Timeshare Sales and Developer Strategic Responses – Part I

This is the first in a three-part The Timeshare Authority blog post taking an in-depth look at how the timeshare industry is weathering the US economic recession. Part I begins by looking at some very insightful information that appeared in HOTELS magazine earlier this month on the current state of timeshare sales and the timeshare industry.

In an article on 2/1/09, HOTELS Magazine observed that as recently as last October, they were still reporting that vacation ownership (timeshare sales) “defies the downturn“. Candidly, it seemed to most people in the timeshare industry that the historically proven success of timeshares sales would carry the industry through this economic recession. Here at The Timeshare Authority, we were delivering much the same message. In so many ways, it appeared that the proven strength of timeshares sales would even help some hotelier/developers compensate for weak hotel bookings.

But as the HOTELS article so aptly put it: “And then the sky fell.” Howard Nusbaum, the American Resort Development Association (ARDA) President explained, “We’ve never had a situation like this before, where we’ve been unable to monetize consumer paper. There were timeshare developers who were still having robust sales, but there was no way to monetize the consumers’ debt, so those developers had to slow their sales down. That has been very problematic for the industry.”

People didn’t lose their desire and interest to buy timeshare and timeshare developers weren’t failing in their goal of keeping plenty of enticing new timeshare resorts on the market. Instead, there simply wasn’t the available credit to finance the purchase of new timeshares. And the problem hit everyone … at least to some degree.

Disney Vacation Club Timeshare Dealing with the Challenging Economy

The Orlando Sentinel reported that in December, even Disney Vacation Club hit a snag when a line of credit the company had used since 1999 expired and was not renewed. In the past, Disney Vacation Club has helped approximately 75 percent of its timeshare buyers finance their purchase. Timeshare sales averaged between $20,000 and $30,000 for one-week of timeshare ‘ownership’ in a two-bedroom timeshare unit at a Disney timeshare resort.

Opportunities in Disney Vacation Club timeshare resales and timeshare rentals.

After helping timeshare buyers take ownership of new timeshares, Disney Vacation Club often bundled timeshare mortgages together and resold them to investors. This securitization of mortgages was a source of profit for Disney Vacation Club timeshare, and according to the Sentinel report, “Disney Co. Chief Financial Officer Tom Staggs said during a December conference with analysts that the practice generated about $40 million in operating profit last year for Vacation Club.”

But Disney Vacation Club has the wherewithal of the Disney corporation behind them as a safety net. The depth of the company enables them to carry timeshare mortgages instead of selling them for profit. By doing this they will still realize the proceeds from the financed timeshare sales; it will just take the lifetime of the timeshare mortgage rather than the quick cash-out available when the mortgages are resold.

How much does this really hurt Disney Vacation Club timeshare? According to Morgan Stanley financial analyst, Benjamin Swinburne, Disney Vacation Club timeshare will see a “small increase” in 2009 rather than the estimated 18 percent growth it experienced last year.

In tomorrow’s The Timeshare Authority post, we will look at measures other timeshare companies are taking during these challenging times.