Here is a list of 10 things to look out for if you are considering joining any vacation travel club.
1. Licensed and bonded travel vendors
Make sure your club uses licensed and bonded vendors. These are recognized by the state they do business in, and will make sure you are dealing with real and legitimate travel agencies who want to see your satisfaction as priority one.
2. No time share gimmicks, sales presentations or tours
Many vacation club vendors are veiled time-share pitch fests. You are required to attend long sales presentations just to use or activate some of the discount portions of your trips. Make sure tours are not required as a pre-requisite for activating a trip or staying in a condo.
3. Years in service
Vacation clubs can crop up in an instant by some "slick willy's" just to make a fast buck, and they sell you something that is not originally what it looked and before you realize it and try to get your money back, they are gone, off to the next deal. So make sure you look closely to see if the Club has an established track record of industry credibility and integrity.
4. BBB Reports
Do your due diligence on the travel clubs, looking through scam reports and BBB reports. You'll find many independent agents represent the "mother" travel club and they can be unscrupulous, while the parent company acts responsibly, so take note that individual resellers may have a bad track record, while the parent company has a spot less record. Stay away from problematic vendors.
5. Terms and conditions of use: Holidays, Singles / married couples, blackout dates
Many travel clubs often limit availability to non-holidays, or have blackout days. One vendor I know of, for example, will not let you travel 7 days before or after a major holiday. Since there are major holidays almost every month, you are missing 14 days a month or around 160 days a year which are off-limits. So make sure you know the terms and conditions, age limits, and if those traveling must be 2 married couples or if the trips apply to singles.
6. One time membership fees
Some travel clubs will dock you a monthly fee, some will dock you a yearly renewal fee. Be careful of those who hit you hard upfront and then bleed your money slowly over time. Good travel clubs offer you a low, one time fee to get started and no further renewals or back end fee.
7. Variety of discount types
Does your travel club only offer 2 night 3 day trips? Or does it offer a lot more like unlimited week long condo stays, Unlimited discount cruises, ski discounts, dining discounts, or golf discounts? Make sure your travel club membership has many varieties of trips and vacation styles to fit all personality and travel types.
8. Location choices
Domestic membership or International. Does your travel club only cater to the USA or does it have benefits far and wide reaching into the best vacation destinations across the planet? Make sure you know the values for local or international experiences.
9. Education on how to consume membership
A good travel company will offer CD's, videos and literature to help their membership take their club benefits and get the most out of taking their trips. If your travel club does not offer some training or help in showing you how to use your package, you might want to look else where.
Will you be allowed to give away some of your trips in your travel club or will your name and address be hard coded into every voucher to only be used by you? Some travel clubs have over 40 trips included, and no one could use that many trips in one year. So make sure your travel club will allow you to transfer trips and packages to family and friends, with no extra costs and simple order fulfillment.
Traveling around the world as an exclusive travel club member can sure have it's money saving advantages, and for the more pricey clubs out there, like Coastal Vacations Club, for example, some people choose to share one membership among a small group and divide out the trip benefits.