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MouseStation 273 - Disney Vacation Club President Jim Lewis

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On today's show, Mark talks with Disney Vacation Club President Jim Lewis about the five new DVC resorts currently under construction and other things that you should know on today's special feature.

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Thanks to our sponsors

Today's show is sponsored by:

MouseEarVacations.com. Providing Magical Vacations for over 21 years.

Scooter Vacations. Official mobility scooter charitable partner to Kids Wish Network and Starlight Starbright Foundation.

Owner's Locker. Why bring all that stuff back and forth, when you can leave it at Disney and have it waiting for you when you come back?

Feature: Disney Vacation Club President Jim Lewis

Jim started off on the financial end of the business and transitioned to the executive spot at DVC in November 2003, and he has made the transition smoothly.

Despite the global economic downturn, the Disney Vacation Club has continued to experience strong sales. Jim attributes that to the fact that people remain receptive to the message of how they can save money by going with the DVC.

There are five DVC resorts currently under construction: the Kidani Village Annex at the Animal Kingdom Villas, the Treehouse Villas at the Saratoga Springs Resort, Bay Lake Tower at the Contemporary Resort, villas at the Grand Californian Resort and the resort at Ko Olina.

At Animal Kingdom Villas, the big drawing point is the savannah and being able to wake up in the morning and see the animals right outside your window.

The return of the Treehouse Villas have many people excited, with the resort meeting the "glamping" or "glamorous camping" trend, with high-quality materials and designs. There will be 60 units at full build-out.

Bay Lake Tower, recently referred to as "Disney's Worst Kept Secret," will be a flagship resort adjacent to the Contemporary Resort and the Magic Kingdom, and there is a lot of interest in the new resort.

The new wing at the Grand Californian, shared between hotel rooms and DVC accommodations, is expected to go online this fall, opening in November. It will be the first DVC resort at the Disneyland Resort, and will have about 50 units available. The point cost for the accommodations at the resort are expected to be competitive with the current exchange costs for staying in standard hotel rooms at the resort.

Ground has just been broken at Ko Olina, where Disney is meeting a frequent request of DVC members in creating its first resort on Hawaii. The resort will have a swim-friendly beach, which is not always guaranteed in Hawaii.

Online check-in is expected to become available in early 2009, with online reservations becoming in late 2009/early 2010. The DVC will look into having the annual member meeting be available via webcast in the future, as well. The member meeting question will be put to the general membership via the Disney Files member magazine. Other technological improvements will not be directly in front of the members, but will positively affect the reservations process.

The DVC is changing its affiliation from Interval International to RCI Group, effective January 1, 2009. There are a much larger variety of resort exchanges available to members, with more all-inclusive and fractional properties. In many ways, DVC feels that it can learn from RCI, providing another benefit of affiliation. With the change from II to RCI, there will now be alternate resorts available near Paris and Tokyo. There is a property in Normandy that meets DVC standards, which will allow members to stay in France without staying at Disneyland Paris.

The Doorway to Dreams outside Chicago has proven surprisingly successful, despite the general question of the likelihood of people to want to buy timeshares in a mall. The store's sales have been ahead of projections, with the level of success leading to the plans for a second location. The next Doorway to Dreams store will be in the greater New York City area, though the exact location will not be announced until a deal is made for the lease.

The "Disney's Best Kept Secret" campaign is still continuing, though there are many fewer people who don't know about the DVC than there used to be. At some point the campaign will be retired, because the word is getting out.

Jim feels that the biggest thing that many people don't know about the DVC yet is that the product is fabulous. DVC has been #1 in the Market Metrix survey of consumer attitudes toward timeshare companies in every quarter that they have been doing the survey. Second, he believes that people need to know that DVC provides savings on future vacations. It's like buying your vacations in bulk quantity, like at Costco or other warehouse stores.

Thanks to Jim Lewis for taking the time to chat with us, and to Diane Hancock and her team for making the interview possible.

March of Dimes

If you're looking for a last-minute tax deduction this year, Mark has been able to set up his March of Dimes site early this year. For more information or to donate, go to his fundraising page.

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Wrapping up

We've put together a new listener survey to help us learn more about you and what you like most about this podcast. This one is much more targeted than the old Podtrac survey. Please take a few minutes to fill it out and let us know what you think.

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Thanks to our audio engineer and sound editor Steven Ng and to announcer Andrew Rich.

Thank you for listening!

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The MouseStation crew (@MouseStation) currently consists of Mark Goldhaber (@MPMark) and Mike Demopoulos (@MPMike).