Barry Robinson is President and Managing Director of International Operations, overseeing the international timeshare business of Travel + Leisure Co – Wyndham Destinations. This encompasses all timeshare operations outside of North America and the Americas and the oversight of three vacation clubs, Club Wyndham South Pacific, Club Wyndham Asia and Innovative Holiday Club. He oversees a club asset portfolio of over A$1 billion comprising some 70 hotels and holiday clubs.
It has been an exceptionally difficult two years for the hospitality industry globally, and we are witnessing widespread inflation and rising interest rates. How do these factors impact the vacation ownership industry?
As the global economy faces challenges, we actually see inflation as a positive for our business model. Rising rental rates for hotels and vacation homes create a more attractive value proposition for our customers.
Club owners pay in advance for their future holidays and can thus save a lot of money. As hotel room rates continue to skyrocket and many families find they can no longer afford to take vacations, redemption values at our resorts will remain the same for the duration of Club life and occupancy is generally not affected by economic conditions.
There’s great value in always having a vacation to look forward to, no matter what the economy does. For our business globally, this value has seen our revenue per guest increase by 40% over 2019 levels.
How has the concept of vacation ownership changed? what does timeshare look like in 2022?
Our clubs have evolved far beyond the traditional timeshare model to offer vacation owners so much more in terms of benefits, flexibility, resort experience and destination diversity. Thanks to our holiday credit system, owners can access a resort network. There are more than 50 properties in the Club Wyndham South Pacific collection across Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, Indonesia, Thailand, Japan, Europe and Hawaii. On top of that, there are thousands of redemption options and exclusive club perks.
All Club Wyndham South Pacific owners benefit from our Lifestyle Offers program. This gives them up to 60% off thousands of top brand purchases, which they can use while on vacation or at home, for restaurants, attractions, car rentals, fashion, household items and more.
How does resort accommodation compare to hotel rooms?
If you consider that a 7 night stay in 2 hotel rooms on Denarau Island in Fiji in September will cost a family around $6,000, and compare that with our flagship resort, Club Wyndham Denarau Island , the value is clear. For our Club Owners, a family of six to eight can stay in a stylish 2-bedroom apartment for 7 nights for just 12,000 credits.
Our Fiji club resort offers one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments, plus a wealth of facilities: two restaurants, two swimming pools, swim-up bars, kids’ club and more. While hotel rates are rising, holiday club apartment exchange rates are not. The families paid the same credit rate for this apartment in 2015 as they do today, and they will pay the same in 2030. They have their annual maintenance taxes (similar to a corporate fee), but that’s all.
Having the choice of large apartments also means club owners can take family and friends on holiday with them. There’s room to move, with living rooms, separate bedrooms, fully equipped kitchens, and laundry rooms — there’s no comparing the limitations of small hotel rooms.
At your Club Wyndham South Pacific resorts you have a fantastic activity program in place, can you tell us about it and how important is the “club experience” to vacation owners?
Creating treasured vacation memories is a key objective and we have rolled out over 100 free activities at our resorts to enhance the resort vacation experience. Most have e-bikes, hand bikes and e-scooters. Resorts offer stand-up paddle boards, kayaks, and boogie boards. We have historical tours and a gold panning lock at Club Wyndham Ballarat. The Wyndham Seven Mile Beach Club in Hobart has a hobby farm, vegetable garden for owners to harvest their own food, and billy tea and wetter nights around the fire pit. In Fiji, there are kayak and stand-up paddle safaris, and BULA Bingo to name a few. These are in addition to the traditional fire dancing and cultural shows we offer, all of which are completely free to our club owners.
Club experience is extremely important. Our Vacation Owners share a passion for travel and adventure, and we strive to foster that feeling of club community as much as possible through the experiences we provide.