Interviewer: ...but different from our normal broadcasting. Wes Kogelman, is that how you say your name, buddy?
Wes: Kogelman, absolutely.
Interviewer: Oh, I was close.
Interviewer: From BuyaTimeshare.com, and the reason for having you come in, first of all, you've got an MBA from Rivier.
Wes: Correct, yeah.
Interviewer: University, but I'm sure you've got it when it was Rivier College.
Wes: I did actually, in 2005.
Interviewer: Have you been over there lately?
Wes: I haven't, no. I drive by. It looks nice.
Interviewer: Yeah, you see the reconstruction they've done?
Interviewer: Sure, and you have a timeshare company that's in Merrimack?
Interviewer: All right. Now most people wouldn't recognize...well first of all, why don't you explain to the first-timers, and who doesn't know, and believe me there are, what a timeshare is?
Wes: Yeah, basically a timeshare is deeded ownership like your home. Basically, people take vacations and it's a way to own your vacation. So it's a way to save money on your vacation. It allows you to take a specific one week a year vacation and you can travel throughout the world with exchange companies like RCI or Interval International.
So it really allows you to really take your vacation. A lot of people have all this vacation time and they never use it, and that's one of the big problems about the United States.
Interviewer: What, no vacation?
Wes: Well they don't take the vacation. Everyone works and they don't take time with their family. So a timeshare is like a condo. So it's got a kitchen, two bedrooms, typical size of the unit, and you can fill up the refrigerator and the family can eat and go to Disney World.
Florida is the timeshare capital of the world but they're all over. They're here in New Hampshire.
Interviewer: Well that's what we want to get to. Now you founded this company in 2000.
Interviewer: What did you graduate with your MBA in?
Wes: It's MBA, so straight MBA and I went to University of Tampa, Florida, and that's where I started the business and that's really...Orlando is the timeshare capital of the world so I got in the timeshare business my junior year in college, and after working in it for six months, I started my own.
Interviewer: And you are one of the longest operating timeshare resale outlets in existence. I mean, that's a long time to be in business.
Wes: Absolutely. One of the things we did is we kind of started the secondary market for timeshare. It's kind of like starting used car sales back in the day before there was used car sales. So it's really in an infancy of industry and we're working with organizations like the ARDA, American Resort Development Association, to create better practices and exit solutions for ageing owners.
Interviewer: Now your business is located right here in Merrimack.
Wes: One of the offices.
Interviewer: One of the offices is, but are you countrywide timeshare or...
Wes: Actually worldwide. So a lot of our business comes from Australia. So we deal with vacation ownerships all over the world.
Interviewer: Have you been there?
Wes: I've been to Australia, yes.
Interviewer: That's some flight, huh?
Wes: It is a long flight. It's crazy. Worth it though.
Interviewer: Even in real time right now, your consumers are still searching out on the search engines. About 74,000 searches a month for the term "Timeshares for sale."
Wes: Yeah absolutely.
Interviewer: So it's still very popular.
Wes: Yeah absolutely. So timeshares for sale, buy a timeshare, timeshare resales, those key terms on Google produce over 125,000 searches a month.
Interviewer: Is it when you buy a timeshare, are you buying something with other people that buy that same [audio skip 00:03:16] thing?
Wes: Yeah exactly. So you'd have a unit and basically there's 52. They sell 52 of them. So you're sharing it with, let's just say, that same room with 52 different people.
Interviewer: Okay, so because there's 52 weeks in the year.
Wes: You've got it, yeah, exactly. And yeah, they clean their room just like a...
Interviewer: That surely makes a piece of property more attractive financially.
Wes: That's exactly the idea.
Interviewer: And you can get into a piece of property that would be way out of range, almost exotic to the everyday person if you've got 52 other people chiming in.
Wes: Exactly, and you have a normal association. You pay maintenance fees every year.
Interviewer: To buy a half-a-million dollar place for $10,000 if it's 52 people doing it. You know what I mean?
Wes: I could get you a better deal.
Interviewer: Yeah, see that's the thing, right?
Wes: Yeah, right.
Interviewer: It's pretty interesting. Now for those that would be thinking about timesharing as an investment, is that wise as well, or is it just basically outright...I'm doing this just for my own, our family's vacation?
Wes: Yeah, it's an investment in lifestyle. So I would never say timeshare or vacation ownership is a fiduciary investment.
Interviewer: Yeah, well see I wouldn't know. That's why I've got you on and asking the questions.
