system works is pretty straight forward. We paid an upfront amount which gets us a set number of points each year. We then have a monthly maintenance fee and everything else is covered. We decide where we are going on vacation, find a nearby resort, check availability and book our trip. There are times when availability is limited, but for the most part we are able to get the resort that we are looking for.

If you are only looking at the upfront cost, then of course it would be much cheaper to stay in economy properties such as Motel 6, Days Inn or Super 8. However, in the Wyndham properties we experience several benefits that ultimately make the total cost much lower than staying in an economy resort, as well as giving us a much more enjoyable experience, guaranteed.

Image result for good vs bad hotel

The condos are equipped with a full kitchen, dishwasher, washer/dryer, and cleaning supplies. We love being able to do our end-of-vacation laundry before heading home so that the transition into everyday life is much simpler! We will do a supermarket run before arriving at the resort so that we don’t have to spend money on food and drink during our time away. We don’t have to take a trip to the local laundromat or pay extortionate fees at the hotel for their laundry service.  We also save money when we fly, as we do not need to pack a separate outfit for each day, increasing the number of bags required.  Instead, we can pack a few staples and mix and match outfits with the opportunity to throw them in the laundry after wearing them.

The resorts are family friendly and safe.  There is security on site, they are well lit and include well maintained grounds and literally hundreds of amenities for the entire family to enjoy. From swimming pools and shuffle board to table tennis and horseshoes, the resorts are designed for family fun. If you so desired, you could easily spend an entire week of vacation without having to leave the resort.

These are all huge benefits of the timeshare that we own, and we truly enjoy the overall experience. We know that we are going to have an incredible time in a gorgeous resort where we are made to feel like royalty.  There are never any concerns that we will check in to a hotel, only to check out as soon as we see the unacceptable state of the room.

The high quality service that we receive at our timeshare is exactly what Royal Services, the leading national rollout company want their customers to receive. Royal will definitely not be the cheapest provider when looking at upfront cost but when you look at the overall picture and the total cost, Royal will be the best provider.  There is not a concern that the job won’t be done to your satisfaction; there is no worry that it won’t be completed on time.  You won’t have to fret about losing business due to shoddy workmanship.  Royal takes pride in their work, and they are worth every penny.

 

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Remembering your purpose

There was such a good response to this piece first time around that I thought I would share it again! Enjoy. Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Expect The Exceptional

When you work in retail, or any service industry, it is easy to forget why you are there.  In high school, I worked at Victoria’s Secret.  It was a fun job, but like most retail locations, it did become a little repetitive.  Day after day, I refolded the same table of underwear that people continuously destroyed.  Occasionally I had the pleasure of helping a man who was looking for – it pains me to even type this word – “panties” (ick!) for his wife.  Don’t get me wrong – I loved helping those men!  Especially the older ones; it made me feel happy that the love was still alive after many years of marriage.  But since I brought it up, here is a public service announcement: Men, please, I beg you – do NOT use the “p” word.  It is gross.  But I digress.  The point is, I would at…

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Company Culture: So Hot Right Now

Expect The Exceptional

Company Culture is all the rage.  In fact, a Columbia University Study shows that the likelihood of turnover at a company with a rich company culture is only 13.9%, compared to 48.4% where there is poor company culture.  Employers are realizing that when their employees are happy, workplace productivity is increased.  And chances are, if you work for a company that is promoting a positive company culture, and also likes to party, you have probably visited the Zappos headquarters in Las Vegas, Nevada.  I have actually been there twice, and both times have left feeling inspired – both inspired to have more fun at work, and also a little inspired to move to Vegas and work for them.  It looks like so much fun!  If you have not had the pleasure of visiting, I will give you a little background.

