Timeshares Continue Strong Growth

New construction starts support the results of the American Resort Development Association’s (ARDA) research findings showing the timeshare industry to be one of the fastest growing. ARDA’s 2012 World Wide Shared Vacation Ownership Report showed North America topping the timeshare global list with the most properties—2500 resorts or 46 percent of the total market. Timeshare companies are actively involved in building and acquiring new additions to their properties.

Breckenridge Grand Vacations Peaking Again

Breckenridge Grand Vacations is breaking ground this summer on a new resort on its Peak 8 property. Reportedly being called the pinnacle resort within the community, the exclusive 75 residence resort boasts 28,000 sq. ft. of amenity space and 4500 sq. ft. of space for resort operations.

Welk Resorts Celebrates 50 years in the Business with Further Expansion

This year, Welk Resorts is celebrating its 50th anniversary. Supported by capital obtained by the completion of a $158.67 million securitization last December, Welk has plans for more development. In June, Welk completed their multimillion dollar renovation of the Welk Resort Branson. In December, the Northstar Lodge was officially opened as a Welk Resort. In the works for 2015 are 123 luxury units in Breckenridge, and by 2018, 164 units in Poipu, Kauai.

More New Construction Rumored

Silverleaf Resorts is building a new sales center and reportedly bringing in award-winning companies like Architectural Concepts to design a more contemporary look for their resorts. Rumor has it that Westgate Resorts is on the lookout for new sites to construct in Northern and Southern California.

Future Growth Predicted in New Global Markets

The World Wide Shared Vacation Ownership Report research indicated that timeshare’s future will include more growth in the global timeshare market (now nearing 2%). The research reports 5300 resorts in 108 countries supporting more than 1.1 million jobs and generating over $45 million in direct economic output in 2010. Findings also show that ownership is likely to expand to numerous countries, particularly Brazil, Russia, India and China.

Defending Timeshares… Owners Respond to Negative AARP Article

In response to a recent AARP article castigating timeshares, owners have shot back with letters in defense of timeshare ownership. Timeshare industry leaders issued a call to action to owners and industry professionals to respond to the article with letters to the editor of AARP magazine (see the original controversy right here) and respond they did! Here are some of the points made in the letters to AARP by those who know the benefits of timeshare first hand:

  • Cost-Effectiveness of Ownership
A big concern of owners about the AARP article by Alan Roth involves his statement calling timeshare one of the “worst investment and financial products.” Many owners responded that a timeshare purchase shouldn’t be expected to be an investment returned in monetary benefits, but as an investment returned in life-style benefits. Owners such as Sharon S. stated, “Many of us would not explore vacation opportunities, especially outside the U.S, without the security and financial assistance timesharing offers.” And from Fred M., “We didn’t buy our timeshares as a financial investment—we bought them so we could afford to enjoy life more instead!”
  • Better than a Hotel

In response to Roth’s comment that one would be better off getting a hotel room rather than a timeshare, owners Matthew and Elva W responded, “Try getting a hotel room right on the beach or in a choice vacation spot anywhere in the world for 6 people for $900 per week!” Sharon S. added, “Whereas hotels may charge $300 or more a night, a timeshare owner is guaranteed a week’s stay for the price of the maintenance fee.”
  • Home-away-from-Home Accommodations
Home-away-from-home accommodations was another major plus cited by owners. Many commented on the value of and the pleasure of having accommodations that offered the comforts of home. They listed such amenities as spacious rooms with additional living space, fully stocked kitchens where you can cook a meal and save on the expense of going out; plus, balcony views, access to outdoor space, pools, children’s areas, barbecues and recreational areas and activities. Owners also valued the ability to have access to units with two to three bedrooms and additional bathrooms for vacations with family and friends.
  • More Travel Opportunities through Exchanging and Points
Many owners wrote about the flexibility offered through points and exchanging--how exchanging offers them opportunities to travel more often, and to travel all over the world to destinations that would not be affordable without owning a timeshare. Owners shared that using points has given them enhanced travel value, and the flexibility to travel when they want. They expressed appreciation of exchange companies like Interval International and RCI who post reviews of all exchange resorts and give owners the assurance that the exchange resort is all that it is reported to be. 
  • Ability to Rent Out 
The added advantage of being able to rent out their week when they were unable to use it was a plus for many owners. It allowed them to vacation at times of the year that weren’t the peak of the tourist season, or at a time when an event was taking place that they wanted to be a part of. Renting out their timeshares through companies such as RedWeek can make it possible to make enough money to pay for the maintenance fees on their timeshare.
  • Alternatives to Resale
One of Mr. Roth’s negative comments concerned the difficulty of owners in selling a timeshare and actually recouping the money they paid for it. Owners countered with alternatives to selling. They mentioned that as well as renting out their timeshares, another alternative was gifting or bequeathing timeshares to family members. This allows them to leave a legacy and the assurance that the tradition of sharing quality time with family members is carried on. Owners Matthew and Elva W. summed it up very well, “True, timeshares are not a good investment for a quick return on your money, but it certainly enhances the vacation experience. If we were to walk away from our timeshares today, they would have been worth every penny we have invested.”
Letters are posted in the TST Newswire

