Who are Private Channel Travelers, and Why are They “Golden Guests”?

Not all travelers are the same. 


That’s an obvious statement at face value, but when you stop to consider all of the Who? What? Where? When? and Why? variables, well, the equation gets a bit complicated.


These days, online travel agencies (OTAs) and all other travel websites are a critical part of that equation. Millions of travelers rely on major online channels such as Booking.com, Airbnb, Vrbo, Expedia, and their many affiliates to browse lodging options and book trips. 


Some travelers, though, aren’t moseying down those well-known paths—instead, they’re using Private Channels (i.e. private listing sites) for their booking needs. 


Private Channels are large membership-driven companies that offer travel services to their base members. Unlike traditional channels, though, Private Channels such as RCI, Diamond Resorts, Interval International, Extra Holidays, and others are not open to the public; they’re typically only accessible via log-in. 

Private Channel Travelers

Private Channels: Only accessible via log-in


You can learn more about Private Channels by clicking here.


Travelers sign up to become members of these Private Channels, and with their membership, they gain access to the channel’s network of vacation properties around the world. They also participate in the channel’s core offerings, especially flexible points-based programs that allow members to collect, trade, and even borrow points to secure the trips they want. 


And that’s where Private Channel travelers start to deviate from traditional OTA travelers. Many Private Channel travelers have earned or purchased their memberships, so they have to use that channel’s unique currency (typically “points”) when they book trips. Here are a few popular ways Private Channel travelers gain membership:

  • Credit card points through programs like Amex Travel
  • Membership through clubs, wherein they purchase a bulk subscription and redeem travel through the club (kind of like a Costco membership, but for travel) 
  • Timeshare or home-swapping that allows people to rent out a piece of real estate and use those funds to purchase travel elsewhere

So what does all that mean for property managers and lodging providers?


Well, not all travelers are the same—and Private Channel travelers are a shining example of the truth behind that statement. 


Private Channels frame “vacations” not as a luxury, but as a necessity, and their members adhere steadfastly to that ideology. If you take a few minutes to click around a Private Channel website, you might notice how community-focused Private Channels are. 

Private Channel Travelers

Private Channel travelers are loyal, motivated, and highly qualified


The RCI website even has a Member Stories section, where long-time RCI subscribers share details and pictures from their experiences. Many of the contributors featured in that section have been RCI members for several decades, which certainly speaks to the loyalty of Private Channel travelers!


And that’s just it: Private Channel travelers are cut from their own cloth. Diamond Resorts urges its members to “make a habit of breaking from the routine,” because generally, Private Channel travelers are ready and willing to do exactly that multiple times per year. They are motivated and want to travel frequently, they are loyal, and they are extremely qualified.


Here are some other attributes of Private Channel travelers: 

  • $2,200 average transaction value
  • Willing to pay for higher-value bookings
  • Book further in advance
  • Longer stays (average 5.5 LOS)
  • Invest in multiple vacations per year
  • Loyal, active, and family-oriented

That’s quite a resumé! 


Sure, we’re painting with a bit of a broad brush, but Private Channel travelers really are “Golden Guests” of the industry. The question is: how can property managers reach them?


That’s the catch. There are millions of Golden Guests, but since they do their shopping and booking on private networks, it is super difficult for property managers to reach them or place any sort of marketing collateral in front of them. 


The most reliable access point—and often, the only access point—to these travelers is through a distribution platform like VacayHome Connect. By using a distribution platform, property managers gain a direct route to millions of travelers they literally can’t reach anywhere else. As a bonus, property managers who connect to Private Channel travelers this way never have to worry about their listings competing against each other.


Contact us today to learn how you can tap into this lucrative market!

VacayHome Connect