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The History of Timeshares: Part 2

As we saw in the history part 1, the timeshare concept was immediately profitable, and it rapidly increased in popularity. So rapid that it very nearly became a victim of its own success. The timeshare industry attracted many people who saw it as an opportunity for quick and easy money. The proliferation of scams and bad faith deals meant that people increasingly viewed the concept of a timeshare with suspicion. If the product were to remain viable, it would need bold action from both inside and outside the industry.

The Industry Attempts to Regulate Itself

Almost from the very beginning, the innovators of the timeshare concept in the U.S. realized they would need an organization to both advocate for their rights and police the people giving timeshares a bad name. They therefore established the American Land Development Association (ALDA) in 1969. (In 1989, this would become the American Resort Development Association, ARDA.)

ALDA sought to rein in the crooked developers who were giving timeshares a bad name. They hoped to do this by improving the information buyers had about timeshare properties. This would help people make an informed decision about the timeshares they were buying, and as a result it would allow market mechanisms to take care of the bad actors as people stopped buying bad properties. At the same time, they hoped to increase flexibility for timeshare owners.

The solution ALDA encouraged was Resort Condominiums International (RCI), founded in 1974. RCI served as both the first objective ratings system for timeshare properties and the first exchange for timeshare owners. Similar to the banked timeshare weeks concept, it allowed people to swap their timeshare weeks with other owners, letting them take vacations in different places and at different times. RCI increased the reputation and value of timeshares, but many felt it was not enough to protect buyers from potential scams in the industry.

Increasing Advocacy for Share Owners

Even as the industry sought to regulate itself, problems persisted. In response to the numerous complaints from timeshare owners, states began to adopt regulations to protect timeshare buyers.

ALDA developed its own version of industry regulation in 1979. This package of laws was designed by industry insiders and tips the scale powerfully in favor of developers. Nonetheless, it does provide a legal framework for timeshare owners to seek redress if they are wronged by a developer. Several states, such as Nebraska, adopted this industry-crafted legislation.

However, other states sought to give more protection to consumers. For example, Florida’s 1983 law included a provision for a mandatory cooling-off period. This meant that buyers of a timeshare could change their minds within 14 days and still get a full refund on their investment. By the mid-80s, 16 states had adopted some form of regulation on timeshares.

By better defining the legal responsibilities of timeshare sellers and buyers, these regulations helped stabilize the industry, making it more appealing to big-name brands again.

The Chain Commercialization of Timeshares

Increased regulation didn’t stop the growth of the timeshare industry, and this ongoing growth made it seem like an appealing prospect to big-name brands.

In 1984, Marriott entered the timeshare industry with the Marriott Vacation Club, offering timeshares in its Monarch at Sea Pines in Hilton Head, South Carolina. The success of this program caught the attention of other hospitality brands.

Although Hilton had entered the timeshare industry early in the mid-60s, the subsequent negative image of the product kept them from becoming major players in timeshares until the mid-1990s. By that time, many other hospitality brands entered the market, including Disney, Hyatt, and even Ritz-Carlton.

New Technology Expands the Options and the Perils

When large-scale hospitality brands entered the timeshare market, they sought to take advantage of their existing infrastructure by promoting highly flexible point systems, like what Hapimag started offering in 1964. However, the points let people use their timeshares at a much larger selection of resorts around the world.

Of course, by the mid-90s, another transformation was sweeping over the industry: the Internet. With the growth of the Internet, consumers started to demand even more options for finding timeshares, and more flexibility in using their timeshares.

Unfortunately, it was much easier to create a false product on the Internet in the 90s than it was to find true information. This led to a new proliferation of timeshare scams, with some people believing that it was even worse in the 90s than in the 70s. Although new and updated regulations helped tamp down the outright scams, even the big-name brands were accused of misrepresenting their timeshare products.

Is the Sun Setting on the Timeshare Industry?

The growth of the Internet also laid the foundation of the biggest threat the timeshare industry has ever faced: a huge marketplace of short-term and cheaper vacation rentals. Airbnb, VRBO, and other companies let people list their existing properties as short-term rentals for use by vacationers at a much lower rate of what it costs to own a timeshare.

With access to a huge selection of actual homes that they can rent in vacation destinations for a few nights, why would anyone want to be saddled with just one week in one destination? Even the most widespread hospitality brand can’t compete with the dazzling offerings from people wanting to rent their home.

Not only have these vacation rentals made fewer people want to buy timeshares, but they also make many people with current timeshares lament their purchases and look for ways to get out of their obligations. Not surprisingly, this has also made timeshare companies dig in their heels to keep people from getting rid of their timeshares.

You Don’t Have to Be Stuck with a Timeshare

Fortunately, there are legal options if you, like many people, want to get out of a restrictive timeshare. At Timeshare Termination Team, we are focused on helping you escape the timeshare trap. Our team of in-house lawyers help us design a legal exit strategy for you. That way, you can be free to enjoy the vacations you want now, not the ones you thought you’d enjoy then.

We understand that vacation preferences change over time. Whether it’s because your kids are fully grown, you prefer to travel to different places after spending years at the same resort, or your financial circumstances have changed and impacted the amount of money you have to spend on travel, there are many reasons why your timeshare may no longer meet your needs. You deserve to live life on your own terms, and that includes the ability to take the vacations you want, when you want.

With our exclusive You First Approach™, your needs will drive the entire process. Our customized exit strategy will be tailored to address the specifics of your timeshare contract in order to ensure that you safely, legally and permanently cancel your timeshare. As part of this approach, we’ll educate you on your options to help you make a more informed decision.

You’ll also receive our Money-Back Exit Guarantee™ ensuring that we’ll legally get rid of your timeshare or you’ll receive a full refund, no questions asked. Our team is committed to helping you break free from the burdens of timeshare ownership so that you can live life on your own terms once again.

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