Wyndham Doubles Down On Travel + Leisure

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Here’s hoping this story becomes highly relevant in the near future.

Wyndham Destinations, the vacation rentals and timeshare company, announced yesterday a deal to acquire the media brand Travel + Leisure from Meredith for $100 million.

A Match Made in Hawaii

Wyndham Destinations, which spun off from the Wyndham Hotel chain in 2018, operates 230 timeshare resorts around the globe.

Travel + Leisure, in addition to the well-known magazine, offers subscription travel services such as Travel + Leisure Family Club.

Industrial Logic: Together, under the brand “Travel+ Leisure Co.,” management will look to use T+L’s content as a flywheel to drive new timeshare membership.

Historically, vacation clubs and timeshares have been unpopular with younger generations (the median age for timeshare owners is 51). But with new vacation clubs in urban locales like Nashville and Atlanta, millennials are now Wyndham’s fastest-growing demographic.

  • The purchase of Travel + Leisure fits with this strategy. CEO Michael Brown said the company will aim to provide “more subscription-based travel benefits for a lower price and a shorter duration” and also expand licensing agreements.

Under the agreement, Meredith will continue to operate the media brand under a 30-year license agreement.

Trip Around Corporate America

Travel + Leisure has been on quite a journey itself. Originally founded by American Express (go figure) T+L was ultimately sold to Time before being scooped up as part of Meredith’s acquisition of Time in 2018.

For Meredith, the transaction continues a streak of selling iconic but economically beleaguered titles to entities with little publishing experience.

  • Meredith sold the namesake Time Magazineto Salesforce’s Marc Benioff for $190 million.
  • Fortune was recently pawned off to a Thai businessman for $150 million.
  • Sports Illustrated was kicked over to Authentic Brands Group for $110 million.

The Takeaway: Wyndham Destinations needs all the momentum it can get. Although timeshares fared slightly better than the hotel industry, its 2020 Q3 revenues were down 44%.