This year TATOC reaches a major milestone – its 25th birthday.
During these years, TATOC has grown into a major consumer association recognised by the majority of the timeshare industry as a body to work with to address its problems and challenges.
The task facing TATOC in 1989 was to unite timeshare resort committees and work together to address the needs of fellow members in a rapidly growing market.
As with most growing markets there were the reputable developers but also the bad guys who could see ways of taking advantage of vulnerable buyers.
The TATOC remit was to represent resort committees and support them with education, regional meetings and advice. Since then, with the exception of regional meetings, which were withdrawn due to lack of interest, TATOC has expanded its services.
TATOC continues to be a force within the industry but the needs and expectations of owners have changed dramatically.
The old perpetuity clause in the contract was a great thing to have in the early days but now has become a great cause for concern for many owners.
In 2009, TATOC, in conjunction with the Resort Development Organisation (RDO), appointed a panel of experts who, over a three-year period, investigated the problems caused by the perpetuity clause.
A report was circulated in May 2012 but it was felt that it failed to address the key issues relating to timeshare owners’ ownership interests.
Of particular concern were ageing owners and those who wished to divest themselves of their timeshare ownership but who were unable to do so because of their original in-perpetuity purchase contracts.
It was recognised that some committees and developers consider the surrender of timeshare interests in special circumstances; others have initiated programmes which provide an exit route at some point.
However, there are owners within existing resorts who do wish to find ‘perpetual’ exit route possibilities.
TATOC has examined the challenges posed by timeshare products and identified the exit options which might be available.
The issue of exit routes is not a simple one. TATOC recognises the difficulties the on-going commitment to annual fees can bring, especially to those who find themselves in changing or difficult circumstances.
But consideration has also to be given to those owners who pay fees regularly and wish their resort to continue in good financial health.
Timeshare exit options are a double-sided coin. This is why so much effort has been put into looking for options that will consider and protect everyone. The additional issue of perpetuity involving people’s estates and beneficiaries is a further complication.
TATOC and the RDO held a seminar in March 2014 to coincide with our annual conference. The aim was to provide advice and guidance on issues affecting owner-run resorts today, particularly the ageing owner base and perpetuity contracts.
Many of you will also be aware that the European Commission has timeshare in its sights and starts a review of the directive early next year. We believe the problems surrounding ‘perpetuity’, as well as ‘escalating’ maintenance fees, will be under the spotlight. These are issues that were raised in a House of Commons Parliamentary debate earlier this year.
A full report on the seminar can be found here.
There will be a full report on the TATOC 2014 conference in the summer issue of Sharetime magazine.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank all those who have worked for and supported TATOC over the past twenty-five years, our member resorts and affiliated businesses that have made the association the success that it is today.