Let's face it. Travel is big business. Huge business. Consider that international visitors to the United States spent more than $122.7 billion on travel and tourism-related activities in 2007 - that's just people coming to United States alone! (Source: Office of Travel & Tourism Industries (OTTI) March 11, 2008)


I've also seen estimates attributed to the Travel Industry Association that the travel and tourism industry itself generates more than $1+ trillion in economic activity.


These are significant figures. And a lot of people want a piece of that pie. Who can blame them? Traveling is fun, and it's a fun industry to work in if you enjoy traveling yourself.


If you have ever vacationed at a timeshare resort - whether or not you actually own a timeshare, it quickly - very quickly - becomes evident that the resort wants you to purchase a timeshare at that location. After all - the resort is beautiful, and since you're having a wonderful vacation, why not purchase a week you can enjoy every year for years and years to come?


Whoa! Before you whip out your credit card or sign any financing papers in the magic of the moment, take a deep breath.... No... make that five or six deep breaths. Ask yourself these questions:


1) Do you really want to be locked into a contract where - after you pay thousands of dollars for the initial purchase - you'll be paying annual maintenance fees (which never seem to go down)? (According to Timeshares.com the industry average is $16,000 for a purchase. And, WorldMarkTheClub.com, says that the 2006 industry average for maintenance fees was $512 for a one-bedroom, and $614 for a two-bedroom unit.)


2) In the event you'd like to exchange your week for a week at a completely different resort, do you want to pay annual membership dues to an exchange company and then pay for the exchange itself (cough up another couple hundred dollars a year).


3) Also, if you want to exchange your week for a week at another resort - even if you're willing to pay all those fees - are you prepared to be disappointed if you are told that the location you want to visit is not available (such as Hawaii, the Islands, etc... You might have to try Branson, MO - there are usually weeks available there ...)?


4) Are you absolutely sure that you only want to come back to this particular resort year after year?


Ok, if you answered yes to those questions, then by all means, buy a timeshare.


If, however, you are thinking twice, and taking another eight to ten deep breaths - you might be asking yourself, "Well, if not timeshare, how else can I vacation at these gorgeous resorts? Is there another way?"


The answer is "yes." Take Global Resorts Network (GRN) as an example. Here, GRN has the exclusive worldwide rights to market a private luxury travel membership that has twenty-two years experience in outstanding customer satisfaction.


Since these memberships are now marketed via the internet, this trend is catching on very quickly. And why not?


No one has to sit through a sales presentation, and the process is extremely simple.


A prospective buyer simply visits a GRN Affiliate's website where he or she explores the membership at his or her leisure without someone pushing them to make a buying decision on the spot.


The buyer notices that a lifetime (Platinum) membership is only $2,995.00 and that there are no blackout dates for travel.


Then, the buyer emails or calls (or requests a call from) the affiliate, and asks some questions:

"Is there an annual maintenance fee to use this membership?" (The answer is, "No.")


"How much do I REALLY have to pay for a week at one of these resorts?" (The answer is, "Anywhere from $298 - $699 with a few resorts going for $799.")


"Yeah, sounds great, but what are the odds that I'll really get to use a resort in Hawaii or the Florida coast?" (The answer is, "Once you put in your request for a location and range of dates, customer service will be bending over backwards to find you your location - that's what they do. And because of the club's tremendous buying power, the odds are very, very good that they will find you a beautiful resort.")

So, let's recap the differences here:


Timeshare ownership can cost an average of $16,000.  Luxury travel membership has one low cost to join - $2,995 for a lifetime membership


Timeshare ownership dues/fees range from $300 - $1,000. Luxury travel membership does not have annual dues or maintenance fees. You never pay for a vacation unless you actually take one.


Timeshare ownership default on yearly dues could jeopardize ownership.  Luxury travel membership means you join once, you're a member for life, with no extra fees.


Timeshare ownership exchanges are difficult and costly.  Luxury travel membership means no more exchanging, and members choose from more than 5,000 luxury resort properties worldwide.


Timeshare ownership has maximum depreciation on the investment worth approximately 10 cents on the dollar.  Luxury travel membership has retained its full value for the last 21 years (there is a $75 transfer fee).


Timeshare ownership means that the owners may pay additional fees for property remodeling and renovations. Luxury travel membership means that the members do not share in remodeling or renovation costs.


Ultimately up to you to do your due diligence and determine what really will work best for you. Of course there are times when a timeshare purchase might be the best way to go - as an example, perhaps if that resort is near family and the owner will always use that particular resort.


After all is said and done, the best suggestion is that you do the math and carefully consider all your options and preferences before you purchase either a timeshare or luxury travel membership. After all, travel and vacation is supposed to make you feel good - not stressed!

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