The timeshare industry is coming out swinging this spring. While hotel rooms sit empty and luxury room rates sag, the industry is gaining new consumers who are looking to buy or rent vacation ownership products. In addition, resort developers are focusing on bringing more experiential travel to their properties, while also increasing their emphasis on community and social responsibility.
The Better Business Bureau is keeping tabs on the biggest complaints people have about timeshare sales, and one company has gotten in trouble for fraudulently promising financial relief to frustrated timeshare owners. “The bottom line is that consumers should do their research, and that includes not only the company selling or servicing a timeshare but the actual timeshare itself,” says BBB spokesperson Howard Bernas.
A 42-year-old man who controlled several telemarketing companies in Orange and Los Angeles counties was arrested and charged with wire fraud for defrauding hundreds of timeshare owners out of more than $3.5 million. The man allegedly used misleading and high-pressure sales tactics to sell timeshares at hotels and condominiums. He also falsely promised that he could get consumers out of their timeshares and that they would be able to cash in or sell them back to the resort. The victims were primarily elderly people, and the crimes took place between March and May this year.
According to the U.S. Treasury Department, members of the Jalisco New Generation drug cartel have been stealing money from Americans who are trying to sell their timeshares in Puerto Vallarta. The Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, or OFAC, has sanctioned Eduardo Pardo Espino, a fugitive who is wanted in the United States on drug-related charges, as well as six other people and 19 Mexican tourism or real estate companies. The sanctions freeze any assets they have in the United States and prevent U.S. citizens and companies from doing business with them.
The American Resort Development Association (ARDA) held its annual spring event May 1st-May 4th down at The Diplomat Beach Resort in Hollywood, Florida. Industry leaders from Wyndham, Marriott Vacation Club, Bluegreen Vacations and others gathered to discuss the state of the industry moving forward, with a focus on an experiential shift in travel.
Despite COVID-19-related travel restrictions, ARDA members reported record nationwide timeshare sales for 2019. This is due to rising consumer demand for larger accommodations and the prioritization of family vacations.
Another factor is the growing popularity of remote working, which allows more Americans to travel during peak vacation seasons while still allowing them to stay home and take advantage of lower off-season prices.
This trend will likely continue as more people look for a more flexible vacation option and a way to save money on their family getaways. In 2023, KOALA expects the number of Americans seeking to purchase or rent their vacation property will grow as more consumers realize that purchasing a timeshare is a great way to get access to high-quality resort destinations at a fraction of the cost.