I just finished up a great discussion at ARDA World 2017 (#ARDAWorld) on how to reach consumers using their preferred methods of communication while maintaining brand standards. The panel consisted of myself; Richard Jackson, VP of Information Technology at Hilton Grand Vacations; and Kris Singleton, CIO at International Cruise and Excursions (ICE). Our moderator was John Locher, chief consultant at Locher & Associates, a travel-related consulting firm.
I want to share four takeaways that I discussed with the audience.
It literally pays to engage current owners
More than 55% of timeshare sales revenue comes from current owners and they spend more too: The value of a new owner transaction is about $17,000 versus $27,000 for an existing owner, according to the 2016 AIF Finanical Performance Study prepared by Deloitte & Touche.
It’s a similar situation when it comes to losing customers, according to the same study. Rescission rates, or the percent of purchases cancelled during the allowable period, usually 5 to 7 days, are nearly three times higher for first-time buyers than existing owners: 24.4% versus 8.2%.
The lesson is that it’s very expensive to create a new vacation ownership customer. So, it’s important that once a prospect becomes an owner, your communications are organized to keep them engaged and drive more upgrade sales. Engaging current owners will help lower the blended sales/marketing costs and make the organization more profitable.
The best way to engage owners is to meet them where they are
Some want communications mailed while others prefer materials that arrive in their inbox. Some want both: For example, we’ve found that when it comes to HOA-related communications, many owners like to receive hard copies of election materials but prefer the convenience of voting online.
Communicating based on preference is complicated
Large, purpose-built, branded resorts now dominate the industry. That means the average vacation ownership resort has about 130 units. It’s likely that each unit represents about 70 ownership interests for a total of 9,100 owners. Let’s say you have, on average, 12 communications each year, excluding mortgage statements. You now have nearly 110,000 communications annually for just one resort! That’s a big number and a lot of owner preferences to manage.
Technology helps you meet customers where they are, which is key to improving customer satisfaction and engagement. Technology also helps companies maintain brand standards because you can centralize different types of communications within one platform making it easier to present consistent messaging to your customers. This same technology allows you to speed new resort or program onboarding and enhance customer service.
Also, every time you communicate with an owner, offer an opt-in for digital. Getting owners to go electronic represents a big cost savings due to reduced printing and postage expense. Providing digital communications, including mobile-optimized electronic bill presentment and payments, also is becoming extremely important for millennials because we know that younger owners like to do business on their phones.
Only 12 percent of resorts offered a mobile app in 2015, according to the AIF’s 2016 State of the Vacation Timeshare Industry report prepared by EY. That’s up from 4 percent the previous year, but it’s a long way from where it should be. And the scope is limited: The most common uses for mobile right now are taking a virtual tour and checking into a facility. Text messaging is another capability that owners are looking for – particularly for facility check-ins.
I hope these ARDA World Conference 2017 takeaways give you some insight into our #ARDAWorld discussion. It was an engaging conversation with technology leaders in our industry. If you’re interested in learning more about how technology helps your company reach consumers via the methods they prefer while also maintaining brand consistency and standards, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the Author
Rich leads Nordis Technologies’ sales and client relations teams and is responsible for revenue growth and client retention. He’s been integral to the company’s fast growth, doubling sales since 2010, and playing a key role in developing new products including ExpressoPay, ExpressoVote and ExpressoArchive. Before joining Nordis as a sales executive in 1999, Rich managed production operations for Postal Center International in Ft. Lauderdale, where he also held positions in data processing, customer service and sales.