Wyndham Destinations' ongoing urban push, including a new resort slated for Atlanta, is out to prove this travel sector isn't like your grandparents' old timeshare in the Bahamas.
Timeshare and vacation club company Wyndham Destinations is continuing an urban expansion with a new dual-brand property in Atlanta. Its development says a lot about the future of timeshare travel.
A dual-branded Margaritaville Vacation Club — a timeshare partnership with music star Jimmy Buffett’s brand of the same name — and Club Wyndham property is slated to open in 2022 in downtown Atlanta, Wyndham Destinations announced Wednesday.
This move into city centers across the U.S. is a signal the timeshare sector recognizes it has to adapt to new travel trends.
“There is still a broad misperception out there that timeshare is same unit, same week, same location, same time of the year,” Wyndham Destinations CEO Michael Brown said. “That’s the perception, and — broadly — timeshare now is all about flexibility. The urban city center downtown destination is the prime leading indicator that trend has changed.”
The Margaritaville and Club Wyndham dual-branded Atlanta resort will include more than 200 rooms ranging from studios to three-bedroom presidential suites. Guests will have access to amenities like a fitness center and rooftop terrace with a bar and pool area overlooking Atlanta’s Centennial Park.
Wyndham Destinations anticipates the Atlanta property will continue in the same kind of booking trend seen at other urban resorts.
“When you look at a Portland, Austin, or Nashville, we are seeing already that the shorter stay, quick getaway, accessible location is what today’s traveler is looking for,” Brown said. “When people go to Portland, they’re not staying for seven days but for three or four days.”
Marriott Vacation Club Pulse has made a similar urban push by adding timeshare resorts in major cities like Boston, New York City, and Miami in recent years.
While the timeshare business is still rooted in real estate, it is also a business catering more to a younger demographic. Millennials in 2019 accounted for twenty percent of sales at Wyndham Destinations, the company’s fastest-growing sales demographic. Other timeshare companies like Diamond Resorts have similarly reported strong growth from the millennial sector.
“As an average, when you buy a timeshare, you will upgrade or buy three to five more times,” said Olivier Chavy, president of Wyndham Destinations’ new Panorama subsidiary. “So that 20 percent of millennials [figure] will grow exponentially.”
A Soup to Nuts Timeshare Platform
The Atlanta real estate development is only one part of Wyndham Destinations’ plan to adjust its timeshare strategy.
The timeshare company Monday launched Panorama, a brand to oversee Wyndham Destinations’ timeshare exchange — where owners trade a timeshare week for a new location — and travel technology platforms like the booking engine Alliance Reservations Network. The unification aims to build out a platform where members can book all aspects of a vacation from a single network.
“With the launch of Panorama, it really gives people the understanding timeshare has been about a real estate-based experience,” Brown said. “We’re trying to transition it to be not just about your ownership and timeshare but also the entire share of wallet as it relates about travel and tourism.”
Panorama aims to build Wyndham Destinations’ vacation club membership through new partnerships. While not disclosing specific names, Chavy said the company is finalizing a deal with a major Latin American bank to offer a travel club membership to select credit cardholders. He has also been in talks with an NBA team about a similar partnership with season ticket holders where they could use Panorama to access discounted timeshare rentals.
“The vision is, by 2023, we want [timeshare exchange] to still be our core business,” Chavy said. “However, we want to increase our other businesses by 25, 35, or 40 percent out of the core business.”
Poised for Growth
Wyndham Destinations leaders see plenty of strong fundamentals to the business to give them confidence looking ahead over the next few months. Drive-to, leisure travel continues to account for most hotel bookings this summer. A bulk of Wyndham Destinations’ North American resorts are within driving distance of its client base, Brown said.
While drive-to travelers typically account for 70 percent of arrivals at the company’s resorts, it hit 93 percent in July. But Brown isn’t ignoring the fact that his company’s drive-to resorts — which include locations in current coronavirus hotspots of Florida, Texas, and California — still have to deal with reality.
“What the market wants and what we all need is to know there’s a clear path to the other side of this pandemic,” he said.
Once that path is established, Wyndham Destinations — like other hospitality companies — will be able to focus on ways to capitalize on growth opportunities.
“Although our first goal is to get through this and make our company as efficient as possible, there will definitely be opportunities sitting on the backend of this pandemic that wouldn’t have been here a year ago,” Brown said.
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Photo credit: Wyndham Destinations continues an urban push with a new timeshare resort slated for Atlanta (rendering above). Wyndham Destinations