At a Glance:

  • An international timeshare exchange organization needed a premium upgrade benefit for its top customers
  • Access Development provided a national discount program branded for the exchange company
  • Members engage more frequently with the club, leading to simple renewals

A recovering economy and increased travel spending prove that wallets are opening again. But it comes with a caveat: the recent recession taught consumers to scrutinize every dollar. They’re looking for tangible value.

For recurring costs, such as membership clubs, customers only return year after year if the benefits improve their lives. And when the benefits have no impact, the group that provides them has no impact.

In contrast, companies that extend relevant value to their customers typically enjoy the most success in their engagement and retention efforts. That’s why a preeminent timeshare resort exchange company sought to enhance their benefits package with the launch of a premium membership club.

The Problem

The timeshare exchange model allows timeshare owners to trade inventory. Say an owner wants to trade his week in Branson for a week in Cabo San Lucas. For a simple fee, the exchange company makes that transaction happen.

Unlike its competitors in the exchange market, this particular exchange company does not require an ongoing membership for exchanges. It’s a unique model that has led to sustained growth and prominence for the company.

Around 2009, the company identified an opportunity to create an elite-level upgrade package that offered discounted transactions, exclusive access to new inventory, priority wait-listing and other benefits unavailable to the rest of the customer base. The result was a premium membership product designed to reward and engage the most avid customers.

At $89 for the first year and $59 for each subsequent year, the program provided a new source of revenue and a chance to continually engage the highest tier of customers.

The lead executive on the program realized that no matter how often a member vacationed and exchanged locations, the premium membership would still need to add more value to justify the ongoing dues.

The Solution

The exchange company sought out a discount program that could impact consumers on a local, everyday level and pay for itself ten times over.

However, the value needed to not only be compelling; it also needed an expansive footprint to match the company’s national customer base.

Access Development, offering the nation’s largest private discount network with over 350,000 merchant locations program features in-store deals reachable by 99.6% of the US population, which is critical to a club with a national member base.

“We know what the demography of our members is,” the program’s executive says. “They travel frequently and they’re looking to save money. The Access program is an easy discount package that they can actually use. When they get out to Orlando they can just drop that ZIP code in there and they’ve got 2-for-1 dinners. So it works for them and works for us.”

The exchange company anticipated that the Access benefit would be one of the primary factors in convincing a member to continue renewing their premium membership each year.

The Results

The membership program has become the standard in the timeshare exchange industry, helping the company retain the vast majority of members year after year.

“The Access program works,” the executive says. “We have members that call us back and say ‘Hey, I really did get 50% off my Clarion stay,’ or ‘I really do get 2-for-1 on my pizzas and I don’t even have to travel to use the benefit.'”

The exchange company markets the program heavily to members to encourage usage, because utilization of the discount program has proven to result in more exchanges. While the typical member makes 2.1 exchanges a year, the Access program plays a central role in ensuring those transactions are always done through the exchange company.

“The Access program is an important part of the overall consumption of the product,” the executive says. “If I can get them to use that discount every Friday when they order pizza for their kids, then I’m assured a renewal. I’m not assured a renewal if these people are only hearing from me once or twice a year.

“Because of those deals, we’re able to remind them that they’re paying for the membership with the money they save in just six months. It makes the decision to renew a simple one.”