Zappos was founded in 1999 and was initially called shoesite.com…

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Going Above and Beyond

Expect The Exceptional

Occasionally in life you experience someone who seems like they – get ready for this – REALLY ENJOY THEIR JOB.  I know.  Shocking.  You can spot these rare creatures  by their smiling faces, jovial attitudes and helpful nature.  And if you encounter them in their natural work habitat, then you will probably leave feeling satisfied and with a desire to return to their place of business in the future.  And you will more than likely become an evangelist of the business, all because someone there actually likes what they do!  I love these experiences and love telling my friends about them, far more than I like to complain about the negative.  Unfortunately, in this day and age, the happy experiences are sometimes hard to come by.  People are stressed about money, time with family, relationships, etc. and all of that is reflected in their daily work life.  I…

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Not another sales presentation…

My husband, two boys and I made the 3 hour 15 minute trip south to Branson for Labor Day weekend this year. We have visited the town on several occasions and keep returning as there are lots of things to do, it’s a relatively short drive from our home in Kansas City, and we really enjoy being at an exceptional resort that is well maintained and has plenty of activities available to entertain all members of the family.  We love that we own a timeshare with Wyndham and can experience a weekend getaway at a moment’s notice without worrying about a dirty room, poor service or an unsafe location.  However, while we are owners and not required to attend sales presentations, they offer many incentives for us to listen to a speech for an “hour” during our vacation, and despite almost every single experience being negative, we continue to get sucked in time and time again.

timeshare

 


This article about timeshare presentations is hilarious if you don’t mind a little bit of language.  My favorite sentence:
“Will, our sales associate, came over and met with us. He was a gangly, mid-20’s asshat from Dallas who looked like he was cut out from a business casual ad with dork scissors.”
www.ruthlessreviews.com

And for even more hilarity, check this one out:

“I said hell yes I’d like to take just one hour of my time to hear about an exciting way I could save money on future vacations. I mean, it sounded pretty awesome to me,” Jones said.

The promised one hour presentation turned into a two and a half hour adventure once Jones arrived at the all inclusive Global Sun Grand Resort. Jones expressed gratitude that she would be privileged with more time in the company of such esteemed individuals.
sarcasticnewslive.com

 


On our first Wyndham vacation together, we went to Las Vegas and had an amazing time.  The incentive to sit with a sales representative and listen to his schpeel was a meal at a nice restaurant, so we thought “Why not?”  It was actually a great experience, the man did not try to sell us anything, simply educated us about new locations we could visit, as promised when we made the appointment.  After that, our experiences have all gone downhill.  Again and again, we check into our room and are offered something seemingly awesome – a one hour meeting in exchange for dinner certificates, Visa gift cards, sometimes with a meal included at the meeting, sometimes all of the above.  Again and again we tell the person that no, we will not attend because the one hour meeting always ends up being two or more hours and we do not want to spend that much time of our vacation being sold to when we most certainly will not be buying anything.  Which prompts them to say “Oh no!  We promise it will only be ONE hour, and the purpose of this meeting is to teach you about something new and awesome that you don’t already know about!  No selling involved!”  Inevitably, we agree because their offer seems too good to pass up on.  And inevitably, we leave feeling angry and saying “NEVER AGAIN! NEVER!”  Labor Day was no different.  As current timeshare owners, our experiences are not as bad as what was portrayed on the famous episode of South Park, where the characters are held at gunpoint during their presentation.  However, sales people will be sales people, therefore we get to experience a little of the cliché pressure whenever we choose to attend.

south-park

We arrived at the meeting with the boys in tow (they wouldn’t allow just one spouse to attend this “educational” meeting about website reservations – that should have been our first red flag).  The young man who sat us down at his desk was very new to the game.  He was trying to play it cool, low pressure, just shooting the breeze until the required hour was up.  I mentioned the website changes we were supposed to learn about and he had no idea what I was talking about (red flag number 2, ignored). We did learn a lot about his life, and he about ours.  We shared laughs and told horror stories about our past sales meetings.  As we were closing in on an hour, the boys were beginning to get restless, I was getting extremely warm and my husband was trying to wrap things up.  Just as we thought we were about to be dismissed to collect our gifts, he mentioned something about a VIP package; upon seeing the blank looks on our faces he immediately realized he probably should have been doing his job the whole time.  He left the table to get a senior representative and that is where things went sour.  Our first guy bailed, and the new guy began the hard sell.  When my husband pointed out we had been there an hour and were ready to go, without purchasing anything new, the man completely ignored him.  When we pointed out our fussy children ready for naps, we were again ignored.  Finally my husband got stern and told the man that we were leaving.

