How is the timeshare industry surviving during a pandemic?

It goes without saying that the travel and hospitality industry has probably taken the biggest hit due to the pandemic than any other and this is true globally. With travel completely halted for the immediate future, it seems unlikely that any business in this sector would be able to report any profits let alone any big purchases.

Despite this the timeshare industry seems not to have been to adversely affected by the pandemic and is somehow clearing a financial path through it and planning ahead to when customers can travel again. Only recently Wyndham Destinations acquired Travel and Leisure magazine for $100 million and incredibly stock market reports are predicting a 7.3% boost across the industry by the end of 2026.

In addition to this only days ago Marriott Vacations Worldwide announced they would purchase Welk Resorts for $430 million. You would be forgiven for not knowing the name, but they have been around for 57 years and started off quite modestly. Welk Resorts went on to become a timeshare giant over the years and now boasts over 52,000 owners and generated over $50 million in timeshare sales in 2019 alone. So, this looks like a savvy purchase for Marriott who say they will rebrand the resort and incorporate it into the Hyatt Residence Club which is owned by Marriott.

Seems incredible that during these unprecedented times of a pandemic when nearly every other industry is struggling that the timeshare industry is able to enjoy any positive news.

With the need for consumers to exit their timeshares more relevant than ever before, the industry was urged to show compassion for owners struggling. Despite this owners have not experienced much relief if any from resorts. In fact, it appears in many cases resorts have decided to go in another direction and employ deceptive practices to make even more sales. Recently the Orlando Sentinel, which regularly reports from inside the heart of the timeshare industry, released an article uncovering the deceptive practices going on at Westgate resorts. The article claimed the resort was using government relief money to pay travel bloggers to write stories promoting the company’s resorts. Over at Diamond resorts the chief’s in charge sent out emails to customers stating they were putting in place financial relief to those members that were struggling through refinancing deals. It sounded like all good intentions but on further investigation it became clear in the small print the resort was just using this as an opportunity to make more sales and push existing owners into new, more expensive membership programs and financing options. Timeshare giant Wyndham were less deceptive but more outright brash when CEO Michael Brown said the company would keep afloat through owner sales and push upgrades onto existing members.

It seems that most of the big resorts have continued to charge their members maintenance fees during the pandemic, despite most owners not being able to use the facilities at all last year. Some of the resorts have been providing refunds for booking fees but so far it seems none are planning to refund maintenance fees, offer any discounts or indeed move reservations to another time. It has left owners furious and wondering if they would be better off getting out of their timeshare contracts altogether.

If you have purchased a Lifestyle / Concierge Service, a Timeshare or a ‘holiday points’-based product from a resort or company and feel unhappy with the service, or simply want to end your agreement, get in touch with us today to see how we can help with a possible money back claim.

 

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