Timeshares were all the rage in the later part of the last century. Timeshare companies were making money hand over fist offering a way for regular people to own a place where they could vacation every year or trade with others if they wished to go somewhere else. Now, with people losing their jobs and homes, the bloom is off the rose of timeshare ownership. What are the problems and can people still get good deals for vacationing?
Owning a timeshare is a financial commitment. You are basically buying a townhouse for a week or two and are responsible for maintenance, insurance, taxes, and upkeep in addition to the mortgage you took to finance the purchase. This is great when the economy is good, but you can see a lot of timeshares for sale right now because it is a financial liability that people can’t carry around in hard times. Trying to get rid of one in a saturated market means you will not be able to get what you paid for it, so you are still carrying debt even if you manage to find a buyer.
Using a timeshare is restrictive. You are only able to buy whatever week is available so you are limited to taking your vacation during that time every year, you have the same unit every year unless you pay extra to switch locations with another owner and you are limited to the resorts that have sharing agreements with your timeshare group.
What are the alternatives for someone looking to get a great vacation experience and not be saddled with a mortgage? A new industry in travel has grown in the last few years- travel and vacation clubs. These companies offer the same benefits in travel as warehouse shopping clubs like Sam’s and Costco do for retail items. By buying vacations in bulk and negotiating on behalf of the member, these clubs are able to offer lower prices than can be found online using the normal travel booking sites. They can also offer more value for their members because they aren’t restricted to select resorts and hotels. At one company, there are many perks to membership:
-Access to Price Comparison Service (based on policy)
-Exclusive Access to Preferred last-minute deals
-$200,000 airline accident insurance per ticket (based on policy)
-30 minutes of toll-free concierge service for each travel booking
-Service fees waived on online airline ticket purchases
-Bargains on travel to your favorite destinations
-Specials customized to your preferences
-Latest News on travel industry updates and alerts
-Save your travel preferences and searches
-Record frequent flyer / rewards accounts
-Free Travel alert / flight change notification
-Secure, Password protected profile page
They also offer a packages that are hassle-free vacations where the reservations and planning are done for you- just sign up and show up! The trips are deeply discounted because they buy it in bulk, saving hundreds and sometimes thousands of dollars for trips to exotic places and events.
Another package available is the ability to become a representative and/or Leisure Travel Consultant (LTC). These options allow you to receive commissions when you bring people into the club or book travel through your online booking site. If you love to travel, why not get paid for it! You get training and support to help you grow your online travel business. They also have group health and dental plans available to you as a representative, so vacation clubs can be more than just vacations.
With this new industry coming online, I see the decline in timeshare ownership as a continuing trend. People are looking for ways to save money and almost everyone does their travel shopping online- the vacation club is the logical evolution in travel. As the economy recovers, this industry’s growth will explode, so people who are interested in benefiting from the coming boom would be smart to join now.