Timeshares, Vacation Clubs, Vacation Ownership and Fractional Ownership: You might be confused by these terms but they all mean more or less the same thing. Timeshares, vacation clubs and vacation ownership are all roughly the same concept. Fractional ownership is slightly different though often confused with timeshare. Read on to find out the difference between these concepts.
Timeshare is the original name for vacation clubs and vacation ownership in their original format. The reason for the name change is due to a number of factors. Firstly, when timeshares first became popular at the end of the 1980s, the concept was a lot more simple. Generally speaking, the value of a hotel unit or property was divided into 52 weekly slots and sold as timeshare. The idea was that you were buying a share of time at a resort, hence time-share. Obviously, some weeks were more expensive than others and would be charged accordingly, such as the holidays, spring break and the school summer vacations etc. Nevertheless, when timeshare began, you would purchase a fixed week each year for a set period of time between 25 and 30 years. If you wished to change the dates you would need to enter into an exchange program.
Vacation ownership and membership
As the timeshare model evolved to meet the ever-changing needs of its members and vacation owners, programs were introduced to create greater flexibility. Fixed week timeshares were offered in addition to floating week models were you could purchase within a particular season. Subsequently, many timeshare companies changed to a points-based system where your timeshare was totally flexible and transferable to other times of the year as well as other resorts within a resort chain. The idea of timeshare points is that you can reserve the unit you wish depending on if you have enough timeshare points.
Therefore, terms such as vacation ownership and membership were introduced to reflect the greater flexibility offered by timeshare companies. Timeshare owners were no longer purchasing a week in a specific unit but rather flexible points which were equivalent to a week in a particular unit. Membership and vacation ownership became more representative terms to describe the product.
In many instances, the term “vacation club” is used to describe a number of timeshare products, particularly those that offer a wide range of properties and suite types to choose from. Vacation clubs will sell membership and provide multiple services that may include travel agency services, flights, international exchanges, cruise vacations and more. The kinds of benefits that you have as a vacation club member will depend on your specific membership. Some vacations clubs offer discounted vacations, while others function more like a timeshare where your membership entitles you to stay in certain units for a certain amount of time.