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Timeshares Could Be the Coolest 2021 Trend You Never Saw Coming

Timeshares Could Be the Coolest 2021 Trend You Never Saw Coming

“It’s kind of like a hybrid of Airbnb meets Expedia or Booking.com.”

That’s the way Mike Kennedy, cofounder of KOALA, describes the online marketplace, which serves to introduce timeshare owners to those seeking short-term rentals.

Connecting travellers — those, according to the website, “who want great vacations with exceptional value — with owners “who want to earn money from time that they can’t use,” the Brooklyn, New York-based portal allows two parties who may otherwise never cross paths to link up, safely and securely, to complete their desired transaction.

While working in the timeshare industry, Kennedy became closely acquainted with the problems that timeshare owners were facing. Read: individuals slow down or stop travel, kids go off to college, or — unlikely as it may be — a pandemic puts the pause on typical vacation plans for the foreseeable future.

(Sure, that last one may be unlikely, but anything’s possible, right?)

“When [owners] were done using this product that they spent a lot of money on — and are continuing to spend a lot of money on annually — there were no options for them to alleviate that financial pressure,” Kennedy explains. “There weren’t easy ways to sell it, their kids didn’t typically want it; the younger generations don’t really connect or resonate with buying into these longer-term contracts, so there was just no real alleviation for them.”

And while most of these owners were entitled to renting out their spaces, doing so wasn’t an easy feat. Kennedy describes the task, or attempts at it, as “antiquated,” “low-key,” and “Craigslist-style,” with individuals handling rental contracts, writing cheques, and sending PayPal information back and forth.

“It’s so silly to me that that is the way, in 2020, people are transacting.”

timeshare
Marriott Newport Coastal Villas Amenities (KOALA)

Enter: KOALA. Serving as a modernization of the timeshare transaction sphere, Kennedy says the site aims to clear the murky water that flows between owning and enjoying a timeshare, and wishing you could optimize its space when you’re not using it.

It’s a solution to a problem that Airbnb, lucrative as the service is, hasn’t been able to address in the same way.

“Airbnb has this massive traveller audience, but it doesn’t really fit the supply chain that is timeshare loops. So you don’t really see timeshare owners leaning into this, and the ones that are… they’re kind of hacking the system; they’re not leaning into its strengths,” Kennedy says. “As a result, the travellers aren’t always guaranteed that accurate unit, because there’s no way to verify them.”