Instead, what he finds so appealing about living in the City Beautiful is the sense of optimism expressed by those in an industry that’s suffered some hard times, but now appears poised for a healthy rebound.
“Orlando is such a big hospitality town,” Tremblay said. “At least half the time, if I walk into a restaurant for lunch or for dinner near my office, almost inevitably I’ll bump into someone I know and they work in the industry. There’s this spirit of optimism in Orlando. Even with all the gloom and doom in a lot of the media, when you talk to people who work in the industry, there’s a great deal of optimism. And it’s not that they’re delusional. They see this is a temporary thing we’re going through, and they know that people who do understand the industry, they love it. That’s significant. We still think the future is bright.”
Tremblay runs Timeshare Broker Services, which provides timeshare brokerage, Internet advertising and marketing solutions for timeshare owners or developers looking to sell or rent their unit. Although the firm’s corporate headquarters is in Dover, N.H., they grew so quickly that they opened offices in Orlando, a city that’s considered one of the prime locations for the timeshare industry worldwide.
Tremblay acknowledges the timeshare industry has experienced a couple of rocky years.
“The industry as a whole peaked in 2007 and 2008,” he said. “Last year it was off significantly, almost 40 percent. It wasn’t because of a lack of demand, but a lack of financing. A lot of financing that has been available to developers to finance the consumers purchasing these timeshares, a lot of that financing dried up. The banks just froze. It wasn’t that the developers couldn’t have kept up the pace of sales, but they didn’t have the financial backing to do that. What I’m hearing is that is beginning to loosen up.”
The industry has also been hurt by a spate of negative publicity about timeshare resale scams – scam artists who target people trying to sell their timeshare, and offering to hook them up with a buyer as long as they first pay an up-front fee. The resale firm typically disappears once they get that fee.
“There has been a lot of fraud,” he said. “There’s a general lack of trust in the timeshare market. People think the resale market is all fraud, and that’s not the case. You just need to use some common sense. One question is, all of them do cold calling. If you own a timeshare and out of the blue you get a call and in that same phone call they’re asking for money, it’s just common sense – hang up. The other common thread is none of these companies have actual exposure to buyers.
“This industry is growing,” he added. “It is still splintered and fragmented. Be realistic about pricing. A timeshare is a used product. Just like if you bought a Cadillac eight years ago, you’re not going to get the same price for it today.”
But while the industry suffered some in recent years, Tremblay said it remains healthy and is likely getting stronger. In the past few years, he said, Timeshare Broker helped to facilitate thousands of for-sale-by-owner timeshare transactions –1,756 timeshare or fractional ownership sales in 2011 alone.
That growth enabled Timeshare Brokers to expand its new office space, which is at 8680 Commodity Circle in Orlando, which also houses the corporate headquarters of Island One Resorts.
“We opened the Orlando office mainly because we really wanted licensed real estate agents who also understood the timeshare product, and there is no other place on the planet that has as many experienced people as in Orlando,” he said. “I now live here in Orlando, and the area of our business that we focus on is our brokered business. We only charge a commission and get paid upon the successful sale of the timeshare.”
Tremblay started the business in 2003 in New Hampshire.
“It was an online business,” he said. “We launched the web site in 2003. I saw a real void with regards to people needing to sell their timeshare. There was no clear marketplace online, where people who wanted to sell and people who wanted to buy were connecting. In the early days for the Web site, we were purely a For Sale by Owner site. If you owned a site and wanted to sell or rent it out, you could list it. Individual owners could advertise their timeshares with us. About 2006, we saw that there was a real opportunity in not just providing that platform, but also brokering the transaction. The resale market is very splintered. We felt like there was a real opportunity there, and we didn’t charge anything until we actually sold the property. We felt there was definitely a market for that.”
Tremblay thinks there will always be a healthy market among the vacationing public for the timeshare industry, with the numerous perks and benefits it offers to families.
“With regard to Florida, I have so many friends and family who know that I’m in this business, and who come to Orlando,” Tremblay said. “If you’ve got kids, you go to Orlando. Many of these friends and family would come stay at a hotel online, and go to Expedia and find the best deal they can. But the experience of sharing a hotel with the kids means dinner is a pizza on the bed, and that is very different from staying in a timeshare villa where you can cook in the room and you have a full living room, and you have separate bedrooms for the kids. The on site amenities are far more than what you can find at a hotel. It’s just the difference in vacation experiences. It’s night and day. It’s almost like your own little village. There’s this stress factor that’s gone when you stay there.”
He also thinks the industry will make some changes in the next few years to reflect what customers want.
“I think the product is going to have to evolve,” Tremblay said. “When timeshare was first sold, it was sold as a fixed week at a fixed unit. It was a specific unit and a specific week. If your week was the first week of January every year, that’s when you went to that unit. Then it evolved into a floating product, and now it’s evolved into a points system, where rather than buying a week, you can build points that decide how many nights you can stay, and where you can go.
“The one flaw in the product,” he added, “is very often it’s sold as a deeded product. The challenge with that is going to Orlando every year can be great when your kids are 8 and 12, but when your kids are 30 and 34, you may not want to go there anymore. I think over time, rather than buying a deed in perpetuity, you’ll get 10 years of use rights. That gives you the rights over 10 years to use that product, and then you’re done, and maybe at the end of those 10 years you’ll want to renew — or walk away.”
To learn more about Timeshare Broker Services, call 603-833-3238.