The Travel Department

Here are two tests to determine the Social Media Culture of your Club. Are you “Reacting” to the ever-growing negative posts on Social Media or are you “Proactively” utilizing your positive Internet presence for marketing, sales, and future promotions. The two tests are simple, but the results may be painful.

Test #1

If the answers to the following three questions are “Yes,” congratulations, your Club has a Proactive Social Media Culture. If the responses are “No,” your Club has a Reactive Social Media Culture.
Question #1: Does your Marketing Team urge prospective clients to Google the Club when convincing them to attend the sales presentation?
Question #2: Does the Sales Team urge prospective members to Google the Club when convincing them to purchase a membership?
Question #3: Does your Member Services Team advise new members to Google the Club when convincing them not to cancel?
I’m assuming that most of you have answered a painful “No. No. No.” Moreover, most of you probably have a “Reactive Plan” for cases when they do Google the Club before, during and after the Club Presentation. Unfortunately, your “Reactive Plan” is less effective each year as the negative comments continue to grow.

Damn that Social Media Team! They don't know what they're doing.

Many Clubs believe that contracting a Social Media team, and a Reputation Management company will resolve the ever-growing negative postings on the Internet. This is analogous to putting a band-aid on a gun-shot wound. The company is “Reacting” to the injury, but failing to “Proactively” cure it. The result is the Club will slowly bleed to death by Social Media. It isn’t the failure of the Social Media Team. It is the overwhelming results of the old-fashioned “Timesharistic” methods used by marketing, sales, and operations. Take a meaningful step back and listen to your clients and members and read the history of complaints that are posted on the Internet or provided in your Club surveys. What do they tell you? The common responses are: Abusive and overly aggressive marketing. Rude, offensive, and false promises made by sales. Lack of response for service and rejected when I wanted to cancel. It doesn’t take a genius to understand that such methods no longer work in this new Social Media environment.

Test #2

Now ask yourself the following questions and imagine your Club has a Proactive Social Media Culture.
Question #1: How many additional couples would I book for the Club Sales Presentation if all the members were happy and there were no negative comments on the Internet?
Question #2: How many more sales would I make if all the members were happy and there were no negative comments on the Internet?
Question #3: How many cancellation requests would I save if all the members were happy and there were no negative comments on the Internet?

The results of having a Proactive Social Media Culture is beyond imagination. Yet, it is not impossible to implement if the Corporate Executive Committee and Owners commit to focusing on service first and their bottom line a distant second. The current policy of “meet your forecasted budget at all cost” has to be replaced with “no complaint will be tolerated.”

Many will say this is not possible. I’ve been in this business for over 40 years, have opened up hundreds of salesrooms and marketing operations, and have been director of countless club personnel. The one thing I know from this experience is we have the innate ability to conform to the business environment given. When advised by one of the Resort Owners, “I will not tolerate one complaint!”; I created the Personal Concierge Program. Not only did the service scores of the hotel operator increase to near perfection, but our marketing penetration doubled. Yes, many of the OPC style representatives quit, but a team of service-oriented marketers filled the vacuum.

This same business philosophy was carried over to every aspect of the Club environment. Salespeople were penalized for complaints and charged the compensation gift given to the customer. Clients requesting to cancel were readily given their money back if the closer and VLO “together” failed to make the new member happy. Bonuses were equally given for letters of praise as they were for production. Any complaints resulted in no bonuses and many times, dismissal. The Service Culture of the Club translated into profits that amazed both the owner and the hotel operator.

So to answer your fear, “Is a Proactive Social Media Culture Possible”? The answer is a resounding, YES. But it has to start at the very top, fully supported with resolute implementation to every department. If your management and top producers threaten to leave, so be it. They are probably the cause of most of the Social Media complaints. Anyone resisting such change is looking out for their own “short-term” interests rather than the good of the Club.

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