If you had 20 minutes with the G.M. of your favorite resort,
what questions would you ask? “Anybody mind if I grab the
Presidential suite?” Or “How can a Snickers from the minibar cost
Well I can tell you what the G.M. would talk about what general
managers all over the world from Kona to Kathmandu are talking
about these days. Time shares. Condos. Fractional ownership.
Maybe not quite as titillating as “which rock star did the most
damage?,” but vacation ownership in all its forms is one of the
most widespread and influential trends in the hospitality industry.
In the years to come, virtually no major hotel will be built
without some vacation ownership component. Existing resorts will
add more time share and condo units or perhaps more ominously for
agents and wholesalers continue to divert rooms from their hotel
inventories and convert them to ownership units.
The reason for this trend is simple economics. As one G.M. of a
major resort in Hawaii told me recently, “My electricity bill alone
is a million dollars a month. If I can find tenants to help share
that expense, it just makes sense to do it.”
There seems to be no slowing of the growth either, and travel
agents would be wise to stake out their niche now.
“Fighting this trend is like swimming upstream,” says Ron
Letterman, chairman of Classic Custom Vacations and a longtime
veteran of the travel industry, in our cover story “Owning a Slice
of Heaven” (page 16). “Your arms will get tired, and you will not
make a lot of progress. It is better to understand how to take
advantage of the trend and use it to your best advantage.”
Like Letterman, we believe agents need to be informed and
watchful of the effects of vacation ownership, in order to avoid
getting swept away with the current.