Toll Free: 877-624-6889

Intl: (407) 917-8432

Are Timeshares Still Just For Seniors?

Blog Image

Posted on August 18, 2023

Timeshares have often been associated with retirees and senior citizens looking for a convenient way to vacation without the responsibilities of full-time vacation home ownership. However, as times have changed, so have the demographics and preferences of timeshare owners. Are timeshares still just for seniors, or is there a broader appeal?

Recent data suggests that times are changing for timeshares. We’ll take a look at how the transition to more points-based vacation club models and the marketing of the major hospitality players has not only changed the landscape of the timeshare industry but made it significantly younger.

The Evolution of Timeshares

Timeshares debuted in the 1960s and quickly became a popular way for travelers to enjoy vacation properties. The system allowed multiple parties to own a share in a property and have access to it for a designated time each year.

The appeal was evident: they could enjoy a luxurious, high demand vacation spot without the financial burden of whole ownership. Timeshares were often marketed to this demographic, focusing on leisure, comfort, and ease.

As these resorts aged, so did their owners, giving the perception that timeshare resorts were just for seniors. The ownership model contributed to this image as well, since owners purchased deeded weeks in perpetuity and kept their ownership into their senior years.

older couple watching sunset from the beach at their timeshare

Shifting to Timeshare Points 

In recent years, timeshare ownership has changed significantly. A combination of changing economic factors, generational preferences, and the emergence of the timeshare points model has attracted a younger and more diverse audience.

Economic Considerations

The rising cost of vacation real estate and the financial strain felt by younger generations have made traditional whole ownership of vacation homes more difficult. Timeshares provide a way to enjoy vacation property without the full ownership commitment, appealing to those looking to maximize their resources.

For younger families, often burdened with things like mortgages, childcare, and education costs, the financial practicality of today’s new timeshare programs is appealing. The ability to have access to a network of vacation resorts without the need to buy a vacation home allows families to enjoy holidays in desirable locations without breaking the bank.

Flexible Options

middle aged couple in pool at a timeshare resort

Timeshare companies have seen the need to appeal to a broader demographic, including younger generations. As a result, many have diversified their offerings, providing more flexibility in ownership programs that offers multiple destinations and different types of accommodations.

For example, most timeshare companies now offer points-based systems where owners can choose from various locations and types of vacations, ranging from traditional beach resorts to more urban destinations and adventurous mountain getaways. This flexibility has attracted a younger, more adventurous clientele looking for unique experiences.

Programs such as Club Wyndham, Hilton Grand Vacations Club and the introduction of Marriott Vacation Club Destinations Points have fundamentally changed the way the industry operates. These and other club programs have taken the industry from the fixed week/single site model to more of a travel club model with multiple destinations and options.

Young families especially seek varied destinations that cater to the dynamic needs of families with children of different ages, and modern timeshare resorts accommodate this. Many of the resorts affiliated with the major hospitality brand such as Marriott Vacation Club and especially Disney Vacation Club have designated activity programs, Kid’s Clubs and game rooms that go far beyond offering just a children’s pool.

Millennial and Gen Z Appeal

While seniors still make up an important portion of timeshare owners, millennials and Gen Z are showing increased interest. These younger generations value experiences over possessions and are attracted to the idea of shared ownership and the sense of community that timeshares can provide.

Recent comments from Michael Brown, who oversees Wyndham Destinations as the CEO of parent company Travel + Leisure, estimates that as much as 70 percent of their timeshare buyers are Gen-X and Millennials. Browns says the average age of buyers is now under 50.

This trend is mirrored in studies conducted by the American Resort Development Association (ARDA). According to ARDA, the average age of a timeshare owner is now 39 years old, substantially lower than just a few years ago.  ARDA estimates that 73 percent of owners are either Gen-Z, Millennials or what they term Younger Gen-X, which is considered under 50.

Social media has also played a huge role in this shift, with younger individuals sharing their vacation experiences and generating interest among their peers on their Instagram accounts.

Family-Friendly Convenience

family eating lunch on patio at a timeshare

Planning a vacation with children can be a complex endeavor. Timeshare units often come with amenities that are family-friendly, such as fully equipped kitchens, multiple bedrooms for privacy, and in-unit washer/dryer. This makes vacation planning more convenient, as families know what to expect and can pack and plan accordingly.

Educational Opportunities

Timeshares that offer cultural experiences or are located near historical or natural sites can also provide important educational opportunities for children. For instance, Disney’s Vero Beach Resort on Florida’s east coast has a designated program called the Sea Turtle Night Walk which is a guided way for guests to learn about sea turtles nesting along the beach. These experiences can complement their school education and instill a love for travel and learning.

Challenges and Misconceptions

Despite the changing demographics, timeshares still suffer from some negative perceptions that have carried over from earlier years. Perceptions of fixed week ownership where owners were locked into one destination every year, misleading sales practices at the resorts, and increasing annual fees caused some skepticism among potential owners of all ages.

However, regulatory changes at the state level and a more transparent, softer sell approach by some companies are addressing these issues, making the concept more attractive to a wider audience.

Do Seniors Still Enjoy Their Timeshares?