I recently attended the Ataway Conference here in Orlando and was excited to hear from travel professionals about the issues they are facing today as well as learning from the best.
As is the case with every non-timeshare conference I attend, timeshare was NOT well represented. To me, this non-attendence is one of the reasons that timeshare is considered the "red-headed stepchild" of the travel industry (although being a red-head myself I'm not sure if I should take offense of myself!). Timeshare has much to learn from the travel industry, as I've written about in the past---and the travel industry has much to learn from the timeshare industry.
Tom O'Neill from United Mileage Plus' Program gave a very interesting overview of loyalty programs; United specifically, but really all of the airline loyalty programs. From the harried note taking that was going on at my table, I could see that my fellow attendees "got" the gist of what Tom was saying and noting how they could improve their loyalty programs.
Then there was me. Or rather I should say there was timeshare in it's isolation.
I think one of the major reasons timeshare is in the state it is...and by that I mean less than 7% of the population owns it...is that the industry clings to its guns that they're different. Different in the way it's portrayed, different in the way it's marketed, different in the stubbornness that people like to believe that it isn't a sought after product and different in the way we treat our clients.
Airline loyalty programs are far from perfect, but they're ahead of what timeshare has. Airline loyalty programs not only reward their clients, but they let their clients earn rewards by partnering with OTHER companies. Other travel related companies to start with.
Once timeshare starts realizing that they are in the vacation and travel business just like everyone else in the market, I think we'll see a great improvment in numbers.