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Hyatt timeshare fires staff

Carmel85

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Hyatt timeshare fires staff: Sales dip, local reps lose their jobs

Jan. 17--The Hyatt Vacation Club in Key West implemented a round of corporate-mandated layoffs last week in the sales and marketing departments. Corporate says it's a sign of the times: Those who were fired say it's a raw deal.


"I have three boys in college. What am I going to do? I've got to go to work," said Bob Waulters, a Hyatt Vacation Club sales rep who lost his job last week.

Waulters, age 60, left his wife and kids to work for the Hyatt, moving from St. Augustine to Key West about six weeks ago.


"I thought I had a future here," Waulters said. "I have nothing. I'm going to go to work at Winn Dixie stocking shelves. It's hard to be happy. I wanted to make this a career."

Waulters worked a booth at the corner of Caroline and Duval streets in Old Town Key West. His job was to entice passersby, with promises of cash or coupons, to take a tour of the Hyatt's timeshare property, Windward Pointe, located near Key West International Airport on S. Roosevelt Blvd.

Windward Pointe is operated by Hyatt and owned by Key West-based Spottswood Companies, Inc., which also owns the Marriot Beachside Hotel, the Coconut Beach Resort, the Holiday Inn and the Comfort Inn, all in Key West.

The Windward Pointe property, built in 2001, has 104 two-bedroom, two-bath units that are priced according to the season. Hyatt divides the year into five seasons: The cheapest buy-in for one week of unit ownership is just under $10,000; the highest, around Christmas and Fantasy Fest, is about $30,000.

"We don't typically comment a lot on these types of things," said Larry Shulman, a senior vice president at Hyatt's Beverly Hills office, when asked about the layoffs. The Hyatt Vacation Club, he said, is "No different than any business across the country...we've had to revisit our business model and downsize."

Data from the Monroe County Property Appraiser's office shows sales of timeshares at Windward Pointe in 2008 were half what they were in 2007.

Just 263 timeshares sold in 2008, compared to 583 in 2007, though the average sale price actually increased slightly in 2008 to $21,551.

Waulters says he was shocked to be out of a job, but had noticed that street-level interest in touring a timeshare property was on the decline. He says people seemed to be spending less time on vacation and packing more in, with no time to get over to see Windward Pointe, next to the airport in Key West.

Waulters said the Hyatt paid him $6.79 per hour plus $50 for every time-share tour he booked.

"I'm done. I'm going to have to go to unemployment. It's sad," he said, noting that he's especially sorry to leave Key West. "I loved every minute of it," he said last week.

"They're in a hurry to get as much out of their time as possible and they're stressed," Waulters said of the tourists he encountered on Duval Street. "The economy is hitting their vacations. You don't see many smiles going by."

The story was the same at another Hyatt booth, also on Duval Street. Phadra Pryce said she spent $5,000, which she doesn't plan on recouping, moving to Key West from Cocoa Beach.

"I uprooted my whole life to move to Key West to work for the Hyatt," Pryce said. She moved with her young daughter and dependent mother. Pryce placed her mother in the Key West Convalescent Center and she was subsequently relocated to the Plantation Key Convalescent Center when the Key West location closed in early December.

"That's it. We're done." And the timing couldn't have been worse, Pryce said, "Two weeks before our season is getting ready to hit. I don't know."

Schulman said job cuts are happening across the board at many of Hyatt's properties, not just in Key West, and were primarily focused on sales and marketing personnel. About six people lost their jobs in Key West last week. There are about 15 timeshare properties Keys-wide, with seven of those in Key West.
 

pedro47

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Two (2) millions American lost jobs in 2008 according to Dept. of Labor.
 
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