This is part two of my wild ride through
the decrepit collapsed amusement park of time share marketing.
This is where the disconnect between operations and sales is usually the most apparent. Sales will never lose a customer and operations are often lucky if they can keep one.
6) Never lose a single customer.
- Not single sales, that’s different. (Leave it to your sales people). After-sales, and existing customers, though – this one is just baffling. Perhaps it’s because time share grew so fast, but if you’ve got existing customers then try to remember this:
- It’s not what you say – it’s what they hear – that matters. Most time share operators spend 90% of their budget on advertising and sales support and nothing on support for the people who are prepping your sales leads. “Oh you’re here again? Whatever.”
- Value them, and let them know who and what you are, and hold on to every one like your reputation depends on it, because it does. And once they’re in, they should never, ever see anything that looks like an ad again.
7) Strategy: Where you think you are going is important.
- Most of the strategic breakdown for time shares, vacation and travel clubs comes down to not understanding the industry. Country clubs had to learn all of this after years of steep declines, and they came back. You’re selling belonging in the same way. Or let’s put it this way, your sales people are selling use-value. Your after-sales people should be selling belonging. True they will be soft selling it, but then, that’s just to get the actual leads in the door.
- Membership marketing is real. All kinds of organizations and associations and clubs use it. The fact that you don’t leaves you way out in the dark. It’s warm in here. Come into the light.
8) Marketing is Real
- I think one of the things I’ve learned is that business people hate marketing because it is so subjective, so close to art – and not at all scientific. Think about the eternal darling of marketers, Apple. Personally, I don’t like their products at all, any of them. But even a total hater has to admit they run a smooth marketing operation with almost no advertising, and total environmental, word-of-mouth fanaticism! What they do right, they mostly have their customers doing for them.
- It’s artless business people, (you know who you are!), who really push their teams back from creative marketing and content solutions toward silly, ineffective and even destructive advertising – when what’s called for is communications, outreach, philanthropy and yes, VALUES.
9) Your reputation is NOT something that Google cares about.
- I won’t make any bones about it. I love time share, and the tourism and travel sectors generally. Part of what I love though, is that time share is seriously like the cheap strip mall with a busted dollar store and an old Arby’s and nothing else. So few cars park here that the pavement is covered in loose gravel.
- Hunt around your LinkedIn groups and these are the folks you’ll find. I have always worked with sales people. I learned everything I know supporting and admiring sales people.
- They should not be left alone with your long term reputation.
- That’s not totally fair. They can make an outstanding introduction, and probably some promises you can’t keep. But after that is where the art really comes in, and it should come in thick and heavy.
- If you follow SEO and Google, then you should know by now that seriously fixing your reputation – with your customers – not with Google – is the only way to go now.
- OK, so your reputation sucks (and probably on Google, too). Fix it, in person, with the existing customers who come to visit. I literally took this idea right out of the mouth of a salesman I spoke to recently. You need operations people, on the ground, greeting and fixing things for existing customers as they arrive at their hotels, or time shares or where ever you’ve convinced them to visit.
- Google is set up to reflect the reputation that you deserve.
10) Upgrades and Referrals Marketing is cheaper and more effective.
- Making people love you takes communications. It’s almost the sole point of marketing.
- Your sales people will have dozens of reasons to hate me. Fair enough. They hate you because you made it so that the people they sold to now hate you. And they don’t bring referrals.
- Content Marketing, that is, today’s marketing, should rightly be called Upgrades and Referrals Marketing, but I’d settle for Membership Marketing because that’s really the strategy we’re going to follow.
- If you think some chintzy mini-vac sold your hotel for you, forget about it. Look again at “strategy,” above.
Now I probably still can’t post this to any of my friendly LinkedIn.com Masters of the Universe Groups. Anyway, it’s too long for them. And most of them are concerned with SALES, even if they say marketing.
There is no better Lead Generation than Word of Mouth from existing members (or time share owners).
In closing, if you can hold your sales people off, while you get this working, you’ll be sending all of your sales teams soft, warm and tender leads for the life of this plan. Now that’s something to think about, even if they won’t.
Photo top of this page: Parque Hotel, Interior 11, © Wikimedia Commons, by Marcos Mendizábal