We are pleased to bring you The Travel
Column, written fortnightly for "The Trinidad Guardian"
TIMESHARE IS GOOD NEWS!
The timeshare industry is booming,
according to Resort Condominiums International (RCI), the world’s leading
global provider of timeshare products and services. Within the US, sales
volumes are up nearly 17% per year since 1995, and global sales climb 9%
annually. Timesharing may well be the fastest-growing segment of the
global travel and tourism industry. It’s is an excellent way of enjoying
quality holidays, as more than three million families around the world can
testify, but there are still too many traps and pitfalls for the unwary,
and these can turn the prospective dream into a nightmare. Timeshare is
good news, and with care at the buying stage, it’s a most satisfactory way
What is Timeshare?
Timeshare is the right to spend a
holiday in your "own" villa or apartment for a week for a given number of
years. You may be able to swap holiday destinations and times with other
people into timeshare resorts worldwide, and with over 5,300 from which to
choose, it a pretty good way to see the world. Your period of "ownership"
can be just a few years, or it can be for perpetuity, depending on the law
of the country. Almost all timeshares are self-catering, and the weeks can
usually be resold, gifted or passed on to your children, or anyone else.
Most timeshare owners join an exchange organization (such as RCI) for a
fee, allowing them to go to another resort, anywhere in the world, in
exchange for their week. And, owners can rent out their week or take up a
rental of a week at another resort. Owners also pay a Management Fee to
maintain the apartment and facilities, and they generally treat "their"
apartment with much greater care than a renter might, so furniture and
fittings are to a higher standard than is usually found in other
Timeshare comes in many shapes and
sizes; the purchase of a fixed week at a specific resort still remains the
most common, but there are many variations such as floating weeks,
floating resorts, and points clubs. Timeshare gets called a lot of other
names as well; Vacation Share, Holiday Share, Multi-ownership, but they
all mean exactly the same thing.
For many, the purchase of a timeshare is
the nearest that they will get to owning a country cottage or a
Mediterranean villa, but without the attendant problems of security,
cleaning, etc. Meeting the same friends each year; knowing that the
leisure facilities and accommodation are kept in good condition; not
having to worry about finding your way there, etc. Others see it as a way
of seeing the world – using an exchange organization – in the knowledge
that the foreign resort will be to a similar standard to their own resort.
Hard Sell, Soft Sell.
Many of you who have vacationed may be
very familiar with the ‘freebies’ offered by a timeshare resort; either a
lunch, dinner, extra hotel night, island tours etc. in exchange for an
appointment to view the resort. Timeshare is a complex subject and a
reasonable length of time is needed to understand the resort, and the
exchange system. So whether it’s a "hard" or "soft" cell, if you’re
interested, expect a presentation of at least one hour. Your tout may have
promised "only 90 minutes" and 4 hours later you could still be locked
into a "hard" sell, with someone trying to bully you into saying yes to a
purchase. "The last week left" or "prices go up tomorrow" or even
"everyone else buys, what’s wrong with you, can’t you afford it?" are
popular techniques. 19 people walk away for every 1 purchase, so this hard
sell incurs enormous marketing costs, resulting in a highly inflated
purchase price offer. The "soft" cell is much more cost-effective and
respectful of buyers. Reputable developers do not need to rely on scams to
persuade people to buy, the product will sell itself and the price will be
clearly reasonable. A presentation is still needed to explain the
timeshare process, but no one is pressured into buying. The sales pitch
will be more like "if you want to go away and think about it, that’s
alright; just call when you have made up your mind".
New scams are being invented every day,
so if you’re really interested in purchasing timeshare be sure to visit a
www.timeshare.org.uk. There’s a wealth of information here, offering
guidance for the first time buyers and also for existing owners who are
not entirely immune from the cheats. You’ll find everything from a list of
current scams, a detailed explanation of the exchange system, to hidden