Ross is the President and CEO of the Canadian Resort Development Association (CRDA). I appreciate the time he took to really answer my questions in depth!
What was your first job in timeshare?
I came out to Toronto 21 years ago to do marketing / promotions for a big Canadian developer who operated a multi-destination (floating time, floating space) vacation club. After soon finding myself adorned in the “timeshare cloak of shame”, I used to tell my friends that “Any shmoe with a credit card can go to Club Med, but I work for a VERY high end private members’ club that is SO exclusive that you have to be pre-qualified to even LOOK at it. Before they’ll even let you have a peek, you have to prove that you have a substantial household income, that you’re credit worthy, employed, and even then, you have to be PERSONALLY INVITED to be considered for membership.” I still look at the product that way, and I wish more people did.
What was the greatest lesson you've ever been taught?
There are so many, but the one that has served me best in my professional career is “think like a consumer, not a marketer”. So many companies tend to sit in boardroom trying to figure out how to market to “them”, but they forget that we are “them” as well. Would YOU respond to an offer or sales approach like that? If not, why not? What is the best way to reach YOU, and what offers / approaches would YOU respond to? If you can think like a consumer, you can market anything because you’re approaching it from an empathetic perspective.
Where is your favorite vacation spot?
I’m absolutely in love with New Orleans. It’s truly my spiritual homeland, and I try to make at least one pilgrimage there each year. I love the music, the food, the people, the history and the indomitable spirit of the place.
If you could change one thing about timeshare, what would it be?
Like everyone else, I would change the sales and marketing of the product. It’s really not ‘rocket science’: owners generally LOVE the product, but they hate the way it’s sold…so change the way it’s sold! I simply can’t understand how we can continue to sell a product that is truly a “lifetime relationship” but we’re not willing to invest more than one presentation and 90+ minutes in it. What do you think would happen if you asked out someone on a date and told them that, at the end of it, they would have to give you a solid answer regarding whether they will marry you or not? If (by some miracle) your date DID give you a “yes”, would you be shocked if your “marriage” somehow ended in a messy divorce? Invest some time, build a relationship, develop some trust and they’ll love you forever!
What is your favorite color?
Black. I have (at least) 10 extra pounds that seems to have set up a permanent home on my body, and black is my friend.
Thanks Ross...and don't forget that CRDA isi holding their annual summit May 16-18 in Toronto. For more information, visit http://www.crdaconference.com