This is a reprint of one of my most requested blog posts.
Some time ago, I wrote a piece about what the timeshare industry can learn from the cruise industry and today I'm reporting on how the traditional timeshare industry is going to have to learn from the travel industry if it wants to thrive in the coming years.
According to Peter Yesawich, chairman and CEO of Ypartnership, the two biggest influences on American travelers are technology and social values.
Yesawich reports that 61% of active travelers use the Internet and ONLY the Internet for their travel research and only 7% use travel agencies exclusively.
So what can the traditional timeshare industry learn from this? There is a dearth of information about traditional timeshares on the Internet. We all seem to forget that the Internet does not operate without people. Someone---well, many people---are responsible for getting the information onto the Internet. The traditional timeshare industry has done little in this regard. The vast majority of timeshare related information on the Internet is from sources OTHER than the timeshare resorts.
He also reported that 1 out of 5 American travelers actively visit one or more travel blog sites and 1 out of 3 of them has written a travel review online. Those blogs and reviews are where Americans are getting their travel infomation.
You can equate a traditional travel agent with a timeshare developer. While you can purchase your travel needs indirectly from a travel agent, fewer and fewer people are doing that. Just as fewer and fewer people are relying on the information that they obtain at a timeshare presentation and then proceeding with the purchase.
Consumers are also price driving. This should come as no surprise to anyone. 87% of travelers reported that the ability to check the lowest prices is THE MOST IMPORTANT FEATURE of a travel website.
Consumers also look for the ease of purchasing, with 74% of travelers saying that this was a key feature in travel sites.
Can consumers compare prices online with traditional timeshare resorts? Of course not. The prices not only seem to be a closely guarded secret, but vary immensely depending on how many times they say "no" during a sales pitch.
Can consumers easily purchase a timehare online from a resort? Again, we know the answer to be "no." I don't know any resorts that let consumers buy online.
Hotels and motels and other non-timeshare travel services have been forced to become price transparent...as have just about every other product or service available to consumers. And still, the timeshare industry won't budge on this because they cling to the concept that timeshares are not a sought-after product.
Perhaps this is so because they won't let it be sought after. Consumer research study after consumer research studty continue to point to the fact that consumers want to buy things as opposed to having things sold to them.
(Continued In Next Post)