A Look Back at Timeshare 2015

The SVO-Interval merger was one of 2015's top
timeshare stories!
It's that time of year when we look back on all that has happened in timeshare. Thankfully, most of the news has been positive with good growth in the industry. Timeshare continues to evolve to meet the demands of technology and travel trends. We've worked hard to keep and gain owner/member loyalty through employee engagement, and we've done studies to guide us in all areas from sales to service. Here are five 2015 events meaningful to our industry: 

1. Mergers, Acquisitions, Spin Offs

Many of the top timeshare companies have been involved in consolidating this year, but Starwood surprised us with both a spin off and a merger. Starwood announced in June that they would spin off Starwood Vacation Ownership (SVO) and its 22 timeshare resorts into a stand-alone public company. The big spin off was official on October 28 when SVO was acquired by Interval Leisure Group. Five transferring properties were part of the transaction including Westins in Los Cabos, Cancun and Puerto Vallarta and Sheratons in Kauai and Steamboat Springs. 

Starwood continued to surprise us when in November, after rumors of a merger with Hyatt and possible bids from Chinese companies, they announced they were merging with Marriott. The $12.2 billion Marriott Starwood merger creates the world’s largest hotel company. 

2. Exciting New Technology for the Hospitality Industry

New technologies are being tested and many are already in operation in the hospitality industry. Innovators using "Living Labs", high-tech rooms that act as incubators for tech entrepreneurs to study future hospitality technology, are already changing the way we experience travel. Check-in made easy with your phone app or Apple watch, facial recognition software instead of a key card, wireless charging, ultra-high definition TVs, and more are just some of the ways technology is changing our lives.  The innovations may be driven by the tech-savvy millennials, but everyone benefits as customers of all ages look for ways to save time, increase comfort and experience new and exciting ways to vacation.

3. Developing Customer Loyalty

Making and keeping owners and members was top on everyone's list in 2015. According to a Gallop Study there is a strong correlation between highly engaged employees and customer loyalty. "Employees who are passionate about their job, often go above and beyond their responsibilities for the greater good of the company" said Karen Case, Vice President of Human Resources at Wyndham Vacation Ownership, a speaker at this year's ARDA Southeast Regional Meeting. Case also specified that employee engagement starts with leaders that are engaged. Engaged leadership = engaged employees = engaged owners and members.

4. Study Shows Vacation Ownership Leads

Studies done by industry leaders abound, but this year's first-of-its kind study on behalf of the National Timeshare Owners Association (NTOA) is unique. NOTA enlisted Intuition Brand Marketing to track, analyze and segment 500,000 online social conversations about timeshare, vacation ownership, and travel clubs. The use of SPSS predictive analytics software for statistical analysis of the relevant findings of the study, helped NTOA to make the following predictions for the future growth of the industry:

Key factors driving industry growth in global vacation ownership

  • Rising number of high net worth individuals and employed population
  • Demand for leisure and recreation
  • Increasing internet penetration
  • Improving global economic conditions
  • Increasing international tourism in the US

Noteworthy trends/developments in the industry

  • Enhanced buyer’s protection
  • Shifting profitability from hotel stays to timeshare buying
  • Growing popularity of eco-friendly timeshare resorts
  • Fast-paced recovery of respective industry in developed markets after recession

5. Travel Trends

American spending and buying is undergoing a profound change according to recent studies of consumerism in the U.S. Where a person travels is no longer a reflection of status, but a reflection of the person's values.  Travelers look for ways to connect with people and cultures, and often hope to make a contribution to society while traveling.
  • Multigenerational travel: Multigenerational travel is booming. Americans look at family travel as a way to strengthen the connection with those they care for, as well as an opportunity to celebrate and remember life’s special events. Timeshare is perfectly set-up for multigenerational travel as resorts typically have accommodations, facilities and activities set up to encourage the family connection.
  • Authentic travel: Authentic or experiential travel are terms currently used to describe an emerging trend in travel. Travelers want to get in touch with the local experience. They want a unique and authentic interaction with the people and culture that often includes volunteer or philanthropic visits.

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