Academic journal article Australian Journal of Hospitality Management

Older Adults as a Distinct Timeshare Market in Australia

Academic journal article Australian Journal of Hospitality Management

Older Adults as a Distinct Timeshare Market in Australia

Article excerpt

Abstract

A mail-out survey of individuals who owned timeshare intervals in Australia was conducted between November 1996 and January 1997. The 1 921 valid responses from this survey were divided into four categories: under 40 years old, 40-49, 50-64 and 65+, in order to focus upon the characteristics of the last group in comparison with the more youthful cohorts. Using Chi-squared tests and one-way ANOVA (supplemented by a post hoc Tukey test), it was found that seniors constitute a distinct segment of the timeshare market, with lower incomes and education levels, smaller units, longer participation and vacation times, larger adult groups but fewer children, lower destination-based expenditures and higher levels of satisfaction. The greatest contrasts occurred with respect to the under 40 age group. It is suggested that the timeshare industry should be more pro-active in attempting to retain and prolong the involvement of currently participating seniors, and in attracting new seniors to the industry.

Keywords: Timeshare, Seniors, Consumer Satisfaction, Australian Hospitality

Introduction

This purpose of this paper is to examine selected characteristics of seniors (designated in this study as those sixty-five years of age and older) who own timeshare intervals in Australia and to determine whether this group constitutes a distinct segment of the market, compared with younger owners. This knowledge will assist interested marketing advisers and managers in devising strategies appropriate to this particular market segment. Contextually, the paper begins with a consideration of the timeshare industry and its significance, then focuses upon the status of seniors within the tourism sector in general. This is followed by an outline of the method that was used to investigate the purpose of the study and a presentation of the results. Finally, the implications of the research are considered for Australia and for those societies with a similar socio-economic structure.

The Timeshare Industry

Timesharing, or interval ownership, is a small but rapidly growing segment of the global tourism industry. Originating in France in 1964, the sector has expanded globally from about 155 000 participating households and 500 resorts in 1980 to 3.5 million households and 4 500 resorts in 1995. While the USA currently accounts for about one-half of all participating households, Australasia and South America have recently experienced rapid expansion in household participation (Crotts and Ragatz 1998). Australia is currently positioned as the tenth largest source of interval owners, with approximately 60 000 participants as compared with just 2 289 in 1982 (Lawton, Weaver and Faulkner 1998). Furthermore, the rate of ownership, at 31.5 participants per 10 000 residents, is considerably higher than the global average of 8.3 (Crotts & Ragatz 1998). In absolute terms, Australia accounts for only about 1.7% of all interval owners, but research carded out in this market will also be relevant to socio-economically similar destinations such as the US, Canada, New Zealand and western Europe.

During its initial evolution, timesharing acquired a negative reputation in Australia and elsewhere as a result of aggressive sales' techniques and questionable financing practices (Haylock 1995; Terry 1994). More recently, its image has been rehabilitated as a result of several factors, including the involvement of large, established corporations such as Disney, Hyatt, Marriott and Four Seasons (Ragatz and McInnis 1996). In addition, the tourism industry and individual destinations are becoming more aware of certain advantages, beyond a record of robust performance, which attend this form of tourism activity. For example, because accommodation costs are pre-paid, interval owners tend to spend about 20% more per day on their holiday than other types of tourists. Interval owners are also more loyal, returning to the same destination an average of 4. …

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