What do any number of the most
successful companies today—from Apple and Google (iEverything and search engine-plus)
to Netflix and Amazon (TV game-changer and retail transformer)—have in common?
A culture of innovation. These companies don’t rest on their laurels. Sure,
they each found immense success with the launch of their first product(s). But
they didn’t stop there. They continued to think “what next?”
The same can be said for our
industry. From fixed weeks to points to exchange, the timeshare product has
continually evolved over the years to satisfy the ever-changing needs and
demands of consumers. So, what’s next? At the ARDA-West
conference held last
month in Denver, Co., one session had that exact focus: what key attributes must
tomorrow’s product have in order to appeal to future generations and drive the
Some say there’s nothing wrong
with today’s product, while others say it must change radically to allow the
industry to evolve, survive and prosper. But one thing everyone agrees on is
that we cannot become complacent about understanding the changing needs and
demands of our customers.
The session began with an
overview of AIF’s latest study, the Shared
Vacation Ownership Owner’s Report, highlighting
multi-generational research and providing key insights into today’s timeshare owner—who is younger and increasingly diverse.
They’re also savvier, with the majority having experienced timeshare prior to
purchasing and one-third having attended multiple sales presentations before
Yet, while today’s consumer may
be different, we learned they are still shaped by many of the same timeless
influences. Growing up during the Great Recession affected Millennials in ways
similar to the Great Depression-era generations—they’re much more money-conscious
than the Gen X or Baby Boomer. They also greatly value family, with more than
50 percent saying being a good parent is one of their most important goals in
So what needs to change for us in
order to better reach tomorrow’s customer? Some key session-findings are as
- We need to
realize our product will never be sought after, so our sales approach needs to
change. We need to be transparent and honest and tell it like it is.
love to vacation, but they’re more spontaneous. They’ll add a few days on
either end of business trips and will use any excuse to travel—birthdays,
anniversaries, weddings, etc.
- To meet that
need, our products need to be more flexible, shorter term.
- They crave electronic
sophistication: not having Wi-Fi at a resort is akin to not having a bathroom.
- Take a consumer-centric
approach: a la carte benefits vs. one size fits all. Get to know the customer
first and determine their wants, and then create a custom benefits package for them.
status driven, so earn their loyalty with a rewards program.
- Social media
isn’t going anywhere. Engage with them, in real time. Responding to reviews or
providing recommendations will drive your credibility.
No matter how successful a
company has been, they must keep an eye on the future if they hope to maintain
long-term success. And the good news is, the future of timeshare has never