With sales falling, or in the majority of cases ceasing altogether, more timeshare resorts are resorting to cutting their services and facilities -- much to the disappointment of their members.
Times are not good for the timeshare industry, and it's causing problems for their members.
When timeshares first appeared, there were some good reasons for signing up:
It was for these reasons that many people were more than happy to pay large joining fees and ongoing yearly payments, it gave them peace of mind.
Naturally, the customers who signed up for timeshare deals assumed that they would be receiving the same level of service for the length of their contracts.
However, with the changes in the travel industry over the last few years, many customers are now being left disappointed by timeshare resorts.
It's perhaps no surprise that timeshare is now seen as being dated. Now, the industry is facing some huge challenges:
With all the changes in the travel industry, the fact is that modern travellers don't want to sign up to expensive deals and get stuck paying large annual fees.
This means timeshare companies are increasingly looking for ways to make savings. And some of the first things to go have been their once impressive facilities and services.
Andrew Cooper, the CEO of European Consumer Claims (ECC), says that due to a fall in sales, "companies have had to cut costs."
"We speak to angry timeshare members all the time. They are disappointed that facilities and services like the kid's club and onsite entertainment are missing from their resorts now. There is often no welcome pack in people's rooms or welcome meeting when they arrive. Concierge services have been cancelled and restaurants are closed."
Many people originally bought timeshare after seeing impressive sales presentations. According to Cooper, these presentations "promised all of these little touches whenever members came to their 'home from home'."
To their credit, customers did not kick up a fuss when their contracts stopped making financial sense. They were familiar with the system, so they continued using it.
"Firstly," says Cooper, "they were used to their resort and that familiarity made them feel at home on their holidays, despite declining standards."
However, they were often convincing themselves that they were happy because "they didn't know it was possible to escape from the contract."
There is a simple reason why standards are falling, according to industry experts. As sales fall further, it becomes harder to provide the same high-quality facilities and services that people signed up for in the first place.
Timeshare companies had to make their resorts look wonderful when they made their presentations so they could sign up more new members.
"Facilities and services had to be demonstrably plentiful and high quality," says Cooper. "The people staying on-site had to be happy. That way when a salesperson is showing a prospect around, they see the kind of resort they would like to join.
"The high standards and great facilities were never for the existing members. They were to impress potential new members. The 'welcome breakfasts', for example, were only subsidised so that inhouse sales staff could spend time with clients and attempt to upgrade them into ever more expensive memberships.
"Now that sales are suspended or ceased altogether at many resorts, the need to impress has evaporated. The remaining revenue stream is annual fees and members are contractually obligated to pay whatever the resort demands every year, whether they are happy with standards or not."
Now that sales have started slowing down, people are beginning to notice the fall in standards. Things like "towels being changed less often, rooms not being made up every day, painting and pool maintenance becoming less frequent and so on.
"In short," Cooper says, "the financial model becomes that of any budget hotel. They minimise expenses by cutting corners."
Over the years, the original benefits of timeshare are being lost, and the disadvantages are becoming more apparent:
It's for these reasons that many timeshare owners are searching for ways to escape from the contracts they signed up to.
However, according to Cooper, it "isn't easy to escape."
The annual fees are the only source of revenue for many timeshare companies, so they are forcing members to "keep paying as long as the contract can be legally enforced.
"It's a sad fact of life that people will agree to things more easily when they are in a good mood," says Cooper. "People signed these long, detailed contracts while they were surrounded by the Spanish sunshine and sea. Decades later, seemingly small details are still costing them hundreds or even thousands of pounds a year."
But is there a way out? According to Cooper, there is. "Usually, it is possible to get out of a timeshare contract." However, he continues, "in most cases, unless you have enough legal understanding to navigate the process (and plenty of free time), you will need expert help.
"The good news for anyone who bought in Spain on or after the 5th January 1999, is that there is a strong chance your contract is illegal. If so, you can not only escape, but you will be in a position to claim a high amount of compensation."
During the Timeshare sales boom of the 80s & 90s, potential buyers were lured in by the promise of affordable exotic holidays, flexible exchange programmes and the impression that Timeshare would be a valuable "investment".
In an industry with little or no regulation, high pressure sales tactics were rife and contract smallprint was often glossed over and explained away by sharp salespeople.
Many Timeshare buyers were therefore unaware that they were actually making significant, long term financial commitments on behalf of themselves and their families.
To find out how you can escape the Timeshare Trap please complete the short Timeshare Release Wizard now.
For many Timeshare owners, annual maintenance fees were barely considered token amounts in the early "honeymoon period" of ownership.
However, year-on-year increases imposed by the resorts over time now mean that the maintenance fees have risen to become substantial sums.
Owners are also facing the prospect of ongoing yearly fee increases and realising that they (and their families) are often committed to long term contracts for generations to come.
Please try our Future Fees Calculator to estimate your liabilities over the term of your Timeshare contract, based on an annual increase of 7.5%.
If you're concerned about rising fees and how to escape the Timeshare Trap, please contact us today.
Recent comments from RCI Timeshare owners who have come to us for help with contract cancellation:
“We 'swapped ‘another place in Tenerife for this in order to move to the points system. Since then, getting exchanges to desirable resorts proves almost impossible, irrespective of in-season or off-season.”
“I purchased my timeshare in 1999 and have been a timeshare member ever since. More often than not, I have not be able to go where I wanted and have ended up giving a few weeks to Friends, etc to book somewhere they wanted in order not to lose the weeks. I have then stayed in a hotel!! I am desperately trying to get rid of the timeshare and am now paying Timeshare Shop in Manchester to get rid of it for me.”