March 6, 2015 — I’ll bet most of us in the vacation ownership industry either forgot or do not know that the notion of ‘sharing’ something expensive with others started long before our industry was conceived some 50 years ago. AND that it was marketed and sold upfront as “time-sharing” to a niche market that potentially had explicit needs and a probability factor that they might be able to afford what was being marketed. It all started in the late 1950’s, continues to this day – and without any ‘negativity’ associated with ‘it’! We in the vacation biz should have learned well from their model; but alas, that was not to be!
So Here’s The Scoop: For decades many sales reps in the vacation ownership industry have occasionally reminded their sales guests that just about ‘everything’ in the world is being timeshared (e.g.), “You don’t buy the whole 747 to fly off to the Caribbean John and Mary. You share a fraction of the operational costs of the jetliner with others wanting to vacation in Paradise and you only pay for the time, seats and seating class that fits your needs & budgets…”
However, according to Encyclopedia Britannica: “Time-sharing was developed during the late 1950s and early ’60s to make more efficient use of expensive processor time. Commonly used time-sharing techniques include multiprocessing, parallel operation, and multiprogramming. Also, many computer networks organized for the purpose of exchanging data and resources are centered on time-sharing systems.”
There are nearly an unlimited number of examples in other industries where timesharing is in demand and embraced by consumers because those entities, like our ‘neighborhood’, provide an invaluable service or product, yet those companies have achieved much success without ‘trashing’ their reputation.
As an example, consumers don’t purchase the taxi when they have the need to use one; they, instead, pay a fare for the driver, the gas, insurance, etc. and the ‘time’ they need that service. Overall, the masses do not loathe the Cab industry.
The same is true when consumers go cruising the high seas, eating in a restaurant, going to the movies, visiting a zoo, renting a ‘Tux’ for the big day, stopping by their favorite watering hole for happy-hour, a trip to the hospital, buying an insurance policy, purchasing their final resting places – and on and on and on.
And though there are surely some bad cab drivers, zoos and hospitals, etc. generally speaking those industries are not usually frowned upon by both the general public and their ‘users’.
But, OMG – when it comes to the timesharing business more often than not the public’s general impression, reaction and/or perception – overall and worldwide – is akin to most people’s response when they all of a sudden encounter a spider, a snake, a cockroach, a rodent and other creepy crawling/slithering things.
And that is both astounding and shameful as most forms of timeshares have high consumer appeal and demand because, like our industry, those companies fulfill intrinsic needs, they lower-costs, and are totally enjoyable. And in our corner of the timeshare universe if travelers/vacationers are not existing owners or members millions of them are renters of the same type of vacation accommodations anyway – aren’t they?
That is why I find it is stunning that after five decades (50 years) of marketing and selling vacation plans and being part of a consumer-demanded, accepted, embraced and mostly appreciated global hospitality and accommodations industry that all these years later we, in Timeshareville, have such a negative ‘rap’.
Stunning when you really think about it – and though I was not marketing or selling timeshares during the early days of the late 1960’s I’m pretty darn sure creating a less than stellar reputation about ‘timeshares’ was not the mantra, so to speak, of the era.
Yet here we are in 2015 and from approaching (advertising/marketing) the general public in the manner in which we do to the sales center and experience therein – the negative impression and reaction about the Land of Time is upfront and in our faces.
Hell – that is even true in our personal lives, especially as marketing, sales and S/M management personnel. When we meet someone for the first time be it (e.g.) at a church social, a sporting event, in the local grocery store or at a neighbor’s party and we’re asked “So what do you do Scoop…”, if we respond “I’m in the timeshare biz…” the not-so-positive reaction is almost universal.
The same is true if we encounter a police officer for a traffic violation and we’re asked that question – same response. Apply for a position outside our industry – and just watch the interviewer’s eyebrows rise as they pull back their chair. And how about the loan officer’s reaction when we’re seeking to borrow money?
Change insurance agencies (life, auto, health or home) and while filling out the app with the new agent you’ll notice they’re looking you over with a slight facial expression of distaste and concern as they take back the completed app and your check.
Rent an apartment and on the applications under ‘occupation’ – write in Timeshare Sales – and get ready for the property manager to rapidly develop that highly questioning and suspicious frown on their face, too – or respond with the old, all too familiar “Ohhhhh”!
Even when we try to be evasive regarding our career by suggesting we’re (e.g.) in the hospitality industry, etc., once the additional probing begins – it almost always gets the same response and/or reaction from the person seeking more details.
So how can it be that a magnificent global industry that provides an incredible vacationing lifestyle for singles and families to share with their friends and loved ones in hundreds of countries around the world at highly sought after prime destinations, at stunningly beautiful resort properties with all the amenities imaginable; an industry with nearly every well known and respected ‘hospitality’ brand hotel companies involved – some of which are ‘publicly’ held corporations whereby investors participate in their success – that ‘the biz’, generally speaking and excluding most timeshare owners/members – has a not-so-glistening reputation?
That’s not as complex of a question as some might suggest. For just one example, had we since the beginning ‘pitched’ our timesharing products and services as those other industries did (and continue to do) – you know, professionally market and sell only to a niche market such as higher income earners who are known travelers and/or vacationers – we’d enjoy a much better reputation, one that would have paid back billions of dollars over the years in more sales, revenue, commissions and profits.
But for the most part and with few exceptions we didn’t take that proven course of business success. Instead we did a 180° flip that cost us dearly. And though I could spew out another 1,000 more words detailing, as an industry, our collective ‘ills’ over the last 50 years someone very well known, highly regarded and successful in the Land of Time wrote me recently who, like MOI, has been at ‘it’ for more than two (2) decades – and this individual laid it all out in just a few words.
“… But honestly, I could walk away from this industry and never look back. I have never seen an industry cannibalize itself the way the timeshare industry does. The potential for this industry is so much more than what it is if they’d just stop thinking about how much money they can make today (and today only!) and look at the bigger picture. Great industry and I enjoy it, but I hate the…”
Good Luck Out There!
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Contributing sometimes extravagant, bombastic, emotional, pompous or even pretentious writings about the timeshare industry, Scoop covers an array of industry related subjects each week including inside information, tips, scandals, interviews, forecasts as well as new (good or bad) products and services — and, of course, all the ‘Good’, the ‘Bad’ and the ‘Ugly’.