Timeshares, an idea that is something people are aware of but highly misunderstood. Because of events within the last 20 to 30 years most people know about timeshares to one degree or another. But it seems the general opinion on what is meant by “timeshare” is often wrong, anything from being synonymous with “pyramid selling” to the extreme of being called a “scam” all the way to to “owning property” and “investing in real estate”. Like most misconceptions there is in one form or another, a kernel of truth in there somewhere, although none of these statements are entirely accurate, least of all a reasonable representation of what a timeshare actually is.
Timeshare sees its origins in Europe in the 1960s, between France and Switzerland. In France the Societe des Grands Travaux de Marseille, the mangers of SuperDevoluy implemented the phrase “No need to rent the room; buy the hotel, it’s cheaper!” Likewise Hapimag a Swiss company formed in the early 60s and started buying resort properties across Europe and sold a form of timeshare membership in the form as a a right-to-use basis rather than selling deeds on the ownership. Both of these companies were canny in seeing the potential in offering high quality holiday property to those who could not afford to pay it by typical ways.
The US followed next in the late 60s, early 70s the US states of Hawaii and later Florida adopted the timeshare model. By the early 70s it became clear that the timeshare method was growing very popular and as such the businesses concerned in buying timeshares and selling timeshares begin to pop up everywhere. The amount of resorts employing this method grew steadily and the first points programme was initiated by Vacation Internationale shortly after. Of course the term “timeshare” originated within computing and was used prior to its uptake in holiday ownership. Conversely, it was not until the mid 70s did the phrase “timeshare” actually start being used by the industry, with Innisfree Companies of California opting to market it in this way, in the selling shares of vacation time.
The whole idea of timeshares was not the ownership of property, but rather of time – in particular, time in a specific holiday destination. A famous analogy which has been pinned to different people in the past is something to the effect of “you would not by a whole cake, whilst it may look lovely, it would be too big for you and you would simply not be able to benefit from it all before it spoilt. You would however buy a piece of the cake and enjoy your share without excess cost or chance of it being spoilt”.
The next major step in timeshare usa sales was the coming of the RCI. Resort Condominiums International (RCI) was founded in 1974 as a solution to owners who considered the initial fixed-week method of buying timeshare too limiting. The idea, a potentially daunting one logistically speaking, was that RCI would provide an exchange method that would enable timeshare owners hand in their week and get another one located in a different resort. Over time RCI became affiliated with more resorts it provided a international points system to fit hand-in-hand with its exchange program in order to give the most flexibility possible.
James Howson is a timeshare and vacation expert with over a decade of experience reviewing top resorts. He has owned several timeshare properts and frequently offers expert advice to those looking to buy timeshare.