Kaloyan Valentinov Danchev (also known as Valentino Danchev) has seen the future of vacationing. As the VP of Sales at Vida Vacations, a luxury destination club offering access to Mexico’s most exceptional resorts, he has an insider’s insight into how travel and markets have changed over the last five years or more. Innovations like Airbnb, Uber, and Yelp have made travel more accessible and convenient for the hordes of Millennials that comprise the largest generation of travelers and consumers, and all indicators point to the accompanying rise of the vacation club membership due to the flexibility, authenticity, and quality level they provide to this market.
As a whole, Millennials have a deep desire for authenticity and adventure. When it comes to travel, this generation of practical idealists is looking for immersive travel experiences that speak to their sense of novelty. According to a 2017 article in the Boston Globe, “The desire for more meaningful, off-the-radar travel experiences is a common thread heard throughout the [travel] industry.” Just because Millennials care more about their travel companions than their destination doesn’t mean that they want to spend their time at any location. Rather, they want to feel that they’re getting an exclusive, insider peek at the how the locals live for the length of time that they’re there. As a result, they’re more likely than previous generations to eschew guided tours for something more meaningful and authentic. This could include such things as an intimate, planned outing to a popular local hangout; a small, luxury cruise; or a private tour of a famous landmark. These kinds of activities enable them to connect with themselves, their family, their friends, and the local culture in a way that other travel options don’t.
Another way that Millennial travelers stay connected is via technology, specifically the internet, and those handy, travel-sized computers known as smartphones. Today’s mobile phone not only helps travelers plan and book their travel adventures but also helps them navigate their destination, keeping them entertained and enabling them to share their experiences with those who can’t be with them in person. It’s little wonder that free Wi-Fi is one of the top concerns for most Millennial travelers, even if they choose not to use it (aka, a “digital detox”).
However, the emphasis on DIY doesn’t mean that Millennials don’t know the value of a good travel advisor. There are many benefits to enlisting the expertise and customized curation of a trusted specialist such as Danchev to give the inside track on where to go. These professionals have traveled extensively and formed relationships with a host of companies they’ve met around the world, and with the latest technology, it’s often possible for them to snag their clients a deal or access to authentic culture or tradition that consumers can’t find on their own.
By examining Millennials’ needs and desires, it’s clear why vacation club memberships are appealing to this generation of consumers. Instead of being nailed down to specific dates at a particular resort, travelers can visit any of the resorts included in their club membership. This is a win-win for travelers who want to visit new places, as well as those who prefer to return to the same vacation spot in order to enjoy a more fulfilling relationship with that destination that continues to grow and deepen, year after year. Either way, membership affords the option of traveling in the way that best suits a member’s personality.
The exclusivity created by this model also ensures that there is plenty of opportunity for personalization. Membership allows travelers to vacation when and where they’d like without having to sacrifice the luxury of their first travel option for the necessity of any place that happens to be available. This way, travelers can still enjoy the level of comfort, convenience, and luxury that their membership entitles them to, even if their destination isn’t the same as it was the year before. According to Danchev, this sense of quality, combined with the flexibility of being able to choose from multiple destinations, are two major reasons that Millennials are pushing the travel industry toward membership.