While vacation rentals and couch-squatting have been all the rage in the alternatives-to-hotel sphere, what's been going on in the timeshare market?
It turns out that timeshare or, vacation-exchange, companies unsurprisingly face some of the same search and mobile issues that the rest of the travel and hospitality industry faces.
Highlighting these trends, vacation-exchange vendor RCI, which is owned by Wyndham Worldwide, tweaked its search features to make the process sleeker and more personal.
RCI enables members to exchange points for vacations at RCI-affiliated resorts.
RCI says it altered its search engine a couple of weeks ago to automatically account for properties' "reservations rules, search types and navigation options" automatically when displaying available inventory and then it enables members to filter the results by number of rooms, region, travel dates and activities.
"RCI.com will not recommend vacation choices to subscribing members based on what they are searching for at that moment in time," RCI states. "Looking for a beach vacation in a two-bedroom unit? Our search engine wil comb our entire available inventory and serve up tailored choices based on the members' vacationing activity and immediate vacation interest."
Whether it is in the timeshare industry or flight metasearch, travel companies of all stripes are attempting to personalize the search process.
RCI also has a program, RCI Weeks, enabling members to exchange timeshare weeks they own at a particular property with weeks that other members own at other properties among the 4,000 affiliated resorts globally.
The search engine was also tweaked to enable members to view both RCI Weeks exchange inventory and Points inventory in one display, RCI says, instead of having to conduct two separate searches.
The timeshare industry, like everyone else, is going mobile.
RCI recently released Blackberry and Android versions of the RCI app to supplement an iPhone app published in 2010.
The apps provide descriptions of resort properties, their amenities, and also feature photos and ratings.