RCI celebrates 45 years of sending its member families on memorable holidays across the world on 4 February this year. We'd like to take a moment to thank our members and holiday resort developer associates for their unfailing loyalty, which has helped to bring us to our fabulous 45th anniversary milestone.
RCI sent its first member families off on exchange holidays back in 1974. It's thanks to the loyalty of our worldwide family of members - and the resort developers who put their holiday accommodations into our holiday exchange programme - that everyone at RCI is celebrating this landmark 45th birthday.
Throughout more than four decades of economic fluctuations around the world, we feel that it is a real achievement to still be standing, almost half a century after our foundation. Not many travel and holiday companies can say that - and we are proud that we can!
We put our members at the heart of everything that we do here at RCI. From putting teams out in the field to work with the resort managers to ensure that the accommodations affiliated to our exchange programme are tip top and meet our quality standards, to continually investigating new ways to develop our services and products to give our members more flexibility, choice and ease in their exchange holiday planning and booking, we want to be sure that RCI is giving its members every reason to holiday with us, year in and year out.
That's why we want to start our 45th anniversary celebrations by thanking our members, as well as the developers of the resorts affiliated to our holiday exchange programme reading this. We wouldn't be here, 45 years later, without you.
The things our members love about holidaying using timeshare with RCI membership have not changed much at all over the years. RCI member of 20 years standing, Janine Hemblade, summarises below just what that is for her.
"In all the years we have been travelling with RCI, we have never had a bad experience with our accommodation or destination. RCI membership makes travelling in comfort more economical. We'd never get the accommodation we get with RCI through other holiday booking channels for the same cost as our RCI membership and exchange fees! We definitely like being in a spacious apartment, rather than a hotel room. It's just much easier, more comfortable, you can please yourself when you get up, you can just make a cup of tea and take your time about starting the day, you choose when you eat. It is such a relaxing way to holiday." - Janine Hemblade, RCI member for 20 years
German-born American, Christel DeHaan, founded RCI in 1974 in Indianapolis, in the US. Legend has it that she organised her start-up holiday home swapping business using cards in shoe boxes on her kitchen table. More than four decades on, RCI now has over 4,000 affiliated resorts in almost 110 countries across the world for its members to choose from. Christel, meanwhile, sold RCI and has dedicated herself to building the hugely successful Christel House International charity. The charity runs nine schools for impoverished children in South Africa, India, Mexico, Jamaica and the US. In the last couple of years, many of the children have started graduating, and are going out into the world with good careers and a future they can look forward to.
RCI has retained its ties with its founder, having made her charity its 'preferred charity', raising funds for Christel House throughout RCI offices worldwide, as well as by working with many of the developers - individuals and companies - who own and manage the resorts in our holiday exchange programme.
In recent years, there has been a lot of excitement in the media about the whole holiday home swapping business as the most comfortable and authentic way to enjoy your stay in your chosen holiday destination. As you can see from our longevity, RCI actually pioneered the concept of home swapping to give holidaymakers a different, more affordable and altogether better way to holiday.
Our company has grown over the years and, during that time, has constantly worked to develop new and different ways to give its members more value and wider holiday horizons from their RCI membership. In 1986, it launched Holiday Magazine as a way of keeping its members up-to-date with all the latest RCI news, deals and offers, as well as holiday inspiration. The magazine - now called Endless Vacation - is still published today, in 15 different languages and delivered free of charge to members across the world.
1996 saw the launch of a member website, RCI.com, giving members 24/7 access to holiday planning tools and an online resort directory. Constant investment in the website has seen many enhancements being introduced throughout the years, some have been major improvements, others being regular tweaks of smaller changes for the better.
RCI.com is now available, like the magazine, in several different languages and offers transactional RCI member account management, holiday search and booking, a comprehensive Help Library, complete with educational videos, so that members can get all the advice, tutorials and guidance they need to be sure they are getting the most from membership. There is even a Live Chat facility giving our members access to real time assistance and support to ease their holiday planning journey with us. Plus, our Call Centre operation is always there for those who prefer to hear a friendly voice when seeking a little help to navigate their holiday booking process with RCI.
