The United States timeshare business has grown to become a significant component of the hospitality industry, generating over $70 billion in economic output in 2011, as well as employing 493,000 workers, with $23 billion in salaries, according to an Ernst & Young study. With the greatest concentration of timeshare resorts and corporations located in Orlando, the University of Central Florida’s Rosen College of Hospitality Management has announced it will collaborate with the leading Orlando-based timeshare companies to enhance its curriculum, academic research, and student/industry interaction within the timeshare industry.

“Nearly all the major players in the timeshare industry are headquartered within minutes of our campus, so UCF’s Rosen College truly presents the best opportunity to bridge the gap between education, research and industry within this segment of the hospitality field,” said Dr. Amy Gregory, a UCF Rosen College assistant professor and active researcher of the timeshare industry.

The collaboration between UCF’s Rosen College and the industry will begin on Nov. 1, when 15 industry-leading executives will visit the college’s campus to discuss their visions for timeshare education during a luncheon, hosted by the American Resort Development Association (ARDA).

“The development of timeshare education is critical to the successful future of the industry,” said Dr. Abraham Pizam, dean of UCF’s Rosen College. “The executives’ participation in the luncheon will allow them to see firsthand what’s happening at our college and request their ongoing assistance in directing the curriculum, creating inroads for student involvement in the industry, and increasing industry involvement with the university.”

According to Pizam, in order for timeshare education to be successful, the industry and curriculum must be aligned; the industry must have an opportunity for exposure within the university; and students must have opportunities for employment, internships, and mentoring within the industry.

Participating timeshare companies include: Disney Vacation Club, Hilton Grand Vacations, Marriott Vacation Club, Wyndham Vacation Ownership, Diamond Resorts International, Orange Lake Resorts, Resort Condominiums International, Interval International, Baker & Hostetler, Island One, and ARDA’s International Foundation.

“Our goal is to establish a thorough, well-rounded timeshare education program that benefits both our students and the industry,” said Gregory. “From there, the advisory board will meet three to four times a year to address our objectives.”

Gregory has spearheaded various initiatives over the past year to further integrate UCF’s Rosen College into the timeshare industry, including helping the college become one of seven academic institutions in the U.S. to be a member of ARDA – the largest timeshare organization in the nation. The assistant professor has also been instrumental in establishing corporate internships with industry-leading organizations, has helped students obtain industry-funded scholarships, and has contributed research articles to ARDA’s monthly publication, Developments magazine.