Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Selling vs. Buying...A Marketing Wake Up Call

I've been boo-hooing about the need for timeshares to stop selling and let consumers buy the product for years now. And for years now, the old-timers in the industry have ignored me or worse, countered my thinking with the old stand-by, 'timeshare is different.'

Well, in a recent blog "Rocket Watcher-Product Marketing For Start-Ups" by April Dunford, she clearly illustrates what has changed and why marketing has to make the change from selling to helping consumers buy. Here are her thoughts, which I completely agree with:

* We Don't Believe Advertising
* Customers Can Broadcast To The World
* Prospects Can Easily Communicate With Each Other
* Information About Products Is Easy To Get (Without Having To Talk To the Company Directly)

True for other products and services, especially true for timeshares. The sooner the industry realizes that the customer is highly in control of the buying process, the more timeshares will be sold and the happier everyone will be.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Summer Semester Classes

Just a quick note to let you know that I'll be guest lecturing at the University of Central Florida-Rosen College of Hospitality on July 7th.

If you are interested in hearing what college students think about timeshare, I'll see if I can arrange a visitor pass for you.

I'll also be posting the questions here on the blog so if you can't be there, you can see for yourself. I promise this will be interesting reading!

Monday, June 21, 2010

I Wonder What Would Have Happened...

I received an e-mail from a timeshare owner over the weekend. She received a phone call from a company claiming to have a buyer for her timeshare, which was not even for sale.

The interesting (if you can call it that) thing about this scam was that the representative claimed not only to have a buyer for the timeshare, but that the meeting was taking place over the weekend at the timeshare resort itself!

The owner contacted the timeshare resort in question, who of course knew nothing about this and so the owner didn't show up.

However, I wonder what would have happened if the owner had agreed to the meeting with the supposed buyer?

Stay tuned.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

So THIS Is Why I Never Made It Into Sales Management

Came across this today and had to laugh...

For those who want to move (eventually) from sales to management, one of the best ways to do so is to almost always keep your business/personal opinions to yourself and not ‘rock-the-boat’!

THAT would explain it! And don't think for a minute that I feel I missed out on that...I love what I do!

I Found This Insulting...Did You?

I just completed reading an article on the supposed pros and cons of timeshare sales transparency, e.g. letting consumers know the price of the timeshare upfront. As my regular readers know, I've been advocating this policy for years as I firmly believe it would increase sales, decrease lack of trust and allow for timeshare to be a sought after product, all of which are necessary for the long-term growth and sustainability of timeshare.

While there are a few free-thinking developers and executives out there, the majority of the people in charge continue to cling to outdated methods, underestimate the savvyness of today's consumer and frankly, insult their intelligence.

Here are some of the comments included in the article:

"...the timeshare product continues to be so complicated and that the value of the physical units and the properties is just one element of the overall emotional value that we're selling, making it difficult for consumers to readily and easily perceive the actual value of the product..."

Really, timeshare is complicated? Not really. As for the physical units and properties themselves...isn't that what vacationers look for when booking a hotel property? As for the claim about the "actual value of the product", value is different for everyone. What is the "value" of an iPod adapter in a vehicle? What is the "value" of an electronic rear window defroster?

The article goes on to say that, "...the customer probably won't understand what (the price) means, what that translates into, why seasons are different from each other..."

Give me a break! I think that customers are smart enough to figure out that a hotel room on the lakefront in Chicago will go for a higher price during "Taste of Chicago" than in the middle of February (trade shows notwithstanding). Hmmm, what is difficult about understanding that November in Alabama is not "high" season? Perhaps because so many lies have been told by less than honest salespersons up until now?

Another executive comments in the article; "...the options open to customers have become more extensive and on occasions more complex, it is simply not an option for developers to advertise the cost of membership at each resort, nor is it practicable."

There we go again, "complex" and "complicated." If the range of products really is so complex and complicated, how then do these executives defend the 90-minute timeshare presentation?

Don't get me wrong; as many in the industry continue to do...I think timeshare is wonderful. It allows for better vacations, more peace of mind, more control, more space, less worries, more luxury, more amenities and an overall better vacation experience. However; consumers, owners and non-owners alike are getting more and more educated and less and less likely to throw thousands of dollars at a salesperson after a sales pitch.

