The Concepts And History Of Timeshare
The vacation ownership (Timesharing) industry can be traced back to its
European origin in the 1960's. A ski resort in the French Alps know as
"Superdevoluy" is the first know vacation ownership program in the world.
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The multiple ownership of individual weeks brought with it the guarantee
of reservations for those who wanted to ski in the area. It was an
immediate success. By the 1970's some faltering condominium projects in
St. Thomas, Fort Lauderdale and Puerto Rico were converted over to
vacation ownership and thereafter timesharing became a viable vacation
Once the concept of vacation ownership was embraced by the United States
it began to gain wide acceptance by the public. Sales jumped to over 50
million by the mid 1970's and has climbed to more than 2 billion annually
today. Vacation ownership has enjoyed substantial growth over the years
with approximately 3.3 million timeshares sold since 1980. Currently
there are over 5,000 vacation ownership resorts in over 75 countries
around the world.
Exchanging a vacation ownership week in one resort for that of another
resort was introduced in 1974 and thereafter timesharing offered variety
and flexibility in the vacation experience. Although there are many
exchange companies available which provide excellent service, the two
major forces are Resort Condominiums International (RCI) which has
approximately 3,250 member resorts and Interval International (II) with
approximately 1,600 member resorts. Combined, these two companies
provided over 1,600,000 exchanges last year.
During a 30 year span, the industry has grown from small (15-20 unit )
hotel conversions to the high quality condominium resorts of today. The
evolution of the industry from scattered entrepreneurs to well managed
professional development companies has brought with it a noticeable
change for the better. Definitive leaders have emerged and created
standards and ethics for management, marketing and sales practices. One
such organization is the American Resort Development Association (ARDA)
who's members are required to comply with the established "Code of
Ethics." The recent entrance into the marketplace by major hospitality
chains such as Disney, Hilton, Ramada, and Marriott has greatly enhanced
the quality and image of the industry. Vacation ownership resorts of
today are luxurious, spacious and well located.
By the advent of these stronger and more professional development and
management companies along with the weeding out the less desirable
developers and marketers, the industry is experiencing a noticeable swing
from a historically negative to a very positive public image. One of the
industry's leading analysts (Ragatz and Associates) concluded that the
majority of timeshare owners are very satisfied with their purchase and
in fact, many own multiple weeks. The future of vacation ownership is
very optimistic and has tremendous potential.
What Is Vacation Ownership ?
Vacation Ownership "Timesharing" is the right to use specific weeks of a
resort during a specific time period. Simply put, it is the pre-purchase
of a vacation. It is important to understand that vacation ownership is a
commodity which is purchased to be enjoyed and used over the years. One
should never purchase a timeshare with the intent of reselling it for a
profit. Vacations are holidays for which we spend money to relax and
rejuvenate; they are not investments.
Ownership of a timeshare is very similar to ownership of a condominium
except that your rights are limited to a certain week during the year.
The form of ownership can be Deeded, Leased or a License.
The License is somewhat different in that it is most commonly a
membership in a club. Providing you are a member in good standing, you
have the right to use the club and all it's amenities. Be sure to read
and understand all the terms and conditions of your club membership
before you make the decision to buy. Most vacation ownership consists of
either a deeded interest or a leased interest for a specific number of
A Deeded interest is owned outright forever. It an absolute right which
can be sold, leased, or even willed to your heirs. Most timeshares which
exist today are deeded ownership.
The Leased interest is much like an apartment lease except right to use
it is restricted to a specific week during the year. Upon the expiration
of the lease term your right to use will generally terminate and return
to the resort. With a leased interest you should know the terms and
conditions of the lease prior to making the decision to buy.
The time of your use can be either Fixed or Floating. Fixed time is a
specific week during the year usually defined by a number. Generally the
week will begin on a Friday, Saturday or Sunday and is given a number
starting with the first week in January an run through the end of
December. (Example - week 14 might be April 7 through April 13.)