As we left, we discussed how little the operations and sales teams worked together.  There is clearly no communication, and while they have different intermediate goals in mind, would it not suit them to work together on the ultimate goal, bringing people back to your place of business, and creating evangelists at the same time?  Ironically, one of the things the salesman was “educating” us on was the four things that Wyndham owners have requested to change – one of those was the sales meetings.  Yet there we were, in another sales meeting.

I did call to complain, and they did send us a fruit basket.  Very nice, and much appreciated (#harryanddavid #yesplease).  But when will enough be enough?  When we will we wise up and stop attending the meetings?  And when will Wyndham wise up and think about what their current customers want, as well as potential future customers?

 

Customer service in difficult situations

On several previous blogs I have discussed the importance of customer service and how the people in your front line can make or break your business. Customer service is one of those ideas that is frequently thrown around, but unfortunately not taken seriously when it comes to implementation. Despite the exceptional service that we received on our recent journey to visit my in-laws, unfortunately it is typically the not so good experiences that we hear about when it comes to customer service.

customer service

Can you afford to lose your customers? 

On our recent trip to The UK and Ireland, we found ourselves in many situations where we interacted with the front of house staff, whether it be the server in a restaurant, the cashier at a store, the barman at the local pub, or the flight attendants on our gruelling 8 hour Transatlantic flight.

We were blown away by how incredible the Virgin Atlantic staff were from start to finish. From checking in at O’Hare in Chicago, to recovering our lost luggage, the entire team were exceptional. I could go on all day about how incredible these individuals were but for the sake of time I have whittled things down to a list of 5 moments to share with you.

  1. USA to England check in – This was our first time traveling as a family of four with both of our boys with us. To spice things up a little we also decided to include my parents in the adventure! Checking in with 4 adults, 2 infants, and all of luggage and car seats was never going to be an enjoyable experience but it was pretty close. From interacting with our two boys to wrapping our two car seats in protective packaging and walking them over to the oversized luggage belt, the staff were superb and got our trip off to the best possible start.
  2. Inflight experience – The crew immediately recognized that travelling with young children is far from easy, and were sure to let us know that they were available to help with anything that we needed. Over the course of the flight we made numerous requests for milk, snacks, glasses of water, and even warm towels to help clean our babies up. The flight attendants were attentive and went out of their way to treat every passenger individually and make sure that they were comfortable.
  3. Check in at Heathrow for the return flight – We had a very early start (4:30am) in Dublin and when our flight landed at Heathrow we knew we were going to be cutting it close with connecting to our transatlantic flight. After being transferred to another terminal, going through security and the other formalities, and getting ready to head for the gate we knew that there was a chance that we wouldn’t make the flight. To make matters worse my mother’s bag was selected for an extra security check (due to the presence of a mini bottle of vodka in the side pocket 🙂 ) which meant we lost even more time. Throughout this series of events the Virgin staff stood by our side and communicated with their team to make sure the plane didn’t leave without us. These moments were very stressful as we weren’t really interested in spending 24 hours in an airport with two infants, but the staff diffused the situation and delivered.
  4. Inflight experience – Due to the delays mentioned above my mother and husband had to run to make the flight, and immediately after boarding they were presented with ice cold water and the assurance that they would be helped with anything that they needed. Every member of the staff clearly loves what they do and this happiness and excitement was contagious and visible for all to see. The ladies and gentlemen that took care of us and the rest of the passengers that day worked tirelessly to make sure their customers were happy and had a pleasant experience.
  5. Retrieval of lost luggage and owning mistakes – Upon arriving in Chicago we found that our 2 car seats unfortunately had not been pulled from our first flight of the day. We went to the helpdesk where two young gentlemen got things taken care of and put our minds at rest. We submitted the necessary claim form and were provided with directions to the nearest Target so that we could purchase replacements which would later be reimbursed by Virgin. We arrived home in the early hours of Tuesday August 16th, the seats arrived on the 19th and we were reimbursed on the 22nd. Exceptionally quick turnaround executed by knowledgeable and passionate team members who took complete responsibility of the situation.

virgin-atlantic-1

We know you have a choice of airlines when you fly, and we want to thank you for flying with us” is the cheesy line that most flight attendants regurgitate at the end of each flight. After our experience with Virgin, we know that we made the right choice and will continue to use them for our future travel needs. If you haven’t previously travelled with Virgin Atlantic and they fly a route that you will be travelling, you should check them out, I promise you won’t be disappointed!

