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Private syndicates

| Boat share, Car club & car share, collaborative consumption, fractional ownership, sharing | February 29, 2012

Over the last six years I’ve seen many commercial attempts to make sharing or fractional ownership work, particularly for boats and property. Very few are still in business. The time seems right for this, but the commercial schemes, generally for two to six partners, have two fundamental flaws. They try to:

  • find a solution that fits all, particularly allocating dates
  • prevent the potential owners from meeting before the sale is made

Consider this scenario, a holiday homes’ company is selling quarter shares and has allocated each share every fourth week in rotation. The first potential customers have school-age children and want three weeks together in peak season. The next couple avoid travelling in school holidays but want 2-3 weeks in both May-June and September-October. The next person is interested in a whole month at both the beginning and end of the year. Hard on their heels are a couple who would like occasional dates throughout the year; they want to use the property at short notice if available.

None of these prospective buyers fits the fixed model. But if they sat down together, I think there is sufficient compatibility to enable a deal to be done. I’m exaggerating, but you get the picture.

The second flaw is even bigger. I wouldn’t even contemplate buying a share without meeting the other buyers. I’d want to be convinced that my fellow owners had similar values, that I could trust them and happily work matters out in future should something go wrong.

Is there an alternative? I think there is, but I haven’t seen anyone doing it yet. I think I could offer a process where people register their interest and indicate their key requirements, followed by matching and facilitation to introduce the potential partners, create a syndicate and manage it if required.

If you are selling holiday accommodation, boats, motorhomes or other big ticket items which could be owned and managed by a private syndicate, I’d be interested to speak to you. Maybe together we could make it work.

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