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Growth in Popularity of Timeshare Exchange Programs

Timeshare exchange programs allow timeshare owners to switch their timeshares for accommodations of the same class and quality elsewhere in the world, and according to a recent study, they are growing very quickly in popularity. The growth of these exchange programs is helping to correct the mistaken perception that timeshares limit their owners to vacationing in one place indefinitely, whether they want to or not. With a timeshare exchange program, if an owner wants a change from their home resort, they can easily exchange their weeks with those of a different owner elsewhere. These programs provide owners with access to resorts all over the world.

How Timeshare Exchange Programs Work

According to the American Resort Development Association, or ARDA, the use of timeshare exchange programs grew substantially in 2012, with 38 percent of timeshare owners banking their weeks or exchanging them for stays at other locations. Some people like the security of a familiar place at which to relax, while others seek newness and variety. Timeshare owners may use the exchange for special-occasion trips or simply as a way to visit new travel destinations.

Most timeshare resorts are now connected to exchange programs and many also offer exchanges within their groups. With a simple phone call or an online transaction, a timeshare owner can exchange weeks at their home resort for stays at a range of other destinations. It is this kind of flexibility that timeshare owners prize, and a major reason that timeshare usage continues to outstrip hotel stays. In order to get the most from their timeshare exchange, owners should have a list of destinations to which they would like to travel. Flexible travel plan can make visiting these locations significantly easier. Owners should also educate themselves on their timeshare type and how a particular timeshare exchange will work.

Growth in the Timeshare Industry

According to the Smith Travel Report, timeshare usage outdid hotel occupancy by as much as 60 percent in 2011. The vast majority of timeshare owners (80 percent) make regular use of their timeshares. Reasons include the fact that their accommodations offer more space, along with the fact that they provide guests with the ability to cook their own meals rather than forcing them to dine out at restaurants. New options allow owners to break up their weeks or to enjoy longer stays at a resort. They are also able to switch between different types of units at various locations.

Signs of the timeshare industry's growth this year include the fact that almost 60 percent of sales have been to new owners, and that close to three-quarters of resorts get at least half of their sales from new owners. Furthermore, 42 percent of timeshare sales are to individuals who already own timeshare products, demonstrating the fact that a significant number of owners are satisfied with their purchases.

A study commissioned by ARDA found that seven percent of American households owned a timeshare, with 83 percent of them using it in 2011. It also found that timeshare owners (whether inside or outside of the U.S.) go on vacation at a rate doubling that of non-owners. That level of satisfaction means a hopeful outlook for the timeshare industry, one that indicates a continued demand for the product.

Next: A Look at Hawaii Timeshare Trends

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