Posted on August 04, 2020
Timeshare operator Wyndham Destinations has announced the creation of a new branded division of the company designed to significantly grow its travel business.
Called Panorama, the new division will bring in the company’s exchange, rental and technology businesses under one new umbrella.
Regarding exchange, you may already know that RCI has been under Wyndham’s control for a number of years now. What you may not know is that RCI purchased competitor Dial an Exchange (DAE) in 2017. DAE will be renamed 7Across under this new arrangement, with the high end exchange platform The Registry Collection also coming under the new banner.
The company’s online rental platform, Extra Holidays, will also be included, as will consumer platforms Love Home Swap and TripBeat. Travel technology platforms @Work International and Alliance Reservations Network (ARN), also owned by Wyndham, are also part of this equation and appear to be undergirding the move toward consolidating these brands into a streamlined, travel-related consumer business.
From the public statements and articles written about this, it appears that Wyndham is looking to create a super-sized, travel club-type operation that will move beyond its traditional exchange and timeshare business. Olivier Chavy, the newly-announced president of Panorama and, most recently, president of RCI, explained in a press release that “our strategy is to expand beyond our core and legacy timeshare business into the broader travel market.”
The company also announced the creation of Panorama Travel Solutions to do just that, offering discount travel membership clubs outside of its traditional market structure to businesses such as banks and retail outlets in the U.S. and beyond. Thanks to its newly acquired tech entities, it is in a position to create significant, tailor-made programs for these new customers.
This could mean millions in additional revenue for the company, which reportedly made $898 million collectively in 2019 from the businesses mentioned above.
What this means in the long run for existing members of RCI and Wyndham timeshare owners remains to be seen. According to HotelBusiness.com, Wyndham is planning to rebrand RCI in some fashion which would be an extraordinary move after RCI has held such a dominant positon in timeshare exchange over the past 45 years. Currently with 3.9 million members, over five million people used RCI for vacations last year according to the website.
In theory, this could be a major benefit for RCI and Wyndham members, if they are provided with the new benefits that will be released over time. RCI members already have access to travel products such as cruises (when the ships are actually cruising), discounted hotel stays, flights and rental car bookings. The brand has an estimated 4,200 resorts in its network, but expanding beyond these affiliates could mean even more choice in vacation accommodation options for its membership.
What this definitely means is a shot across the bow for Marriott Vacations Worldwide and its own band of brands such as RCI’s top competitor, Interval International. Wyndham has put them, and the rest of the timeshare industry, on notice that they are planning to significantly expand beyond their current structure to go after more travel-related market share. This, even with Wyndham now considered the largest timeshare company in the world with nearly 900,000 owners.
It’s still too early to assess the potential success of this new endeavor, especially as the travel industry is still in the throes of the COVID pandemic. Give Wyndham credit for even pondering such a bold move considering that so many travel businesses are struggling to survive. Perhaps that is the underlying cleverness of the move, to step in using its corporate pockets and position itself now to expand.
Timeshare has always had a built-in advantage over its hotel brethren due to the pre-paid nature of the business. Leveraging that advantage now could reap big rewards sooner rather than later.