This is the time of year when families and friends gather around dining room tables to laugh about old memories, compete over the wishbone, consciously avoid talking about hot-button issues, and, of course, share what they’re all thankful for from the year before.
On Thanksgiving night, while going around the table, how many people are going to say that they’re thankful for their timeshare interest – and how many will say that they’ve been saddled with a real turkey?
It’s an interesting question, well worth digging into – particularly at the end of the year, when timeshare owners and resort developers alike will be looking toward an increasingly uncertain future.
So, what do timeshare owners actually have to say about their obligations?
Let’s look at some compelling statistics, courtesy of the AIF Owner’s Study 2016:
- Among all timeshare owners, including those who have bought resales, 47% would definitely recommend ownership; 25% might not or definitely would not recommend owning a timeshare
- More than three-quarters of all owners (76%) express feeling some kind of buyer’s remorse over their timeshare
- Among timeshare owners who want to “exit” or “sell” their commitments, maintenance fees are the biggest factor driving people away. Of those planning to sell, 50% “no longer want to pay the maintenance fees” and 30% “can no longer afford the maintenance fees;” 46% of timeshare owners who are seeking an exit cite high maintenance fees as their “most important” reason.
- Booking issues also contribute to broad owner dissatisfaction; 16% cite issues with booking a specific time or destination as a primary reason for wanting to exit their timeshare obligation
For more relevant research, we would also refer readers to the findings of one Dr. Amy Gregory, an assistant professor at the University of Central Florida Rosen College of Hospitality Management, whose work focuses on “Vacation Ownership, Revenue Management, and Conjoint Analysis,” according to her website.
- The average rescission rate for timeshares is 15% – which, Weir notes, “is identical, ironically, to the daily average percentage of people who buy a timeshare after a sales presentation”
- 85% of all buyers regret their purchase, citing “money, fear, confusion, intimidation, distrust,” and other reasons
- 41% of buyers never thought they would regret their purchase, but ended up doing so; 30% were neutral prior to buying, but came to regret their decision in time
- 95% of all buyers go back to their resort and sales team for more information after the sale, usually within one to three days
- Reservation issues are not relevant to a rescission decision, but, Weir notes, do “seem to spike anxiety and regret for many timeshare owners down the road”
So, before the tryptophan overtakes our readership, what can we take away from all of this data?
One thing to consider is that there is a large group of timeshare owners out there who are, at the end of the day, quite happy with the real value created by the legitimate timeshare product, and who plan to continue to invest in more points and other opportunities moving forward. There is a reason that resort developers continue to boast record-breaking growth every year, after all.
On the other hand, consumer dissatisfaction is notably high, and those who take issue with many industry practices that are perceived to be unfriendly to owners – such as the continual rise of annual maintenance fees and the suppression of the resale market – are a vocal group. Looking forward, this large group of dissatisfied consumers and their advocates are only going to continue to rail against resort developers until significant, industry-wide changes are implemented.
Couple this with the fact that existing the existing base of timeshare owners – on whose backs the industry reaps much of its profits – is overwhelmingly on the older side, and one begins to get a sense of the writing that may be on the wall for the major resort developers and their actors.
To put it bluntly? Failing to improve its practices for younger, more diverse audiences could well lead to the industry “eating its young,” stalling its capacity for future growth.
On the other hand, adopting more cost-effective, consumer-friendly practices could well allow the shared vacation ownership industry to broaden its reach and improve its overall rates of customer satisfaction – an outcome for which everyone would be thankful!
Led by Attorney Michael D. Finn with 50 years of experience, the Finn Law Group is a consumer protection firm specializing in timeshare law. Our lawyers understand vacation ownership as well as the many pitfalls of the secondary market of timeshare resales. If you feel you have been victimized by a timeshare company, contact our offices for a free consultation. Know your rights as a consumer and don’t hesitate to drop us a line with any questions or concerns.