The Vacation Ownership Association of Southern Africa (VOASA) has cautioned consumers to be vigilant during the holiday season when approached by travel clubs. "These are not the same as holiday clubs," says Alex Bosch, spokesman for VOASA.
"A travel club membership offers discounts on trips that are sponsored by vendors within their affiliation so that the vendors can market themselves to consumers. Most memberships come with several lucrative free trip offers each year but there is always a portion of the trip that you will have to pay for, plus membership fees and other related costs."
He goes on to explain that in comparison a holiday club membership allows you to purchase a specific number of points, which are then redeemed for a variety of vacation options each year. This is the newer version of timeshare that gives consumers more flexibility instead of returning to the same holiday location year after year.
"Furthermore, travel clubs are notorious for approaching holiday club members with the opportunity to sell on their behalf the use rights of their points to third parties. In return, these members are assured of receiving a generous rental income through marketing to overseas holidaymakers and from which the travel club awards itself a large percentage. However, these generous rental incomes do not always materialise."
Travel club complaints
The Consumer Goods and Services Ombud (CGSO) latest annual report revealed that a vast majority of timeshare complaints emanated from travel clubs, which sadly tarnishes the shared vacation ownership industry because of the confusion between these clubs and holiday clubs.
"Never pay up front to have someone help you sell your timeshare. If your circumstances have changed and you need to sell, rather approach your holiday club to discuss cancellation options or approach a resale company that is registered," says Bosch.
"We advise consumers to do their research with a very critical eye before giving out their credit card information and paying a membership fee. Be sure you know that the company is legitimate by asking for their annual report and better still, ensure that they are an accredited member of VOASA," concludes Bosch.