ARDA's History of Advocacy
The history of ARDA advocacy tracks with the growth of the timeshare industry itself.
For decades, ARDA has advocated for sensible regulation that promotes and protects our segment of the hospitality industry, while putting into place strong pillars of consumer protection — including things like financial assurances, escrow for purchasers funds, state-vetted public offering statement/budgets and rescission periods.
In post-World War II America, an expanding economy fueled the development of vacation homes and condominiums in a variety of tourist destinations.
By the mid-1970s, banks were faced with overbuilt condominium projects. So, project conversions turned these condos into timeshare resorts — and the U.S. timeshare industry was born.
An Evolving Product
In the early days, timeshare was an unregulated industry, with marketing abuses by some that marred its reputation with consumers and reputable developers. As a result, a group of timeshare pioneers worked together to establish a legislative framework that protected consumers while allowing legitimate developers to prosper.
From that early effort, they established ALDA (The American Land Development Association) in 1969, which later became ARDA (The American Resort Development Association) in 1989.
The 1970s, ’80s and ’90s saw several product enhancements and market milestones:
- In 1974, RCI entered the industry as the first timeshare exchange company. That same year, Vacation Internationale was established, and it introduced the first points program in the United States — adding flexibility in vacation ownership.
- Interval International opened for business in 1976. In this period, timeshare exchange added another level of flexibility to timeshare vacations in both time and location.
- In 1981 the floating-time concept was introduced, freeing owners from being locked into a specific week and unit.
- In 1984 Marriott became the first hospitality brand to enter the vacation ownership industry; it was to be the first of many.
- In response to consumer demand in the 1990s, fractionals and private residence clubs were introduced.
- The points program picked up speed throughout the ’90s and beyond, with RCI launching its global points-based exchange system in 2000 — adding even more flexibility to the product of timeshare.
Establishing an Ethical Foundation
ARDA members approved the Model Timeshare Act in 1983, establishing a foundation of credibility for the industry. From there, ARDA has been able to work with legislators and regulators on issues that affect both developers and consumers.
Later in the 1980s, ARDA established the timeshare industry’s Code of Ethics, which serves as the industry statement on ethical sales practices. Every ARDA member must agree to abide by this code as a condition of membership.
In the United States today, there are more than 1,500 timeshare resorts with over 9 million owners. Globally, there are more than 5,000 timeshare resorts in 121 countries. The modern vacation ownership industry is made up of some of the most respected hospitality brands in the world.
ARDA vacation ownership professionals will continue to respond to consumer preferences and lifestyle choices by providing an expanding variety of flexible timeshare products and, more importantly, the best vacation experiences for their owners.
Meanwhile, ARDA’s Government Affairs team will continue defending the vacation ownership industry at the local, state, federal, and international levels.