How Does Sam’s Club Travel Compare to its Rivals?

How will Wal-Mart's wholesale club set itself apart from Costco, Orbitz, and vacation-home rental services?

Jun 27, 2014 at 9:16AM

Wal-Mart (NYSE:WMT) subsidiary Sam's Club launched its new travel portal this week. The wholesale club has partnered with Tourico Holidays, an international wholesale travel broker based in Florida, to serve up vacation packages, flight and hotel bookings, and other travel services to its members.

The move puts Sam's Club in competition with travel booking sites such as Expedia (NASDAQ:EXPE) and Orbitz (NYSE:OWW), as well as with competing wholesale club Costco's (NASDAQ:COST) long-standing travel service for its members. American leisure travelers are expected to take some 1.6 billion domestic trips this year, and international travel is seeing growth as well. The vacation package and travel booking market is large, but it's also crowded.

What does Sam's Club Travel bring to the booking game?
The first thing visitors to the new site will notice is that Sam's Club Travel can be browsed only by club members -- a setup that prevents non-members from searching for travel deals and comparison shopping. Visitors do have the option to buy a Sam's Club membership online. While Costco's getaway deals are only open to members, anyone can browse the site to see what's available. (Full disclosure: This reporter is a Costco member.)

Shoppers who can access the Sam's Club site -- which The Motley Fool browsed with a company-provided temporary ID -- will find a blend of club and mass-market travel-site features:

  • Reviews: Sam's Club Travel integrates TripAdvisor (NASDAQ:TRIP) reviews for hotels and resorts. Costco's site offers a star rating system but no user reviews.
  • Travel booking rewards: The site's Triple Dip program, similar to Expedia Rewards, awards a point for each dollar spent on most services offered through the travel portal, including flights, hotels, cruises, and more.
  • Hotel-only and flight-only options: This is similar to mass-market booking sites like Expedia and Orbitz. Costco offers package deals, cruises, and rental cars, but it does not offer hotel-only or flight-only options.
  • Vacation home and villa rentals: Sam's Club Travel really sets itself apart with offerings similar to HomeAway (NASDAQ: AWAY). Expedia and Orbitz group vacation rentals into their hotels category, while Costco doesn't offer separate vacation-rental deals.
  • A stronger focus on price than on premium deals: This is typical of the different markets targeted by Sam's and Costco. It also means Sam's Club Travel has a smaller, more curated selection than mass-market sites like Expedia and Orbitz.

In practical terms, how does this all sift out? We searched Sam's Club Travel, Orbitz, and Costco Travel for a holiday trip: airfare and lodging for two adults departing from Dallas for three nights in San Juan, Puerto Rico, over the July 4 weekend. Here's what we found:

Orbitz returned a total of 83 packages for two, ranging in price from $1,174 to $13,207. The results included budget hotels, the Ritz-Carlton in San Juan, and the priciest option, the Ritz-Carlton Reserve Residences at Dorado Beach.

Costco Travel yielded 14 flight and hotel packages, three of which were sold out, leaving 11 deals at hotels and resorts in San Juan and on nearby Vieques Island. Hotels included the Gran Melia Golf Resort and, as with Orbitz, the Ritz-Carlton. Package prices ranged from $2,525 to $3,480, typically with extras like activity passes or resort credits included.

Sam's Club Vacations, meanwhile, offered 15 results in the San Juan area, including the Gran Melia we saw on Costco Travel and a range of chain options from Comfort Inn to Sheraton's and Radisson's hotel/casino options. Package prices for two ranged from $1,756 to $2,740.

Sam's Club Travel's niche
Apart from being a service that adds value to its wholesale-club memberships, Sam's has carved out its own spot in the travel-booking ecosystem, somewhere between the all-possible-options approach taken by big booking names like Orbitz and the higher-priced packages offered by Costco. By offering a curated selection to people who get overwhelmed by Expedia and Orbitz, but at lower price points than Costco, Sam's seems poised to court travelers who are careful with both their browsing time and their money.

Your credit card may soon be completely worthless
The plastic in your wallet is about to go the way of the typewriter, the VCR, and the 8-track tape player. When it does, a handful of investors could stand to get very rich. You can join them -- but you must act now. An eye-opening new presentation reveals the full story on why your credit card is about to be worthless -- and highlights one little-known company sitting at the epicenter of an earth-shaking movement that could hand early investors the kind of profits we haven't seen since the dot-com days. Click here to watch this stunning video.

Casey Kelly Barton has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Costco Wholesale and HomeAway. The Motley Fool owns shares of Costco Wholesale. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

Money to your ears - A great FREE investing resource for you

The best way to get your regular dose of market and money insights is our suite of free podcasts ... what we like to think of as “binge-worthy finance.”

Feb 1, 2016 at 5:03PM

Whether we're in the midst of earnings season or riding out the market's lulls, you want to know the best strategies for your money.

And you'll want to go beyond the hype of screaming TV personalities, fear-mongering ads, and "analysis" from people who might have your email address ... but no track record of success.

In short, you want a voice of reason you can count on.

A 2015 Business Insider article titled, "11 websites to bookmark if you want to get rich," rated The Motley Fool as the #1 place online to get smarter about investing.

And one of the easiest, most enjoyable, most valuable ways to get your regular dose of market and money insights is our suite of free podcasts ... what we like to think of as "binge-worthy finance."

Whether you make it part of your daily commute or you save up and listen to a handful of episodes for your 50-mile bike rides or long soaks in a bubble bath (or both!), the podcasts make sense of your money.

And unlike so many who want to make the subjects of personal finance and investing complicated and scary, our podcasts are clear, insightful, and (yes, it's true) fun.

Our free suite of podcasts

Motley Fool Money features a team of our analysts discussing the week's top business and investing stories, interviews, and an inside look at the stocks on our radar. The show is also heard weekly on dozens of radio stations across the country.

The hosts of Motley Fool Answers challenge the conventional wisdom on life's biggest financial issues to reveal what you really need to know to make smart money moves.

David Gardner, co-founder of The Motley Fool, is among the most respected and trusted sources on investing. And he's the host of Rule Breaker Investing, in which he shares his insights into today's most innovative and disruptive companies ... and how to profit from them.

Market Foolery is our daily look at stocks in the news, as well as the top business and investing stories.

And Industry Focus offers a deeper dive into a specific industry and the stories making headlines. Healthcare, technology, energy, consumer goods, and other industries take turns in the spotlight.

They're all informative, entertaining, and eminently listenable. Rule Breaker Investing and Answers are timeless, so it's worth going back to and listening from the very start; the other three are focused more on today's events, so listen to the most recent first.

All are available for free at

If you're looking for a friendly voice ... with great advice on how to make the most of your money ... from a business with a lengthy track record of success ... in clear, compelling language ... I encourage you to give a listen to our free podcasts.

Head to, give them a spin, and you can subscribe there (at iTunes, Stitcher, or our other partners) if you want to receive them regularly.

It's money to your ears.


Compare Brokers