Demeure is a new travel option built on the observation that most folks with second homes (or even third or fourth homes), typically use them for under 30 days a year. For the other 335 days a year, those homes often sit empty. Demeure simply makes use of this empty space by making it available to other like minded people within the Demeure community.
Demeure have really taken the whole concept of vacation home trades and exchanges to the next level. Members are free to travel whenever and wherever they want, regardless of when and how their property is used. One interesting twist is that you don’t need to own a vacation home to join and access the Demeure portfolio.
Demeure Club 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.
The club works with new members to set a fair initial opening price for their property and also look at related market data to set this price. By the second year the property will begin to trade with the price set dynamically by the demeure system. This dynamic pricing takes into account:
Timing – the earlier the available space is entered into the Demeure system the better and more valuable it is
Popularity – the more popular a home is the more valuable it becomes
Seasonality – peak seasons are more valuable than shoulder seasons or off season
Demeure is working with several groups to create private chapters that use the Demeure platform. Each chapter can then choose whether they open up their homes to other chapters or just keep it totally private amongst themselves. The chapters receive a commission when people from outside their chapter use the chapters homes.
In addition to the Demeure Club, the group has been adding VRMC’s (Vacation Rental Management Companies) to its structure. With the club and the rental company on the same software platform, the members of the club gain access to the large number of rental villas. Currently they have about 250 properties in total and their goal is to have 1,000 by the end of 2010. The club is also indicating that members will gain access to discounted hotel rooms.
Peter Schwartz, the founder of Demeure, has a background in the technology, financial and real estate industries. He was CEO of Nasdaq listed Descartes Systems Group, a yield management and logistics technology company and this ability to make the most of underused assets is part of Demeures secret sauce. Other members of the team have backgrounds in the destination club and property management sectors.
Demeure are certainly breaking new ground. As we reported last week there are several exchange companies that deal mainly with resort level properties, and members in these systems can bank their time for time at other resorts in the network. There are also several companies that organize single home exchanges, but these tend to be exchanges on a one to one basis – so matching two parties together. Having a sophisticated software platform and expanding this to private chapters and vacation rentals takes the concept to a new level.