Demeure: Designing A New Worldwide Travel Community
Demeure is a unique travel recipe, combining various dimensions of well-known travel ingredients – some aspects of destination clubs, some of home exchanges, some of private home rentals, all making the Demeure travel choice far more expansive and in many ways far less expensive than ever before. It is primarily a next generation rental management company, but with many more new options than what the name usually implies. It is a company where a person can book a vacation property online, and/or list a vacation property and/or become an active member of a private travel club. With these ideas combined, it is a new animal, breaking new ground. With such ideational co-mingling, as well as a years-in-the-making substantial software platform created for Demeure, Peter Schwartz, the CEO and his team have created a significant travel/home exchange/club entity to watch.
Peter himself is a significant, creative, entrepreneurial thinker and doer. The reason why those in the U.S. aren't familiar with his name, it because he is a Canadian, and is President of Laurence Capital Corporation, a Canadian based private equity firm. He is also the former CEO and Chairman of the Board of Nasdaq and TSX listed Descartes Systems Group Inc. He was also selected as one of The Financial Post's Top 40 Under 40. He is a young man with new ideas.
There are three populations that Demeure targets: travelers, property owners, and developers. With travelers, they can simply book a property, as with any other management company. But they can also join the Demeure Club, which entitles them to guaranteed travel discounts for the duration of their club term, five years. They also have the option of contributing their own properties to pay for their travel. It also serves real estate/land developers in a few ways -- Demeure can enter into a listing agreement with them, offering residual capacity either in advance or via auction, or they can refer club members and offer membership in the club as part of their value proposition,ie., whatever they sell, could come with club exchange rights.
"If you look at why we consider Demeure the next generation in club formation, home exchange, rent, and travel, it lies in predictability, with the ultimate goal of creating the Demeure community." said Peter recently. "In other companies that offer luxury travel, home exchange, and the like, you'll see that client experience is not, historically, predictable. Sometimes the homes are what you expect, but sometimes not. One of Demeure's strengths lies in our predictability, with our services and our processes. What you see and what you pay for is what you receive. When this happens, the Demeure community forms -- with the feeling that nowhere else could a family, a couple, an individual be more content with precious vacation time. And, they will return again and again. Also with our predictability commitment, there are no surprises with Demeure, as there has been with the destination club industry. No surprise assessments, no bankruptcies, no changing homes at the last minute so what you see is not what you get.
"Private residences are indeed used, but there are also significant numbers of villas, pied a terres, hotels, and residences that can be used. By listing with Demeure, we have an expandable capacity of residences, where we can allow our club members and non-club members to have greater choice, while also contributing time to Demeure club for the mutual benefit of the property owner, and the traveler. "
How does this work? One of the Demeure taproots lies in the understanding that most second-home owners typically use their homes for under 30 days a year. For the other 335 days, these homes usually sit empty. Demeure makes use of this space by making it available to other like-minded people within the Demeure community. If an owner puts his or her home into the Demeure pool, it automatically allows the owner to travel to other homes or residences worldwide, and be a member of the Demeure Club. Members are free to travel whenever and wherever they want, regardless of when and how their property is used. One interesting twist is that any individual does not need to own a vacation home to join and access the Demeure portfolio.
One of the goals of Demeure is to become a worldwide private travel community , whereby members start by selecting a package based on their personal travel needs and receive guaranteed discounts for the duration of their five year membership term. Members who choose to contribute property for use by Club members contribute a minimum of four weeks per year. When their property is used, they receive 75% of the value of their contribution in travel credits to use anywhere in the club.
The guaranteed discount rate depends on whether the member is contributing time in a property. Members who contribute properties receive a 50% discount against the non-member rate, while all other members enjoy a 40% discount. An example the club uses is of a villa costing $1,000 per night. A member who has not contributed a property to the Club would have their account charged $600 per night for the stay, while a member who provided time to the Club would be charged $500 per night for the same stay. And remember the member contributing a property can pay for this $500 with credits they receive from the use of their own property. Non contributing members pay a joining fee of $2,500 for a five year membership. There is no joining fee for members who contribute properties. All members choose an annual club travel commitment and pay this at the start of each year.
In addition, and this is yet another new idea, Demeure is working with those interested in joining the club or who are already club members to form chapters within the community. Then, these chapters can choose whether they open up their homes to other chapters, or to keep their chapter home private, between themselves. The chapters aren't just made up of homeowners, they are groups of friends, associates, clubs, corporations, partnerships. They can simply join to travel, and then have the option to pay for it with time in their home, either offering time exclusively to fellow chapter members, or club-wide.
Finally, Demeure has been adding VRMC's (Vacation Rental Management Companies) to its platform. With Demeure and rental companies using the same software, the members of the club gain access to the large number of rental villas. Currently they have about 250 properties in total. The Demure residence images posted here are of those in Provence, Tuscany, Montecito ( California), and Canada. Their goal is to have 1,000 residences worldwide by the end of 2010.