The beginning of a new century marked the start of a new way of doing business on the timeshare resale market with the debut of BuyaTimeshare.com.
In January 2000, company president and CEO Wesley Kogelman, then an undergraduate student at the University of Tampa in Tampa, Florida, took out office space with a couple of his college classmates and created an online business that would change the way timeshare owners connected with potential buyers and renters.
Coinciding with the emergence of the internet as a tool for commerce, Kogelman created an innovative website that would transform timeshare resales. Before the internet, timeshare owners had very few options, either working with their resort or with a local real estate broker – neither of which were particularly structured to succeed in the timeshare secondary market. With the advent of the internet, owners could market their timeshare to a worldwide audience and find buyers directly - all they would need would be a marketing platform to access the internet. Enter BuyaTimeshare.com
This philosophy served the company well as success came quickly, allowing the company to expand in its first year to incorporate tactics such as pay-per-click advertising on sites like Yahoo. Because the internet was so new, traditional marketing outlets were also used - with billboard space taken outside the gates of Disney World in Orlando in addition to promotion in major newspapers - because of the traditional mindsets of consumers at the time and the role media played in influencing purchase decisions.
As Kogelman concluded his education with a Bachelor Degree in Business Administration, an education process was also underway among consumers looking to buy a timeshare. The company knew it had timeshare properties advertised on its site for literally thousands of dollars less than the retail price of the timeshare at the resort, so the focus became educating consumers to the benefits of buying timeshare on the resale market. Then a company named Google took off.
Google Changes Everything
In 2003, Google launched its new search engine and the internet would never be the same. Suddenly, consumers could go to a website, type in a search word or phrase, and a list of websites would appear - giving the consumer the answers they were looking for.
Fortunately for BuyaTimeshare.com, the company had built the site with strategies in place that blended effectively with the emergence of Google’s new search method, due to the amount of educational and resort information available on the site.
Because much of the timeshare industry still operated in the shadows at the time, information about how the industry operated was now publicly available on a mass scale for the first time, including the deals available in timeshare resales.
Opportunities abounded, with sellers and buyers able to connect online. Google AdWords emerged, allowing BuyaTimeshare.com to fine-tune its target marketing to specific audiences in ways previously unheard of in advertising. With Google’s new search platform, buyer intent could be documented through the search terms they entered, allowing websites such as ours to refine strategies to meet the search demand.
Growth in Technology
New interactive systems were built into the site, allowing for smoother communication between owners and buyers in a more user-friendly manner. The creation of the Timeshare Pulse system meant that users could open a free account on the website and negotiate in a protected online environment where no personal information was exchanged. A prospective buyer could place an offer to buy a timeshare and the owner would be notified of the offer in their email inbox. The owner would then login to their account and continue the negotiation in a seamless manner until the sale price was achieved.
Timeshare Pulse also allowed users the opportunity to create alerts, notifying them when a new property became available on the website. Consumers looking to buy a timeshare could set up the alert criteria based on factors such as price range, location and resort brand; receiving a message once a timeshare came into the system matching their criteria.
Growth in Personnel
The company began to outgrow its facilities as it added information technology personnel to work alongside the sales and customer service teams. This led to new office space being secured in the Tampa industrial area just north of the Tampa airport, along with a second office opening in Merrimack, New Hampshire, in 2006. Kogelman, a native of New Hampshire, began his pursuit of his MBA at Rivier College in nearby Nashua and decided to expand the business up north so he could continue to build the company from his home state.
The Economic Downturn
Like all businesses in 2008 and beyond, the timeshare industry was not immune to the effects of the recession and BuyaTimeshare.com adjusted its business to continue to provide resale solutions to the owners looking to transition out of their timeshare ownership.
The effect of the recession had a direct impact on the resorts and developers tasked to sell timeshare to the general public, with overall timeshare sales dropping 53 percent between 2008 and 2009. However, the resale market continued to persevere during the recession due to a few key facts:
- Consumers became more value-conscious in their purchase habits, looking for more deals.
- Many buyers were still in the market for timeshare due to the previous marketing efforts of resorts.
- Growth in the acceptance of the internet, not only as an e-commerce tool but for research and the transparency it brought to industry sales methods.
Owners continued to advertise their timeshares for sale, but buyers also were able to buy timeshares at lower prices than before the downturn.
Emergence of Timeshare Rentals
A new market developed within the industry and became a focal point of resorts – the timeshare rental.
With the recession, and the reduction of resort marketing budgets, resorts began to focus on rentals as a way to generate revenue and introduce new potential buyers to the product. This new light being shed on rentals created new demand that BuyaTimeshare.com was positioned to capture, and still does to this day.
Always Moving Forward
As it headed into its second decade of operation, BuyaTimeshare.com continued to advance the cause of timeshare resales through improving its business processes. The company went paperless, migrating all of its transactions and filings to an electronic format. It also expanded its customer service team so the company could be available 70 hours a week for customers, as well as consumers seeking timeshare information.
The sales process was transformed into an online procedure where written sales contracts would be signed electronically by advertisers and downloaded from a web link. Owners purchasing an ad would provide credit card information through a secure online form, much the way they might purchase travel through a platform such as Expedia. This meant that our employees would never again take credit card information, which protects the consumer as well as the company. Captcha security was built into the online offer process, protecting our consumers from phishing scams and other potential data breaches. Our online security is second to none in the timeshare resale market.
Today, we are a respected leader in our field and the only resale company in the world to be a member of the U.S.-based National Timeshare Owners Association and U.K.-based TATOC, the Timeshare Association – the two most prominent timeshare owners associations globally. We have been welcomed by the resort establishment as a Trustee Member of the American Resort Development Association (the industry’s largest trade association) and are members in good standing with the Canadian Resort Development Association and the Cooperative Association of Resort Exchangers.
With over 2,000 resorts promoted on our website and thousands of satisfied customers, we look forward to continuing our efforts to successfully connect timeshare owners with buyer and renters.