By: Peter Roth
Vice President for Marketing, Commuications & Industry Relations
American Resort Development Association
To those of us that work in the timeshare industry, defining the value of vacation products is a key to every aspect of our business. From the sales teams who present prospective buyers with the vacation experience, to the customer teams at developer companies who provide owner benefits programs, the value of vacation ownership is continually assessed, evaluated and enhanced during the lifecycle of ownership. And, like most industries, research is constantly conducted to not only gain insight about our owner base but also to identify trends for future market segmentation.
Based on this research and the changes our industry has seen over the years, we are always refining the best way to make the case for the value of timeshare to owners and potential owners. From an industry communications perspective, we have utilized the data from ARDA’s International Foundation (AIF) studies and found that there are three value propositions that owners point to as reasons for owning and that people consider when buying.
Utilizing your vacation dollars better
The first, the value of vacationing is about the benefits that come from taking a vacation and the ways in which timeshare enables you to utilize your vacation dollars better. When you factor in the amount you spend on vacationing over time, there is a cost benefit to a timeshare product for owners who use it regularly. And according to a Consumer Reports article, a timeshare vacation does cost less over time than booking a traditional hotel room.
A simple cost comparison without factoring inflation demonstrates the savings that come with (REC) owning a timeshare. If a hotel room costs $200 per night, a family of four could spend $2,800 (cost of two hotel rooms) for one week. Over 18 years of vacations, that adds up to $50,400. The average cost of a timeshare product is $22,240 USD, plus annual maintenance fees (on average, the annual maintenance fee for a two-bedroom unit is $960 USD ). Over 18 years, the total cost is $39,520 USD . That equates to a saving of $10,880 USD . Because timeshare owners use their vacation ownership regularly, they place value on this cost saving.
The value isn’t just monetary. Studies have found that vacations lead to better health, better productivity on the job, better relationships, and improved overall wellness. Less stress correlates to a happier, healthier lifestyle and regular time off is an essential ingredient.
While you can’t necessarily place a tangible monetary value on something that provides emotional and mental benefits, one study put a dollar figure on what it costs U.S. companies when employees don’t take their paid time off. An Oxford Economics analysis found $224 billion in liabilities on American companies’ balance sheets due to unused vacation time due to years of rolling over employees’ unused time.
Whether you value the lasting benefits or enjoy the memories created during vacations, any timeshare owner will tell you that regular vacationing does provide value.
Accessing more FLEXIBLE vacation options
The second value proposition is the value of options – both in product and destination. Owners’ vacation preferences have changed over the years, and that has helped cultivate the demand for a more flexible product - a product that enables owners to vacation how they want, when they want and where they want. Today, nearly 70 percent of owners have some form of points-based product enabling them to choose different times of year to vacation, use points for an additional stay, or vacation at more in-demand times.
Additionally, owners have the option to access their exchange affiliate to vacation at different destinations and at resorts with a variety of amenities. More and more travelers today are looking for ways to enhance their vacation experience, and the variety of product options, resort amenities and accommodations in timeshare properties are attracting new owners.
Enjoying more space for more people
The third proposition, the value of space and spaces, is about having the space for everyone to actually relax and the privacy to enjoy individual or group time while on vacation. This is one of the most tangible values of the product, because timeshare owners often say that the spacious accommodations in a typical timeshare unit make for a more relaxing vacation for everyone. Even a one-bedroom unit is considerably larger than an average hotel room, and two-bedroom units are the most common configuration - making up 64 percent of units.
The extra space of timeshare often means family members have their own room(s), a separate room to watch TV together, and a kitchen to save on dining out or for easing the stress of coordinating meal schedules. As the demographic of new owners shifts to younger families, the attractiveness of “space and spaces for everyone” means parents get alone time while kids have room to be kids.
Each year, industry research will measure owner sentiment on how they value their timeshare products. Those research findings are incorporated into all industry communications and across multiple channels including ARDA’s consumer website VacationBetter.org, in social posts and ARDA Insights blog posts, and in media interviews.
All data cited was from the ARDA International Foundation’s State of the Vacation Timeshare Industry: United States Study 2016 Edition.
Industry Insights blog publishes opinions of many knowledgeable individuals. These opinions are not a substitute for legal, accounting or other professional advice. The views and conclusions expressed in the Industry Insights blog are those of the author and not necessarily those of RCI or its parents or affiliates. The information contained in the Industry Insights blog has been obtained from sources which RCI believes to be correct. However, no legal liability can be accepted for any errors.