Travel Clubs…Fear Them or Embrace Them?

Travel clubs are a big topic of conversation in the timeshare industry these days.  ARDA World’s recent conference devoted a session to them entitled "Travel Clubs—A Product That’s Time Has Come". So what’s the scoop… are travel clubs something to fear or something quite the opposite? The view today is that travel clubs can actually be a compliment to the timeshare industry in more ways than one. 

Travel Clubs Defined

Today’s travel clubs differ from earlier travel clubs in that they offer a broader business model with much more flexibility. Early travel clubs offered a way for travelers to have access to second home ownership choices in exchange for a one-time membership and annual dues. Now, instead of promoting ownership, today’s clubs promote membership. Members are given two ways to use their normal vacation budget; they can choose to use it on their dream vacation or to save money by going with a closer, domestic vacation. Monthly benefits usually include access to last minute, highly discounted resort stays and choices of travel to thousands of destinations all over the world. Through travel club memberships, travelers can also access a wide range of travel products and services from luxury condominium rentals to vacation cruises, and discounts on entertainment, amusement parks, car rentals and tours.

How do Travel Clubs and Timeshares Compare?

The good thing about both travel clubs and timeshares is that they offer travelers a way to save money on a vacation, and they both provide services that take much of the hassle out of planning a yearly vacation (where to travel, where to stay, what sites to see, and more).  Here’s a short comparison:

Travel Clubs 

  • Do not require a long-term commitment 
  • Members don’t own the property
  • Single annual membership
  • More vacation flexibility with more destinations and varying price points
  • Variety of fulfillment formats (internet-only platform, full-service team, combination of both)
  • Require a long-term commitment
  • Members own a share of the property or have a right-to-use option. Owners can rent out their stay period or sell the timeshare. Members can have input into operations of the timeshare through participation in the timeshare board.
  • One-time purchase price and annual maintenance fees 
  • Vacation limited to one location or exchanges to other locations when available
  • Variety of fulfillment formats (internet, full-service) 

Timeshares and Travel Clubs Working Together

The time has come for timeshare and travel clubs to work together, according to the recent ARDA session on travel clubs. Travel clubs can be a great sales and marketing tool for timeshares. They can help to make the timeshare sale, by providing potential buyers a way to learn more about timeshares, and exposing them to the world of travel membership.  New timeshare owners may appreciate a timeshare offering of a travel club product to help them with other areas of travel. It could be just the incentive needed to close the sale and keep customers happy.
Travel clubs also work with timeshare developers and sales teams to provide their services as an exit package or product add-on. As we’ve talked about in previous blog entries, the new generation of timeshare buyers are looking for value. They want more choices in locations and amenities, and to see the direct benefits they will get from a product. A combination of both timeshare and travel club could provide just the travel value this savvy new generation is looking for.

Focus of ARDA World 2014

Time to Get Serious about the New Generation of Timeshare Buyers

It seemed like everywhere you turned in the ARDA World Conference this year the message was clear—there's an urgency to reach the new generation of timeshare buyers. Educational sessions were rife with information about the best ways of reaching and keeping the new timeshare consumers. 
Keynote speakers like Scott Klososky, business leader, social technology and trends guru, shared their insight into how technology is effecting and changing the way we do business. Klososky stressed, “People are inundated with content today, so yours must be compelling and provide value to the consumer, or they will tune you out.” 
ARDA’s president and CEO, Howard Nusbaum, expressed his excitement to see people in the industry embrace the convention’s theme and share their expertise about reaching the next generation. Said Nusbaum, ”Learning from the best and brightest makes our industry poised to move forward together to reach the Millennial generation and continue to share why timeshare is a better way to vacation for so many travelers.”

Consumer Communications/Relations Sessions

Consumer Communications/Relations Sessions focused on topics such as: "Reaching the Next Generation of Buyers", a session that encouraged those in the business of timeshare to re-evaluate their current strategies. Discussions centered on how best to get the attention of the new generation of timeshare buyers, a generation that has grown up with technology, and is wholly absorbed in their technology devices. 
Other sessions looked at cutting edge reward and incentive programs that are shaping the future of vacation ownership, real strategies to add to social media campaigns to create consumer engagement, and how resorts are succeeding and failing when creating and implementing mobile apps for their brands.  Another important session was "Five for Twenty", which asked participants to determine the five key attributes timeshare must concentrate on in order to move the industry forward.

Keeping it Relevant

Focus on Technologies and Amenities

The session How to Keep Your Resort’s Product Relevant to the next Generation, featured technologies and amenities that make your product more desirable for new buyers. A company very committed to this is new ARDA Construction and Design Council member, Extreme Engineering.   Extreme Engineering is the largest supplier of adventure equipment to the resort and entertainment industries. This energetic company has more than one-thousand customers worldwide including famous purveyors of fun such as Disney, Cirque du Soleil and Six Flags. Other clients are NASA, Vail, One & Only Resorts and Atlantis.
Phil Wilson, Vice President of the Marketing for the northern California-based company and an ARDA Chairman’s League Member, joined ARDA’s Construction and Design Council to learn about the needs of ARDA members and to join the network of people who are committed to giving owners and members great vacation experiences. “We are extremely aware that ARDA membership is devoted to expanding their reach to Millennials and a youthful demographic. Our High Action Adventures provide fun experiences for all ages and are the perfect amenities to attract young buyers,” he said.

