St. Maarten Timeshare owner survey – Restaurants, retailers and casinos benefit most from timeshare owners

POSTED: 11/22/13 4:56 PM

St. Maarten – Timeshare owners spend on average 10.9 days in St. Maarten and they spend on average $980 on dining, most of it outside of the timeshare resorts in the local economy. This appears from a survey the shared ownership services division of HVS, a leading hotel consulting and valuation firm conducted between July 10 and September 5 of this year. The survey results were presented at the Infinity Restaurant at the Oster Bay Beach Resort yesterday afternoon.

Oyster Bay Beach Resort manager Ricardo Perez initiated the survey. “We needed fresh data to confirm what we thought we knew about our industry he said. Without proper data you cannot run a business properly.”

Interval International, a worldwide provider of vacation services put up the $15,000 to conduct the survey, and its director for the Caribbean and Florida, Neil Kolton was at hand to present the survey results together with Perez.

Kolton noted that the demand for the destination St. Maarten remains very high. “Timeshare property owners have been investing in their properties,” he said. “But in the end it is the people that make the difference. The employees make it happen.”

Nolton  noted that timeshare owners keep coming back to St. Maarten because they have invested in the destination. And indeed, 90 percent of the 5,068 respondents to the electronic survey said that they would come back to St. Maarten. Of the respondents, 52 percent comes to St. Maarten in the high season (between December and April) and 48 percent prefers the low season.

The survey shows that the average income of the respondents is $147,395 – quite a bit above the average income of $120,000 in the United States. The average age of the respondents is 61 years, but Perez said that the actual average age of the timeshare-owners population could be higher, because the survey was sent out electronically and because he figures that elderly potential respondents are not as savvy with computers as the younger generation.

The survey shows that the average party visiting timeshare properties in St. Maarten consists of 3.3 people. They stay 10.9 days. All figures about spending are related to the party-size and their average stay. The survey found that 90 percent stays a week or longer; partly this is due to the fact that the visitors are looking for the cheapest flights in and out of the country, so they adjust their arrival and departure dates accordingly.

Interesting for marketing efforts is obviously where the timeshare vacationers come from. The survey showed that 88.4 5 percent of the respondents to the survey are from the United States; 5.9 percent are from Canada, 3.2 percent from the Caribbean, and 1.9 percent from Europe.

More than 50 percent of the Americans come from the states of New York and New Jersey. Combined with the state of Pennsylvania these states account for 66 percent of the respondents to the survey and further combined with Florida and Connecticut this percentage goes to 87 – meaning that just 1.5 percent comes from elsewhere in the US.

SHTA President Emil Lee remarked after the presentation that one has to be careful with the interpretation of these numbers. “Are these data reflective of where we invested our marketing money? Maybe we have not done such a good job in marketing St. Maarten in Europe and other regions.”

The survey asked extensive questions about the spending of timeshare owners. All spending categories together total $5,169 – again for the average party of 3.3 visitors during an average 10.9 days stay.

On dining, the average spending during a 10.9 day visit is $980; of this amount $631 is spent off premise. Compared to the $349 spent at the timeshare resort, spending in local restaurants is 81 percent higher. “This shows how much timeshare owners support the local economy,” Perez said.

In other categories the picture is the same with the exception of nightlife; there timeshare vacationers spend $171 on premise and $172 off premise.

On groceries, spending on premise is $173, and off premise $261; for alcohol, these numbers are $167 and $200 respectively.

What stands out is the money timeshare vacationers spend on gaming: almost one thousand dollars in total – $483 in casinos on the timeshare premises and $534 in other casinos.

Tops are obviously the expenditures on shopping: $1,139 – or an average of roughly one hundred dollars for each day. Most of that money ($794) goes to local stores, the rest ($345) to on premise retailers.

Spending on excursions totals $547 ($253 on premise and $294 off premise). Lastly, on spas timeshare vacationers spend $362 almost evenly divided over on premise ($173) and off premise ($189).

SHTA President Emil Lee asked what the next step would be after the survey, to which Ricardo Perez answered: “What other tools do we have out there to get these data on a daily basis?”

Lee, forming a megaphone with his hands loudly declared: “TSIS.”

That would be the Tourist Statistical Information System. The system is ready, the machines are there, but it has not been activated yet. Tourism Minister Ted Richardson, who attended part of the presentation and took his time afterwards to talk with people, is reportedly working on this.

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