Which ever way you look at it Timeshare was and still is one of the marketing geniuses of our time.
Way back in the early sixties a hotelier in the French Alps started marketing his hotel with the slogan “Why rent a room when you can own the hotel. It’s cheaper” and that was it the birth of a concept that rocked the holiday industry.
The concept was brilliant. Each buyer would own a share in the hotel (Shares were divided into weeks of accommodation throughout the year) each owner would contribute a yearly amount towards the maintenance of the hotel and hey presto there you had it, deeded fixed timeshare. The hotel was sold and the Hotelier had a guaranteed clientele with all his overheads and up keep paid in advance. The only downside was finding enough people who wanted to holiday in the same place every year.
A Swiss company called Hapimag took the concept a step further selling shares on a right to use basis as apposed to deeded ownership, but added the benefit of being able to use your week or weeks in their other resorts in Italy, Spain and Switzerland. Offering a more flexible product and giving the Hapimag members a choice of destinations.
Hapimag is still a successful company today, and has remained independent from the larger exchange companies.
Timeshare reached the United States around 1969 in a place called Kauai Kailani where it was sold on a 40-year leasehold basis and it is said the first points system was introduced here offering the members even greater flexibility.
The owners were still demanding more flexibility and more choice of destinations. In 1974 RCI (Resort Condominiums International) was formed and provide the missing link that the members were looking for. They could now bank their weeks with RCI and exchange them between different resorts dotted around the globe.
It was in the eighties that the timeshare concept really spread across Europe making a significant impression in Spain and Portugal and by the 1990’s there were some 2,357 timeshare developments worldwide with well over four million timeshare owners enjoying this still fairly new kind of holiday concept.
By now a firmly established, multi-billion dollar timeshare industry was attracting some of the bigger names in the leisure industry such as: Hilton, Sheraton, Disney World Resorts, Four Seasons, Hyatt and Radisson bringing with them the much needed credibility that timeshare was lacking in Europe.
Today, timeshares boasts over 5,400 resorts in more than 100 countries worldwide and is better organised and regulated with trade bodies such as ARDA (American Resort Development Association) and the OTE (Organisation for Timeshare in Europe) helping to protect the rights of potential purchasers and policing the use of high-pressure sales tactics.
So there you have it. A marketing genius that not only has stood the test of time but still remains one of the fastest growing sectors in the leisure and hospitality industry and as Butlins now joins in with their first timeshare development “Blueskies” based in Minehead, England who knows what or where the next development will be?