Timeshares are a staple within the travel industry. A timeshare is a type of vacation lodging usually located on or near a resort facility. They are very similar to vacation condominiums, however, a timeshare is not sold as a single property. Instead timeshares are sold in weekly time slots or intervals and the timeshare unit is shared among potentially 52 different owners. Timeshares have been sold as fixed weeks, floating weeks, rotating weeks and most recently as vacation clubs or memberships as well as point based systems.

For the traveller, a timeshare can be inflexible in that it represents a commitment to vacation at the same place (or a venue under the same ownership) one week a year, every year. This can be awkward in years when the traveller doesn't have a week free, can't afford to take a trip or would prefer to vacation elsewhere. A last-minute cancellation is likely to be difficult or impossible if there is a change in plans. Timeshares also carry a high up-front cost as they must be purchased in advance, not merely rented.

It's also difficult to predict whether a hotel which was a good place to stay this year will retain the same standards and the same market position in the future. Sometimes a property is renovated and upgraded, with a corresponding increase in prices; sometimes a property or destination goes into decline through years of neglect. Some once-popular vacation destinations have even become ghost towns.

Like any other bet on the real estate market, the value of an individual timeshare may rise or fall over time.

For the owners of hotels and resorts, timeshares represent a locked-in market and a lucrative source of capital. This may explain the eagerness of promoters of these schemes, as well as some of the high-pressure sales tactics.

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