The Consumer Finance team at Wyndham Destinations Asia Pacific is a team of 65 finance professionals who administrate and manage the accounts of the approximately 60,000 timeshare owners/members of Club Wyndham South Pacific, Club Wyndham Asia and Innovative Holiday Club by Club Wyndham. All owners/members of the three clubs pay annual levies and some Club Wyndham South Pacific owners also pay to be part of a benefits program, Lifestyle by Wyndham, while some owners/members across all three clubs take out finance with Wyndham Destinations in order to purchase their timeshare.
The team is multi-disciplined and includes divisions dedicated to lending and cash management, specialised services, operational support, training and quality and a fully staffed call centre. The team manages an AU$227 million loan portfolio with approximately 13,000 individual accounts.
In 2020, COVID-19 hit and the number of hardship cases among owners/members rose, owing to the financial pressures many people faced. Over the course of the COVID-19 period (from March 2020 to December 2021), the team provided hardship relief to approximately 1,612 owners/members, the vast majority of whom were up-to-date with their payments within a month of their deferment period ending. Being a customer-oriented team, they also established a specialised Owner Solutions team designed to assist and re-engage owners and members wanting to exit or sell their respective timeshare. The team has worked with more than 1,660 owners/members to get them utilising their ownership once more.
Wyndham has always found that owners/members who do not book holidays end up becoming disengaged over time. Because of the way timeshare works, it is crucial to minimise the number of owners exiting or selling their timeshare – from an owner perspective, it means new owners are just replacing old owners, which minimises the growth of the clubs. The work the Owner Solutions team performed during this difficult time was critical.
Portfolio currency results have always been a strong emphasis of the team. In 2021, currency shifted to 97.08%, up from 96.94%. Despite COVID-19, this continued a trend of improvement from 96.47% beforehand. The Consumer Finance team at Wyndham has always worked hard to reduce defaults across the loan portfolio, which have almost halved from 0.38% in 2020 to 0.21% in 2021.
The Consumer Finance team renewed a securitisation of the portfolio in April 2021, the only one of its kind in South Pacific (timeshare receivables). The renewed facility is for AU$250 million and NZ$48 million with JP Morgan and Bank of America Merrill Lynch and runs for a two-year period. The securitisation has provided additional stability to the business at a time when the pandemic has deeply impacted the leisure travel market.
The past two years has been a lesson in patience for timeshare owners and members, but also members of the Consumer Finance team. In the course of the 157,983 inbound and outbound calls they have handled in 2021 to date, team members have regularly had to explain to owners and members the purpose of annual levies and the benefits of paying – how it helps their ownership – even though they cannot travel. Providing this justification goes above and beyond scripted responses to actually helping owners understand the product more clearly.
The average answering time of the team’s calls was 90 seconds and calls ran for an average of nine minutes, and the average monthly service level has risen to 92.23%, an improvement from 88.5% in 2020. Customer satisfaction in interactions with the team sits at 8.19 out of 10.
Over the course of COVID-19, the members of the Consumer Finance team have demonstrated their adaptability. Many of the team have taken on new jobs or learnt new skills; learnt to work at home (including call centre staff); familiarised themselves with new reports, methods, standards and even laws; and, above all, improved their communication.
The Consumer Finance team at Wyndham Destinations Asia Pacific have seen the last year as an opportunity not to maintain their current level, but to improve their practices and procedures and gain ground.