The travel industry is a now a $7 trillion global annual market, one of the biggest and most important markets available. Everybody loves holidays and as more money is generated in the emerging markets then the travel industry is going to grow and grow. How do you best take advantage of this burgeoning holiday market? Well, there are a number of options available including using travel agents, buying a timeshare or joining a vacations club and in this article I will try and explain the differences and compare the three modes.
Travel agents have been around a long time and can look after your holiday requirements from flight only, hotel / condominiums, package holidays, car rentals in fact just about any holiday requirement you may have. Travel agents are commission based so they make their profit from the difference between the cost of the holiday to them and what they sell the holiday on to you for. Travel agents offer a one stop option for all your holiday requirements, however many of them are tied to large travel organisations who will try to push their own offerings and through this increase their profitability which may mean increased costs for the travelling public.
Timeshare goes back many years where companies bought or built high quality holiday complexes and then sold weeks to the travelling public. These companies mushroomed and timeshare became a major force in the industry. Their appeal increased as timeshare owners were able to join timeshare exchange clubs and swap their weeks at a complex in one country to a complex in anther country. Timeshare developed a number of drawbacks. Firstly they were expensive to join however the value of your timeshare dropped dramatically after your purchase making it difficult to sell your timeshare if you wanted to. In addition with timeshare you bought weeks at different levels, red usually being the most expensive as this was for a week in peak season. When you swapped your timeshare in one of the exchange clubs you could only swap for weeks at a similar season or lower. The other major drawback that came with timeshare is the weekly maintenance costs. Whether you use the timeshare week or not you are still liable for the weekly maintenance cost.
Vacation clubs were brought into being to give their members access to travel and holidays without the drawbacks of timeshare and without the high profits required by the Travel Agents. Vacation clubs buy holidays at heavily discounted prices and then sell these to their members, usually with last minute deals where the greatest discounts are found. There are no ongoing costs with vacation clubs however there can be a high initial one off cost to join, although new entrants are tending to drive this one off cost down the way. Vacation Clubs do not have seasons, once you are a member you can purchase holidays anywhere and at any time and if you do not use the club there are no ongoing charges. One of the benefits of vacation clubs is the opportunity to sell club memberships to others which effectively means that by selling a few memberships you can recoup your initial investment. Again you have to be sure in joining a club that they can offer you the locations and resorts that you will want to holiday in and that you can take advantage of the Club multiple times a year.
In conclusion, there are benefits and drawbacks to all three options. Travel agents are a good one stop shop for either multiple or one off holidays but you do pick up the cost of the profits for the travel company. Timeshares are a good option if you like to holiday at specific times of the year and you enjoy the complex and location where you have bought your weeks. You do need to take into account ongoing maintenance costs and your ability to easily swap your weeks for stays in different locations. Vacation Clubs can be great value but you do need to realise that you are picking up the upfront cost to join. If you like to take multiple holidays a year to different locations then a Vacation Club could be the option for you. In addition if you like the idea of using this as a home business and get the value of low cost holidays then this may be another attraction for you. You do need to do your research and ensure that your Vacation Club has the variety to look after all your holiday requirements and not just one niche.
The internet has obviously had a dramatic affect on the travel industry. This has given the general public the opportunity to easily buy flights, rental cars and hotels over the internet and has certainly brought prices down. There are drawbacks in that if you are trying buy a complete holiday you can be jumping form site to site and try and pull the whole package together. You also have to be careful with buying directly over the Internet as your legal rights are different from other purchase options. Certainly, for flights only, it is very hard to see past the internet but you need to be aware what travel protection you are covered by.