Negative AARP Article Sparks Concern

A recent article in AARP Magazine lists timeshare as one of the “worst investment and financial products you can sink your money into.” The magazine’s April/May issue investment column featured “5 Bad Money Moves” by Allan Roth, and buying into timeshare was one of those five. With statements like, “These people are trained to get you to buy before you have time to do the math”, and “it’s a money pit of recurring fees”, Roth’s article disparages timeshare in more ways than one. Timeshare leaders are calling for all owners and industry professionals to respond to the article with a letter to the editor of the magazine.

Industry Leaders Respond

The article has already elicited several responses from the timeshare industry. ARDA president and CEO, Howard Nusbaum was one of the first to respond to the negativity with a letter to the magazine’s editor stressing the many positive aspects of timeshare.  Nussbaum explains in his letter that timeshare is not meant to be a real estate investment, but instead is an investment in quality time with family and friends, and the lasting benefits that come with vacationing on a regular basis. He also addresses concerns mentioned in the AARP article on timeshare resales and explains what the true financial commitments are. His letter closes with links to www.ardaroc.org/resales and www.vacationbetter.org for further examination.
Another organization responding to the AARP article is Timesharing Today. Publisher Shep Altshuler, has posted a request to owners and industry professionals urging them to use their collective voices to respond to the article. He asks all to “detail why this one-sided article is a disservice to those in the timeshare industry.”

Call to Action

If timeshares are ever going to shake the negative images of the industry, those of us in the industry must work to stop the negativity, and reach out to educate everyone to the many positive benefits of becoming a member of the timeshare family. We all know the wonderful benefits that can be gained, such as the home-away-from-home experience, the cost-effectiveness of a timeshare vacation, the positive health benefits of regular vacationing, and the unforgettable family vacation memories that will last a life-time. There’s also the advantage of having a comfortable place you can count on to vacation each year, and the opportunities to experience other travel destinations…the list goes on and on.

Don’t wait. Get out those positive responses. Send letters now to the editor at aarpmagazine@aarp.orgBut don’t stop there, respond anytime you see other negative articles, or hear others disparaging the industry. Let’s all work together to let everyone know what it is we love about our industry.

Big Data and Timeshare Marketing

By now you've probably heard the term big data used as one of marketing's hot buzz words, but do you know what it really means?  And more importantly, how is it used in timeshare marketing?

What’s the Big Deal?
The term big data has been around for the past few years, but it seems it's not so easy to define. In general, big data refers to the collection of all the data from digital and traditional sources within and outside a company. Some definitions like to confine big data to information gathered from digital sources, and it is that. But it can also include traditional data collection such as that derived from call centers and point-of-sale, product transaction information and financial records.

In short, big data is collecting all the voluminous amount of data that your company creates, and then analyzing it for information that can be used to determine repeatable business patterns that really work.  Never think of it as just about gathering large amounts of data, what’s even more important is how you use the data. Combining big data with high-powered analytics can help you to zero in on data that is most relevant, and then analyze it to determine the areas that matter the most to your business success.

How Big Data is Being Used in Timeshare Marketing
In a comprehensive 2013 report by Harvard visiting professor, Tom Davenport, At the Big Data Crossroads: Turning Towards a Smarter Travel Experience, he stated that "big-data could be one of the most influential initiatives for travel since the online reservations system." But Davenport, who has also written over a dozen books on business analytics, suggests that "for the most part with some exceptions, other industries are using data in smarter and more advantageous ways then the travel industry."

Wyndham Worldwide is one of those exceptions. Wyndham utilizes its more advanced data analytics from its exchange business in its U.K rentals, to set pricing across its European vacation-property rentals. The company uses what it calls "yield management" tools to adjust pricing based upon factors that include, past consumer practices, market peak, and timing.

Another company to get going with big data is MGM Resorts. Understanding the power of Facebook and its over 1 billion followers, plus utilizing Facebook’s many data gathering tools, helped MGM to refine and update their advertising strategy. They expect a return on their new advertising program of between 3 to 15 times greater.

Major airlines are using big data to customize new offers for each flier. With data gathered on passenger past purchases, airlines are personalizing the travel experience. Recent technology advances enable airlines to sell products directly to passengers at booking and at check-in, in reminder e-mails as trips approach and on mobile phones before boarding. 

Delta Airline's CEO, Richard Anderson says, "We have massive amounts of data, we know who are customers are and what their history on Delta has been." Using this type of data helps airlines personalize the flying experience.

Companies That Help

If you need help with the gathering and analyzing of your data, whether it's a little or a lot, there are full-service companies and software specifically designed to guide and direct you in the process. CustomerCount, TrackResults Software, Amadeus, and Katana Software are just a few involved in the business of big data.