The Travel Department

I’ve had the privilege of spending over half my life enjoying the many benefits of this magnificent industry, which with great pride, we once called “Timeshare”. However, through an evolutionary process, developers refrained from using this adversarial word “Timeshare” but continue to use the same methods of marketing and sales, which are the very essence of what created the stigmatization of our industry.

Behind all their denials, developers wrapped and rewrapped their “timeshare” as a Vacation Club in the ’80s and ’90s, Travel Club, for the new millennium, and are currently settling in on Loyalty Club or Discount Club. Yes, in our futile effort to repackage our industry we continue to avoid changing the very three factors we initiated, and that continue to stigmatize our industry today;

  1. The overly aggressive OPC style marketing methods
  2. The sales techniques of fictitious first-day incentives, deceptive drops, and questionable product add-ons
  3. Policies that force new members to jump through multiple hoops to cancel

With the advent of the Internet and the extensive use of Social Media, we can no longer stick our heads in the ground and pray the grievances will subside or go away. Once a complaint is posted on the Internet, it’s there to stay and multiply. The success or failure of the Club now depends on the Tweets, TripAdvisor comments, Facebook postings, and search engine inquiries. The Club Product, initially branded with great pride, will surely die a slow death by Social Media if we continue to turn a blind eye and use the same old methods of marketing, sales, and cancellation policies.

Proactive vs Reactive Social Media Culture Text Here

With the available technology and the ever-increasing influence of Social Media, it is time for our industry to discontinue using these traditional “timeshare” tactics. A Proactive Social Media culture can be created by first developing a viable club product that is backed 100% by the developer, politically, economically, and ethically. It requires an immediate change of the developer’s short-term “bottom-line” mentality, replaced by a long-term “service-oriented” culture. It starts at the very top of the corporate ladder and flows down to every department, including sales, marketing, and yes, the company’s cancellation policies.

The first step is the establishment of goals, strategies, and policies based on service first and the accountant’s required bottom-line a distant second. The next step is to implement this new corporate vision by using available technology that facilitates the creation of a service-oriented marketing team, complemented by a sales team using well-defined content that presents the club product offered to the consumer. No more aggressive OPC tactics or confusing yellow pad/tablet presentations made at the discretion of the salesperson. And yes, if the new member wishes to cancel, try to resell them but let them out without jumping through multiple hoops. Attempting to meet the accountant’s desired bottom-line will only result in the use of aggressive marketing methods and questionable sales tactics that will cost the developer far more in the long run. Moreover, the few thousand dollars retained from members who want to cancel will cost the developer far more in Negative Social Media Currency.

The net result of putting service first and the bottom-line second immediately opens the path for the creation of a Proactive Social Media culture. It sets the stage that promotes guests and members alike to express to the world their positive experience with the Club. By eliminating the traditional sales and marketing methods, we remove the causes of the “Reactive” social media approach, which is a never-ending battle fighting the snowball effect of negative postings on the Internet. By changing from a “bottom-line” to a “service-orient” business philosophy and creating a “Proactive” Social Media culture, the developer will discover that their desired “production” goes up in the long-term. The bottom-line results are the “Cost of Sale” goes down, consumer complaints go down, the cancellation factor goes down, and the Club’s VPG and the closing percentage goes up along with profits. Most important is the Club is generating happy new members wanting to share the benefits of their new Club with family and friends and demonstrate so by posting positive social media testimonials, photos, and videos. No longer will you have to “React” to the loss of clients or new members canceling because of negative postings found in their “Google Search” before, during, and after a sale.

Internally a “Proactive” Social Media culture will also create loyal marketing, sales, and operations teams. They quickly learn that the old tactics of making a “quick dollar” abusing clients, making false promises and mistreating members offer far less of a return than the long-term commitment of generating happy guests and members through service, service and more service. The developer’s fear of losing the marketing and sales staff with such changes is an absolute falsehood. The best people in our industry have an innate desire to learn more and to evolve with the new technology and new trends. They, too, desire new members that they can look in the eye a year later and see a warm smile and receive a genuine thank you for introducing them to the Club.

The Final Solution

The door is wide open to this path of needed change, which replaces the traditional methods of sales and marketing that continue to stigmatize our industry. It doesn’t come free, and it requires a full commitment from the developer to provide a new corporate vision that includes a viable Club product, on-going training, use of current technology and a service-oriented marketing program. Such a commitment will result in a Proactive Social Media culture that will pay off far more than the current path of a Reactive Social Media culture.

So ask yourself a simple question, “Do you want to re-brand your Club every few years with each death by Social Media, or do you want a new generation Club that can be marketed, sold, and serviced with great pride for years to come?”

If it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, it’s a duck, not the New Generation Club.

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