The timeshare industry has a bit of an image problem. It used to be that visitors to vacation hotspots in Southern Europe couldn’t walk along the beach without being hassled by aggressive salespeople trying to sell them timeshares. That has largely changed now that the industry is maturing. While the timeshare industry’s recent recovery from the pandemic has been slower than expected, experts believe that it will continue to grow.
The industry’s annual sales and occupancy rates show that it is doing well. In addition, the timeshare industry has also contributed significantly to local economies through tourist spending at restaurants and attractions, and in jobs created by timeshare owners. In fact, the timeshare industry has become an economic catalyst in communities around its resorts and across the nation.
In order to maintain its momentum, the industry is constantly adjusting to meet consumer demand. Increasingly, consumers are opting for the flexibility that comes with buying points instead of a fixed timeshare unit. Timeshares that are bought as a point system are usable at any participating resort. This allows the owner to choose their location and vacation length while still enjoying all the benefits that come with owning a timeshare.
According to an independent survey conducted by HVS Shared Ownership Services, the majority of timeshare companies expect their business to return to pre-pandemic levels by 2022. This is a positive sign that the industry is recovering nicely and that the outlook for its future is optimistic.
As with most industries, some bad actors have taken advantage of the situation by using predatory sales tactics. These include targeting consumers when they are already on vacation and attempting to wear them down during lengthy sales presentations by offering incentives like free vacations. In many cases, these presentations don’t allow consumers the opportunity to review their contracts before or after attending. This is an unacceptable practice, especially since the timeshares sold by these unscrupulous marketers are often an unpredictable lifetime financial obligation.
In an effort to protect consumers, ARDA has been working to improve the quality of information that is available to them. It has partnered with the BBB to educate consumers about what they should look for when buying a timeshare and to provide tips on how to avoid predatory sales tactics.
The BBB has received 20,118 complaints about timeshares over the last three years. The most common reasons for these complaints involve difficulty getting out of a timeshare contract. Some of these situations are the result of unreliable salespeople and a lack of disclosure by the company. This is a major issue because if consumers had known that the timeshare they were purchasing could be cancelled in the event of an emergency, they might not have entered into the agreement impulsively.
While the timeshare industry continues to evolve, consumers should continue to be wary of unscrupulous salespeople and make sure they read their contract thoroughly. They should also keep in mind that a timeshare is a lifetime purchase and be sure to compare options before making any final decisions.