Are Closed user groups the only way to find travel discounts?

Are you familiar with closed user groups within the travel industry and how they help consumers find the best online discounts possible? These groups originated in the telecom industry and referred to a simple platform which allowed paying subscribers the opportunity to make free calls within the group. Essentially, the very same tactic can still be found within that industry through a service in which telecom operators offer free calls to members on the same network.

Closed User Groups within the Travel Industry

Closed User Groups in the travel industry were the only way to find online travel discounts prior to the internet. Hotels Etc and a number of other travel membership clubs were inundated with applications and requests at the time from consumers who want to pay less for their travel needs. In a similar fashion to the above mentioned telecom companies, Hotels Etc offered their subscribing members the opportunity to avail of huge discounts within a closed user group. Hotels Etc negotiated the discount – their members saved money.

Closed User groups

But why are these travel membership clubs suddenly so important?

Travel clubs have always been important but the arrival of the online world and search booking engines in particular meant it was easy for consumers to find the best travel deals without them. But history does repeat itself in every market and with the introduction of a new law called rate parity, we are now seeing the re-emergence of travel membership clubs.

You see, the law of rate parity now restricts traditional booking engines from offering genuine discounts or value to their customers. Stipulating that every booking engine, whether this is Orbitz, Expedia or anything similar, must display the same cost across all channels of distribution which effectively means they cannot advertise the heavily discounted prices we have seen in the past.

Hotels Etc and the ease of booking

Hugely popular in the early 1990’s, finding discounts with a travel club is really a straight forward process. Having negotiated the best discounts direct with the supplier, travel clubs then offer these heavily discounted vacations or travel services to their members in return for a small subscription. And the best part of this system? Closed user groups are exempt from the laws of rate parity and they are not restricted in any way from passing these discounts on to their customers.

vacation

As mentioned, these travel clubs are re-emerging and in contrast to the very beginning of online booking, they now offer all of the perks (and more) of a traditional booking engine. Fast and straight forward, accessing the best online discounts with a travel club could not be easier.

Morale of the story: For many years, travel booking engines led the charge in terms of finding the best prices for hotels and vacations in particular but recent laws have restricted these traditional booking engines from providing any real value. If you want genuine value, travel club membership is now the only real option to find the best online discounts.

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