Selling timeshare could benefit travel agents

Dubai is a timeshare supercity, says Clifton.

AGENTS looking to expand their portfolio would do well to consider timeshare, says David Clifton, managing director of Interval International, EMEA and Asia.

The company is bringing together more than 150 delegates representing the main players in the region’s burgeoning timeshare and fractional ownership sector are set to meet at the Vacation Ownership Investment Conference (VOIC) at the Arabian Court, Royal Mirage, Dubai, on March 6.
“With margins getting squeezed, and even eliminated, agencies are looking for new products they can sell, whether in terms of direct sales of timeshare units or first-time entry level packages that would yield further commissions should the customer buy into the long-term plan,” he told TTN over the telephone.
And contrary to popular belief that selling 25 years’ worth of holidays drives away clients, Clifton argues that agents will actually benefit from clients’ desires to travel more, and beyond the scope of their timeshare options. “Industry research has proved that people are not just going away for two weeks in the year, but rather, consumers are going away on mini-vacations and long weekends whenever they can.”
So promising is the timeshare scenario, that Clifton says one large European travel agency group is likely to announce an entry into the timeshare market soon, a move that will have others in the industry wondering if they should do the same.
Regionally, the timeshare market has thus far been rather limited, except for Egypt, but Clifton says there is tremendous scope for Dubai to be one of timeshare’s supercities, alongside Las Vegas and Orlando. “Dubai has the weather, the shopping, beaches – everything. And it appeals to three distinct continents.”
All that’s needed now is legislation, and Interval has been working with other stakeholders on a draft law that is expected to be implemented imminently. “The government is eager to bring in more end users, and our industry has a history of end users going away and talking up their holiday, which brings in more clients.”
The VOIC conference focuses on the fundamentals of the industry and its potential for developers, hotel companies, consumers and local economies and other stakeholders. Among those speaking at the event are Paula Woodgate of the Marriott Vacation Club, who will present an operators’ experience and talk about why Marriott is bullish about timeshare; Interval’s Tom Bell and Mark Bisch of Dubai legal firm Fulbright and Jaworski will examine the legal scenario; and Joop Demes of Golding Hotel Investment Consultants will look at how the concept of condo-hotels fits the times we live in. Keynote speaker Peter Yesawich will examine emerging lifestyle and travel trends and their implications for Middle Eastern destinations. 
By Clark Kelly