Now, more than ever, timesharing is the right product for consumers and for developers and operators, even those new to the business. That message reverberated throughout the panel discussions and cocktail receptions at last fall's 6th annual Timeshare & Resort Investment Conference in Orlando.

“Even after the recent hurricanes in Florida, the timeshare business showed remarkable resilience,” said Marriott Vacation Club International President Stephen Weisz during the opening general session. “Because it's a product that people buy, there is strong intent to use. Also, it's a product that enables families to connect, which is a very important attribute today.”

The panel — which also included executives from Interval International, Universal Orlando Resort, the American Hotel & Lodging Association and the American Resort Development Association — agreed that the timeshare industry is entering a new marketing era. With passage of state and federal do-not-call legislation, vacation ownership marketers have been forced to find new ways to develop and sell prospects, including increased use of technology and partnerships with non-timeshare companies.

The demographics of the timeshare buyer are also changing, noted ARDA President Howard Nusbaum. “Of course, a lot of baby boomers continue to buy the product, but many resorts are also effectively marketing to younger consumers and to singles.”

On the development side, opportunities for new product abound both in the U.S. and overseas. Interval International Chairman and CEO Craig Nash pointed to the western U.S., particularly Arizona, California, Las Vegas and Hawaii, as development hot spots, and “while Europe is flat to down, there are great opportunities in China and in the Middle East,” he said.

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