couple on balcony overlooking ocean

Trinette Reed

Why Timeshares Are Experiencing a Millennial Renaissance

Timeshares are back, baby! And this time, they're not just for your grandparents.

While timeshares have long been a popular option for vacationers looking to secure a comfortable and convenient place to stay during their trips, they spent years garnering a bad reputation—aggressive sales pitches, ironclad contracts, and a perceived lack of booking flexibility locked people into long-term commitments or hefty financial obligations.

But what's old is new again—and that goes for the timeshares, back in a totally different and better package and seeing record sales (a whopping $8.1 billion worth in 2021). Companies like Marriott Vacations Worldwide, Hilton Grand Vacations, Disney Vacation Club, Wyndham Destinations, and Holiday Inn Club Vacations have updated the concept for a new generation, offering flexible, points-based vacation rental systems that allow members to exchange their points for a variety of travel experiences, destinations, and activities. This new approach to timeshares also comes with a commitment to outstanding customer service, with personalized concierge services, plus hotel and dining options—allowing vacationers to get the most enjoyment out of their investment.

"So much of the growth that timeshares are experiencing can be traced to the industry's evolution toward meeting the needs and desires of today's travelers," said Jason Gamel, president and CEO of the American Resort Development Association, the trade association for the timeshare industry. "Taken together and in combination with the value proposition of the industry, timeshares really deliver for the modern-day traveler."

As for who's buying into the new timeshare game, you might be surprised. While baby boomers undoubtedly continue to invest in the marketplace, a survey from Wyndham Destinations, the world's largest vacation ownership and exchange company, found that 55 percent of millennials have vacationed in a timeshare. From that sample, 73 percent enjoyed the experience, and 1 in 4 liked it so much they would consider buying one.

So much of the growth that timeshares are experiencing can be traced to the industry's evolution toward meeting the needs and desires of today's travelers

This trend can be attributed to several factors. For starters, the earlier entry into the world of timeshares allows millennials to get started with a low-cost commitment, meaning they can enjoy vacation ownership without breaking the bank or fronting the down payment for a singular vacation home.

Revamped points-based systems allow members to adjust their travel plans accordingly, making a timeshare an excellent choice for young people who are just starting their careers and need the flexibility to accommodate any job changes or moves. Now, owners can have a home away from home around the world, a place where they can relax and unwind without the hassles of a traditional hotel stay or an unregulated vacation rental.

Finally, the convenience of booking a timeshare and taking care of all arrangements in just one place makes it an excellent option for anyone who doesn't want to worry about juggling multiple reservation systems and websites.

Of course, the industry still has its critics. Some argue that ownership fees and maintenance costs can be a turn-off, especially for those on a tight budget. Additionally, while not the case for all timeshare contracts, the idea of being tied to a specific property or location can be unappealing for those who prefer the flexibility of a more traditional vacation rental.

Even former NFL star-turned-XFL coach Anthony Becht spoke out against timeshares, citing the hefty fees added to his St. Petersburg, Florida, timeshare contract, which he purchased in 2005.

"It was a shock for me what I ended up paying compared to what I was actually pitched by the timeshare sales company," said Becht. "The fees come at you from all directions, and it can be overwhelming." (Becht ended up working with Timeshare Compliance, a timeshare contract resolution company, to exit his contract.)

Despite these potential drawbacks, however, the trend of increasing timeshare popularity among millennials shows no signs of slowing down. According to ARDA, there are more than 1,500 timeshare vacation club resorts across the U.S., with more than 200,000 units held by nearly 10 million owners.

One catch of timeshare ownership: you may actually take more vacations because of it. A study from the Timeshare Users Group found that 79 percent of owners indicated they go on more vacations than they would have otherwise taken without their timeshare. ARDA research found that timeshare owners took an average of four vacations in 2021.

Ultimately, timeshares are becoming a hot commodity for millennials and travelers of all ages, thanks to their convenience, affordability, and flexibility—and with so many options, from traditional resorts to luxury villas, there truly is a timeshare experience for everyone.