MARRIOTT VACATION CLUB DESTINATIONS TIMESHARE PROGRAM
During our 2010 third quarter, we launched the points-based Marriott Vacation Club Destinations timeshare program (the “MVCD Program”) in North America and the Caribbean. Under the MVCD Program, we sell beneficial interests in a domestic land trust. Based on the number of beneficial interests purchased, MVCD members receive an annual allocation of Vacation Club Points to redeem for travel at numerous destinations. Although the existing rights and privileges of owners of weeks-based intervals are unchanged, those owners now also have the option of enrolling in the Marriott Vacation Club Destinations Exchange Program, which affords them the opportunity to trade their weeks-based intervals for Vacation Club Points usage each year, as well as to purchase additional product in increments of less than one week. Since the MVCD Program is a significant change from our prior approach to the timeshare business, we have focused our marketing efforts on existing owners, to encourage participation and purchase of additional product. Early results have exceeded our expectations.
We believe the MVCD Program will appeal to a broader demographic than our prior weeks-based program by providing our owners with more flexible usage options, including the use of points for tailored vacation experiences, and by allowing us to sell our resort system at all locations, including those where few or no weeks were still available. We expect that the MVCD Program will result in fewer resorts under construction at any given time and allow us to better leverage successful sales centers at completed resorts. With less invested in inventory, the MVCD Program also should allow us to improve returns on investment.
Revenue recognition for the MVCD Program follows our Timeshare Points-Based Use System revenue recognition policy (see Footnote No. 1, “Summary of Significant Accounting Policies,” of the Notes to our Financial Statements). The timing of revenue recognition for this program approximates contract sales because we expect to sell fully completed inventory for the foreseeable future. With more efficient inventory management, we expect to have lower unsold maintenance fee expense, which should enhance profitability over time. In addition to capitalized costs for internally developed software and licensing fees of $14 million, we incurred costs for the MVCD Program in 2010 of approximately $20 million (which included $12 million of start-up costs). Costs in excess of enrollment revenue for the new points-based program totaled $13 million and is reflected in our Income Statement in Timeshare sales and service, net of direct expenses.
Given the amount of inventory we have, we do not expect to develop new timeshare resorts in the near term.