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Survey Says Timeshare Popularity On The Decline Amid The Rise Of Home-Sharing Giants Airbnb, VRBO

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A new study suggests the sharing economy in hospitality, such as Airbnb and VRBO, has eaten away at the appeal of timeshares.

About 69% of the 230 respondents to the International Society of Hospitality Consultants' survey said the appeal of timeshares are diminishing due to the availability of home-sharing services.

Marriott resort Frenchman's Cove USVI
Marriott Vacation Club resort, Frenchman's Cove, U.S. Virgin Islands

What does the sharing economy have that timeshares don't? Flexibility and unique experiences, according to ISHC members who were queried for the survey.

“The sharing economy allows far more flexibility in being able to have your home away from home," said OBM International Limited Chairman Tim Peck, who was a respondent.

OBM is a master planner and designer for luxury hotels, resorts and town centers.

“Why would a consumer want to lock into a particular exchange system when everything is easily available on Airbnb or VRBO?” said Berins & Co. owner David Berins, a respondent. Berins & Co. is a hotel consultancy.

Hotel consultancy Majestic Hospitality Group co-founder and CEO Christopher Henry, another respondent, said that there is also a generational component. 

“It has less to do with the sharing economy and more to do with changing demographics," Henry said. "While the [timeshare] model is still popular with baby boomers, the concept struggles to sell with millennials. This younger group prefers to spend their money on unique and authentic experiences while also not being tied down to commitments.”

On the other hand, nearly a third — 31% — of the respondents said the sharing economy isn't diminishing the appeal of timeshares.

“Timeshare’s value proposition now is more around points and prepaying for great vacations rather than buying a specific unit in a specific location," Navesink Advisory Group principal Flo Lugli said as a respondent to the ISHC survey.

Investors in the timeshare industry itself are still believers in the viability of the model. Marriott Vacations Worldwide Corp., for instance, recently acquired rival ILG for $4.7B. ILG, a timeshare specialist, has more than 40 properties and over 250,000 owners in its Vistana Signature Experiences and Hyatt Vacation Ownership portfolios.

Marriott has also dipped its toe into the sharing economy recently by entering into a trial with Hostmaker, a London-based home-stay property management company. The deal will allow travelers to book a stay in London homes that are part of Marriott’s Tribute Portfolio.