INTERVIEWED by KEITH J FERNANDEZ
Will the big trend in 2006 be time share? Several projects have already been announced and, if industry interest in the region is anything to go by, we could quite possibly round out the year with even more slated to come up, in a time when the maturing hospitality industry has begun to look beyond the five-star hotel.
Worldwide, timeshare occupancy is up to 20 per cent over comparable hotel industry statistics, with a propensity for timeshare owners to come back more often, stay longer and spend up to 20 per cent more than traditional hotel guests. TTN spoke to Miguel Ruano, vice-president, project management and development EMEA at the Marriott Vacation Club International (MVCI), who focuses mainly on identifying and acquiring new resort development opportunities for the group. Excerpts:
TTN: When can we expect to see a Marriott Vacation Club in the Middle East? Is the predominantly five-star market here ready for DIY time-share properties?
Miguel Ruano: We can’t specify a date or location, but we are actively looking at opportunities that can meet our business and customer needs. And yes, through customer feedback and analysis, we know there is already an existing interest and demand for timeshare resorts in the region.
What is the potential for the timeshare market in the Middle East and in Asia?
The demand already exists, it’s a matter of finding the right locations to make it grow. In Asia, our Phuket property is already enjoying a tremendous success, which we believe will continue.
So what sets the Marriott Vacation Club apart?
We’re the worldwide leader in our industry and bring a quality of product that is regarded as the best in the business.
How does the Marriott’s hospitality experience help the timeshare business? What’s the synergy between the hotel and timeshare facilities?
Marriott pioneered the concept of mixed-use branded offerings that complement one another and leverage or share facilities and amenities for the operational efficiencies and a great customer experience.
How does the Marriott Vacation Club offering work?
We do not sell a points-based product; we sell deeded ownership unless a country prohibits this, where we sell a right-to-use ownership for a specified period of time. This could be 40 to 60 years depending on the location.
Why is timeshare such a profitable sector for the Marriott?
When done correctly, the business economics are very favourable.
Why should anyone buy into a timeshare vacation plan?
Simply because it meets the needs of a large segment of vacation travellers who want spacious and high-quality accommodation at a great value.
What future developments can we look forward to from the Marriott Vacation Club?
With nearly $1.5 billion in sales last year, replacing sold inventory and preparing for growth, you’ll see a lot from us.
TTN is the most established trade publication in the Middle East distributed on a controlled circulation basis to members of the travel and tourism industry.
Published monthly by Al Hilal Publishing and Marketing Group, the region’s foremost trade publisher, TTN is aimed at professionals in the industry, from travel agents to airline and hotel personnel.
TTN provides in-depth and extensive coverage of relevant issues in the Middle East and North Africa as well as in other parts of the world. Travel related news, analysis, and new appointments together with information on up-coming exhibitions, marketing and promotional campaigns are presented in an innovative and striking colour tabloid.
Every issue also contains a collation of international and regional news and topical features of interest to readers.