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On Wednesday, Wyndham Destinations officially became Travel + Leisure Co., a membership and leisure travel company, after acquiring Travel + Leisure magazine last month.
Travel + Leisure Co. will maintain its portfolio of nearly 20 brands — including vacation ownership resorts under the Wyndham Destinations umbrella — and has appointed Noah Brodsky (whose resume includes such travel industry behemoths as Sheraton, Four Seasons and, most recently, Wyndham Hotels) to oversee its Travel + Leisure Group as president and chief brand officer.
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If you already feel like you’re in a travel-themed nesting doll, here’s how it breaks down:
Travel + Leisure Co., formerly Wyndham Destinations, includes Wyndham Destinations and its 230 vacation club resorts around the world; the vacation exchange company RCI; and the new Travel + Leisure Group.
The Travel + Leisure Group is a collection of branded products and services (such as a new booking platform and a forthcoming subscription travel club) “inspired by online and print travel content” from Travel + Leisure.
Travel + Leisure is a travel and lifestyle brand with a magazine, website, social media platforms and more — plus, full disclosure, my former employer.
Got it? Good.
New travel services
Travel + Leisure Group made its debut with announcements about two new branded products: The first iteration of a booking platform and an early look at a Travel + Leisure subscription travel club expected to launch this summer.
Today, the Travel + Leisure Group launched the first iteration of BookTandL.com, an online booking platform where travelers can research, plan and book trips.
Brodsky, who told TPG during a Zoom interview that he grew up reading Travel + Leisure magazine, said: “The first step” for the group is “connecting its really iconic magazine with a more direct way to book” the experiences you’d see in print and online.
At BookTandL.com, you can reserve a hotel, flight, rental car or activity (think: a Central Park bike rental; a Universal Orlando park pass), or you can peruse content pulled directly from the Travel + Leisure website.
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It’s powered by what Brodsky calls a “secret sauce” of proprietary technology from RCI’s acquisition of Alliance Reservations Network (ARN) in 2019, direct and indirect supplier relationships and, of course, T+L content.
Subscription travel club
And this summer, the Travel + Leisure Group will launch a subscription travel club for $10 a month, where travelers can get access to exclusive experiences or special perks and amenities. You can have the kind of dream trip you read about in an issue of Travel + Leisure, but with added benefits, Brodsky explained.
So, for example, subscribers might get VIP reservations at an editor-picked seaside restaurant from a feature about Greece. There might be a private tour, or a spa credit or welcome toast at a hotel plucked straight from the magazine’s glossy pages. The subscription will also include discounted rates at BookTandL.com.
Brodsky says the forthcoming travel club will be both “exclusive” and “really accessible.”
“We’re certainly seeing a resurgence in travel subscriptions,” he explained, saying travelers will get “a sense of belonging and a sense of access that can’t be experienced in quite the same way without [the club]” whether they pay $10 or thousands — like you might for the all-you-book Inspirato Pass.
“Luxury,” he added, “doesn’t have to be about the price point.”
Brodsky thinks younger travelers will see luxury as having a local, authentic experience. “That is one of the things T+L does so well in the stories they tell. [They] give you the sense that you’re really there,” he said, not talking or dreaming about a place but really experiencing it like a local. And that, he said, is something you can get at any price.
And for those of you who are wondering, Brodsky says allowing the writers and editors at Travel + Leisure to maintain editorial independence was one of “the most important parts of [the] deal.”
“We have no say [in] what they write or what goes into the magazine,” Brodsky said. Instead, the team will look to the content that’s written for inspiration — much like the brand’s readers do today.
The media company Meredith Corp. will continue to publish Travel + Leisure magazine under a 30-year licensing agreement.
Both BookTandL.com and the upcoming subscription club are arriving at a moment when Brodsky says “people want to be inspired by travel more than ever before.”
“Travel is, by its very nature, a luxury. We are privileged that we all get to travel and go out and see other places in the world, and that we have the resources and ability [to do so].”
“I certainly think this lockdown has reminded us all not to take travel for granted, [and] as we come out of this it’s going to be more important than ever to make every trip count.”
Every trip, he said, should be a trip of a lifetime.
Feature photo by Melanie Lieberman / The Points Guy.
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