Floating time means you have the right to select any available week
within a certain season of the year. Therefore, if you own a summer
season week you could pick any week which falls within the
defined summer months. However, competition between existing owners for
prime weeks in very desirable location can impact availability. It is
important to find which type of use best fits your specific travel needs.
Each resort is different and you should ask if there are other benefits
which are available to its owners. Many resorts offer special reduced
rental rates for extra nights or us of other resorts which are owned by
the developer. This can add to you flexibility and provide substantial
saving on vacation costs. Additionally, consider carefully how and where
you normally vacation. This is very important in making your decision
about where you should buy and what you will be trading.
Important Facts About Vacation Ownership
- Timeshare is one of the fastest growing areas of the travel and tourism
- Timeshare owners live in more than 200 countries around the world.
- Major brands now involved in timeshare internationally include Hilton,
Hyatt, Four Seasons, Sheraton, Ramada and De Vere.
- On a worldwide basis, more than 12 million people took a timeshare
vacation in 1999
- There are around 5,500 timeshare resorts throughout the world in more
than 90 countries.
- The industry is worth in excess of $6 billion annually. The top 10
timeshare companies alone reported combined sales in excess of $2.64
billion in 1999.
- During 1999 each of the top 10 performing timeshare companies worldwide
recorded sales in excess of $100 million.
- RCI, the world's leading timeshare exchange organization, arranged
vacations for seven million people worldwide in 2000, making it one of
the world's largest travel companies.
Timeshare Today And In The Future
The modern timeshare industry continues to expand at a rapid rate, with
new markets opening up in Asia and Eastern Europe and consolidation
prevalent in the established markets of Western Europe and North America.
Firmly established as a key sector of the mainstream vacation market, the
multi-billion dollar timeshare industry now embraces modest entrepreneurs
and mighty corporations. Its global reach with close to 6,000 resorts in
more than 90 countries extends from Spain to China, Mexico to South
Some of the world's biggest names in the hospitality and leisure sector
now have timeshare interests - Hilton, Sheraton, Disney, Ramada, Four
Seasons, Hyatt, Westin, Ritz-Carlton and Radisson. At the same time, the
list of well-known European companies with timeshare interests continues
to grow - RIU Hotels (50% owned by TUI - Touristik Union International,
Europe's largest tour operator), Sol Melia, De Vere, Macdonald Hotels in
partnership with Barratts (the UK's Number One house builder), Mondi
Ferienclub in Germany.
Quality developments around the world are enjoyed by millions of owners,
their families and friends, making the phenomenon of timeshare a success
story without equal. In 1999 over 12 million people took a timeshare
Timeshare owners come from over 190 countries but more of them live in
the United States than anywhere else in the world - 47%! In fact the US
has the lion's share of timeshare resorts - over 1,500. And that accounts
for more than 37% of the total worldwide. In the western world, timeshare
is now a highly organized and regulated industry. Trade bodies such as
the American Resort Development Association (ARDA) and the Organisation
for Timeshare in Europe (OTE) work to apply codes of conduct and ensure
that expansion is based on sound commercial practice and ethical
There is also considerable regional, national and international
legislation in place which aims to help protect the rights of potential
purchasers and discourage the use of high-pressure sales tactics.
Timeshare in the future The worldwide timeshare industry looks set to
grow in popularity and log record sales in the months and years ahead.
Social trends mean more people have more time and money to devote to
travel and the concept of vacation ownership. In many parts of the world,
regulation has given timeshare a firm footing, helping to reassure and
protect purchasers with a series of consumer protection measures.
Since its inception, timeshare has undergone a metamorphosis, according
to Timeshare: Coming of Age, an independent report published in October,
1999. With the advent of the points-based system, the original real
estate concept has been transformed into "a flexible, pre-paid vacation
membership concept, placing timeshare where it belongs - in the
mainstream of travel, tourism, hospitality and leisure".
In 10 years time who knows where the next development will be?