Today's blog is written by "Scoop". If you aren't familar with Scoop, you owe it to yourself to check out his column at www.insidethegate.com.
This sums up what is wrong with timeshare marketing and sales. Having been a salesperson as well as seen enough timeshare presentations in my day, I can attest that this is all true.
Sad, sad, sad that no one is willing to do anything different. And then "they" wonder why timeshare has such a poor reputation among non-owners.
July 20, 2012 — In the timeshare game I find myself constantly amazed at the number of ‘balls’ (lies) that I watch being ‘pitched’ during sales presentations whilst I ’slide’ through marketing locations (OPC booths) and sales centers during my ’scouting’ expeditions (snooping around).
What equally amazes me is that often those ‘balls’ are nothing more than a simple case of inadequate training (product/service knowledge) that was never provided for the ‘pitchers’ (marketing and sales staff) by the coaching staff (developer/management) in the first place.
What training that is provided for these people is poor at best; after more than 40 years most developers and their management staffs still haven’t figured out that we are really in the travel business and we simply offer a unique travel product and service.
‘Pitching’ travel (aka: Vacations) is a no brainer and when most consumers are asked if they like to travel and/or vacation, I would submit that the vast majority would respond in the affirmative.
However that is not the case when prospects attend a timeshare sales presentation. In fact, upon the conclusion of each presentation, the majority, approximately 88%, say “No thanks” and we ’strike out’.
Despite what many Ph.D.s (philosophiae doctors and/or expounders of doctrine) in ‘the biz’ promulgate, the real consumer objection (‘No’) to a TS plan is —before ‘use’ and ‘affordability’— first and foremost, a lack of trust (assured reliance on the character, ability, strength of someone or something).
From both the marketing and selling perspective, trustworthiness is a critical factor when offering any product/service to the general public. Yet our industry almost always avoids that reality and very useful tool as if it were the dreaded plague.
From the moment prospects are approached and invited (smoke and mirrors) to attend an orientation (sales presentation), preview a new hotel, resort (TS plan), etc. we most often conceal our true identity, intentions and objectives as if we had leprosy.
We don’t even understand that the very people whom we invite to a presentation are inundated daily (as we all are) with a plethora of false and misleading offers (advertisements) and that they intrinsically distrust just about any and every sort of offer they receive.
Instead of using that knowledge to everyone’s advantage we continue to disguise ourselves, play cat (us) and mouse (them) and offer ‘gifts’ (bribes) to get consumers to attend a 60-90 minute (four-hour) presentation (often a grind) which, statistically, fails miserably.
Once the ‘mice’ (prospects) have been captured, we introduce them (potential TS owners) to ‘vacation counselors’ (liners, closers, managers, more closers and more managers… sales people) whose primary focus is to get (close) a ‘deal’ (timeshare plan).
The end result is that every day of the year about 88% of the consumers who attend a timeshare presentation say no thanks to traveling and enjoying fine accommodations around the world that caters to most budgets, tastes and lifestyles imaginable.
Although a financial situation may stand in the way of a yes, considering the various and affordable programs that developers are offering these days most consumers are really saying no to the ‘game’ (marketing and selling system) and not to traveling and a vacation lifestyle.
As long as the ‘coaching staffs’ (management in the marketing and sales centers) are happy campers with their ‘RBI’, their antiquated system will not change soon. They will continue to play the numbers game and ignore the team’s poor batting (sales) averages, including the damage they cause, from a public relations perspective, to our industry.
I would bet the farm that if I were to walk down Kalakaua Blvd. in Waikiki or along the strip in Las Vegas and ask visitors if they like to travel and vacation in luxurious accommodations, at least 90% (assuming they trust me) would say yes.
If I also asked these people if they won a lifetime of vacations and could travel the world and stay in any sort of accommodations that suited their travel needs, absolutely free of charge with no strings attached, 98% (again, assuming they trust me) would say yes.
On the other hand if I went down the street wearing a trench coat, fedora and dark glasses and approached these same people while whispering my questions and glancing over my shoulders, well, the outcome might be different.
The proof in the pudding regarding the use, benefit and need for truth in our marketing and sales system is as simple to understand as it is with our marriages, our business relationships, friends and acquaintances.
If we don’t trust ‘em we aren’t getting involved with them, and the same is true of those millions of prospects who say no to owning and enjoying their vacations each year.
If, as an industry, we applied even in part a more truthful approach to our marketing and sales activities, not only would the natural and exponential effects produce a positive industry image, without question sales would significantly increase across the board as well.
The sad truth of the matter is that over the years to come (as in the past), as an industry we will lose billions of dollars in revenue because those who control the sales and marketing activities don’t understand the consumer appeal of our product and service, aka, vacationing.
If those who control the marketing and sales activities were to ‘try out’ for a major sports team, say baseball, all their boasting of success in our industry probably wouldn’t get them on even a minor league team— unless a coach wanted a ‘hitter’ with a .120 batting average.