Wes: Yeah, it makes you take time. I mean, it allows you to go all over the US affordable, and nothing...When you're a kid, I remember the great vacations I took with my family. We went out and I remember those experiences, and that's the thing. It's about creating experiences.
Interviewer: And once you put your piece in to buy this thing, are there any more expenses that you're going to have to take in?
Wes: Absolutely. There's maintenance fees and just like a normal homeowner's association, sometimes there's assessment fee.
Interviewer: But it can't be that much if you're breaking it up with 52 people, unless you're buying a $3 million property.
Wes: Well it depends. The average maintenance fee, annual maintenance fee is around $800/year. So that is an expense you have to factor in, and then flights. A lot of people don't think about that but if you buy a place in Aruba, it's going to cost you some money to bring a family aboard.
Interviewer: You got any places available in Costa Rica right now?
Wes: I believe we do. I believe if I had the computer, I'd show you.
Interviewer: Well, it's broken right now. You have to go off that...so the website's BuyaTimeshare.com. Wes Kogelman is in the studio this morning and he is a graduate from...are you a Nashua resident?
Wes: No, I live in Merrimack right now.
Interviewer: You live in Merrimack?
Interviewer: Who would have thought that the place for a timeshare would be in this state though?
Wes: No, I know, exactly. You know, I grew up in Milford and I went to University of Tampa for college, started the business down there, moved up for family reasons and then I worked for a pharmaceutical company for a little bit while I owned the business, and I decided to start an office up here. Had a bunch of friends that needed work and we created an office. We did really well and we have a lot of hard workers up here, people that really put their head down and work. It worked out.
So, we're calling all over the world so it really doesn't matter. It's all about the population of people.
Interviewer: Let me ask you how you even got started? I mean how does one even get started? How do you go about doing that?
Wes: You know, I was scrambling around my junior year for a job and I got a job doing exactly what I do now and made great money. I was their top salesperson. So, overzealous for my own good, I decided to start my own office. This is when, if you had a website, this is back in 2000, if you had a website, you're amazing.
So we created a website. I thought I could do technology a little better with some friends and then we kept growing it and got into databases. Now we're pay-per-list, digital signatures, PCIS-compliant, all these different things.
Interviewer: Where would you rate yourself compared to other timeshare companies, BuyaTimeshare?
Wes: Yeah, we're one of the top companies.
Interviewer: So if you went to the search engine to put that in, you guys would probably come up?
Wes: Yeah, if you type in "buy a timeshare", "BuyaTimeshare" or anything associated with that, we're number one on the organic search.
Interviewer: And how many properties do you think you have right now for people to take a look at, and I'm sure that the website is just like shopping online?
Wes: Yeah, we have hundreds of thousands of properties.
Interviewer: No kidding?
Wes: Yeah, absolutely. So you know, people are calling us all over the world to buy, sell or rent. I mean, in the last two years alone, we've had over like, I think the new data is $111 million in offers in the last two years on our website.
Interviewer: Now you're in resale side of the business yourself, and there is a difference between the resale and the new sales. What is that difference?
Wes: Well basically you're buying from an owner. So the sales and marketing cost at a new property, it's basically costing 50% of the cost of ownership to get someone in there to buy a new property. So when someone goes to resale, they'll just say they've experienced it for 20 years, the same thing, and they just want to get out of it. They've used it. They're happy with the product. They just want out. So they're willing to take gigantic losses on this to just get rid of it. Get rid of the maintenance fee and tax because they're already used it.
So you can get, I mean they're 80% off at resorts, certain resorts, if you buy on the resale market. So there's a tremendous savings when you go to buy on the resale market.
Interviewer: And you've watched the whole financial rail up and down since 2000. I mean, we had the pretty big crash at '08 in real estate in general, and you've still been able to hang in there. I still feel from just on the little side of life, not with big purchases like this, it's still a buyer's market, no?
Wes: It is a buyer's market and with internet we're educating people better. So back in the day, there wasn't a lot of information online about timeshare, even the secondary market.
Interviewer: It doesn't have the greatest reputation, no?
Wes: No, it does not. Sales practices have changed. It's getting better, but there have been some unscrupulous companies and one of the things we do is I sit on the advisory board for the National Timeshare Owners Association. I also am a trustee of the American Resort Development Association, on the board of directors of the Canadian Resort Development Association.
One thing that we provide is complete transparency to the consumer, okay? Let them know exactly what they're buying. With all the laws, where...we follow the most compliant laws. So the hardest, strictest laws are Florida. So we take those laws and apply them throughout the world.
