March 4, 2011 — This past week the last known living (USA) WWI veteran Frank W. Buckles passed away at age 110, ending an era of the first generation of troops from around the world, many of whom witnessed the awful toll of modern, mechanized warfare that killed millions during the “Great War”.
Of all the changes that Mr. Buckles experienced throughout the rest of his life I don’t know if he ever attended a Timeshare sales presentation or became an owner, but with our industry rapidly approaching ’50’ years of age, and time passing ever so quickly, I’m beginning to doubt that ‘the biz’ will reach Mr. Buckles’ longevity.
Along with the fact that almost everyone reading this today will be in ‘the great vacation beyond’ when that anniversary arrives, the practicality of being a timeshare owner continues to decline and the end of our era maybe be coming sooner than most of us dare to consider.
As we all know, becoming a timeshare owner was first and foremost a vacationing lifestyle (choice) born in a era when mostly ‘middle-class’ hard working folks, due to price models, available inventory, destinations, etc. didn’t have many more vacationing accommodation options or choices than the basic Holiday Inn motel room.
It was then, beginning in the 1960’s and up to around the late 1990’s, when our industry exploded and the ‘biz’ proved one irrefutable fact: That consumers are more than willing to pay for more than just a bare bones 200-300 sq. ft. motel room. And they wanted the amenities, too, ranging from an in-room coffee pot, a hair dryer, ironing board, etc. all the way up the ‘AMEN’ ladder to full suites w/kitchens.
But today, in 2011, consumers have almost endless options when it comes to vacationing and/or travel accommodations just about anywhere in the world they are visiting, including renting directly from timeshare developers, exchange companies, those extended stay properties, vacation homes, hoteliers offering suites for the ‘extended-stay’ market, and all with near full (or complete) amenities.
And today those rental options are not only competitive but fully satisfy consumers’ traveling lifestyles, vacationing needs and budgets. They also have the highly attractive, favorable and distinguishable reality that the ‘renter’ need not commit to a lifetime of financial obligations as they do when becoming a timeshare owner.
In fact, considering the exploding worldwide ‘extended’ vacation and/or travel accommodations market the truth is that committing to a life-long financial burden as a timeshare owner has already made this industry, for the most part, functionally and economically obsolete.
Of course that is just my take on the future and although I could be wrong I suspect that in the blink of an eye the Tom Bodett TV/Radio/online/print advertisements will still be telling road weary travelers that they will still be leaving “the light on for you” about the time the last timeshare sales rep in our business may be turning the lights out!
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