The first timeshare company who truly understands and accepts today's and tomorrow's consumers for who they are, what they know and the tools available to them stand to reap huge rewards, both in terms of money and more importantly in good will.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Rethink Advertising Strategy

As my regular readers know, I live in the Orlando area where timeshares are found every three feet, or maybe it just seems like that.

Anyway, I drive past a timeshare twice a day which has a large sign out front; the kind with the lights that spell out a message...you know what I mean.

Yesterday I noticed that the sign was "advertising" the new commission structure in an apparant effort to recruit sales reps.

Now, I don't know about you, but if I was vacationning at this resort, pulled in, saw the sign about the new commission structure, I'm not real sure I'd be eager to sign up for a sales presentation.

I think their advertising/promotion strategy needs a rethink.

RedWeek.com June Newsletter Link

If you haven't seen it, here is the link to RedWeek.com's June Newsletter.


Thursday, June 10, 2010

Two Examples of "Always/Never Done It This Way" Thinking

I don't like the answer, verbalized or not "That's the way I've/we've always/never done it." I like to do things differently for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is it forces you to think.

I came across two cases in the last week of "Always/never done it this way" thinking involving both sides of the timeshare industry...and prime examples of what's wrong.

The first concerns a developer. I often troll around legitimate resale sites just to see what is out there and to gain ammo for my whole "timeshare is not a product, but a service" paradigm shift that I'm trying to work on. In any event, I came across a 1-bedroom for $85. Yes, you read that right...$85 plus a few hundred for title transfer, etc. A deal in any event, considering the developer in question is selling 1-bedrooms for almost $7,000.

I informed the developer about the situation and asked why he wouldn't snap this up immediately. You can guess the answer..."We've never done that before."

The second example involves a timeshare owner who has fallen victim again to an unscrupulous company claiming to help people out of their timeshare...for a hefty fee. This person gave money upfront to a company even after losing more than $5,000 to companies in the past and still owning the timeshare in question. When I asked why this person would continue to do this when all evidence pointed that this was a poor choice...you guessed it, "We've always believed these companies."

May I remind everyone of the definition of insanity..."Doing the same thing over and over and over again and expecting a different result."

Wake up people.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Some Good News About Vacations

According to a recent CNN.com poll, the majority of the 1,100 people who participated said that vacations are as important now as they were before the recession and nearly 25% said that vacations were more important now.

A healthy 67% said they will cut back on entertainment and eating out, more than 50% will postpone a major purchase and about 33% will trim health and beauty expenses in order to afford going away. Not sure about trimming health expenses...that one scares me!

This is good news for the vacation industry, the timeshare industry and just about everyone else. I said it before and I'll say it again...you can't put a price on a vacation. They're the type of memories that last forever. Don't get into debt to go on a vacation and remember that you don't have to travel thousands of miles away from home in order to have a good time and make memories.

Enjoy your vacations and take every vacation day you've earned. Life is too short...enjoy yourself!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

What If Apple Owned A Timeshare Company?

With Apple stock at a great price, their full retail stores, people waiting in line to buy whatever is the new release and the fact that you don’t hear a whole lot of bad things about their people, their products or their service---it got me thinking---what if Apple owned a timeshare?

First of all, there would be no gifting, i.e. bribery to get people to come in and see what everything was about. Maybe some great advertising, but no free stuff.

There would be no price drops…you can either afford the timeshare, or you can’t. It’s called believing in the value of your product.

There would be less of a chasm between a “new” timeshare and a “used” timeshare…sure you can save a few bucks here and there, but there wouldn’t be a 80% difference.

The people who worked at the timeshare and sold the timeshare would be staunch supporters of the timeshare and be proud to own one, or more.

The people that worked at the timeshare would know their stuff and wouldn’t have to exaggerate any of the benefits of the timeshare. It would work the way they said it would.

If you had questions about how to best use your timeshare, you could sign up for a free session or two and no one would try to sell you more timeshare.

Timeshares would be…what’s the appropriate word…oh yeah, cool. Timeshares would be cool and you would want to own one.

Perhaps Mr. Jobs is looking to expand the company’s horizons?

A Quick Thank You

Just a quick "thank you" this morning to all of Timeshare Insight's fans, followers, readers and clients.

May 2010 came in with the highest number of webpage hits, visits and pages since we started.

Thanks for being there...we promise to continue to give consumers what they ask for and not accept any advertising money from anyone.