©2010 an ‘Inside The Gate’ Exclusive
July 23, 2010 — As the once thriving global timeshare industry continues to recover from the devastation and near ruin caused, in part, by the worst financial calamity to sweep across the United States (and the world) since the ‘Great Depression’, it may be a good time to take a look back. There is much more to this industry’s history than meets the eye or is widely acknowledged.
From extremely humble beginnings in the late 1960’s, a small number of real estate developers, who were having difficulties selling their full ownership condominium properties in a down economy, began to pursue the new European model of interval (timeshare) sales. Putting everything on the line, they launched what was to eventually become a fast paced and exciting vacation product that would sweep the world!
Those mostly unregulated and wild times were not, to be sure, for the faint of heart. To their credit, and long before the ‘Brands’ (Marriott, Disney, Hilton, etc.) came along, it was these risk-taking entrepreneurs who took those first steps on a journey that laid down the foundation and building blocks of what would ultimately develop into a global industry that would benefit millions of people the world over.
It is an understatement to say that their ambitions, goals, determination and objectives directly led to the hiring of tens of thousands of employees, filled local, regional and national tax coffers with millions of dollars in revenue that contributed to improving the communities, roads, services, etc. everywhere they applied their vision, talents, skills and capital.
And because of them, millions of ordinary people were provided, for the first time in history, vacation accommodations, travel lifestyles and vacationing opportunities that had once been reserved exclusively for globe trotters in the higher income brackets.
In a February 12th 2010 piece in the International Property Journal “Marriott executives acknowledged that timeshares are unlikely to return to the levels of their heyday”. Yet that piece failed to point out that decades earlier this same company (and the other ‘Brands’) loathed and openly scorned the concept of timesharing (aka: Vacation Ownership).
That opinion was held at the highest corporate levels and they mostly sat on their hotelier beliefs and comfortable sidelines until such time as the collective annual timeshare ownership sales volume was approaching the ‘billion’ (plus) bench mark. Then, faced with the success of the timesharing model, these corporate execs began to re-evaluate their opinions, the market potential and options.
Today there are many more challenges timeshare developers are confronted with than in yesteryear. Yet as was true decades ago it will likely not be the executives comfortably sitting at their plush corporate ‘Brand’ offices who’ll get all creative and blaze a new trail leading the charge and our industry well into a bright future.
No, instead, that future will come from the likes of (in no particular order or rank, etc.) Alexander Nette & Dr. Guido Renngli (Hapimag); Bob Burns & Bob Rengenburg (Vacation Internationale); Carl Berry, Paul Gray, Greg Bright, Doug Murdock and Dave Irmer (Innisfree Companies); Roy I. Fraser (VRI); David Siegel (Westgate Resorts); Daniel Chavez (Mayan Resorts); Deb Linden (Island One); Artie Spector and Michael Kaplan (Consolidated Resorts); Sheldon Ginsburg & Perry Snyderman (Shell Vacations); Sheldon Cloobeck (The Jockey Club, et al); Bill Peare (Trendwest Resorts); Raymond ‘Rip’ Gellein & Jeffrey Adler (Vistana Resorts); Keith Trowbridge (Captran Resorts International); Steven Kosmas (The Kosmas Group); Wayne Kinser (Peppertree Resorts); the late James Lambert (Berkley Group) and other ‘giants’ of the era.
It was these giants and their management, sales, marketing and administrative staffs, etc. who over the decades not only brought a new way of vacationing to the world but, over time, literally revolutionized the motel/hotel industry and the way millions of travelers vacation these days.
They in fact forever changed the entire scope and structure of the ‘hospitality industry’ and today, because of them, even modest motels provide basic room amenities such as coffee makers, fridges and microwave ovens that were once non existent in that sector.
And it was also the original timeshare model (developers) that eventually gave birth to the extended-stay market, the private residence clubs, fractional home ownership, destination clubs, condo-hotels, Yacht, RV and Jet ‘shares’.
Everyone, from the timeshare owner to the resort security guards, owes each and every one of them our deepest respect, admiration and gratitude!
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©2010 an ‘Inside The Gate’ Exclusive.