While working in the timeshare industry, a guest warned me that the timeshare industry should be concerned that Airbnbs will take over and attract potential timeshare owners.
When he made this statement, at the time, I was working at the Villas del Palmar Resort in Cancun and was only concerned about making the sale. No, he didn't buy.
Now that I have retired from the business, I have since evaluated his comment.
As a former timeshare sales and marketing executive who worked in the industry for over 15 years, I agree that his statement is true on several levels.
In this consumer driven digital age, there are some great deals on the Internet, numerous travel agencies, Internet websites, hotels, and bed and breakfasts. Airbnb is the new kid on the block that has developed into the multibillion-dollar online travel business.
Although Airbnb cannot compare to the high-end brand name timeshare resorts with gigantic pools and lots of kid’s activities, there is something to say about a couple of guys who followed their dreams.
The company targets the millennial generation as does the timeshare companies. For this generation, it’s not always about the size of the room, the luxury of the hotel, or the full kitchen. It’s more about the experience that they can cherish for the rest of their lives.
Here are the Top Ten Reasons Why Airbnb is Better Than Timeshare
1. There are no high-pressure sales – Just a website!
One of the things that many consumers complain about are the high-pressure timeshare sales presentations that are supposed to last for only 90 minutes, but end up lasting over 4 hours.
The sales and marketing reps are friendly while luring consumers to attend a sales presentation and romancing them with all the amenities of the resorts. However, once you are in the sales room, for many, it’s often compared to being in prison. No matter how many times you say no and try to get away, they keep you there.
The sales reps in the timeshare industry are known for lying, being rude, being mean to their guests once they realize that they are not going to spend the $20,000 average asking price.
With Airbnb, all you have is a website. No marketing calls. No sales persons. No closer. Just a website. Simple. Easy.
2. There are no long-term commitments
With a timeshare, you must sign a long-term contract that commits you for life like a marriage. If you want a divorce, the other party may not be so understanding.
If you’re not happy with your timeshare purchase, you are still stuck with it, and nobody else wants to buy it. If you don’t pay your maintenance fees or mortgage, timeshare companies will aggressively come after you like a dog after a bone. They can affect your credit and cause other financial and emotional difficulties.
If you choose not to go on vacation one year, you are still committed to making the mortgage payments and pay the maintenance fees that continue to increase.
With Airbnb, there are no long-term commitments. There are no contracts to sign. You don’t have to worry about the company ruining your credit suing you. If you choose not to go on vacation, you pay nothing because you are not obligated to do anything.
3. Total transparency
When you own a timeshare, you don’t always know what you’re getting or what to expect after the initial purchase. After paying an enormous amount of money to these companies, you hope to at least get a room at the place in which you purchased. For many, this is not always the case.
The New York Attorney General settled with The Manhattan club for a $6.5 million in 2017 for what they called “false promises and shady sales tactic” to its 14,000 owners who could not make reservations at their home resort.
With timeshare, you hope that they have a room should you decide to go on vacation at another location and must worry about exchanging your deed or points into something that you hope is there. Your exchange power depends on what and where you purchased.
There are some places that many timeshare owners will never ever be able to exchange into because of the high demand.
With Airbnb, there is total transparency. If you want to stay in an apartment in Paris, you can. You always know exactly what you’re getting because it is right there in front of you. There is no guessing. It only depends on what you want to get, where you want to go, and how much you are willing to pay. You get to view the real photos of the rooms. You can look at other traveler reviews and compare prices in the same areas.
4. Size does matter…in some cases
When you purchase a timeshare, the size of room you get for your vacations depends on how much money you invested into the timeshare. If you don’t own in a high demand and low supply area you might end up in a motel 6 quality room. You never know what you’re getting.
If you don’t have enough points, you are limited, and you might not have enough points to stay an entire week.
With AirBnb, you know exactly what you’re getting. It doesn’t depend on a previous purchase, but simply the location, type of accommodations, the size of room you need, and how much you want to pay. Simple.
5. No membership fees
When you own a timeshare, you are continually paying for fees that are coming out of the woodwork.
You must pay the initial purchase price. If you took out a loan on the timeshare, you must pay the interest. For some resorts, their interest rate could be as high as 18%. Over time, you just bought yourself another timeshare.
You must pay the annual maintenance fees which increases every year. Sometimes the timeshare companies do not maintain the property the way you expected. But, you still must pay
If you want to visit other places outside of timeshare company’s collection, you must pay annual membership dues to the exchange companies which is about $ 300.
Additionally, you must pay an exchange fee each time you exchange. These fees are also $300 per exchange.
Some resorts are now adding “resort fees,” which were not mentioned when you purchased the timeshare. They average is about $35.00 a day.
With Airbnb, everything is transparent. There might be cleaning fees and a service fee, but you choose whether you want to pay or not.
6. You deal directly with the property owner
When you purchase a timeshare, you will never see or speak to the sales person again, unless, of course he is trying to sell you more timeshare. After the initial purchase, the owner must communicate with their customer service department and sometimes they could be harsh.
