At first glance a strange article for a timeshare consumer site, not so strange as you may think as we will go on to explain. Maybe some of you reading this have already embraced this technology to keep in touch with family and loved ones during the current global pandemic.
For those not familiar with this technology we thought it would be a good idea to firstly explain what it is then look at some of the available applications and how they may apply to the timeshare industry.
Back in the 70s and 80s video calling was still in the realm of science fiction, the internet was in its infancy and pretty unreliable. As we moved into the 90s the World Wide Web (www.) grew faster than virtually all other technologies, access to the internet became easier for all of us and ceased to be something just in the realms of big business. With the improvements of band width and speeds, products were developed that took advantage of this such as “smart mobile phones, laptops, tablets etc”. By the early 2000’s the internet reliability was becoming far more stable.
With this in mind, in 2003 Niklas Zennström from Sweden and Janus Friis from Denmark created the first commercial video calling software called Skype. Video calling does exactly what is says on the tin, it allows people to see each other and speak to each other face to face. Since then the market has boomed. Now with Broad Band fibre optic connections available to virtually every home along with having 4G and WIFI on every mobile phone we all can benefit from this technology.
An application is the new buzzword for what was once known as software, that said, not all the video chat platforms available actually require software, that in itself is a good thing, more on that later. The market for these applications is enormous so it would be impractical to cover them all so we thought we would review a selection that are most popular:
One of the longest serving platforms and still used widely, the major problems experienced with Skype is the fact that it is still software driven which means you have to download and install it on your device, also the person you wish to speak to also has to have Skype. Because of its popularity it often suffers from unreliable connections.
Originally developed by Facebook and called Chat in 2008. It is a good platform for social media and generally offers good quality. Its major drawback is that you need a Facebook account to use it and of course not everyone either has, or wants a Facebook account. One advantage is that it does not require any software download.
Another free platform, but again you have to be a WhatsApp user. The other downside is that it does not work on WIFI only tablets or PCs in video mode. It’s also limited to four people at one time.
Zoom offers a free registration for meetings of up-to 3 individuals, however it is the specifications of its professional version that makes it one of the most popular paid for business video conference apps currently available. This is due to its reliability, solid web integration and various other features. Of late however it has suffered from some very bad press about security, true or false? We can’t say.
Not particularly good as it is an Apple application only so will neither work on PCs or Android products.
All of the above platforms will serve well for domestic use with Zoom being the better option for business but where is the connection to timeshare? Well we have one more application to look at and will explain why.
Has been around for some time, it is a paid for application and for 12 person video calling it works out at about £23 per month. For first time users they are currently offering a free 45 day trial.
Although there are mobile applications available for Apple and Android Gruveo will work straight from your browser (Firefox, Chrome, Opera etc).
At TCA we had not come across this service before until we had discussions with one of the leading exit and claims companies, ECC. As a company they have a network of offices across the UK but of course without an office in every town it means that a number of potential clients may have to travel long distances for a consultation, enter Gruveo.
Armed with a personal tablet, each ECC consultant can have face to face meetings without the need for the client to leave their home, especially important right now due to the worldwide pandemic! Much the same way as a physical meeting clients can ask and receive answers to all sorts of questions and clarify points as if they were in the office. Another very important part of this technology is that clients may experience a “virtual” tour of the business so they can experience the size and professionalism of the company.
When you consider the volume of articles produced by TCA surrounding scam companies and our continual mantra of “Do your own research and due diligence” it is refreshing to see a company that offers such complete transparency by enabling their client the opportunity to check them out and ensure that they are not working in the shadows from some back street or boiler room office.
Having trust and confidence in any company you deal with is of paramount importance so maybe you can now see where we believe this technology is one more step in your research to make sure you are dealing with the good guys. Perhaps you should ask any company you are considering dealing with to give you a virtual tour of their set up. We think you may well be surprised at the lack of enthusiasm on their part.
Posted on: May 11, 2020
For more information regarding this article or assistance in any other timeshare related issues please contact the TCA on 0203 519 3808 or email: info@TimeshareConsumerAssociation.org.uk