The Travel Department

I have had the privilege of working in the Timeshare industry for over 40 years. During that time, I have worked for three Private Entrepreneurs and one major Corporation. I can unequivocally state that the two business cultures run on diverse paths, each with their ownership establishing the character that permeates throughout the company and the Club. The only common denominator of each business culture is the organizational chart of the departments that make up the business; Marketing, Sales, Operations, Administration, and Member Services. However, this is where the similarity ends.
Moreso than any other time in history, does the Social Media culture of the organization determine its long-term success. This is unfortunate for the Corporate World of Timeshare because of its “do what it takes” unrelenting focus on the investor’s bottom line. As a result, the Executive Committee maintains a short-term business mentality that supports a “Reactive Response” to Internet complaints and negative social media posts. They further compound the problem by keeping a closed-door business philosophy with an aversion to daily involvement and against any change that doesn’t offer a high enough “Return on Investment.” Their sole purpose is to review numbers and reward themselves for achieving budget or laying blame on those below them for failing to reach their forecasted goals. It’s not until it is far too late that these corporate warriors finally recognize that a stagnant club in search of a growing bottom line is doomed to die by Social Media.
The contrast between the two business cultures is most evident in LOYALTY to the organization. A Private Entrepreneur and his management team EARN their employee’s loyalty through their daily actions, leadership, and good-will. They praise creativity and accept all challenges to the status quo, if beneficial to the company and its members. Each department plays a unified role for the good of the whole. Corporations establish a more robotic environment where the threat of dismissal demands “false loyalty.” A “God-like” Executive Committee dictates policies and procedures that replace the day to day human interaction and hands-on leadership of the Private Entrepreneur. Because of this “False Loyalty,” the Corporate World generates “yes-men” in support of the status quo, who willingly praise their immediate managers out of fear they may lose their job. Corporate cronies become the norm, judged by their ability to support rather than challenge their direct manager. Rather than working as “one,” each department, led by its manager, becomes a kingdom unto itself, protecting its domain even to the detriment of the company.
Corporate leadership finds comfort in the status quo and the belief they can command a greater efficiency and higher bottom line by lowering commissions and payments per couple. By doing so, they lose the top producers in marketing and sales who are quickly replaced by “wanna-be’s”; the void filled with teams of mediocrity. What the Private Entrepreneur fully recognizes and what the Corporate Executive Committee fails to understand is that the very nature and success of our industry has always depended upon the upper echelon of the sales and marketing team. They are the 20% that produce 60% of the couples and sales volume. They are the drivers of the rest of the team that pushes them to improve. Removing them “because they make too much” automatically lowers the bar that everyone strives to reach. It also reduces the potential “bottom-line” that the corporate warriors so desire to increase.
The Corporate World regulates uniqueness, creativity, and humanity into a “Suggestions Box.” These same characteristics are promoted and rewarded daily by the quick and decisive decision making ability of the Private Entrepreneur. The Corporate Executive Committee will demand countless Case Studies and take upwards of a year to make a simple but critical decision. Their caution in making a decision is because of their “unaccepted” lack of understanding of the timeshare industry. Each committee member believes themselves a timeshare expert, much like the college student who finishes a 101 intro-course in psychology and feels they are now Sigmond Freud. So to avoid any possible bad decisions, they take the path of least resistance and focus on maintaining the status quo. They revert their focus to the bottom line and demand more profit “because they can.” Unfortunately, because of their decision-making abilities, or the lack thereof, their sales and marketing teams are forced to say anything to make a sale so they can reach the forecasted budget. Thus, the Social Media nightmare begins!
It saddens me each time I hear that the Corporate World is buying out one of the ever-diminishing Private Entrepreneurs. It’s like playing Pack Man, searching and gobbling up all the successful Clubs you can. However, in this game of Pack Man, the winners are not the top producers or the creative-driven employees who made the Entrepreneur successful. They lose out to “good” corporate soldiers who follow, without question, the well defined corporate policies. And whether they want to or not, they learn to praise their immediate manager and contribute just enough effort to maintain the status quo. Novel ideas are cautiously presented to upper management who anxiously take ownership if commended by the Executive Committee but adversely blamed on the originating employee or sales rep if rejected.
Welcome to the Brave New World of the Corporate Timeshare!

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