Vacation ownership companies moved quickly to adapt their policies and procedures in the days following the spread of COVID-19, including encouraging owners to take advantage of the self-service options put in place before the pandemic broke out.
Case in point: Longtime Nordis client and Expresso® user Bluegreen Vacations had seen a big shift to digital over the years:
- Over 70% of bookings are made online
- About 85% of bonus time last minute bookings are electronic
- Most Vacation Club owners use digital payments for maintenance fees and go online for proxy voting ballots
To encourage participation in the annual meeting, Bluegreen uses online registration and voting. Qualified owners signing into the Bluegreen portal during election season see an interruption reminder screen to register for the meeting or cast their proxy. This feature makes annual voting possible in a timely and cost-effective way.
Virtual “high-touch” experience
The focus on self-service doesn’t mean Bluegreen leaves owners to fend for themselves. Rather, it combines owner self-service with account management associates in customer service centers who are specially trained and available to handle the high touch aspects of owner servicing since most of the routine tasks are available online. The goal is a peak vacation experience for owners and their families combined with the 24/7 convenience of self-service.
“Our industry is about aspiration,” said Angela Blevins, senior vice president of club services and customer care at Bluegreen. “You have to get to know the owner. Do they like to drive to their destinations, or do they like to fly? Do they travel in small or large groups? You must think like an owner. How do you keep it aspirational for them?”
Adapting to COVID-19
While Bluegreen’s website is the main communication source for owners, its omnichannel communication capabilities such as calls, email, text and chat during the COVID-19 travel shutdowns made a world of difference in getting vital information to owners quickly.
With Nordis’ Expresso customer communications management system built for self-service, Bluegreen controls the entire process of developing and producing customer maintenance fee statements, mortgage tax statements, letters, important updates and enables distribution based on owner preferences for mail, email, text or any delivery combination. Bluegreen can create and send consistent messages in a matter of minutes, no matter the channel. This capability reduces the number of phone calls from owners as well as returned mail due to undeliverable addresses. And by using Expresso APIs both owners and contact center agents have easy access to the documents.
Since the pandemic began, Bluegreen developed customized communication about:
- Remote curbside check-ins
- Amenities usage restrictions
- Enhanced hygiene and sanitation steps
- New socially distanced outdoor activities
Keeping owners engaged
“During COVID-19, we respected all decisions made by our owners. If you are comfortable traveling, we are here. We are open. If you’re not, then let’s put together a plan for what your travel future looks like,” Blevins said.
Bluegreen is busy assisting owners with their current and future travel desires. “That comes back to engagement. You have to keep the owners engaged and you have to keep them looking to the future, especially vacations,” she said.
Many Bluegreen owners are taking vacations, with the company’s footprint making it easy to reach drive-to resorts. Bluegreen is seeing a preference for non-urban resorts where owners can take advantage of outdoor activities such as kayaking, hiking, biking and ATVs, Blevins said.
She also believes that the timeshare industry will come back stronger from the COVID-19 pandemic because in times of national crisis, customers come to realize what is most important in their lives. Maintaining quality of life and going on vacation to enjoy good times with friends and family go to the top of that list, she said.
And Bluegreen stands ready to make that happen.
About the Author
Sheryl has over 20 years of marketing expertise helping companies define their brand and expand market share with special emphasis on the digital channel. Sheryl joined Nordis Technologies early in 2020 and contributes to their digital marketing, Lean Six Sigma and Salesforce projects. Prior to Nordis, Sheryl spent over 9 years at Bluegreen Vacations developing their owner portal, online payment/statement applications and online availability of mortgage tax statements working closely with Nordis Technologies as a client.
Director, Special Projects, Nordis Technologies