|Kauai Kailani, the U.S.'s first timeshare.|
With all the attention given to home sharing services such as Airbnb, HomeAway, and others, one would think they had originated the concept of the sharing economy. The truth is timeshare started it all.
Timesharing began in the mid-sixties in Europe with a French ski resort. It offered the new concept of selling units for vacationing and used the slogan, "No need to rent the room; buy the hotel, it's cheaper." The first timeshare in the U.S., Kauai Kailani, began selling units in 1969. As timeshare grew in popularity, the concept of timeshare exchange was added. In 1974, RCI led the way by helping owners trade their week at their resort for a week at another resort. In the early 2000's, online timeshare rental companies such as RedWeek (now the largest online site), provided another benefit to owners, a safe and easy way to rent their timeshare. Timeshare revolutionized vacationing by giving vacationers more flexibility and control over the way they vacationed.
Sharing Services Risky Business?
Though companies like Airbnb and Homeaway have many fans, there has been criticism about these companies. The risk of booking through peer-to-peer listings, the lack of regulation and guarantees on what the host is like, or whether the properties meet safety requirements are a few of the issues.
Recently, San Francisco's Board of Supervisors hit the home-sharing industry with a new bill requiring home-sharing services to remove listing for units that are not registered with the city's Office of Short-Term Rentals. The bill allows the city to fine sharing services not registered with the city, up to $1000 per listing. A study from financial services firm, Canaccord Genuity, says other cities are likely to follow San Francisco’s example resulting in a significant reduction of listings for these companies.
Timeshare Offers More
Though timeshare and sharing services both share some of the same concepts such as a variety and diversity of destinations and residence types, there are advantages that only timeshare offers. A big one is knowing what you are getting - the consistency of brand product, brand experience, and level of service that well-known timeshare companies such as Westin, Hilton and Marriott can be counted on to deliver.
Timeshare resorts are owned and run by professionals, they have strict standards for accommodations and traveler experiences. They follow safety regulations and tax laws. Home sharing services may not even be aware of these practices and many sharers have no experience in the hospitality industry.
Another advantage of timesharing is the family orientation. Children who have grown up with a positive relationship of timeshare often carry on the legacy.
Potential Distribution Channel for Timeshare Industry
One professional who sees a positive alignment of timeshare and sharing economy alternatives is ARDA President and CEO, Howard Nusbaum. He sees them as potential distribution channels when listings comply with timeshare standards.
In a recent article in Hotel Management, he was quoted, "Homeaway and Expedia are members of ARDA. We have a program through VacayStay Connect where timeshare resorts can list their product on those sites and harmonize it with them, and I think we offer a better environment because you're not seeing somebody's family pictures, you don't feel like you're invading somebody's privacy, you don't have to worry about cleanliness, or health, or safety, and you still get that condo environment."
For more information, please visit www.hotelmanagement.net.