Not all timeshares are created equally and if and when you own one, you should understand various timeshare strategies. Understanding these strategies can assist you in determining what timeshare you should own and how to maximize its “value”.
“Value” is this situation can be defined as how best to use the timeshare for your personal use or “value” can be how best to use the timeshare to maximize your vacations for significantly less than booking directly with hotels or other accommodations.
STRATEGY 1: USE THE TIMESHARE
This may be basic but for those timeshares that continue to be based on a specific deeded week or allows the owner to use a specific week, the strategy is simply to own a timeshare at the specific resort for the specific week that you want to use. In this type of strategy, if you are the type of vacationer that simply likes to return to the same location and same resort year after year, then you need to own the specific week that you want along with the specific size of unit and resort.
As discussed elsewhere, exchanging is difficult and it would be rare to get the same week at the same resort year after year with exchanging. While possible, this strategy would be the only workable timeshare solution to ensure that you get the week you want at the resort you want. While you may rent year after year, the typical nightly rates will generally greatly surpass the annual maintenance fees. Again, you need to do the math especially when you factor in the purchase price but nightly rents at these timeshare properties are generally very high since the amount of space is very large as compared to a hotel room.
I personally like to visit a different resort and location each year so this strategy does not necessarily work well for my personal vacation preferences. However, I do understand the appeal of vacationing at the same location and resort. When you go to different locations or properties, it generally takes a couple days to figure out the property, restaurants, grocery stores, activities, etc. so you can avoid that learning curve by simple going back to same resort and avoiding have to learn the tips and tricks of that particular resort.
STRATEGY 2: EXCHANGE THE TIMESHARE
Again, this type of strategy applies to those programs that are deeded weeks or are tied to a specific week. In this strategy, the resort, location and size of the unit should not necessary matter to you. The only thing that should matter is how the specific timeshare trades within the exchange companies. Exchange companies value the timeshare based on what is known as trading power. In other posts, we will go over this concept but the general idea is that highly sought after resorts and weeks are given more “trading power” so that the exchange companies will entice you to deposit your week and in exchange will give you the ability to see other prime weeks, resorts and locations.
In this strategy, the key is to obtain a timeshare that gives you the most trading power even if you never want to use the specific deeded week. This seems counter-intuitive to own a specific timeshare but never anticipate using it but this is a viable strategy where you can leverage the specific timeshare to get you into resorts and locations.
For example, in using this strategy, I may want to purchase a timeshare week in Sedona, Arizona during the spring season which is a very high demand season. I pick Sedona because the weather is very nice year-round and maintenance fees are generally lower than other locations because the properties do not need to contend with snow, ice, salt water, heavy rains, hurricanes, earthquakes, flooding and other natural issues that tend to require more upkeep and thus more expenses which inevitably gets passed on to the owner.
If I purchased a high demand week in Sedona for a low maintenance fee even though I would have no interest in ever using it, I can exchange that particular timeshare through RCI, Interval or SFX for other high demand weeks since the exchange companies would give the timeshare ample “trading power” that you allow you to see other prime weeks. I could use my Sedona timeshare to exchange into a prime ski week or a Caribbean resort where the maintenance fees could be double than what I would pay for my Sedona week.
Even when you take into account the exchange fees and potential membership fees of the exchange companies, this strategy can be very worthwhile and actually save you a tremendous amount of money rather than purchasing at the resort or destination where you would prefer to vacation. The key to this strategy is determining the resorts that have the most trading power with the lowest maintenance fees.
STRATEGY 3: THE HYBRID APPROACH
I personally use Strategy 2 for some of my timeshare ownerships but also use Strategy 3. I believe that can you can use high demand weeks to get other high demand weeks in locations and resorts and save a tremendous amount on maintenance fees by owning at a low expense, high demand location. We can go over additional specifics in other posts but strategy 3 basically uses strategy 2 and takes into account the internal trading system of the timeshare that you own.
Exchanging through RCI, Interval and SFX can result in some fantastic exchanges but you should not discount the ability to exchange in the internal programs. For example, Hyatt owners are able to convert their deeded weeks into points and use the points to trade within the Hyatt system for other Hyatt properties. If you own with Hyatt, you can exchange through Interval but Interval blocks Hyatt inventory from Hyatt owners. If you want a Hyatt property, you need to book directly through Hyatt and not Interval. Therefore, using Strategy 2 and owning a Hyatt week would prevent you for using Interval to exchange to Hyatt properties.
While there are some benefits relating to the internal exchange system, the key downside is that if you own a low demand Hyatt week, the week will not be allocated a lot of points within the Hyatt system so there will be many properties that will simply be out of reach in order to exchange into for the same type of unit. You will simply never have enough points to exchange within Hyatt for a high demand property. However, that low demand Hyatt week may allow you to exchange into a high demand week within Interval.
Hyatt does allow you to book 2, 3, and 4 nights stays in addition to 7 night stays that can be had for a favorable amount of points so you could use Strategy 3 to own a high demand, low maintenance week with Hyatt and exchange through Interval at times but also review the internal Hyatt chart to be able to stay at Hyatt’s properties. I am a big fan of Hyatt as all of their properties are generally very highly rated and there are some sweet spots with the Hyatt program that can make this a viable strategy.
In addition, strategy 3 can be very worthwhile for Marriott owners or Vistana owners (formerly starwood). Most Marriott and Vistana timeshares can trade through Interval but there are some sweet spots within both of their internal exchange programs which we will detail in later posts.
In addition, Interval provides Marriott and Vistana timeshares with a preference period. The preference period, which will discuss in more detail in other posts, basically allows Marriott and Vistana owners the ability to see other Marriott and Vistana exchanges before the general Interval population. In my example above, if you own with Hyatt, there will be times when very favorable exchanges become available with Marriott or Vistana but even with deposited high demand week, as a Hyatt owner, I will not be able to see those types of deposits.
Interval specifically blocks all other Internal members from seeing those units and only shows the availability to its Marriott members or Vistana members. Therefore, it may be worthwhile to own with Marriott or Vistana if there are certain properties that you would like to visit within their programs.
STRATEGY 4: EXCHANGE THROUGH THE INTERNAL PROGRAM
Another viable strategy would be to purchase a timeshare in one of the major programs that allow for internal exchanges. All the major programs that still offer deeded weeks allow you to convert your deeded week into points and use those points to exchange with the internal program. You can own a specific unit within the program and use those points to trade within the program without ever having to exchange through the exchange companies.
For example, you could own a week with Hilton or Hyatt and the location, size and season could be of no relevance to you. You would simply want to know the amount of points being allocated to the specific week so that you can convert the week into points and exchange within the program for other Hilton or Hyatt programs. This is a very worthwhile strategy and we will discuss the various sweet spots in the programs.
In other posts, I will explain an additional strategy on how to leverage various programs in order to get even more value out exchanging your timeshare. This will definitely be more advanced but stay tuned for that post!
As I have said multiple times before, timeshare ownership can be complex as there are so many variables that go into play with using them across the various programs. The various strategies outlined above are essential to have a general understanding about so that you can determine what timeshare to own or how to get the most value out of your existing ownership.
There are too many disgruntled owners of timeshares since they do not understand the programs and do not understand the way to leverage ownership in order to get high quality reasonable priced vacations. One of the goals of this blog is to fix this perception and provide existing timeshare owners with the knowledge to get the vacations that they want!
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