Timeshare: Popular as 12-15% Growth Forecast for the Next Year

More good news as Gerson Lehman Group reports potential 12-15% growth likely over the coming year for the US timeshare industry

So, who’s happier? Timeshare owners or Lexus drivers? Both are a lifestyle choice and both are equally popular with consumers as three recent revealing surveys show.

An article in RCI Ventures newsletter (21 October 2010) http://www.rciventures.com/2010/10/timeshare-lexus-share-satisfaction-sp… reports that 84% of US timeshare owners recently told the independent US-based Gerson Lehman Group that they were happy with their timeshares and the figure is higher still in Europe, at 87%.

Although the shared ownership lifestyle originated in Switzerland when Hapimag introduced its first timeshare-style ownership product in the Alps, the concept subsequently caught on faster in the States. But Europe is catching up. There are currently over 1.5 million timeshare owners this side of “the pond”, where shared-ownership opportunities are more flexible, exciting and affordable than they have ever been. From a couple of weeks on the Costa del Sol to a fractional share of a five star ski lodge in Aspen, the world is shared ownership’s oyster and there are plenty of pearls to choose from.

In another recent survey, by the Christel DeHaan Tourism and Travel Research Institute at Nottingham University, commissioned by the Resort Development Organisation (www.rdo.org) 87% of European timeshare owners said they were satisfied. To put that in context, the 2010 J D Power & Associates/What Car? UK Vehicle Ownership Satisfaction Study revealed that 84.6% of Lexus owners loved their cars, making it the most popular model on sale in the UK. What’s more, almost 75% of the European owners surveyed said they felt their timeshare accommodation surpassed other self-catering holiday accommodation they had stayed in.

It’s no secret that the hotel sector and travel industry have been riding one of the roughest waves in recent years in the history of tourism. But London hotel prices are rebounding, reflecting higher demand; yacht sales are up again, highlighting a resurgence in the luxury sector; and timeshare has remained more buoyant than many might have predicted.

The Gerson Lehman Group report predicts overall growth in the US shared ownership sector may even hit 15% over the next year. This optimism was echoed earlier this month at the Resort Development Organisation’s “The Road Ahead” conference in Marbella, which “exceeded all expectations” according to industry executives who attended the two and a half day event. The conference addressed pivotal issues in the timeshare industry today, such as the need for greater transparency, the importance of social media, and how to effectively market timeshare to a young, new generation.

One reason timeshare has survived the economic storms is obvious: timeshare owners for the most part invest in their holidays for the long run, in advance, avoiding costly price hikes in the price of accommodation over the years.

Secondly, a number of surveys in the UK have shown that Britons, despite the doom and gloom (and probably because of Britain’s bad weather) are not willing to forego their time in the sun, preferring to cut back in other areas rather than holidays.

As the Gerson Lehman report points out, “Those who owned their timeshare already were able to use their previous purchase to minimise their vacation costs in this poor economy."

The RCI Ventures article highlights that all of this paints a picture of a thriving industry which makes a positive impact on local economies all over Europe. The timeshare industry overall generates a massive €3.2 billion of expenditure each year and employs some 70,000 staff.

In the article, Dave Thackeray writes, “Occupancy rates are high throughout the year (72%) in Europe’s 1,312 resorts – that’s 67 million bed nights – with owners spending an average of €1,588 per trip on goods and services in the local area: from restaurants, car rental and groceries to souvenirs and clothes."

As Thackeray notes, the British and Irish are the biggest timeshare fans with the average owner´s pre-tax household income standing at just over €60,000, average age mid-50s. The Spanish, French, Germans and Italians are also very familiar with the timeshare concept.

Spanish hotelier El Fuerte has just launched Fuerte Destinations (www.fuertedestinations.com/www.fuertedestinos.com), its own in-house vacation club. The holidays are being specifically marketed to Spanish owners as well as Britons, with half a dozen El Fuerte properties, all in Spain and mainly on the Costa del Sol and Costa de la Luz, in the hotel’s shared ownership programme.

Spain remains a huge favourite for timeshare owners, followed by places like Portugal and France, but newer markets like Turkey and Egypt have done particularly well this year. Egypt’s Sharm El Sheikh resort and Turkey´s lively beachfront destination Bodrum are now household names. No-frills airlines like Jet2.com and EasyJet are fuelling the popularity of these destinations where a warm climate and warm welcome are just part of the whole affordable luxury “package”.

Surprisingly, perhaps, one-third of owners buy a timeshare in their own country and the British are no exception. The resorts show off the UK’s most scenic locations such as the Cornish coastline, Scottish Highlands, Lake District and Wales, all of which top the list. One man who knows about selling Britains to the British is Robin Barrasford of fractional resort developers Barrasford & Bird www.bandbw.com. Although he markets resorts in Greece, France, Portugal, Albania, Bulgaria and the Caribbean, he’s had considerable success selling shares of Barrasford & Bird’s converted luxury barns in Cornwall, and more recently a brand new development, Westward Ho in Devon, to UK buyers.

It’s all good news and as we wait to see what the next couple of years hold, RDO Chairman Richard McIntosh sees the positive timeshare trend continuing.

“Timeshare is a concept that has truly come of age, with many thousands of happy owners across Europe,” he says. “The quality of timeshare resorts is high which is why many owners see it as superior to other self-catering holidays. With exchange options available, owners also enjoy the flexibility of being able to try out resorts across Europe and the rest of the world.”

Last but not least, McIntosh points out that timeshare has a positive impact on local economies. It’s becoming much more of a year-round industry with owners visiting in winter as well as summer and, as he explains, “spending money in the local community and providing jobs where they otherwise might not exist.”
Like fractional ownership which may prove to be one of the fastest-growing forms of holiday property ownership in the next decade, timeshare is an “eco” and economical way to own. Just this week the BBC Watchdog programme exposed another holiday club operating in Mijas Costa, near Marbella, operating a pyramid-style sales scheme. But with big hotel names like Wyndham, Marriott and Hilton flying the flag for vacation ownership, word of mouth recommendations accounting for a significant number of new sales, and more choice, products and destinations available within the shared ownership market than ever before, the next few years could bring good times for timeshare.

For more information on vacation ownership visit:

RCI www.rci.com
RCI Ventures Magazine www.rciventures.com

Interval International www.intervalworld.com

Resort Development Organisation www.rdo.org

The Resort Development Organisation (formerly OTE Aisbl) has been established to improve representation for reputable companies in the vacation ownership industry, whatever usage concept they are employing, be it timeshare, fractional interests, private residence clubs, condo hotels or destination clubs etc. all aimed at providing holiday makers with quality holiday accommodation through various concepts of use. RDO members lead the industry in their commitment to strong ethical standards with the aim of raising the standards of the industry as a whole, ensuring fair trading and satisfaction of owners.

TATOC www.tatoc.com

TATOC: Formed in 1989, it is the only elected consumer association representing the interests of timeshare owners in Europe, run by timeshare owners for timeshare owners.

FSOTA www.fsota.org

FSOTA (The Fractional & Shared Ownership Trade Association) actively promotes the development of the fractional and shared ownership industry in Europe and has created a business environment based on fair trading, professionalism and quality of products and services.
GoTimeshare Staff Reporting by Fiona Klonarides

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