Could travel clubs be the way to travel the world?

A call from an old acquaintance…

One Sunday, a long lost acquaintance from high school contacted me and asked me if I wanted to have a coffee out of the blue. I thought, why not, she was someone from the distant past but and although we never really spoke, I was always keen on reconnecting with people and seeing what they are up to.

We met at a cafe in the city and as we sat she asked straight away: “are you open to a new travel idea?” A bit of an odd question, but yes, new ideas are always great. “OK,” I said.

She took her tablet out and started showing me photos of her travels, sightseeing around Europe, Asia, Americas and staying at fancy resorts and cruises.

A new idea of travelling

“Wow, seems like you’re doing well,” I told her. It was fascinating how someone could travel that much. She explained that she was part of a travel club called “WorldVentures”, where members get discounts on travel using the club’s group bargaining power. A bit like a group deal, but with more flexibility around travel experiences and dates.

Not only that, she continued, members have the opportunity to become experienced distributors earn income by selling memberships to other new members. She showed me some details around the commission structure.

I took a look. “Hang on a second,” I exclaimed. It looked like she was trying to recruit me into a pyramid scheme. One member would recruit another who would recruit another and the first member would get paid. But she elaborated. The travel agent of the future is a friend, family member, or work colleague. Not a faceless online booking engine. It’s personal, and members know each other and travel each other. The pay structure encourages existing members to not only find new members but also help other members find members to achieve their travel goals collaboratively. A larger membership, after all, meant more negotiating power for the club. It sort of made sense.

Members travel get access to group packages and tours, which contribute to group fares and pricing as well as the opportunity to meet other travellers.

Trying my first hotel booking.

I left a bit sceptical, but since I was planning a trip to Asia anyways, I was a bit curious, and it would also help her out if I join WorldVentures, I decided I wanted to check it out anyways and called her back. She sent me a link to sign up. I signed up, and it wasn’t a bad deal. For the price of membership you get a number of credits which you could immediately apply to travel – I decided to make a simple hotel booking rather than a tour. I logged in to the online platform – it was like most other online booking systems – and it all took about 15 minutes.

I called the hotel to confirm the booking and all was good. It didn’t end up costing more, and there were a few perks included in the travel. Was it a scam? No. But overall, I travelled to where I wanted to go for the money I spent, and the opportunity to earn some income also seemed nice.

The hotel offered a free upgrade – which was a nice surprise.