By Chloe Aiello
Timeshares have earned a reputation as popular among the elderly crowd ー but timeshare company Diamond Resorts wants to change all that by targeting millennials with lower commitment timeshares and experience-driven vacations.
"Much like the experiential model, where we were the first mover and continue to be the industry leader on the experiential side, we've done the same thing by creating a short-term, 10-year product and it's really doing amazing," Diamond Resorts International CEO Michael Flaskey told Cheddar. "The results are staggering, and it is absolutely focused on the millennial group."
Diamond Resorts' primary offering throughout the years has been a "perennial deeded" time-share ー which is an elegant way of saying that owners who buy in are committed for life. Millennials may love traveling, but industry experts say timeshare ownership doesn't align with the values of millennials ー who tend to prize freedom, flexibility, and minimal commitment.
Flaskey said Diamond's 10-year product, which the company tested over the past year and has launched everywhere except California and Hawaii, has gone over well with younger buyers.
"In 10 years, they can just walk away, and so we are seeing tremendous traction from that millennial group," he said.
Prior even to the short term timeshares, Diamond reworked its business model with its Events of a Lifetime platform, which offers as many as 3,500 events for its members yearly. It's not alone in its efforts; companies like Airbnb have upped the ante in order to target younger travelers who want to come back from their vacation with unique stories to tell and probably a few Instagram photos, as well.
"Real estate is important, they like the condo, but in the end they want to leave with that experience," Flaskey said.
Timeshare companies often have come under fire for aggressive sales tactics and drawing up contracts that are notoriously difficult to offload.
Those difficulties have birthed an entire sub-industry dedicated to helping timeshare owners wiggle out of those tricky contracts. But unfortunately for timeshare owners, many so-called exit companies are actually scammers. Flaskey said Diamond, which in 2017 did establish a formal exit program called Transitions, has filed 11 lawsuits against various timeshare exit companies
"What we are seeing and what the evidence is showing is that these people are not only unethical and illegal, but they are bordering on fraud," Flaskey said.
For full interview click here.