May 30, 2008
The Department serves such a diverse group of businesses and professionals – some of which I know well and others I enjoy learning about. The educational component of my job is crucial. By learning about the various industries we serve and the intricacies of their day-to-day operations, we can find better ways to do business. Last week, I had the opportunity to learn a great deal about the timeshares industry.
The industry is growing both nationally and internationally with new projects in China, Dubai, Hawaii, California, and – of course – Florida. Many of the largest developers of timeshares maintain their corporate headquarters in Florida. In fact, the American Resort Development Association lists Florida as the number one state for timeshares with more than 2.3 billion dollars in sales in 2006.
Last week, I visited with Corporate Counsel Doug Kelly at the Marriott Vacation Club in Orlando. Marriott Vacation Club has timeshares all over the world and approximately 300,000 unit owners in their resorts. The timeshare business continues to grow and has become a huge industry for Marriott International and Florida. Doug explained how the initial purchase of a timeshare unit boosts the economy, and the subsequent visits of the owner results in more money being put into the community. Doug believes that tourists who visit their timeshares spend more money in the area since they are not shelling out for a hotel or other rental.
Doug provided us with a tour of the Grand Vista Resort in Orlando, which is just 11 miles from Disney World. Sales Director Jeff Zegler treated us as though we were customers and walked us through the center. Families sat at tables and enjoyed complimentary refreshments. The potential buyers enjoyed great vacations while learning about the timeshare opportunity. In spite of information-packed presentation, the atmosphere was relaxed. Our tour continued through the vacation units and property and ended in the lobby of the resort, where vacationers were enjoying the restaurants and swimming pool.
The timeshare industry has changed a great deal since the early days when the customer was offered one basic product, a fixed week in a certain location. Today, vacation ownership can be purchased in a myriad of ways, including a fixed week in one location or a floating week in various locations. Additionally, timeshares are now offered in fractional purchases, where the owner purchases the timeshare in multiple weeks or months. The vacation owner can now exchange his unit for one in another part of the world or earn points for future vacations.
Since there has been so much change over the past 25 years, it is important for people to understand what is being offered when considering timeshare ownership. Director of the Division of Condominiums, Timeshares and Mobile Homes Michael Cochran advises that potential timeshare owners be vigilant about asking questions and reading all documents provided by the sales representatives. Potential buyers can call our Customer Contact Center at 850-487-1395 with any questions.
There has always been a certain amount of mystery surrounding the timeshares business, so I am very grateful to Doug and Marriott Vacation Club for allowing us to have a behind the scenes look into the business. It was very interesting for me and certainly cleared up many questions that I had about owning a timeshare.
Department of Business and
1940 North Monroe Street
Tallahassee, Florida 32399
Customer Contact Center: