UK: In our fifth session focus feature ahead of the inaugural STRz Summit in London on Wednesday 18 October, we delve into ‘All of the fun, none of the hassle – next generation membership clubs’ and how business models in real estate are driving loyalty among their members.
This session will assess the long-term prospects of membership clubs, from home exchange platforms to fractional ownership and potentially timeshare and destination clubs too, how public perception towards these business models is shifting and who their future customers could be, and finally how short-term rentals may also benefit.
- Jessica Gillingham, founder and CEO, Abode Worldwide
It is an interesting time for loyalty in the short-term rental space as a number of emerging hospitality and real estate segments grow their membership and incentivise these members with upselling experiences and benefits, while the timeshare / destination club vertical is experiencing something of a revival [particularly among younger demographics] as public perception shifts.
HomeExchange has been an influential player in the home-swapping space this year with the acquisition of two significant rivals in the space of a month – My weekend for you [France] and Love Home Swap [UK] in March.
Following its launch in 2017, HomeExchange has used the pair of acquisitions to extend its membership base to over 110,000 members in 130+ countries, and has its sights set on strengthening its position in the UK, the United States and Australia.
While its competitors have been purchased and industry consolidation continues to take place, HomeExchange is emerging as the outright and most recognisable leader in the home-swapping segment, backed up by its post-Covid recovery which saw the number of exchange nights booked rise in 2022 by 32 per cent on 2019 figures.
On top of that, HomeExchange has its own sister brand in HomeExchange Collection, which supports 400 members and specialises in the exchange of high-end home swaps.
In the meantime, plenty of startups are securing funding in a bid to disrupt the fractional ownership / holiday home co-ownership market with a promise to make a dream holiday home affordable, accessible and stress-free for owners, solving common difficulties faced in holiday home ownership with innovative thinking and modern technology.
One such startup is Berlin-based MYNE Homes [founded in 2021], which closed a €23.5 million seed funding round in July 2022 before buying German competitor VillaCircle in March. MYNE’s service, which allows customers to buy holiday properties in a range of destinations for a minimum share of €50,000, is available in the likes of Germany, Austria and Switzerland and it is targeting further European expansion imminently.
At a time when more professionals are combining work and and vacations through ‘workations’ and holiday properties are being seen as shrewd investments, MYNE Homes allows four to eight co-owners to share a holiday property that can be occupied all year round. Each of the homes is professionally furnished by interior designers and managed by MYNE Homes, while concierge services are also available to co-owners on site.
The market is congested with the likes of Pacaso, Arrived Homes, Here, August, Flyway, Seqoon, Getaway and Fractal Homes, although MYNE Homes is poised to establish itself as one of the leading players and capture the rocketing demand for holiday home co-ownership.
Elsewhere, the timeshare segment underwent something of a overhaul in the pandemic, with Hilton and Marriott‘s vacation ownership programmes respectively snapping up timeshare operators for significant fees north of $400 million.
In unexpected news in January 2021, timeshare and vacation ownership company, Wyndham Destinations, acquired travel publication Travel + Leisure, using its content and wide audience reach to accelerate and amplify its growth of capital-light travel businesses and services. Now rebranded as Travel + Leisure Co., the brand’s new offering [Sports Illustrated Resorts] will now include a network of themed resort and lifestyle complexes [and a vacation club] for sports fans in US college towns near universities, via a collaboration with Sports Hospitality Ventures, LLC.
Membership schemes will come to the forefront as platforms seek to foster loyalty and offer incentives as a way of taking away market share from competitors, which is being reflected by product releases at online travel agencies [OTAs] such as Hopper and Vrbo.