The Vacation Ownership Association of Southern Africa (VOASA) has cautioned consumers to be vigilant when approached by travel clubs. Picture: Pexels.

The Vacation Ownership Association of Southern Africa (VOASA) has cautioned consumers to be vigilant when approached by travel clubs.

“These are not the same as Holiday Clubs,” said Alex Bosch, spokesman for VOASA. “A Travel Club membership offers discounts on trips that are sponsored by vendors within their affiliation so that the vendors can market themselves to consumers. Most memberships come with several lucrative free trips offers each year but there is always a portion of the trip that you will have to pay for, plus membership fees and other related costs.”

He said a holiday club membership allowed travellers to purchase a specific number of points, which could be redeemed for a variety of vacation options each year. This is the newer version of timeshare that gives consumers more flexibility instead of returning to the same holiday location year after year.

“Furthermore, travel clubs are notorious for approaching holiday club members with the opportunity to sell on their behalf the use rights of their points to third parties. In return, these members are assured of receiving a generous rental income through marketing to overseas holidaymakers and from which the travel club awards itself a large percentage. However, these generous rental incomes do not always materialise,” adds Bosch.

The Consumer Goods and Services Ombud (CGSO) latest annual report revealed that a vast majority of timeshare complaints emanated from travel clubs, which often tarnished the shared vacation ownership industry because of the confusion between the two types of clubs. 

“Never pay up front to have someone help you sell your timeshare. If your circumstances have changed and you need to sell, rather approach your Holiday Club to discuss cancellation options or approach a resale company that is registered with VOASA. Alternatively, work with a VOASA listed rental company and recoup some of the money until you sell,” advises Bosch.

Bosch said all VOASA members must comply with the industry Code of Conduct and relevant law and regulations related to their business. Where applicable, this would include holding a current fidelity fund certificate from the Estate Agency Affairs Board.  

He said consumers should do their research before giving out their credit card information and paying a membership fee. The company's legitimacy can be determined by checking the member’s directory on the association’s website at www.voasa.co.za, calling 021 975-9607 or [email protected]