Difference Between Timeshare, Fractional Ownership and Vacation Clubs

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Vacation clubs, Vacation Ownership, Timeshare, and Fractional Ownership… they all pretty much sound like different words for the same thing, right? Well, the truth is that in some ways they are! These terms refer, for the most part, to different models of a similar concept, although Fractional ownership stands out as being somewhat different from the rest. Read on to find out more about these terms and their meanings;


Timeshare is the term which refers to the original format that became popular in the 1980’s.

The gist was that a vacation resort calculated the value of each unit, and split this into 52 weekly chunks. Some weeks, those during peak times, were more expensive, and some less so, but they were all offered to customers for purchase over a set term (usually 25 or 30 years). As a result, consumers were buying a share in the time available in those units. Hence the name; “Timeshare”. This model offered structure and the guarantees use of that unit at that time to families and individuals who were looking for somewhere to vacation. At the time this model suited the target consumer; professionals who were likely to be guaranteed vacation time at a set time every year.

Of course the world moves on, and so too did the Timeshare Industry.

Vacation ownership and membership

The Vacation Ownership model came next, and offered a similar structure with slightly more flexibility. Instead of buying set times, consumers purchased a share of time in a given season and could move their weeks across this season. This was known as the “Floating Week” format.

After floating weeks came the Membership model, or points based system, that we know today. This model was designed to give ultimate flexibility in terms of how the customer could vacation. The points allotted are used to “buy” time in varying units and even in different resorts; they can often be banked, borrowed, and used on services and treats as well as booking the unit itself.

So as you can see these terms are actually representative of the progression of the industry and the ever constant lean towards flexibility and choice that took place.

Vacation Clubs

The term “Vacation Club” is used to describe a number of timeshare products which take varying forms and offer different benefits. Benefits can range from discounted vacations to travel agency services, international exchanged, and even discounted flights. If you stack products, for example an exchange network membership and a timeshare, you can really build a bespoke service.

Fractional Ownership

Fractional ownership often confused with Vacation Club products, but is distinct for a few reasons. Firstly, while fractional ownership does relate to buying a set amount of time in a property it is also the deeded purchase of this fraction (as opposed to the long term lease of it). This means that you own this fraction in perpetuity and can benefit from any rises in value the property might enjoy. Because of this you do not need to make reservations within your allotted time; you can come and go as you please. Finally, these fractions are also much bigger than timeshare weeks; they tend to be sold in months or seasons.

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