Timeshare in the Sixties
The decade of the sixties was a carefree time, with love and peace the watch words for the young generation. The growing popularity of package vacations pushed back the boundaries of foreign travel for millions in the western world.
Man landed on the moon and overseas vacations grew in popularity as commercial jets helped revolutionize the travel and tourism industry.
In the French Alps an enterprising hotelier began to market the world's first timeshare development with the slogan, "No need to rent the room, buy the hotel - it's cheaper!"
Timeshare in the Seventies
In the seventies, the fashion world reached new excesses for the young generation, with platform shoes and flares often being the order of the day. Cold war politics prevailed as the superpowers struggled for supremacy and the global economy was rocked by two oil crises. This latter development made travel expensive and forced a change in vacation habits.
In the United States, the concept of timeshare was launched, initially in Florida, before spreading to other vacation hot spots across the country. In 1974 the vacation exchange company RCI was established in Indianapolis, providing the missing link - flexibility - that consumers were looking for.
Timeshare in the Eighties
The 1980s were the boom years when entrepreneurs and major corporations made and lost fortunes. The personal computer revolutionized business and leisure habits.
More people took more vacations - and as more people saw the benefits of timeshare, the concept spread to Europe with spectacular success, notably in Spain and Portugal.
By 1990 there were 2,357 timeshare developments worldwide and well over four million owners savoring the delights of this still relatively new kind of vacation.
Timeshare in the Nineties
The timeshare industry continued to expand at a rapid rate throughout the 1990s, with new markets opening up in Asia and Eastern Europe and consolidation prevalent in the established markets of Western Europe and North America.
Firmly established as a key sector of the mainstream vacation market, the multi-billion dollar timeshare industry continued to attract both modest entrepreneurs and mighty corporations. Some of the world's biggest names in the hospitality and leisure sector realized the wisdom of pursuing timeshare interests -Hilton, Sheraton, Disney, Ramada, Four Seasons, Hyatt, Westin, Ritz-Carlton and Radisson became active industry participants in the 1990s.
By the turn of the century millions of timeshare owners, their families and friends, were firmly ensconced in the timeshare vacation lifestyle, making the timeshare industry a phenomenal success. Today, the global reach of timeshare resorts is nearly 5,400 resorts in more than 100 countries, from Spain to China, Mexico to South Africa, attracting leisure travelers who recognize the benefits of owing timeshare.
Timeshare owners come from over 270 countries but more of them live in the United States than anywhere else in the world - 45%! In fact the US has the lion's share of timeshare resorts - over 1,590. And that accounts for more than 29% of the total worldwide.
In the western world, timeshare is now a highly organized and regulated industry. Trade bodies such as the American Resort Development Association (ARDA) and the Organization for Timeshare in Europe (OTE) work to apply codes of conduct and ensure that expansion is based on sound commercial practice and ethical standards.
There is also considerable regional, national and international legislation in place which aims to help protect the rights of potential purchasers and discourage the use of high-pressure sales tactics.
The worldwide timeshare industry looks set to grow in popularity and log record sales in the months and years ahead. Social trends mean more people have more time and money to devote to travel and the concept of vacation ownership. In many parts of the world, regulation has given timeshare a firm footing, helping to reassure and protect purchasers with a series of consumer protection measures.
Since its inception, timeshare has undergone a metamorphosis, according to Timeshare: Coming of Age, an independent report published in October, 1999. With the advent of the points-based system, the original real estate concept has been transformed into "a flexible, pre-paid vacation membership concept, placing timeshare where it belongs - in the mainstream of travel, tourism, hospitality and leisure".
In 10 years time, who knows where the next development will be?
*Source Resort Condominiums International (R.C.I.) 2000