May 21, 2010 — I contacted several timeshare developers recently, in part because I was of the belief that other than ‘funding’ issues there must be something, a ‘silver-bullet’ if you will, that every developer needs now, to improve their sales volume, etc.
Through phone and e-mail interviews what I learned was that, excluding some slight variations in their opinions, it all seems to come down, once again, to the cost of tours, closing ratios including VPG’s and the lowering of those expensive and time consuming ‘kicks’ (rescissions).
After evaluating their input I found myself recalling a day in the early ‘80s during another economically challenging time when Artie Spector (of Consolidated Resorts fame) walked into a sales meeting and told his staff that he had had enough with the low closing ratio, the ‘kicks’ and especially the then whopping $75.00 cost per tour (CPT) and that “if it gets any worse I’ll close this place down!”
What is it they say? The more things change the more they stay the same?
A lot has transpired since those days. The USA has endured a couple of Wars, some recessions, double-digit unemployment here and there, $140 + per barrel oil, bank-failures (including the S&L crisis), major deficits, stock market crashes (Dot Com era), etc. and now the recent U.S.-led financial catastrophe that has laid ruin to many.
Pondering those realities is when I experienced an epiphany, so to speak. I realized that the developers I spoke with may not be wrong but are most likely sadly mistaken because the ‘silver-bullet’ that I was seeking has always been at the developers’ disposal– which is to maximize their marketing and sales performances.
The real issue facing developers today, again, funding concerns aside, is the antiquated marketing and sales strategy they mostly still embrace, one which is based on the coveted hypothesis taught in our finest university MBA curriculums: ‘Safety in numbers-101-A’; or drag ‘em in and throw it against the wall and see what sticks!
In fact I’ll go so far as to assert that one of the ‘real’ reasons so many developers, universally, were overwhelmed by the recent financial upheaval is because even though the ‘red’ flags were all around and the sirens were blaring like a WWII air raid warning, they and all levels of management responded like a deer in the middle of the road staring into the oncoming headlights. And with their marketing and sales system so entrenched (for decades), they all simply froze!
And because they did so, the inefficient marketing and sales process continued even while ‘Rome’ was burning, resulting in plummeting sales revenue followed by massive layoffs of sales, marketing and then management (all levels) everywhere…
I have been told (and have read) that some timeshare developers have learned a valuable lesson from the recent ‘sting’ and I truly hope this is true so that we once again become a thriving industry for many more generations to come…
But my gut feeling is that too many are still doing business the ‘old-way’ and as the dust continues to settle it will be ‘biz’ as usual when what should be taking place is a complete ‘retooling’ of the marketing and sales process that meets the developers needs and that is adaptable to the rapidly changing ‘market’ conditions and challenges that lie ahead.
One ‘baby’ step in that direction is that developers should look at marketing and sales as being ‘conjoined’, meaning both entities are actually in the same ‘vacation’ business, and they should start working together towards common goals and be remunerated, in part, for achieving specific objectives.
And another ‘baby’ step would be, as things pick up, to get off the old ‘hire ‘em in masses, train ‘em in classes, then fire their asses…’ approach to recruiting sales and marketing management.
In short, and for the ‘leaders’ of the future, it is time for a new beginning!
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