Resorts Leading the Way

Among the many technology sessions, one was focused on in-room technology including covered door-key technology, WiFi, internet enabled 3D television, and ways to streamline and enhance the customer experience. Starwood Resorts has jumped on this band wagon. The company appeals to the Millennials need for instant gratification by giving them the ability to check in to Starwood resorts by using their phones. Guests can check in with phone texting and without even going to the front desk.
Rumor is that Silverleaf Resorts is focusing on the new younger demographic as they move forward with their resort plans. One need only look at the resort’s website to see their direction. Their mission of commitment to value, variety, convenience and flexibility, are all important considerations to the next generation of timeshare buyers.
For more information on ARDA WORLD 2014 sessions and forums, visit

The U.S. Travel Association’s Travel Effect Initiative

The U.S. Travel Association - the voice of the U.S. travel industry - is on a mission. It wants to bring awareness of the benefits travel has on our productivity, organizational morale and our overall well-being. By promoting the benefits of travel through its website and its industry partners, such as ARDA (American Resort Development Association) the Travel Association wants to grow travel’s voice, advance pro-travel policies and communicate travel’s widespread impact.

Research Based

The information disseminated by Travel Effect is research based. Much of the research was gained from an online travel survey conducted between September and October 2013. The sample included 971 employees of various companies, 700 of whom receive paid time off as part of their employment benefits. Findings show that traveling is still not seen as an integral part of our lives, businesses and economy, but also show that when Americans do take time to travel there is a positive effect on their work productivity:
  • More than 3 in 4 HR professionals believe employees who use vacation time perform better than those who do not.
  • Six in ten organizations report employees fail to use 3+ days of paid vacation each year.
  • 85% of talent managers at “use it or lose it” organizations agree that employees who take time off are more productive in jobs.

With work done through Travel Effect, the Travel Association hopes to “change mindsets, shift American culture and motivate American workers to use more of their earned time off.”

Benefits of Travel 

Not only do the benefits of travel boost productivity and reduce burn-out. Travel has also been proven to increase creativity, and provide quality time and learning experiences that the entire family will benefit from. 
Other key findings from the study show the impact on our economy when Americans don’t use their vacation time to travel and what it would mean if they did use all their available paid time off:
  • The economy would benefit from more than $160 billion in total business sales and $21 billion in tax revenues, and from spending that would support 1.2 million jobs in retail, manufacturing and transportation industries.
  • It would mean an extra $73 billion in output for the U.S. economy, if employees would take just one additional day of earned leave each year.  

Check out the Travel Effect’s website for the latest reports, fact sheets and infographics, on the economic, societal, business and personal impacts that travel can have on all of us.

ARDA World 2014 the Global Timeshare Event Kicks Off April Sixth

Have you made your reservations yet? ARDA World 2014, kicking off April sixth at the Las Vegas Venetian Resort Hotel & Casino, has something for everyone in the shared ownership industry. The five day event features comprehensive educational sessions on current timeshare issues, including reaching the new generation of owners, and keeping your resort product relevant. Attend forums on resale, resort management, and sales and marketing. Lend your voice to committee meetings, renew old connections and make new ones, and be wowed with this year’s sensational key note speaker. It’s all there and more at the industry’s biggest gathering.

Resale Forum to Focus on Developing Best Practices 

An important and very current topic being discussed at ARDA World is resale. The Monday, April 7th forum is a “Resale Best Practices Workshop.” The focus will be on developing best practices for resale programs benefiting legacy resorts. The 2011 HOA Controlled Resort report found that only 48% of legacy resorts had a resale program in place for resort-owned inventory. Resale programs for owner inventory was even lower at 24%.  
This forum asks exchange companies, title companies, resale organizations, legal entities, financial providers and others who wish to share their knowledge and expertise to join the forum. The objective is to help legacy resorts overcome financial obstacles by developing a solid resale program. The concentration will be on using best practices to produce a program that all industry segments can support. Legacy resorts will benefit from a Resale Guide that will highlight the workshop results. It will be made available to all HOA-controlled resorts via websites, webinars and education programs.

Other Noteworthy Forums

Also on Monday, is a Resort Management Forum. Industry professionals with a focus or expertise in resort management will participate in an interactive, round-table discussion. And on Wednesday, a Sales and Marketing Forum will focus on how to reach the new generation of timeshare owners. Experts from outside the timeshare industry will share what they know about these generations, and how they reach and retain them as customers. Find out more at

ARDA World’s Breakfast of Champions Keynote Speaker is a Real Champion

This year the convention ends with a wallop.  Keynote speaker at ARDA’s Breakfast of Champions on April 10th packs a huge punch! Michael Durant’s list of achievements is long and unparalleled. If you’ve n ever seen the award-winning movie, Black Hawk Down, you will remember the valor of the pilot of a Black Hawk helicopter Super Six Four that was fired upon and brought down during a combat operation in Mogadishu, Somalia in October of 1993. That pilot and inspiration for the movie was Michael Durant. He was shot, severely beaten and held captive by the Somalis for 11 days.

Durant uses his experience as a soldier and hostage, and what he learned about being an American and a leader, to captivate and motivate his audiences.  His unique experiences are used to bring his audiences insight on personal and professional growth. His speech inspires both companies and individuals to achieve success, despite obstacles, through better planning, motivation and adaption. Durant brings to life his experiences with vivid personal accounts and mesmerizing visuals to illustrate the power of leadership, teamwork and change. His many awards include the Distinguished Service Medal, two Distinguished Flying Crosses and a Bronze Star for Valor, just to name a few. He is also a best-selling author, and president and chief executive officer of Pinnacle Solutions.