Interviewer: Well that's right. They've had to put these laws in to protect the consumer over the last years [Inaudible 00:09:32]. Are there timeshares here in our state?
Wes: There is. There's a quite few resorts here. In Season is a big player. Actually, one of their sales offices is right next to us in Merrimack over at Harris Pond.
Interviewer: You consider yourself or you didn't at one time, did you always consider yourself an internet business? I mean 2000, you were in early.
Wes: We were in early. So I never really looked at ourselves that way, but we call people, we give people a full page ad on their website and we're getting a lot of buyers on the website. So I guess I've always been an internet business.
Interviewer: My guest this morning is Wes Kogelman. He's in the studio. I'm going to go check out this website right now. Let's take a look at it here, BuyaTimeshare.com. You can come in and have a seat sir. Make me nervous when someone's standing at the door...timeshare.com, here it is.
Oh, look at the...oh my goodness, this is overwhelming. Of course you've got to use the sun and the palm trees, don't you?
Interviewer: Oh and that's the other thing. If you buy a piece in whatever it might be, you can rent your piece off too, you know.
Interviewer: Average buyer offer of 5,814. What's that?
Wes: So basically that's our average all over the world, anyone placing an offer. Someone makes an offer on a property, that's what the average price is from all people making offers on our website, which is actually about a $1000 higher than the industry average.
Interviewer: Also I see one of the links on the website, BuyaTimeshare.com, you have a "How much is my timeshare worth" and I think that's what people think about at the end all. I know they're all those that want to just get a vacation, we want to be able to go and be part of something like that, but after time they want to know should I sell, maybe a good time?
Wes: Yeah absolutely. That gives people a tool so they can enter their information, enter the resort information, and basically what happens is it spits out a number of our average of what other owners are asking. So it gives them a range of what would be a smart place to price your property.
Interviewer: Is that what some of these builders do today is they go right out solely to build, these developers build timeshare resorts on purpose?
Wes: Absolutely yeah.
Interviewer: Okay, because it's big business, huh?
Wes: It is big business.
Interviewer: Look at this Hilton.
Wes: Yeah, there's about 9.1 million US owners in the United States. So there's a lot of owners. Seven percent of the population own timeshares.
Interviewer: Florida the most popular?
Wes: It is.
Interviewer: Because of the weather, right?
Interviewer: Popular timeshare countries, Mexico, Aruba, Bahamas. See Tony, you're in. Yeah, you're on. You can come on.
Tony: How are you doing?
Tony: I own timeshare.
Wes: Oh yeah, great.
Tony: Bahamas and Aruba.
Interviewer: Bahamas and Aruba, very nice. Do you use it or do you rent it out?
Tony: I used the Aruba one this year and I used the Bahama one last year, and I'm renting out the Bahamas this year.
Interviewer: So you rent out stuff you can get your money back for what you put in mostly. A lot of people probably do that because some people can't...Now the timeshare thing, I guess you have to work it out with the other owners, right, of when you're taking that week, right?
Wes: Yeah, some are float times, some are fixed times. So you'd probably be on float time, correct?
Tony: No, I'm fixed.
Wes: Oh you're on fixed? Okay. So he's got a certain week every year.
Interviewer: No wonder the guy's always tanned. Now I know your secret, brother.
Wes: He's got a smile on his face too because he vacations.
Interviewer: He does, but he's a good businessman. He has been a great businessman in the city for a long time and his employees are just as upbeat as him.
Wes: Well the good thing is they use him.
Tony: Oh that's awesome. You know Shawn, right?
Wes: I do, absolutely right.
Interviewer: Oh here we go. Nashua is small, so we've got the...look at this one here, Bluegreen Resorts, The Falls Village in Missouri. Go to the website, BuyaTimeshare.com for buy smart from the start. There's more information that you can imagine.
It's good to see that you're a company as big as you are but your basis is right here. Now you could go anywhere to do this but this is your home. I mean does it benefit you as a businessman for taxes?
Wes: Well there is no income tax in New Hampshire. That's a great thing. I grew up here. I love New Hampshire. I love the lakes region in the summer. I do leave around November to go to Florida for the winter.
Interviewer: Oh you're one of them, huh?
Wes: I'm a young snowbird.
Interviewer: You got a studio down there I could do the show in by...
Wes: Yeah there you go...
Interviewer: ...November to March? Tony, I've got a great idea. Why don't we go down and do a broadcast from Aruba? I know just because it would be great information for the people, of course.
Tony: Well like I told you, I listened to your debate in Aruba.
Interviewer: I know, that's amazing.
