Timeshare may well be a familiar concept today, but not many people might know where or how it began, so here is a brief look at the history of timeshare, this popular method of holidaying.

There is actually some debate as to whether the origins of timeshare began in France or Switzerland, based on how you might define the word timeshare. As early as 1963, however, partners Alexander Nette and Dr Guido Renggli formed a company called ‘Hotel and Appartementhaus Immobilien Anlage AG’ in Switzerland, to offer people rent-free holidays every year. The duo acquired resort properties, and these were then sold with a ‘rights to use’ share programme, rather than as deeded real estate.

Meanwhile, somewhere between 1964-1968 (the date is not precise) in France the ‘Societe des Grands Travaux de Marseille development company’ was set up by Paul Doumier. He invented a timeshare notion in the French Alps. His advertising slogan ‘it is cheaper to buy the hotel than to rent the room’ proved an instant success and this concept began to appeal to a wide range of people.

Some experts also argue that timeshare may have begun in the UK during the early 1960s, when four families would purchase a vacation cottage together and each use it during a different season, known as holiday home sharing.

In the USA, the first timeshare was introduced around 1965 on the island of Maui in Hawaii. This hotel-condominium style of timeshare was set within a 15,000 acre mill plantation and was the brainchild of six people. Just four years later, the first non hotel-condominium timeshare emerged, also in Hawaii. Two men called Bob sold leasehold property in weekly intervals, with a 40-year lease. They also went on to establish ‘Vacation Internationale’ and were the pioneers of the original points system. They argued that offering a points system provided flexibility to owners – which is still true today.

It is believed that it was around 1973 when the first deeded timeshare programme began in the USA, established by a group of five men. The property was located at Brockway Springs in Lake Tahoe, California. These five men are also said to be responsible for using the word ‘timeshare’ to describe the product that we know today. They agreed that the word timeshare was understandable to bankers, who would already be familiar with this word when working with mainframe computers. When they filed their product, they labelled it as timeshare, while also using the word timesharing in their marketing literature.

The concept of vacation exchange is said to have originated in the USA during the mid 1970s by RCI, who is still a major player in the industry today.

As many more businesses converted to the timeshare model, the industry grew significantly thereafter. Many of the well-known big companies such as Marriott, Hilton and Sheraton began offering timeshare properties.

Today, the timeshare and timeshare resale industry is huge, with nearly 5,000,000 owners worldwide, and around 5,400 resorts available in over 100 countries.