Luxury has often been seen as being part of a ‘club’ – whether it’s the local country club or first class service from an airline or hotel, the ‘club’ has always conveyed a special status to its members.
The Internet was supposed to take down many of those walls, but over the past few years there’s been a growth in exclusive online communities and clubs.
Most of the sites are free, but the key is that you need to be invited to join by another member. These sites offer deals on luxury goods and services to its members. Most deals will be limited by time or quantity, but it allows members of the club to get hot items at a good price. Many of the site at this time focus on travel and fashion.
Hautelook is one such site, where the basic idea behind the model is that big designers, such as Marc Jacobs, offer excess inventory at 50 to 70 percent discounts over a several day period. Only members can participate. Sales are announced via emails. Like most of these sites, you can get invites from other members or request invites via the site.
Other sites of this type include Jetsetter.com and Vacationist.com. For retailers, hotels and airlines, it offers a way to target their core market of highly engaged and wealthy individuals – especially crucial in a slumping economy. Consumers, meanwhile, get good deals that come only with being part of ‘the club’.
Alex has written for Vanity Fair, Barrons, Bloomberg and Condé Nast Traveler.