(BPT) - Once upon a time, if you said you owned a timeshare, you might get a side eye from a well-meaning friend who was concerned you caved to a hard sell for a vacation option. But times have changed, and a quiet revolution in the industry now shows that timeshares can be a savvy vacation strategy.

According to Consumer Reports, timeshare is an increasingly attractive travel option that has evolved since its start in the 1970s.

But do people buy timeshares anymore? According to the American Resort Development Association (ARDA), the short answer is yes. Approximately 7.1% of U.S. households, or 9.6 million families, own one or more types of vacation ownership products.

If current trends continue, young families could soon lead the way in the world of vacation ownership. In fact, despite stereotypical images of timeshare owners as empty nesters headed to the same destination to stay in the same unit every year, owners are trending younger. The average age is 44, thanks in large part to the evolving flexibility of timeshares and growing lists of destinations to visit.

For Kassi and Keith Parker, who bought a timeshare in their late 20s, the decision was a no-brainer.

“When we first sat down with the sales rep, we felt a bit guilty for wasting his time,” explained Kassi, who, along with her husband, invested in vacation ownership with Hilton Grand Vacations. “But not long into our conversation, it dawned on us that we could spend less on travel and continue to explore the world with all of HGV’s properties and experiences. And still being south of 30, we saw so many amazing trips in our future at such a better price.”

Hilton Grand Vacations is one of a handful of timeshare companies affiliated with well-known, reputable hotel brands.

“We’re Hilton Honors members and when I travel for work, I always want to stay with Hilton, because I appreciate the consistency of the brand. Nevertheless, we went into the sales presentation as complete skeptics,” explained Kassi. “Having the Hilton name behind the company gave me real peace of mind. I might not have taken the leap otherwise. We know exactly what we get with their hotels and knew it would be the same with the vacation properties.”

Kassi isn’t alone. According to the State of Shared Vacation Ownership Industry study from ARDA, a timeshare company’s credibility is just one consideration consumers have when deciding to buy a timeshare.

Other reasons listed include:

  • Location of properties
  • Flexibility of programs
  • The ability to save money on future vacations
  • Ownership making vacations a certainty
  • Quality of accommodations

“We found that we traveled too much to not invest in vacation ownership. We know we’re going to travel for the rest of our lives, and the fact that we can travel on a budget is one of the top reasons why we love vacation ownership,” explained Kassi. “It makes us actively think about travel and ensures we take time off to travel. Even if our year is crazy busy, we’re still going to take advantage of our vacation — even if we need to do a staycation at our home resort in Orlando. We know that we will be owners for life and the flexibility of Hilton Grand Vacations was a big decider for us.”

According to the ARDA study, timeshare owners travel better and more often:

  • Half of owners visit resort areas more frequently since purchasing a timeshare.
  • On average, timeshare owners took more than three vacations a year.
  • 70% of owners agree that owning a timeshare makes them vacation more regularly.
  • 72% of owners agreed that owning a timeshare improves their quality of travel.
  • 69% of owners agreed that owning a timeshare gives them better value for their vacation dollars.

“We know we are younger than the traditional timeshare owner, but this doesn’t feel like a traditional timeshare — or at least the stereotype of what people think timeshare is,” said Kassi. “When we think about the value we get back from our investment, we think about it in terms of the time we spend together, the memories we make, and the investment we make to each other and our relationship. It’s our vacation plan.”

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