One of the biggest issues with timeshares is their availability. It always seems like there is no availability for the specific timeshares that you want or there is no availability for the time period you want to travel.
The reason for this is that most timeshares allow you to book very far in advance. Both RCI and Interval International allow you to book 2 years in advance. Therefore, most timeshare owners that know how the systems work and know how to maximize their ownership make sure to plan as far in advance as possible so that they can get the resorts and weeks that they want.
If you are trying to get a prime week but regular searches of current inventory, you will likely be disappointed in what is available and when. There are exemptions but generally, you need to put in an ongoing Request or Deposit First.
In this post, I wanted to explain how to use Interval Internationals' Request First function.
The Request First function is different than the Deposit First. Using the Request First, Interval International will take your points once you complete the exchange request but if they do not fulfill your request, you will receive your points back in the original program. With Deposit First, it is a one way transfer where you convert your original timeshare points into Interval International Points. If you cancel the request, you can only book using Interval International.
Using Request First
When you first login to Interval International, you will see the toolbar up top. Choose "Exchange".
Once you click on "Exchange", you are brought the following screen.
When you get to this screen, you can search in three different ways.
1. You can search by destination;
2. You can search all destinations; or
3. You can search by Resort Name.
When you search in this way, all the currently available units will come up in inventory. If you see something that you want, you should definitely confirm the exchange. If a particular destination or resort does not come up for your time period, you should continue on and do a "Place Request".
In order to get to the "Place Request", you need to click on "My Units". This will bring you to the following screen.
As you can see from the attached screenshot, My Unit under this account is the Hyatt Beach House Resort. I have two ongoing searches and on the bottom, there is the option for the "Place Request".
When you go to "Place Request", it brings up the following exchange chart. Since this is for my Hyatt week, the exchange chart shows you how many points it will take for the Travel Demand Index (TDI) and size of unit. As I indicated before, most weeks and desirable locations require the highest amount of points so I generally do not even focus on the lower TDI amounts.
The numbers in the above chart are clickable and by clicking on of the numbers, this will be the amount of points that will be used for the "Request First" exchange.
Even if you do not have enough points for the potential exchange, I would simply click on 1,300. If you wanted a 3 or 4 bedroom, than I would click on 1,730 or 2,160 accordingly. This will not actually take your points at this stage. Interval will only take the amount of points based on the choices made on the following screen.
On the next screen, you are given a choice on the number of travelers, size of bedroom, whether you want or need a kitchen or whether there are any special facilities.
This screen allows you to choose the size of the unit. If you only want a 2 bedroom, you need to click the 2 bedroom. You can choose one or more of the size of units.
IMPORTANT: Only choose the size of the unit that you want. If you choose all three, Interval International will take the entire amount of points for the largest unit selected (1,300) and confirm you into a week for the first available size. You will be refunded the difference if a smaller unit is confirmed. If you only want a 1 bedroom, DO NOT CHOOSE the studio unit.
For this example, I chose a 2 bedroom unit with a kitchen for 2 adults. For the next part, you need to add the destination.
This part is extremely important. When you add the destination, depending on where you want to go, a large list of resorts will be shown. You need to click on each resort to add it to the request.
For this example, I will choose Kauai, Hawaii (one of my favorite destinations).
As you can see in the above, a list of all resorts in the Interval International Directory will come up. You need to click on each one that you want to request.
IMPORTANT: Not all timeshares are created equal. Some are very high quality resorts that meet or exceed some of the nicest hotels. Others have a lot to be desired. Interval attempts to differentiate these resorts by use of their resort designations.
Here is how Interval International uses these symbols:
Interval International Elite Resorts
Interval International Elite Resorts are the very best of Interval’s network, providing an extraordinary vacation experience, exceptional service, and luxurious features and appointments. They are identified by the lotus, a symbol of purity and perfection .
Interval International Premier Resorts
Interval International Premier Resorts, debuting as the highest level of recognition, provide an outstanding vacation experience, with state-of-the-art conveniences, and modern features and appointments. They are identified by the laurel, a symbol of distinction, high standards and status.
