Odd: Wyndham Destinations Acquires Travel + Leisure

Filed Under: Media, Wyndham

Travel + Leisure will be acquired by a timeshare company for $100 million. What exactly will this look like?

Timeshare company acquires Travel + Leisure

Wyndham Destinations has just acquired popular travel publication Travel + Leisure from Meredith Corporation. Wyndham Destinations is a timeshare company that’s run separately from Wyndham Hotels & Resorts.

With this $100 million acquisition, Meredith Company will get $35 million at closing, with trailing payments to be completed by June 2024. The acquisition is expected to be neutral to earning for the new Travel + Leisure Co. in year one, and accretive in year two. This acquisition follows Meredith Company having reported a $289 million loss earlier this year, given how hard advertising was hit by the pandemic.

Meredith Company will continue to operate and monetize Travel + Leisure under a 30-year royalty-free renewable licensing relationship. The deal also includes a five-year marketing commitment across Meredith’s portfolio of brands.

As it’s described, this deal combines “the travel company’s portfolio of resorts, membership, and lifestyle travel brands with the world’s most trusted travel lifestyle content curator.”

Wyndham Destinations says this accelerates its strategic plan to “build on its leading position as the world’s largest vacation club and exchange company and expand into new leisure travel and licensing markets.”

Michael Brown, CEO of Wyndham Destinations, describes this acquisition as follows:

“We acquired Travel + Leisure, including access to its global audience of 35 million loyal followers across multiple platforms and nearly 60,000 club members, because it matches our passion and purpose to put the world on vacation. Over the past 18 months, we have laid the foundation to expand our footprint beyond our core vacation ownership business, and today we add one of the most trusted and influential brands in travel through the acquisition of Travel + Leisure.

This iconic brand, along with its authoritative content and wide audience, will help accelerate and amplify the growth of new capital-light travel businesses and services, as we take the next step in expanding our reach within the global leisure travel industry.”

Wyndham Destinations will rebrand as Travel + Leisure Co.

It’s not just that Wyndham Destinations is acquiring Travel + Leisure, but the timeshare company will rebrand as Travel + Leisure Co., and starting in mid-February 2021 Travel + Leisure Co. stock will begin trading on the NYSE under the ticker symbol TNL.

With this change, we should expect new branded products from Wyndham Destinations, with the goal of growing the timeshare business, launching new branded travel services, and expanding licensing agreements under the Travel + Leisure Group.

Help me understand this acquisition

The concept of companies purchasing media businesses in their “space” is nothing new. Everyone has the right to monetize their business how they’d like, so good for Travel + Leisure and Wyndham Destinations, I suppose.

That being said, I can’t help but find this whole thing a bit ironic. These companies are literally on the opposite ends of the travel spectrum — Travel + Leisure is primarily focused on luxury hotels and exotic destinations,  and posts “travel inspiration” like this:

Meanwhile Wyndham Destinations has timeshare properties in Orlando that look like this:

Photo credit: Wyndham Destinations

Now, in fairness, I suppose Wyndham Destinations probably got a deal on Travel + Leisure, given the environment. Furthermore, I imagine the timeshare business hasn’t been hit as hard as other businesses in the travel space, since customers are locked in for a lifetime.

Still, is this really a good fit in terms of cross-marketing opportunities? “Well, I was going to stay at the Four Seasons Bora Bora for a week, but instead let me buy a timeshare in Orlando for a lifetime?”

Personally I have very strong feelings about the timeshare business, but I recognize others feel differently, so I won’t even get into that. But I just don’t get if Wyndham Destinations is somehow trying to go upmarket here, or if Wyndham Destinations wants Travel + Leisure’s audience to go downmarket.

The best comparison I can come up with is that this would be like Applebee’s acquiring Capital Grille and then rebranding all restaurants as Capital Grille.

Bottom line

Travel + Leisure is being bought by a large timeshare company. The timeshare company will rebrand as Travel + Leisure, and I guess it’s hoping that buying the media company will expand its potential consumer base.

I still can’t really make sense of this, though, since the two companies don’t really seem to complement one another much.

What do you make of Wyndham Destinations’ acquisition of Travel + Leisure?

  1. “Personally I have very strong feelings about the timeshare business, but I recognize others feel differently, so I won’t even get into that.”

    That’s exactly wrong with (US-)American culture nowadays: People are afraid to call out bad things and simply accept them in order to not ‘offend’ anyone.
    Unfortunately this will prevent society becoming better, instead it will lead to a further deterioration of social cohesion.

  2. “Help me understand this acquisition”

    The magazine itself is worth nothing. The brand is worth something.

    Wyndham thinks that rebranding their business “Travel+Leisure” is worth the purchase price.

    A similar transaction happened with Sports Illustrated, also previously owned by Meredith, which was sold to a random company of promoters (Authentic Brands Group) who said at the time they’d slap the SI brand on all sorts of businesses (I haven’t paid attention to whether they did or not).

  3. They want the media platform to try and sanitize timesharing. Also through another part of the company, they let you book available timeshare properties just like a normal hotel. Lower tier timeshares are no better than your standard Hyatt Place, however they go all the way up to Ritz Carlton and Four Seasons partnerships.

    As a timeshare owner (bought resale and initial purchase was to specifically access a property where the maintenance fee for a week in a 2 Bedroom timeshare next to the convention center is less than 2 nights at Excalibur), I understand a lot of the fraud that is sold to people through the sales presentations but there are definitely use cases as well as ways that it can help you travel safely in this pandemic.

  4. All media today is owned by some business looking to use it to favorably influence their business, why should a travel magazine be any differnt. They could buy a lot of advertising to try to boost their timeshare sales or they can buy an established “reputable” magazine to do the same thing where they get further control on the message.

  5. Furthermore, Meredith is losing money left and right at the moment, so if they find someone to buy out the publication than smart on them to be honest.

  6. Basically putting a halo on them. I doubt much will change about the magazine itself.

    Maybe Wyndham will aqcuire one of the more botique ‘ownership’ companies that has legitimately luxury properties (kind of a level below the Steve Case venture)

  7. Max +1 For your readership and your lifestyle timeshares are very poor use of funds and that is obviously your opinion (besides the false promises, up selling, uncontrolled HOA fees for life, limits on uses and that most time shares are available for 20% of the retail price on secondary markets. Also many of us can book timeshares for a few nights or more with points and. It be tied into a specific product (assuming the timeshare stays solvent). If a timeshare loses other owners the HOA fee goes up to proportional ownership. Although major chains Hilton, Marriott and Hyatt have time shares which probably have more value than others they are a really bad deal for those in the points and miles community.

    Looks like Wyndham bought two things. A timeshare and marketing arm and the ability to sell exchange timeshares for Wyndham points and cash expanding their base. Time will tell if it was a good investment.

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