Orlando, Florida – The timeshare industry is undergoing a seachange in the way it values timeshare owners’ weeks. In the past, according to Bryan Ten Broek of Interval International, inventory was at risk of staying static during down times.
But now, a points value is being introduced by many timeshare properties on a sliding scale. This means, for example, that owning a week in the Cayman Islands during December is worth two or more weeks at another location which may not be in high demand, or during shoulder season.
Therefore, owners are able to tailor holidays elsewhere to suit themselves by swapping their week with other timesharers who are keen to visit Cayman during high season.
This, said experts at the Shared Ownership Investment Conference at the Peabody, Orlando, gives owners flexibility of using their time to suit themselves or to enjoy new experiences. Points can also be used for add-ons such as water sports, entertainment and meals.
Lani Kane-Hanan, executive vice president, chief growth & inventory officer, Marriott Vacations Worldwide, said this meant the sales teams were being asked to change the way they sold therefore training was needed. *
“The next generation is looking for flexibility, but current owners loved what they had. We designed an overlay programme which did not oblige them to use points; owners can switch between weeks and points without risk. They can try it.
“It’s about owner education, making it affordable and adding value. This takes the fear out of it.”
Similarly, owners would pay maintenance fees depending on the points that they owned, which differed from the flat maintenance fee, which was not liked to the value of the weeks or the inventory, she said. This was another reason points-swapping was more flexible than week-based systems.
Equity of usage
Panellists at the seminar agreed, however, that different operational systems must communicate in order that point levels made sense across all the properties in the entire system of a developer or brand in order to ensure equitable use.
Mr. Ten Broek said that Interval International used the Travel Demand Index, which showed value data of every week and every location. This helped the company create seasonal bands of point value charts, which enabled timeshare clubs to interface with the system based on their specific needs.
Banking and borrowing points across years could also create special experiences for owners as the points system became effectively a form of currency used within the system.
“The key is [for the resort] to be able to pay for those [special experiences] by renting inventory that the owners have deposited,” Mr. Ten Broek said.