April 23, 2010 — In the aftermath of the greatest sales (financial) meltdown the timeshare industry has experienced over its brief forty-year run (give or take) I find myself ‘almost’ stunned that many TS companies are still using what I like to refer to as the “Fred C. Dobbs” marketing (OPC) approach.
As an illustration, during the opening scenes in the 1948 Oscar winning movie “The Treasure of the Sierra Madre“, directed by John Huston, a down-on-his-luck gringo named Dobbs (played by Humphrey Bogart) was stuck in Tampico, Mexico.
Homeless, out of work and pan-handling on the street, Fred C. Dobbs asks an apparently well-to-do fellow gringo (played by John Huston) wearing a fine white suit who was walking past, “Can you help a fellow American down on his luck?”
The man helps Dobbs out with a pittance but during this opening segment of the movie Dobbs runs across that stranger several more times, ultimately ending with the man in the white suit scolding Dobbs:
“Such impudence never came my way. Early this afternoon I gave you money. When I was having my shoes polished, I gave you more money. Now you put the bite on me again. Do me a favor, will ya? Go occasionally to somebody else. It’s beginning to get tiresome.”
Dobbs humbly apologizes, vowing never to bother the Gringo again, to which the American responds by saying to Dobbs: “This is the very last you get from me. Just to make sure you don’t forget your promise, here’s another peso. But from now on, you have to make your way through life without my assistance.”
Of course Dobbs spends all that money, has a good time, too, only to find himself down-and-out again…. and the rest of the movie (and story) is history, with Dobbs ultimately losing everything — not only the gold he and his expat friends had discovered but eventually even his life…
During the recent ARDA convention in Las Vegas I was strolling down the street with my wife when we were approached by a poorly dressed partly unshaven mid-life ‘fellow’ (OPC) who attempted to ‘hit-us-up’ by asking, “Say, where are you folks from?”
After a couple of dodges we hadn’t made it but 50 yards, and this time it was a younger Gal who also was not dressed to the ‘nines’ and she started hawking about ‘saving on show tickets’. And believe it or not, about 40 yards further we were hit up yet again, this time by some young unkempt man who was also wearing very large dark sunglasses covering the ‘window to’ his ‘soul’.
The correlation between (most) OPC operations and Dobbs is that OPCs, like Fred was, are in ‘it’ for the quick ‘hit’. Yet, perhaps the outcome would have been different in the movie and for OPCs if they considered another approach…
What would have happened (in the movie) if, say, after asking the Expat to “…help an American…” Dobbs then added a super genuine Gracias and (e.g.) then continued briefly speaking explaining his predicament, a little about where he was from, his work background and that he was also looking for some work, any work of any kind….?
Sure, the ‘movie’ may have formed a different plot and outcome but keeping in mind that over the course of that ‘day’ the Gringo Dobbs hit on actually gave him three (3) ‘shots’ to seize the day (aka: ‘work-the-deal’) I submit that there was a real opportunity for Dobbs to do better for himself; and especially so if Dobbs had incorporated that approach, over time, with everyone he ‘hawked’…
Yes, that was a ‘movie’ but I believe in this era it is time to clean up the OPC ‘act’ in Timeshare Land and, like Dobbs could have done with those Pesos, start off by sprucing the OPCs up a bit (attire, etc.) and instead of them concealing their (real) objective have them start pre-selling the basic merits, benefits and features of our resort(s), our industry, vacationing and travel, etc. to those they approach.
And while they are out there ‘chatting’ they should only invite truly interested (and qualified) sales guests (prospects) to preview what can only be best described as an outstanding travel product/service(s) and opportunity…
For the record, the ‘marketing’ approach I’m suggesting is no different from what OPC’s are doing anyway!
It is just telling ‘selling’ a different ‘story’ and then and only then the OPCs can use all those discounts, tickets and other premiums as a ‘tool’ to ‘seal’ the deal, which of course is when the prospect’s ‘greed’ factor kicks in– but now our sales centers have guests who haven’t been ‘wired’ and/or ‘put-together’!
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