Owning the Future

Kenneth Shapiro 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 $12?” Well I can tell you what the G.M. would talk about what general managers all over the world fro

By: Kenneth Shapiro

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 $12?”

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. Vacation clubs.

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.

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