Surveys Reveal The Love/Hate Relationship with Timeshares
60% of people recently surveyed had little to no knowledge of timeshares, yet 77% would not consider owning a timeshare. Why is that?
In a word-association exercise, 62% of survey participants think “scam” or “rip-off” as the first thing that comes to mind about timeshares. But if they don’t know much about them, where are they getting these perceptions from?
The Noisy Negativity
An exclusive survey by Time2Play.com and PlannerAtHeart explored the reasons why those who don’t own a timeshare think negatively about this billion-dollar piece of the travel world.
The results revealed:
- 62% said friends or family members told them that timeshares are a scam
- 33% have seen advertisements stating timeshares are scams
- 46% don’t think timeshares are a good deal financially
- 29% believe it is very difficult to resell them
So why do people with little knowledge of the subject have so many negative things to say about it? Well, the way human’s brains evolved to keep us safe from harm also puts negativity at the forefront of our minds. It’s called the negativity bias.
“Studies have shown that humans pay more attention to negative than positive information. This is because, from an evolutionary perspective, it’s more important to be aware of potential threats than potential rewards,” said Dr. Ketan Parmar, MD, Psychiatrist, and mental health expert at ClinicSpots.
“People tend to remember negative stories more than positive ones. So when we hear a negative story about someone or something, it sticks with us more than a positive story because our brain pays more attention to it,” he continued.
“Lastly, negative stories are often seen as more credible than positive ones. This is because we tend to believe that people are more likely to be honest about their negative experiences than their positive ones,” Parmar said.
So does it mean that timeshares aren’t all bad?
Turns Out Timeshare Owners Are Actually Happy
For people who don’t own a timeshare, it may be shocking to learn that an overwhelming majority of timeshare owners enjoy them. So much so more than half of them own more than one, and about 30% are looking to buy more. That helps explain why there are $10 billion in timeshare sales every year.
In 2022, the trade association for the timeshare industry, ARDA, and the first timeshare website on the internet, Timeshare Users Group, each surveyed owners. Their survey results corroborated each other and confirmed that almost all of today’s timeshare owners are satisfied with their ownership.
In contrast to non-owners’ thoughts about timeshares, their surveys reported:
- 90% would rate their overall ownership experience as good or better
- 82% would recommend timeshare ownership
- 80% of owners feel their timeshare was a good purchase
- 81% of respondents believe timeshare ownership allowed them to save money on their vacations
- 75% are not looking to sell their timeshare
- 85% are happy to tell others they own a timeshare
Ownership in Their Own Words
ARDA’s 2022 United States Owners Report also revealed the top three reasons Americans purchase timeshares. One-third of those surveyed did so because of a specific resort location, like Rob Taylor.
“We bought our first timeshare in 2006 and even purchased a second one since then,” said Taylor, Founder of 2TravelDads.com. “We bought it because it was our first experience at this particular type of resort, and we fell in love with it. It has been great to bring family and friends back over and over in the last 16 years. We love knowing the experience we get to return to and the familiarity of the longtime staff.”
Another top reason owners bought was to exchange a stay at their timeshare for a vacation at over 4,000 resorts worldwide through a timeshare exchange company, such as RCI or Interval International. Owners report traveling the world this way for a fraction of the price of booking from a resort directly or on travel deal sites.
“Hands down, it is one of the best ‘investments’ I have ever made,” said Nikki Webster, Founder of Brit On The Move. She purchased her timeshare from an existing owner on eBay for $207 on the timeshare resale market.
Even adding up her $423 annual resort maintenance fee, RCI membership fee, and exchange fee for each swap, Nikki travels the world cheaper than other travelers. “I’ve used my timeshare to exchange into luxury Cabo resorts which would have cost me well over $2,000 for the reservation,” she continued.
Make Up Your Own Mind
While some people point to specific high-pressure sales experiences for timeshare’s current reputation, the survey revealed that less than 2% associate timeshares with pushy salespeople.
“The timeshare industry, with more than $10 billion in annual sales and nearly 10 million owners, has become a target for unscrupulous individuals and companies,” said Robert Clements, Vice President of Regulatory Affairs and General Counsel for ARDA.
Those companies spend millions of dollars on advertising campaigns pushing out sticky, negative messages about timeshares positioning timeshares as scams online, on TV, and the radio. For example, Timeshare Exit Team, who Dave Ramsey endorsed before a lawsuit by the State of Washington, an Inside Edition investigation, and a Better Business Bureau “F” rating, spent more than $1 million a month on advertising before closing their doors.
So when making up your own mind about something, keep the scholarly article “Bad is Stronger Than Good” insights top of mind. “Bad feedback is more impactful than good experiences, as it is processed more deeply by the brain. That’s why bad impressions are quicker to be made and harder to break.”