Until next time, Happy Travelling 🙂

Con Artists at work in Dublin, Ireland

One of the things that we are most proud about at Royal Services is our honesty and transparency. In an industry where many of our competitors have a used car salesman reputation, it is obviously a big struggle to get potential partners to lower their defenses. However, since 1993 we have treated our clients with the honesty and respect that they deserve. We are a family owned company and we live by family values. If we make mistakes we own them. If we can’t do something we communicate with our clients and try to find an alternative solution. When we bid a project, we do it as thoroughly and accurately as possible and provide our client with what the job will take. Unfortunately many of our competitors will make promises ahead of time and provide you with low prices, and then take advantage of you once they have got you in the door. 

royal services in dubin

This week’s article looks at a dining experience that we had on our recent trip to the Emerald Isle. We had purchased the Cityscape “hop on, hop off” bus pass, and after an incredible 2 and a half hour tour of the city, the driver and tour guide suggested that we visit Murray’s bar and restaurant. He told us that it was one of the most popular venues in town and that we would be able to get a “2 for 1” deal on meals by showing our bus tickets. We thought that this sounded like a good idea so got off of the bus at the nearest stop to Murray’s and made the short walk along O’Connell street.

We arrive and are immediately handed a piece of paper with a very simple menu on it. It looks like something that a 4th grader put together for a simple project using the most basic of online templates. There was a good variety of meals available with all meals apart from starters priced at 12.95. We could see the “traditional menus” under the hostess stand so assumed that we had by default been handed the “Cityscape menu”. The moral of this story is to not assume 🙂

We spent a few minutes reviewing the options available to us and then placed our order. It took some time to get our order but once everything had arrived we all tucked in and enjoyed our evening meal. We sat and chatted for a while as our 2 year old “flirted” with the waitress and then the screaming emanating from our 10 month old’s mouth signalled that it was time to head back to the hotel.

Temple Bar Dublin and Royal Services

We ask for the bill and all of a sudden the barman goes into hiding and has one of his colleagues bring the check to us. Upon quick review we noticed that we had been charged f0r all 6 meals, and that the discount had not been applied. We questioned the barman who informed us that we should have told him ahead of time that we were looking for the discounted menu. Obviously the fact that our tour brochure and bus tickets were clearly visible on the table didn’t mean anything. The barman showed little signs of wanting to solve the problem and provide us with what had been promised, so we had to take it to the next level. In more ways than one 🙂

SONY DSC
SONY DSC

We immediately headed upstairs to find the manager and get things rectified. As we were waiting to speak to the manager, the barman comes flying up the stairs thinking that we had done a runner. I imagine that there have been several customers that have done this in the past, but two wrongs don’t make a right. To his credit, the manager acknowledged the original deal and reduced our bill accordingly. He then mentioned about the need to make things clearer and let patrons know ahead of time what the deal was, but a quick search on Google shows that this scam has been going on for some time with several visitors expressing their disappointment with this “deal”.

This tactic might earn some short term business as a large percentage of patrons are tourists who will never be in Dublin again. There are also many non English speaking visitors from all corners of the world who wouldn’t be able to understand what is going on and how they are being mislead. However, it doesn’t matter who your customer is, you need to do the right thing and take care of them if you want to be successful in the long term. This experience felt similar to a company shortchanging a customer because she was blind and couldn’t see what was going on.

the emerald isle and royal services

This left a very bitter taste in our mouths, and even though the food was very good, the dishonesty and trickery from this establishment means that this is not a venue that we would recommend. After all of the talk that you hear about how beautiful Dublin is and how welcoming the people are, we left with different feelings after our encounters. This company did themselves no favors here, and I do not think that their future is going to be anything special. In anything that I do I need to be able to look at myself in the mirror at the end of the day knowing that I have done the right thing. I might not make as much money, or drive the same car as my highly successful neighbor, but I can live with a clear conscience.

Where have you felt hard done by? Which establishments have lied to get you in the door? Who made you feel like you had been stolen from? Let us know in the comments section below.

As the Irish say, Schloncha, and happy travelling 🙂

Guiness pint and Royal Services