A better understanding of timeshare owners – and the ones that got away!

  • Resort amenities are generating tremendous social media buzz. Guest expectations have never been higher.
  • One in four mentions about buying a timeshare are actually questions.
  • Coinciding with the rise of experiential travel, recreational activities is the most talked-about resort topic. Positive mentions outnumbered negative ones by a ratio of nearly 7:1 in this area.
  • Negative mentions of timeshare scams or fraud account for 16% of all negative mentions collected in this study.

In early 2015, National Timeshare Owners Association (NTOA) commissioned INTUITION Brand Marketing to produce the first annual Timeshare Owners Study.

Unlike anything previously undertaken in the industry, The Timeshare Owners Study was constructed from online conversations about the timeshare industry with an aim to better understand consumer perceptions and opinions.

In contrast to studies based on customer surveys, INTUITION Brand Marketing used its Business Intelligence platform to collect more than 500,000 conversions that matched a simple criteria, and then segmented that data into meaningful topics and categories to create a 56-page document packed with insightful statistics and analysis.

The 2015 study was based on 2014 data collected between Jan 1 and Dec 31. The criteria were generically restricted to conversions that originated in the United States and referenced on or more of the follow keywords or phrases – “timeshare”, “vacation ownership” and “travel club”, plus all plurals and derivatives (such as timeshares, time-share, timesharing etc).

For this first study, to ascertain scale, all other common industry words, company and resort names were omitted, and all news-type websites were excluded so that data was not skewed by news articles, press releases or marketing information generated by the media or industry companies his meant that the 500,000+ mentions used for the study, barely scratched the surface of total online conversations about the industry, yet provided much more tangible data than a traditional survey could. Once collected, the INTUITION Brand Marketing team spent several months manually verifying each mention to ensure sentiment accuracy, and analyzing comment trends in order to determine categorization and segmentation of the data into easy to interpret charts and graphs he results are very compelling and the study has already been downloaded by executives from more than 200 companies. Details on how to request a copy of the study can be found after the following breakdown:

The study offered four main areas of focus.

Top Level Overview
A brief look at the total volume figures of the study, that noted 53% of mentions were posted in the first half of the year compared to 47% in the second half which saw a steady decline as the end of
the year drew closer.

The highest number of weekly mentions was found in the first quarter which was attributed in part to discussions about maintenance fees and planning vacations for later in the year. Another rise was seen during the peak travel months of June, July and August which was attributed mostly to conversations surrounding the vacation experience.

Peaks for negative mentions were seen during maintenance fee times, and either side of the peak travel months where mini-vacs (for the purpose of soliciting sales) were at their highest, with a notable drop in July and August when occupancy is mostly taken up with existing owners. In contrast positive mentions build throughout the year and peak after the main travel months as owners take to social media to share their vacation experiences

Overall Reputation
This section provided a wealth of data, that plotted the timeshare
industry’s historical online reputation from January 2011 through December 2014. The data showed that the industry’s reputation has improved dramatically year on year. A large influence on this has been the rise of social media and user generated content marketing strategies, which has helped positive comments grow much more rapidly than negative comments which have remained relatively constant since 2012.

Deeper analytics in this section focused on Non-Ownership
Complaints and Scams & Fraud compared with Owner Complaints. It showed that negative comments were damaging to the industry’s reputation and growth, but despite the rise of Social Media, there’s no epidemic that is set to wipe out timeshare.

The Timeshare Experience
The study utilized the powerful enterprise features of the INTUITION
Business Intelligence system to drill deep into the conversations and achieve a unique insight into how the timeshare owner / guest uses the product, and what their thoughts and opinions are of each phase of the vacation experience.

The topics covered were:
Accommodation; segmented into mentions about Living Space, Bedroom, Kitchen, Electronics and Wi-Fi as the five most talked about topics.

Amenities; from spa treatments, to preferred types of dining and onsite / offsite recreation activities to nightlife, the data shows what guests rank as most important to them.

Service; showed positive and negative opinions about several topics, including Front Desk, Concierge, Maid Service, Maintenance, Wait Staff and more.

Food & Beverage; showed a shift in demand for more dining options, more creative menus. It highlighted the most talked about meal of the day, and the opinions of all-inclusive plans.

With an abundance of quotes from real conversations online embedded into this section, it makes compelling reading for resort developers.

Other Interesting Findings
The last section was created from other standout topics and trends, that included analysis of Modern Reservations, Rentals & Resales, Most Popular Destinations, Buying & Selling By Owner and the Timeshare Sales Presentation.

You can request your copy of The 2015 Timeshare Owners Study at

The 2016 study (based on 2015 data) is already underway. The INTUITION Brand Marketing team have indicated that the 2nd annual study has been expanded to include more keywords and phrases and more categories and topics. It is estimated that the 2016 study will be based on more than 1,000,000 mentions.

INTUITION Brand Marketing has also been asked to create a Canadian version of the Timeshare Owners Study for the Canadian Resort Development Association, which will be released at the 2016 Canadian Resort Conference.

Interview with Greg Crist, President and CEO of NTOA
1. Tell us about the work you have been doing with NTOA since you took over the association.
Well I think we have really focused on growing member value by learning how to support the evolving needs of thousands of timeshare owners throughout North America. Education is a significant part of what we do, because we want our member/owners to understand how to use and enjoy all of the benefits that timeshare has to offer. Last year, we constructed 10 interactive online modules that cover nearly every aspect of vacation ownership and for more specific or individual questions, the NTOA launched the ASK NTOA help desk, a toll free owner referral and assistance line dedicated to serving timeshare owners. The program has been so successful that we now operate the official owner helpdesk of the Canadian Resort Development Association.

2. Why was the Timeshare Study so important for NTOA?

With so many consumer trends changing in the post-recession, our leadership team turned to INTUITION Brand Marketing to help us gain new insight into the mindset of timeshare owners. It’s clear that conversations about vacation ownership are happening 24/7 on social media channels. Capturing the positive, the negative and everything in between has been invaluable to how we serve our membership and owners across North America.

3. What were the main key findings from the study?
Naturally, accommodations ranked highest in the area of owner satisfaction. Online reputation is steadily improving with the branded developers yet there is still plenty of room for continued improvement.

We noted a significantly higher complaint level about points programs compared to deeded intervals. We have validated through the study, that there remains a strong need for owner education. We think we can reduce owner frustration by showing these folks how they can effectively use their property and the internal/external exchange programs.

One other major take away was that fraudulent timeshare resale outfits continue to plague owners. This has deeply impacted owner trust with legitimate operators.