The new Abercrombie & Kent Residence Club is making an interest free joining offer to members of other destination clubs.

A & K launched its club earlier this year after buying two established equity destination clubs. To join the A&K Residence Club, members pay an initial membership fee of between $225,000 and $495,000, and then annual dues of between $17,000 and $42,000, which allows them to travel from 15 to 45 days per year.

A & K Kiawah Home
A & K Kiawah Home
When I spoke to A & K Residence Club president, Jarvis Slade, yesterday, he noted that the program was designed to help members with the current liquidity issues that many are facing. By giving prospective members 6 months to pay their initial deposit, they can decide which of their own sources to use for the funding.

In a press release due out on Monday, Jarvis states, “Our program gives other club members an easy way to maintain their vacation plans for 2009 without worrying about the impact of today’s macro-economic issues. By delaying up to 80 percent of their membership contribution (which is the largest cash requirement in the destination club membership transaction), new members of A&K Residence Club, joining under this program, can experience the club lifestyle and maximize their first year membership while they complete the resignation process from their current club.”

He continues “Our debt-free equity model, financial transparency, alignment with member priorities, industry-leading membership resignation policy and unrivaled travel services have allowed the club to grow strongly and steadily since our launch”.

New memberships have slowed for for all the destination clubs, just as they have for other luxury vacation options and for vacation real estate sales. No surprises there given the current crazy economy that we are all in.

Historically the clubs have all reported high member satisfaction levels. For the larger established clubs a main source of new members is referrals from current members – again indicating the high levels of member satisfaction. But in the current economy the number of resignations have increased as people have lost their jobs and seen the value of their wealth tumble.

Given all the above it’s an interesting move by A & K to pursuade members of other clubs to jump ship. With new members hard to find at the moment there’s certainly some sense to go after the folks who know and love the destination club experience. The challenge will be getting them to move.