Coronavirus exposes terminal flaws in the timeshare holiday model. Experts predict the end of the industry.
Promise of luxury
Timeshare used to be a premier way to holiday. You paid a lot of money to join and guaranteed yourself a certain amount of holidays every year, subject to an annual fee. The quality was superior to most regular package tour accommodation and you could exchange to other luxury resorts around the world.
Demand for timeshare memberships peaked in the late 1980s and early 1990s, as customers, fed up with being let down by substandard package tour accommodation not measuring up to the glossy brochure images shelled out for the promise of higher quality.
Outdated holiday system
In the decades since, the rest of the travel sector innovated and adapted whilst the timeshare model stagnated. In 2021 any holidaymaker can book into a timeshare resort without having paid thousands to join a club. The cost for a week’s accommodation in these no-longer-exclusive resorts is around the same as a member will pay in annual fees for the same week. This means that there is no longer any financial or quality advantage to being a timeshare member.
Younger consumers are understandably not joining timeshare clubs. Why should they? The industry’s new member sales have nosedived and even many older, existing owners are looking for ways to get out of their memberships.
For many timesharers the pandemic has highlighted another major shortfall of the system. “Financial commitment was actually sold as a benefit to people when they first signed up,” explains Jayne Niven, a timeshare consumer specialist with European Consumer Claims (ECC). “They were told : ‘this will force you to take that holiday with your family that you all deserve.’ We all like being given an excuse to indulge ourselves and it was an effective sales tool for the timeshare salespeople.
“COVID-19 has brought home the reality to owners. They are committed to paying annually whether they holiday or not. Being charged full fees in 2020 has stuck in people’s throats. Non-owners also can’t holiday this year, but unlike owners they won’t be made to pay any money. In the current climate people just don’t have cash spare to pay for services they don’t get.”
Escaping unwanted timeshare
“Getting out of a timeshare contract is usually not easy,” says Andrew Cooper, CEO of ECC, “because the new member sales for many resorts are nearly non existent, they are desperate to keep hold of members who are legally committed to paying annual fees. It’s in income source they can’t afford to lose.
“Anyone wanting to find out how to escape an unwanted timeshare contract can easily get free, expert advice from a reputable claims firm, or a timeshare consumer association.”
Article first posted on NewsDesk – 08/01/2021