Within this level of recognition, Premier Boutique Resorts provide an outstanding vacation experience, with excellent accommodations in desirable locations, and limited on-site amenities.
Interval International Select Resorts
Interval International Select Resorts provide a great vacation experience, and are distinguished by a comfortable and homelike atmosphere. As such, they are identified by the pineapple, a centuries-old symbol of hospitality, welcome, friendliness, and warmth.
Within this level of recognition,Select Boutique Resorts provide a great vacation experience, with comfortable, homelike accommodations in desirable locations, and limited on-site amenities.
When you choose your resorts, I try to make sure that they have some designation. I generally prefer the Elite or Premier properties. Make sure to do your research on the various properties before choosing.
IMPORTANT: You can also do various searches in this by searching by brand (Hyatt, Marriott, etc.). Also, a lot of the resorts that may have one of the designations listed above may not show up in this search. Make sure to to use the Resort Directory to choose any resorts that you want to exchange into and use their Resort Code (3 letter code).
Once you have chosen the resorts, you need to choose the earliest and latest travel date. If you want a specific week like Christmas week, make sure to choose those specific dates.
In the example, above, I originally put in December 22, 2018 as my earliest travel date and December 29, 2018 as my latest travel date. The system will automatically revise your dates for the Thursday before the desired dates. This way the system will automatically confirm for you weeks starting on Thursday, Friday or Saturday.
The system also allows you to add additional destinations and dates within the same request. You can have multiples weeks in the same request as well as multiple resorts.
As you can see, I added some ski properties in Vail, Colorado for spring break.
IMPORTANT: You can add many different weeks and many different resorts for one exchange. However, as soon as something matches, the "Request First" exchange will be considered complete and the remaining exchanges will be cancelled.
For example, if one of my requests matched for Vail, Colorado, the Request First match for Hawaii would be cancelled.
TIP: If you know that you will want two weeks, it is better to do two separate Request First requests. You will have to pay two exchange fees up front but they will be independent of one another so that once one matches, the other Request First will continue to search.
On the next page, you are offered the ability to choose E-Plus and a Guest Certificate. There is generally no reason to do a guest certificate at this stage even if you are going to have a guest. You can add a Guest Certificate at any time. Guest Certificates are normally $59 or free with Interval Platinum membership which is why it shows as zero under my account.
If you are not familiar with E-Plus, I wrote about it here. It is a great add on feature that allows you to trade your confirmed week 3 times without any fee.
You can either choose to pay for it now or when your week is confirmed, you should have 3 days to make the decision. I almost always choose E-Plus since it gives me a lot of flexibility. Once confirmed, you are essentially locked in to your week so if you needed to cancel, you will loose your exchange fee and be given a replacement week that generally has more restrictions than your original deposit.
E-Plus removes this issue and you can exchange your confirmed week 3 times for 2 years past the confirmed week.
Once this is complete, you are brought to the final page which indicates all the details that you inserted along with the exchange fee of $189 and the optional E-Plus fee of $54.
Once you hit continue and pay the required fee, the system will automatically search for a match. If a match occurs, you will be automatically confirmed into that week.
For example, in my example above, I can either be confirmed for a ski week in Vail OR christmas week in Hawaii. Once one of those requests go through, the remaining requests are cancelled.
Once the request is placed, you can review, revise, add, subtract or cancel your request through the "My Units".
Under My Units, you can see the various requests.
Under my account, I have two requests pending. You can simply go to "Review Request" to modify the specifics. If you modify the size of the unit desired, Interval will either take more points from your account or re-deposit points if you request a smaller unit.
If you want to get the most desirable timeshare weeks, you MUST plan far in advance. By using Request First, you give yourself the best chances of getting the weeks and resorts that you want. This is not the only way to get the best weeks but it is absolutely critical to do if you want any chance of securing great weeks.
What requests do you have pending? What resorts / weeks have you received using Request First?