May 20, 2016 — I recently read a sobering report from Pricewaterhouse Cooper (PwC) titled “The Sharing Economy” that really made me stop and think. Related to that, I was impressed this week to have discovered that in 2008 when the global financial collapse was in full swing a startup company called Airbnb opened its doors and just a few short years later, according to the company website, Airbnb now offers “2,000,000 + listings in 34,000 cities and 191 countries” around the world and that includes “60,000,000 + total guests” and, oh, “1,400 + Castles”, too.
So Here’s The Scoop: Today most of us are aware of Airbnb because of their outstanding TV commercials or Google, etc.; but another mind blowing STAT in the must-read PwC report is that when compared to an accommodations giant that has been around since its founding by Conrad Hilton nearly 100 years ago “Airbnb averaged 425,000 guests per night, nearly 22% more than Hilton Worldwide”.
For all the marketing entities and developers in our industry, if you haven’t yet smelled the roses this is your final wakeup call about the phenomenon that has been, continues and will increase exponentially — encroaching on your critically important bottom-lines.
Just think about it; since 2008 during the worst global financial crisis since the Great Depression nearly 90 years ago, Airbnb is now out-booking a century-old highly respected and recognized household hospitality brand giant like Hilton (and others) and Airbnb is currently booking over 155 Million guest nights per year!
I’ve cautioned developers for years about the growing competition from all the no-ownership/membership required ‘extended stay’ (ES) vacation options that have been popping up all around the world and how that aspect of the hospitality industry is very appealing to budget conscious travelers and why those ES’s will impact net sales among timeshare sales guests familiar with those choices.
I am also on the record for having warned timeshare developers and/or ‘staff’ members with online reputations that are less than stellar and how a negative ‘rap’ along with resale inventory online, etc. would directly affect sales as well as increase cancellations within the rescission period.
I’m even on the record informing closers about the newest APPs being developed that will allow the APP to make the purchase decision for any consumer considering buying cars, boats or RV’s to jewelry, homes, vacations and timeshares, etc. whereby all the buyer has to do is input the relevant financial data and in a nano second the APP will let them know whether or not they can afford to buy and/or own what they are previewing.
Batting a thousand I’ll go on the record again and caution developers this time that despite some industry hype, IMPO, the consumer appeal of owning a timeshare plan may be like a dying Star. We might not be seeing it burn out in real time but the ownership brightness may soon vanish as the supernova leaves a yuuge black hole where nothing, not even light, will escape its gravitational clutch.
Including the other warnings herein I suggest this lightless effect because if you read that PwC report you will notice that roughly ½ of all consumers are not yet fully aware of the sharing economy — but the younger folks are not among the uninformed because they are hooked 24/7 to the entire electronic sphere of everything including commerce (aka: ‘buying – expensive – stuff’ like vacation plans).
Indeed, as the ‘older’ sales guests increasingly discover the ease, flexibility, affordability and the totality of the shared economy (such as the services Airbnb provides vacationers) they will become more inclined to use that platform for their accommodation needs be it for those weekend jaunts or their longer stays.
Added to the situation are the younger folks who, for the most part, are already ‘tech’ savvy and as their numbers swell in the developers’ sales centers, replacing the less proficient older sales guests, well, “Houston we have a problem” because research shows that millions of those young folks aren’t too keen on joining and/or owning ‘stuff’ as were their predecessors.
And among those who will ‘consider’ buying, be assured that soon, before the majority of them sign a timeshare contract (or any contract for that matter), they’ll unquestionably turn for some advice from one of their most trusted and cherished companions — always by their side — to help them make a worry- and hassle-free yea/nay purchase decision based solely on what their endearing miniature wireless thingamajigs tell them.
When that day arrives it very well could be the coup de grâce for the Land of Time.
Then, the marketing tail of mass numbers wagging the sales dog methodology and throwing it against the wall to see what sticks will no longer rule or save the day and as the late great Dandy Don Meredith used to sing near the end of NFL Monday Night Football game, for many in ‘the biz’ it may well be the time to “Turn out the lights… The party’s over…”
Over the near term developers (and their reps) will continue to succeed, however everyone needs to prepare for the inevitable and start making the appropriate adjustments to their marketing and sales operations immediately in order to avoid the assured coming tsunami as the ocean floor, so to speak, had an earthquake and the massive wave is ‘inbound’.
Oh Well – Next!
Good Luck Out There
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