The year 2000 was a real game changer, not just for RCI, but for the whole holiday swapping and exchange landscape. That was the year RCI introduced the RCI Points programme. It was the first global points-based holiday exchange programme and gave members greater flexibility in the way they used their timeshare ownership. Having an RCI Points value allocated to their week of ownership, they could then use them to book a variety of other products and services with RCI's Points Partners, including putting them towards a cruise! Or, of course, to book exchange holidays when they wanted and where they wanted, in other timeshare accommodation worldwide.
2010 saw a development for our Weeks members, when RCI became the first holiday exchange company to introduce Trading Power transparency for its members, with later developments allowing Weeks members to save and combine their Trading Power, and to get Credits back on their account if a booking reservation used less Trading Power than their ownership was allocated, and those Credits could also be combined with Trading Power to get away on more holidays. So, like our Points members, Weeks members were given more flexibility in how they could use their timeshare ownership, never having to waste, or lose, any of their Trading Power - even getting more weeks away with it!
Another in a long line of 'firsts' came in 2011, when RCI became the first exchange company to introduce online holiday and resort recommendations, matched to the personal holiday preferences of its members. While 2014 saw a major rebuild and relaunch of RCI.com to give members even better ways to search for great holidays, and an easier booking experience all round.
In recent years new search, planning and booking tools have been added to RCI.com. We now incorporate member and TripAdvisor reviews in our online Directory to help you decide which resort would suit your preferences, and you can now place an Ongoing Search for your perfect resort, letting us do the searching for you, sending you an email notification as soon as we find a match. Our Blog was launched on the site just over a year ago and provides holiday inspiration and tips, as well as insights about RCI, from RCI members, staff and professional travel writers.
The social butterflies among you may have become part of the RCI social media community, which has grown each year since the launch of the RCI Facebook and Instagram pages a couple of years back! See for yourself by visiting facebook.com/rcieuro
Many of the resorts that affiliated to RCI's exchange programme in the beginning are still with us today. The Osborne Club (0210) in Devon, UK, was the first European resort to sign up to our programme in 1979 and it is still with us 40 years later. As indeed are so many of our loyal members, decades after they joined RCI. As many as 47 per cent of our European members have been with us for more than 10 years, while 77 per cent say that they would recommend us to their friends.
Below is a sample of the feedback we have received from members over the years, telling us what it is they love about holidaying with timeshare and RCI membership. We at RCI are always thrilled to hear that we are helping our members to get the holidays they deserve - helping to make memorable times shared with those who matter most to them. Succeeding in doing this for our members means the world to us.
"We wanted to ensure great holiday accommodation for the rest of our lives. We love everything about our timeshare and RCI. It gives us the opportunity to go to places we hadn't dreamt of." - Jacky Rawlinson, RCI Member Since 2005.
"RCI has brought us flexibility over the years. An RCI exchange holiday to Tenerife in 1992 was such a memorable one. The resort staff were all wonderfully helpful, offering a really high standard of service, and the terrace at our apartment was truly amazing. It was huge, with wonderful views." - Flemming and Lis Jensen, RCI members since 1989
"RCI has given us the chance to travel and visit a lot of places. Our memorable holiday was in San Teodoro in Sardinia. We really enjoyed the beach activities organised by the resort entertainment team. The whole holiday was memorable because we all had so much fun!" - Carlos Marin, RCI Member since 1988
If you are an RCI member - or own timeshare and think you should be - click on the button below to browse through the thousands of resorts that might be your home away from home on your next getaway. The real value in a timeshare purchase and ownership lies in the freedom of not being tied to your holiday home, having to return to the same place each year... You can get out to see more of the world and rest assured that your holiday accommodation will be of the same high standard, wherever you go.
Do you own timeshare? If you do, are you sure that you are getting the best value out of your ownership? To help you think that one through, click on the button below to find out more about becoming an RCI member and join a community of people with a passion for travel who, like the members whose testimonials appear in this blog, get every bit of value from their timeshare by enjoying world travel in comfort.