How will Timeshare fair in these tough economic times?

I really thought that timeshare would be hardest hit by any downturn in the economy, especially with what’s going on now, which seems to have hit middle-class Americans the hardest. But then I heard that last Sunday Mayan Island posted US$1 million in timeshare sales. That’s a lot of timeshare – and in just one day of sales!

So what’s going on?

Looking into it further it started to make some sense.

First, Mayan has a very broad program for owners to choose from. They can get people involved for as low as $7,000 or for as much as a person may want to spend. $7,000 can fit nearly anyone’s budget who has a credit card in his pocket and still some room on it.

This program also makes it very easy to upgrade current owners. By taking on another $10,000, $20,000 or $30,000 of a timeshare upgrade purchase, they can get a unit in a better building, larger unit and with more amenities. They can move up into a unit that may cost more than a million dollars (on the beach, three bedrooms) if they bought it full-time, but instead they get the use of it for the time they really only need and at a fraction of the investment. They also get world-wide exchange programs and such, but they are only as good as they may actually work (and let’s not get into that). 

And it seems people are going for it. I wonder if they are thinking that the full-time purchase may be out of their grasp now that the economy is tanking, so for just a little bit more of an investment they can get the unit on the beach and pretend like its really all theirs (at least until the market gets better and they can afford the full-time unit!). 

Seems like Mayan has made a smart decision to get everything they can out of their current membership. Lot easier to sell to someone who has already bought from you previously. It will be interesting to see how this all works out moving into 2009. For timeshare developments that don’t have the option to easily upgrade existing members with spectacular units, they may have a hard time.

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