Innovative Holiday Club by Club Wyndham (“IHC”) is a new vacation club launched in April 2020. It is a brand of Wyndham Destinations, the world’s largest vacation ownership and exchange company. The business is a leader in vacation ownership and IHC, as its newest model, endeavours to take on board feedback about prior and current vacation ownership models and deliver greater flexibility and better consumer outcomes through the product.
The club has been launched in Indonesia, Thailand, China and Japan to date. IHC gives its members the potential to choose from thousands of properties around the world to utilise and there is a strong emphasis on local travel options in the countries where it has been launched, which is no surprise after COVID-19. Many of these properties have extensive facilities including swimming pools, day spas, restaurants, bars and kids’ clubs, and offer various accommodation options including spacious apartments that feel like a home away from home.
Vacation clubs are traditionally known for long terms that span from 40 to 80 years, but IHC offers a term of just 20 years – a product that greatly benefits consumers but presents a calculated risk for the club developer, as there is realistically only a limited window to sell interests in the club. The innovative term means that members get a much lower buy-in than usual and their holidays secured for the next 20 years from a financial perspective, while also having a beneficial interest in the assets of the club. Timeshare owners often will their membership to family or sell it, but IHC’s club term means members are likely to receive their beneficial interest during their lifetime.
With the global reach of Wyndham Destinations backing IHC, the club has started by giving its members the potential to choose from thousands of holiday possibilities through:
• An affiliate agreement between Wyndham Destinations clubs which enables IHC members to access more than 150 high quality resorts in Club Wyndham South Pacific, Club Wyndham Asia and WorldMark, The Club in North America
• Free three-year membership to exchange giant RCI for new members, which provides them with access to more than 4,200 resorts globally
• An affiliate agreement with Greenland Kang Yang Resorts across 11 provinces in China – leisure resorts with a focus on health and wellbeing
• The ability to exchange IHC vacation points for Wyndham Rewards points and gain access to more than 30,000 vacation ownership and hotel and resort properties worldwide
Cognisant that annual levies generate strong feelings among timeshare owners, IHC offers members the flexibility to opt out of their annual levy for a year if they forego using their credits (instead giving them back to the Developer). Members also have the option of paying next year’s levy in advance and gaining access to that year’s points to use early.
Another consumer-driven feature of the club is TravelWallet, a system enabling members to earn and redeem Travel Cash which they can use to enhance their membership experience. At present, they can gain cash by making their first reservation, writing a story about their experience, donating books to the club’s charity, or referring family or friends. This Travel Cash can be redeemed to pay for exchange fees, RCI cash bonus weeks, RCI membership fees, levy payments, pay-for-service experiences at resorts, or stays at Greenland resorts. As it can be redeemed against fees or expenses that members will incur (for example, annual levies), this Travel Cash has automatic appeal.
As IHC launched this year – during the height of COVID-19 – sales teams for the product have pioneered more consumer-friendly sales methods, rather than traditional sales techniques. The teams have pioneered the use of platforms like Zoom and Livestream, giving potential customers the opportunity to watch the presentation at a time and place where they are comfortable. The nature of the medium also means the presentation has been streamlined in scope. At present, the conversion rate is not as high as guests who experience the product, although it sits at 16 per cent in one market.
Since the club was launched, marketing teams have welcomed close to 1,500 “mini-vacation” holiday guests, with a conversion rate of between 21 and 25 per cent, a fairly impressive result. As economic conditions and confidence have improved across the year, so have conversion rates – reaching almost 43 per cent in December.
IHC’s structure and benefits make it a truly consumer-oriented product and the enthusiasm and uptake into the new club suggest it could be a glimpse into the future of the vacation ownership product.