If the company is not giving the owner what was promised in the sales presentation, they must deal with somebody who had nothing to do with the original sale. Even if the owner is not getting what was expected, they are still expected to pay their maintenance fees and mortgage. If they don’t, beware.
If the owners have a problem through the exchange, they must contact the exchange company as the timeshare company has nothing to do with it.
With Airbnb, you can speak directly to Airbnb or the owner, if you need to.
I had a personal experience that I would like to share.
I booked an Airbnb for a trip to Van Nuys, California for a training. When I arrived at the apartment, there was cat poop everywhere. We contacted Airbnb. They asked us to send a photo. Immediately, they reimbursed our money. They paid for a night’s hotel in another location and made the arrangements for another Airbnb nearby. Quick. Easy. No hassles.
7. No Aggressive Marketing Reps
When you are staying at a large timeshare resort property, they often see you as their next paycheck. They can’t wait to get you on another high-pressure timeshare sales presentation or for an “owners update,” (Same thing). They call your room, stop you in the hotel lobby, and continue to hassle you throughout your vacation.
The original idea with the Airbnb plan was to meet others in a more intimate setting and make new friends.
If you even see the property owner, they are not going to hassle you about booking another night with them or returning. All they ask is a fair review on the website. It’s your choice.
8. You are Supporting local Communities
Timeshare is now a $10 billion business that pays high commissions and profits to large companies, sales and marketing staff and resorts. Everybody makes big bucks when consumers pay $20,000 and more for a timeshare.
At the all-inclusive timeshare resorts, often the members pay more than the public to stay in the same place. The money spent on timeshares goes to large companies, some with shareholders who want their dividend checks.
According to some reports, 89% of timeshare owners are dissatisfied with their purchase and the timeshare companies are doing everything they can to continue to get their money. Some timeshare companies have hired law firms to help prevent timeshare owners from canceling.
If customers are dissatisfied after paying thousands of dollars for something that doesn’t work, why should they stay in?
With Airbnb, no worries. You are supporting local families like you and me. You are supporting local communities and mom and pop businesses who are just trying to generate some extra income. Airbnb takes only a small percentage of the fees.
Some families will become lifelong friends as you discover you have so much in common.
9. The price is much cheaper at Airbnbs.
The prices of timeshare have skyrocketed over the years and so are the attached fees. If you add up all the costs associated with owning a timeshare, they could be astronomical. The problem is that current timeshare owners have no control. The timeshare companies can use any excuse they chose to raise prices, and owners have no say so.
If a timeshare owner exchanged into another timeshare property, it costs much more, in the long run. Otherwise, they’re stuck with going to the same place very year.
Let’s suppose a consumer purchased a timeshare and was expected to use it for 20 years.
Initial Purchase Price $20,000.
Annual Maintenance Fee $900 X 20 Years = $18,000
Exchange Annual Membership $300 X 20 Years = $6,000
Exchange Week $300 X 20 years = $6,000
Total without inflation over 20 years is $50,000. With inflation, possibly double.
This is for a one weeks’ vacation. If the timeshare owner used the resort’s financing, the price would more than double.
A booming segment of the timeshare industry are upgrades. They are getting timeshare owners to spend more money for more points.
With Airbnb, everything is your choice. If you want to stay in an entire apartment or home, you can choose to do so. The prices are right on the website.
I just looked up a beautiful apartment in Paris with an 18th century Parisienne courtyard. The price – only $1371 for the entire week for two people. I discovered many others for half that price. And this was last minute.
10. Airbnb is more about the experience.
Timeshares are generally located in high demand tourist destinations that are often filled with crowded hotels and resorts, crowded restaurants, crowded beaches, and overpriced attractions. Although there are some timeshare resorts that are in more isolated locations, developers will not invest in a property that just does not make financial sense.
With Airbnb, you can stay pretty much anywhere you want and it doesn’t matter to the folks at Airbnb because they don’t have to build or own the properties.
The accommodations could be in crowded tourist areas, if that is what you desire. However, there is a plethora of accommodations in isolated areas where somebody is willing to rent out a room, an apartment, a house, a houseboat, a trailer, a tree house, a tent or any other type of space in some the remotest part of the world.
I can’t wait for the inhabitants of the Amazon forest to get a whiff of the Airbnb concept. It’s not just about a place to lay your head at night, but also about the experience.
The two gentlemen who discovered and pursued their dreams are nothing short of geniuses. Now Airbnb is a $2.3 billion company and it proves what Napoleon Hill’s quote has impressed into the minds of millions of self-improvement followers ...
Whatever the mind of man can conceive and believe, it can achieve.
For my money, I would rather stay in an Airbnb than buy a timeshare any day of the week. And now that I think about it - I can.
Wayne C. Robinson is a retired timeshare sales and marketing executive, an inspirational speaker, and the author of EVERYTHING ABOUT TIMESHARE: Before, During and After The Sale. His book is sold on Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Wayne Robinson Productions website which shows disgruntled timeshare owners how to easily get out of any timeshare for free.