A couple of weeks ago, I was talking to a very helpful lady in the Exchange Department of one of Europe’s 2 Exchange Companies. I have to admit straight away that I am not the world’s most reliable timeshare owner, in that I am notorious for forgetting to deposit my week for exchange if that’s what we’ve decided to do that year, or conversely, fail to book a week at our home resort until it’s almost or often is too late to get anything. I imagine this gives you the general picture and needless to say my family are baffled as to how I can work in the industry and yet be so bad at managing my own timeshare.
Anyway, I digress – talking to this very helpful person at the exchange company, she explained as tactfully as she could, that I had indeed left it rather late to make my request, both in terms of time and location – a double whammy then, leaving me with some difficult explaining to do to the family (all that is save the dog, who would no doubt be relieved that kennels would no longer be beckoning yet again!). Wondering how I was going to explain this – the lady came to my rescue by pointing out that "they" that is the exchange company – had been particularly short of exchange weeks this year as owners had been holding their weeks at their home resorts and using them instead of banking them. The reason for this? Inevitably one is drawn to the conclusion that the recession/economic downturn – call it what you will has lead to timeshare owners falling back on using their home weeks for holidays this year – and presumably as the spending cuts imposed by EU governments bite deeper, so this trend will probably be seen over the next few years.
Whilst in one sense this trend can be regarded as concerning, in that one of the selling points of timeshare is the exhange opportunities offered, clearly this is only temporary and as soon as economic conditions improve, owners will start exchanging again. On the other hand, I find it re-assuring in that at times of economic turbulence and uncertainty, timeshare owners are deciding to play it safe, take their holidays as usual, but return "home" to somewhere they know, where they have already paid for it and where the ancillary costs of travel etc are known.
This Autumn, RDO is due to embark on its latest research project, conducted by Bournemouth University’s School of International Tourism. They will be looking at what the next generation of timeshare owners want from a timeshare product and one of those considerations has to be the security provided to the family of the certainty of a holiday each year – provided of course people like me remember to book it!