The timeshare industry is over 30 years old, and generates revenues of over $9.4bn per annum. Today, there are 6.7 million timeshare owners worldwide, of which over one and a half million reside in Europe alone. Yet few realise the extent of timeshare’s contribution to the economies of Europe and to providing all year round tourism and employment.
The modern timeshare concept provides holidaymakers with a unique combination of consistency and choice. Consistency, in that holidaymakers can purchase the rights to their preferred holiday venue into the future. Choice, in that these rights can be exchanged, through dedicated international exchange companies, for other high-quality holiday venues world-wide, or through the advent of points based timeshare clubs which offer flexibility.
The Timeshare Industry
The timeshare concept began in Europe in the 1960s as an innovative way for increasing holiday choice. Instead of booking a week or two at a resort every year, or purchasing a holiday property outright, timeshare offers holidaymakers the ability to buy rights of occupancy in a property, typically in multiples of one week, for either a set period or in perpetuity. It puts a holiday home within the reach of millions who could never afford to buy aproperty.
Once consumers have purchased their holiday time, they can either use it, pass it to friends or relatives, or rent it out. But while there is total flexibility over who uses the holiday tile, the basis timeshare product lacked the flexibility of when and where it had to be taken. Consumers’ demand for greater flexibility led to the growth of exchange systems and, more recently, point systems. These allow the owner to exchange his timeshare week for either another week at the same resort or for a week in another resort within the exchange network in over 5,400 resorts in over 90 countries. Exchange companies often provide their members with associated services – flights, car rental, insurance etc – at competitive prices.
The popularity of exchange has led to a new flexible product, often called vacation clubs, where consumers buy points instead of a slot in a particular resort. These points then act as a holiday currency. Each time the consumer wants to take a holiday, they choose the size of apartment, duration and location they want and pay accordingly from their allocation of points.