The history of timeshare

The promises of a timeshare company often come with a pinch of salt. Most people are wary of companies promising them luxury villas in top-quality locations that will satisfy all their holidays wants and needs. But why? Over the decades’ timeshares have gone from dominating the holiday industry to barely surviving. Facing problem after problem, from illegal sales to disinterested owners, the following years will be vital in seeing if this once popular form of holiday will crumble.

Read on to learn more about where timeshares came from, how they reached their peak in popularity and why they have started to fall.

The birth of timeshare

At the end of the Second World War, Fred Pontin, Billy Butlin and the Warner Brothers had to enlarge their holiday camps to cater for the significant demand in the UK for holidays. These holiday camp operations became the basis for the modern package holiday, helping expand this industry as flying became less expensive and more accessible.

Timeshare arrived in 1963, initially in Switzerland, before the model was taken up in the US and then Scotland in 1975. Within the next five years, timeshare resorts were in all major holiday destinations throughout Europe (most notably Spain).

Timeshare became very popular due to its differences to package holidays. It offered top quality, self-catering accommodation in relaxing and idyllic surroundings which would always be the consumers. However, at first, this concept was not fully understood meaning initial sales were low.

What Does Timeshare Involve? ​

Timeshare accommodation can often be of a higher standard than regular holiday hotels or rented accommodation. Many have exclusive facilities free to use for timeshare owners. However, all timeshares are self-catering. The accommodation standard varies dependent on each resort or building. Some can be small studios or large apartments, while others may be a high standard villa with multiple bedrooms.

The timeshare industry directly competes with the holiday industry, specifically the self-catering and villa rental division. Timeshare claims upon sale to consumers to be more beneficial than other types of holidays by offering long-term value-for-money.

The 1980s and 90s

By the mid-1980s timeshare properties had seen an increase in popularity as sales rocketed. People were entranced with the idea of having their own holiday home for several weeks in the year. Although, miss-selling had already begun to surface, leading to a level of complaints that could not be ignored. So, in 1990 the Office of Fair Trading conducted an investigation and created a report on the situation.

This report formed the basis of the Timeshare Act in 1992, which was meant to tackle the illegal selling which saw thousands of people lose significant amounts of money or even become tied into timeshares they didn’t want. This act did little to halt the complaints, and so a stricter law was introduced in Europe in 1998 which began to reduce the number of aggressive sales made. This meant consumers now had a ‘cooling off’ period where they could cancel the deal as well as banning up-front payments.

The 2000s to the Present Day

By the mid-2000s the timeshare industry has started to go awry, and it had failed to keep up with the competition. Also, the illegal selling and unhappy consumers gave the media all the ammunition it needed to report on the poor practices of this industry.

A reduction in sales, combined with increasing numbers of owners walking away from their timeshares led to a considerable decrease in ownership in Europe. Today, only one-third of owners are willingly paying their annual fees.

Since 2000 this once dominating industry has now been bouncing from one problem to another. Timeshares are presented as self-catering holiday villas. People bought into them believing they would be getting their own “super holiday villa”. However, since 2000 standards have begun to decrease and now many resorts are tired and rundown, struggling to compete at the three-star level.

Of the 1,121 timeshare resorts in Europe in 2005, at least 115 have closed since. Many more are towards closure, with one resort having only 11 remaining owners out of a possible 850. This has partially been put down to the recession in Spain putting a stop to many property sales.

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Friendly advice from timeshare experts

Once we receive your request one of our highly skilled advisers will contact you to find out more information about your situation. All of our advisers have detailed knowledge of the timeshare industry and will be able to advise you on what your options are.

We will assess your situation and provide advice on whether we believe your timeshare was unlawfully sold to you. We will also provide advice on whether there are potential grounds for compensation against the timeshare company.

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