Wes: That's great.
Tony: I sat there on the computer and listened to it.
Interviewer: All right, so what do we get? What are we looking at here, west of...interested in the Tropicana Aruba Resort & Casino? I mean, what are we thinking here?
Wes: I mean, it all depends. The owner is asking something, you can make an offer and sometimes they'll take it just to get rid of it.
Interviewer: Boy, it just sounds so cheap, doesn't it? Really makes somebody, look at this, the Tropicana Aruba Resort & Casino. Thirty-eight floating, what does that mean?
Wes: So that means their week is week 38 and then they can have a floating option. So basically they can go week 38 but they also could call the resort and change their week.
Interviewer: All right, how about when it says usage by any odd years?
Wes: Yeah that means every other year, so they could have used it in 2015.
Interviewer: And they can't use it again til 2017.
Wes: You've got it.
Interviewer: Five thousand bucks.
Interviewer: Or you can make an offer.
Wes: You can make an offer and they may take a lot less and that's usually...
Interviewer: All right, I bid 1500.
Wes: There you go, and then you make an offer and then they'll come back at you and say, "No I want 25 and..."
Interviewer: Tropicana Aruba Resort & Casino, where you've got week 28 and what does that mean by float?
Wes: You can use it any time. You just have to call a resort to make a reservation.
Interviewer: Now can you use it for more than one week?
Wes: You're deeded one week typically. You'd have to rent someone else's timeshare for another week or go to the resort...
Interviewer: Do you ever have correspondence with others that own? Does the owner, like if I own a week, do I ever talk to somebody else that has another week?
Wes: Well you could, on our website, absolutely.
Interviewer: Do we have meetings and such or...
Wes: Well there's HOA meetings, homeowners association meetings but the thing is, if you wanted to have another week, you could go to our website, make an offer on the week after yours and then talk to that owner and then rent it out for...
Interviewer: Here's week 28 floating unit, 5556 at Tropicana Aruba Resort & Casino asking $2000.
Wes: There you go. Well, what resort do you own Tony?
Tony: Casa Del Mar.
Wes: Okay, yeah absolutely.
Interviewer: It's where the President stays.
Tony: Well on Casa Del Mar, like you've got the ocean view with the pool is one price and then if you want to be in the back like for the island views, there's another price and one might be 2,000, the other one might be 10.
Tony: And on timeshares, view is everything.
Wes: Everything. One of our most popular resorts in Aruba is the Marriott Aruba Surf Club, Marriott Aruba Ocean Club and there's La Cabana. There's also Divi Resorts down there.
Tony: Yeah, Divi is right out in front there.
Interviewer: Oh you know what, you take a look at this stuff here. Just to the eye, it doesn't, and you can make an offer now. Now who're you making offer to, you?
Wes: Directly to the owner. So this is a for-sale by owner advertising company. So basically we have a platform where you log in and you can negotiate. We actually keep all the data secure so your phone number and information is not leaked to anyone. We prevent phishing scams. We're very consumer-centric and we protect data and then once you consummate the sale and you agree, you can use a licensed real estate agent. We give you the option but you don't have to.
And then we'll walk you right through the purchase and sale agreement, the licensed real estate firm, their gateway timeshare resales, and we also have an affiliation with timeshare broker associates. So they'll put the purchase and sale agreement and then they'll put in the closing and we use Chicago title and First American title to do the closings.
A lot of people don't understand but the closing is not like typical real estate. So you have to use a special title company.
Interviewer: Uh, don't touch that mic cable please. Beach Coma International Resort, how do you say this world Coolangatta, Australia?
Interviewer: Well listen to this man, two bedrooms, two bathrooms, $1400. Hello, and it's annual.
Interviewer: You could just stay on a...
Wes: There's great deals on the resale market. In fact, if you went to the resort, typically you're going to pay 10, 20 times that price that you're seeing on our website.
Interviewer: Interesting stuff. Wonderful. Hopefully somebody wants to go over there and do some online shopping today, the website is BuyaTimeshare.com, a local gentleman here. He has been in business since 2000 and a graduate of Rivier University, Wes Kogelman in the studio this morning.
Thanks a lot. Well done.
Wes: Well thanks for having me.
Interviewer: Thanks for taking care of the people and giving everybody a time away with an opportunity to do so, which might not be feasible for them any other time.
Wes: Absolutely. Thank you for having me.
Interviewer: All right, you bet. I'm going to go on a break and come right back and get ready for fall and heating and a little chitchat with my friend and yours. Be right back.
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