TimeSharing Today magazine explores timeshare points programs pros and cons
A special feature published in TimeSharing Today’s January/February 2022 printed edition
Points programs dominate the vacation-ownership marketplace and have been adopted by all major timeshare developers.
Points pioneer Jim Marmorstone recalls the concept’s early history from its origins in the 1970s to its growing acceptance in the 1990s. Today, points programs encompass over half of the timeshare industry’s inventory. Yet, many legacy resorts continue to operate on a weekly schedule and many owners continue to favor that arrangement.
The special section explains that points programs gained acceptance due to their flexibility, and to the opportunity they offer for owners to “spend” points for non-accommodation products and services.
Critics complain, however, that point values may be subject to inflation, and accommodations may not be readily available for owners’ desired travel schedules and unit types.
TimeSharing Today asked our readers for their views. Most who responded seem to favor points.
Advantages of points
Flexibility in traveling is always a plus, and our readers were not shy in sharing this opinion. They love the idea of being able to travel when they wish, rather than being tied down to a specific week. For instance, Kathryn Smith of Glendale, AZ, writes “flexibility to book a variety of resorts and length of stays with points is a positive thing.”
Another positive feature of points is shared by reader Eloise Ferrall of Washington, DC. She says “one advantage of being points members is that we can buy more points if we don’t have enough for our vacation units.” This is especially important for large family reunions or groups of friends who want to travel together. Ferrall and her sister have used points annually for their family gatherings at destinations such as Hilton Head Island, SC, or Orlando, FL. More than 30 family members from various states can join these reunions, thanks to the flexibility and availability of points.
Vacation length also is variable with points. For example, reader Thomas Miller of East Stroudsburg, PA, has been involved in timesharing for over two decades. Though points have not always been a lifesaver, he appreciates that they have allowed him to stay longer than just a week at a time.
Disadvantages of points
Critics of the point system prefer specific weeks for their vacations. One reader, Joan M. Dungey, dislikes both the math and the deliberate planning necessary with points. She says many timeshare owners are confused by the value their points hold, especially since point values fluctuate according to the day of the week and the season. This leaves owners in the dark, not knowing the best time to take a trip.
She acknowledges that flexibility in traveling is a benefit, but “you must study the rules and procedures, and use the points as frugally as you can. This means math! Calendar timing and numbers.”
Graham Avis of San Diego, CA, also states that at times he has not been able to use his points for an extended stay. He likes the points system but feels some kinks need to be worked out. “I think it (points) did bring more value to the timeshares we own,” he says. “We never seem to run short of points despite plenty of usage.”
About TimeSharing Today
TimeSharing Today began publishing in 1991. It provides readers with straight talk about the industry. Publisher Shep Altshuler states, “Our content deals extensively with resort governance and vacation-ownership travel. Most older timeshare resorts are governed by owner-run owners’ association boards of directors, which must deal with key challenges that impact the future of their resorts and owners. TimeSharing Today provides information so owners can keep informed about those issues.
TimeSharing Today also publishes numerous articles by owners who share their travel and vacation-ownership experiences.
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Photo Credit: Olegtoka