Thursday, June 23, 2011

From The College Students

The topic du jour in the timeshare industry is reaching the "younger generation."  How they don't buy the same we we old-timers do.  How they need to be reached and engaged with in a "different" way.  How to use social media because they don't consumer traditional media.

All fine and good.  Except all of that talk overlooks one really important issue.  All the social media in the world, all the shiny engagement tools around will NOT increase acceptance and trust of timeshare if the "younger generation" or any generation doesn't believe in the product.

As the co-author of the college text "Timeshare Management-The Key Issues For Hospitality Managers", it is my honor to guest lecture twice a semester at the University of Central Florida.  I've been doing this for several years now and it is always an eye-opening experience to hear from this "younger generation."

I thought I'd share some of their (unedited, except for spelling and grammar) questions today.  I can only hope that this starts some larger conversation in the industry.

Is the timeshare industry trying to move away from the negative stereotype that most people currently believes it has?  What are some possible better ways to market and sell timeshares without using free weekend giveaways, free tickets, discounts, etc.?

Why is it so hard to get rid of a timeshare once you have bought it?  Working in sales, I feel as if many customers you deal with don't want to buy a timeshare because they have heard how hard it is to get rid of once you're an owner.  They don't want to be a part of something that is permanent when they don't know what the future holds for them.  How do you deal with these customers?

What is the hardest part in selling and presenting timeshares to potential customers?  I know the question is cliche, but if I were someone in your position, I know it would be very discouraging having dozens of heads walk out of presentations every day with their sole intentions of just receiving free promotions.

In the beginning of our class, we watched a video about a timeshare owner who was dissatisfied by the company's changes to not allow other people to stay in their timeshare for free.  Do you think there's a better way to go about informing people of timeshares and helping people to fully understand all of the terms of their contract before signing so you can avoid having unhappy customers who feel like they are getting ripped off?

It seems like the current way of selling timeshares is just not working and comes with too many costs and too much negative stigma.  How can the industry change the way it presents itself for sales?

What is your advice on getting the best sales?  Should the sales person just try not to look desperate?

I see these questions as a huge positive, just as I see the opportunity to talk to these students each year a huge positive.  Not only are these the "younger generation" that everyone in the industry talks about trying to attract and engage, but these are the same people who will undoubtedly change timeshare for the positive in the years to come.


  1. "Why is it so hard to get rid of a timeshare once you have bought it? "

    Because in every other part of real estate, and mostly every other part of every business arrangement, if you don't want something for which payments are ongoing, you stop paying and "poof", it's gone. No recourse.

    For some reason when you "buy" a timeshare you don't really get anything. You have to keep paying, and paying, and paying, and if you decide you don't want to keep paying they sue you to collect. It's that *recourse*, which is absent in nearly every other part of business.

    A timeshare is more like a lease, where you are on the hook for 20 years of payments at X-$ until it's paid for and then, get out.

    Timeshare has no actual value. That's the problem. No wonder it has to be sold through high pressure sales and flim-flam. High sales expenses. High commission. Expensive premiums.

    If timeshare had any actual value none of that would be necessary. It could stand on it's own and have value. But there is none.

    A good portion of timeshares can be rented for what you pay in maintenance, and you have to buy *nothing*.

    I just don't see the value, but I have been waiting for you, Lisa, or anyone else to show it to me.

    You can imagine me at a timeshare presentation, asking the sales guy to show me the value. They haven't done it yet.

    In the owner example you gave, they have taken value away from that owner while he is under contract to pay. That's not really fair, now is it? They are getting ripped off, there is no way around that.

    So sure, timeshare has no value and it's being sold and managed by crooks and charlatans.

    No wonder people look at the whole thing with a jaded eye. I sure do.

  2. Well, since you brought up real estate, you can't just stop paying for a house...there are rules and regulations.

    Timeshares are NOT for everyone and there are a TON of things that have to be fixed in order for the product to survive. However, to say that it has no value is, in my view, wrong.

    I've been saying for quite some time that ownership, vacation or other, has some priviliges and some responsibilities. In most cases, you can't save money by buying a timeshare, but then again, you don't go on vacations to save money.

    The point of this post about college students-and the entire blog is NOT to convince you or anyone else to buy or own a timeshare. And as I'm sure you are aware of, there are significant problems within the industry.

    "No value", "crooks" and "charlatans" are harsh words indeed and we will just have to agree to disagree.