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A Brief History of Timeshare

Timeshare originated in Europe during the 1960's when the developer of a ski resort in the French Alps began marketing vacationers to "stop renting the room and buy the hotel - It's cheaper!"

Needless to say, his concept caught on, and within a few years timeshare properties could be found throughout Europe and in the United States. Early timeshare resorts were marketed as affordable alternatives to a owning a vacation home. In essence, a fractional ownership; where a family would return to the same property, at the same time, every year. Today these types of ownerships are commonly referred to as fixed weeks and/or fixed units. While this approach resulted in some success, the number of families who vacationed in this manner was very limited, and thus the market for timeshare relatively small.



In 1969 the American Resort Development Association (ARDA) was founded to promote the growth and development of the timeshare industry. Based in Washington, D.C., ARDA now has nearly 750 corporate members. Though not a regulatory agency, ARDA has been instrumental in raising consumer confidence in timeshare, and has established clear guidelines on many timeshare activities. ARDA members, including Bay Tree Solutions, have agreed to abide by the "Code of Ethics" which provides a comprehensive listing of "best practices."


Exchange Companies

Timeshare's popularity sky-rocketed during the 1970's with the advent of timeshare exchange companies. Resort Condominiums International (RCI) debuted in 1974, with Interval International (II) following in 1976. Now owners could opt to join an exchange company where, for an annual membership fee and exchange fee, their fixed week could be "deposited" and used during a different time period or at another resort. With the option of visiting a number of different properties, while maintaining ownership of one, timeshare could now be marketed to a much wider segment of vacationers, eliminating one of the larger obstacles for the developer.



Over time, as the number of timeshare owners grew, the exchange systems became crowded with many owners from many locations requesting the same, most popular, exchanges. While this remains an issue today, developers and exchange companies have come up with a number of solutions. By the dividing the year into "seasons" based on demand, developers could sell less expensive weeks to those who prefer to travel in off-season, and then those owners could exchange in off-season with relative ease. Conversely, peak-season weeks could be sold for more, and those owners would have priority when exchanging for peak-season elsewhere.


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