The Growing Trend of Travel Clubs

Timesharing and travel clubs are alike in many ways. They are attractive to those who enjoy the benefits of travel and exploration and – as industries – they continue to share in dramatic growth and increased popularity.

With nearly 1,000 percent growth in the last two decades and an increase of about 25 percent in sales in last year alone, timesharing has become one of the fastest growing segments of the travel and tourism industry.

Travel clubs are also riding in the fast lane with over 285,000 of them listed on the Internet and more added daily. Most travel clubs are membership based and target specific markets from singles to seniors, mountain climbers to art lovers. Travel clubs generally provide their members with access to discounts or other benefits on the future purchase of transportation, accommodations or other travel-related services.

An excellent example of a leader in this growing industry is Global Connections, Inc., headquartered in Overland Park, Kansas. Its travel club product, Global Discovery Vacations (GDV) has continued to evolve to meet the changing needs of today’s savvy vacationing consumer.

Global Connections is highly respected for being much more than a typical travel club that handles vacation reservations.  It is truly self-contained with everything provided internally. Not many travel clubs can make these claims:

  • Due to its reputation and business longevity, GDV is able to provide unlimited financing for its customers, unheard of with other travel clubs.
  • Global handles the total fulfillment of each member’s request. This includes planning a member’s travel in every detail from beginning to end.
  • Unlike other travel clubs, Global wants people to USE their membership benefits. Usage translates to higher member retention and credibility in the timeshare and travel club industry.
  • Global’s distributors must pass stringent training requirements and possess the highest in ethical standards with each prospect being highly qualified.

 

A Bit of History

Global Connections, Inc. traces its roots back to 1987 through Network Direct, Inc. (NDI), a buying service. An innovator in its time, NDI thrived. As the membership grew, travel-related services outpaced other products and Global Connections was formed. Today, NDI and Global Connections have offices throughout the country with their headquarters remaining in Overland Park, Kansas.

This 18-year old travel club boasts a membership base of 90,000 and has close ties to the timeshare industry. In fact, during 2004, GDV members used over 20,000 weeks in almost 700 resorts located from the Midwest to the Caribbean plus more than 125,000 room nights. Reservations for 2005 are already on pace to exceed last year by 25%.

Even more impressive, GDV will increase its membership by 20,000 this year through over a dozen distributor-owned sales centers across the United States. Global’s formula for a successful sales distributorship is simple— maintain close relationships with each distributor and provide all the tools required from sales training to in-house financing to member services and fulfillment. Combined, these elements ensure member retention and ultimate success.

As their needs arise, Global Connections continues to increase its affiliations with vacation ownership resorts that would benefit from filling their unsold or unused inventory with vacationing guests.

The Importance of Travel Clubs to Timeshare

Today’s timeshare developers and marketing companies are seeking opportunities to reach qualified prospects at the lowest possible cost and to generate revenue from new products. Enter Global Connections.

Global Connections recognizes the solid synergistic fit between the needs of timeshare developers and those of Global.  Timeshare developers need low cost qualified prospects to fuel their sales programs while realizing higher yield on their excess inventory. Global can use the excess inventory of a timeshare developer and offer its members as prospects for a timeshare in-house sales program.  Further, Global can provide value added benefits to existing timeshare programs to instigate owner loyalty and generate revenue to the developer. 

And according to Tom Lyons, President of Global Connections, “Travel club members are extremely interested in timeshare ownership. We have found that many of our members retain their travel club membership and also purchase a timeshare product. It’s a win-win relationship for everyone involved.”

A Travel Club Selling Points?

Not only are points being used as a form of currency by the timeshare industry, they are also being used by Global Connections.

Unlike most travel clubs that are a right-to-rent program requiring the payment of rental dollars each time the member travels, GDV uses Star Credits. Similar to timeshare’s points-based programs, the number of Star Credits needed to confirm a lodging reservation or a cruise exchange depends on the size, location and season of the requested vacation. The more Star Credits purchased, the greater the vacation benefits. A GDV member can purchase additional credits that become a part of their package for use every year thereafter like other points-based programs.

 But unlike timeshare and other travel clubs, GDV members are not obligated to pay any annual fees if they do not use the benefits in any given year. Members can reactivate all membership benefits at any time by remitting the current year’s fee.

Ensured Availability and Value Added Benefits

Added Lyons “We believe the cornerstone to our success is our ability to ensure quality condominium inventory in popular vacation destinations.”

To accomplish this, Global Connections owns condominium resorts in Florida, Colorado, and California, plus condominium units in Hawaii, Wisconsin, Nevada, Texas, Colorado and Florida with property management divisions to oversee them. Partner alliances with well-known timeshare exchange organizations along with leased properties provide on-demand locations around the world.

For the seafaring, Global’s full-service travel agency has secured contracts with cruise lines so members have access to a cruise exchange program offering preferred member cruises and individual cruise specials year round.

Global is a fully licensed and bonded travel company in good standing with a long list of airline and industry associations, including ARDA, VRMA, Cooperative Association of Resort Exchangers, American Society of Travel Agents and Cruise Line International Association.

One of GDVs more popular value added benefits is Global’s own buying club, offering over 200,000 name brand products at discount prices. An exclusive members-only website allows around-the-clock shopping, and a toll free call puts a member directly in touch with a personal shopper. Everything from electronics, furniture and major appliances to automobiles and jewelry may be purchased and delivered right to the member’s door.

To learn more information about Global Connections and its travel club, call Melanie Gring of Global Connections at (561) 417-7559.