Plan the Work: Defining Your Vacation Owner’s Journey

I am a true believer that customer experience can make or break a company, particularly in today’s vacation ownership and hospitality industries.

If you’re not there yet, I highly recommend that you read From Lead to Loyalty: A Vacation Owner’s Customer Journey. This recent white paper from Nordis Technologies lays out the highly persuasive case for focusing on customer experience as a strategic priority, supported by mapping the owner journey.

For everyone else who’s ready to move forward with journey mapping but is not sure how, I can offer a blueprint based on firsthand experience and hard-won knowledge from my time as Chief Customer Officer at Bluegreen Vacations. Journey mapping will help you take control of your company’s future and the long-term fulfillment of your greatest salesforce: Your owners.

To get started, it’s essential to plan and prepare:

1. Secure Executive Commitment 

Obtaining support from your highest levels of management is absolutely critical to setting the stage for a successful customer experience program and journey mapping effort. Your CEO and executive team must be in lockstep on the importance that you place on your customer’s experience, their trust and loyalty.

2. Establish a CX leader

Someone within the organization will need to be appointed to “own this mission”. Generally, it’s best that you give the responsibility to someone independent of a specific business unit so he or she remain objective through the process. The individual will need to have a strong grasp of the various operating entities, be a great facilitator and have a passion for continuous improvement.

The executive team will need to remain involved, personally committing time and energy to the effort as well as cross-functional resources from their teams to support the designated leader.

3. Define Major Stages Through Your Customer’s Eyes

Identify the 5-7 “experience stages” that a customer will encounter throughout his or her lifecycle with your company.  They could include: Awareness, Purchasing, Onboard/Education, Reservations and Financial Servicing, Vacationing, Partnerships, etc.  Keep in mind owners will periodically revisit earlier stages when they consider buying more vacation time, assuming a new mortgage or learning about new products and services.

A common mistake during this phase is to organize the stages with “corporate labels” that describe our “silos” such as lead generation, marketing, sales, reservations, financial services, hospitality or communications. Our customers NEVER see us by these descriptors.

4. Document Where You Are Today

You will need a baseline. Start by compiling and evaluating existing customer research and data, including surveys, statistical reports and social media posts.

With that information, hold a strategy session with managers, directors and senior executives from all disciplines to document and rate yourselves on:

  • Customer Acquisition & Retention: Does everyone know how many new customers you gain each year?  More importantly, do you have a clear idea of how many you LOSE each year, and why?
  • Customer Experience (CX) Culture: Do your leaders regularly drive conversations and projects geared at improving your customer’s vacations? Are your associates proud to represent you? Do you have a service culture that empowers associates to do the right thing when things go wrong?
  • Customer Feedback Review: Are you consistently aggregating, reviewing and sharing your guest and owner feedback? Are you listening and responding to social media? Are you tracking trends by experience stage and acting on the issues?
  • Customer Responsiveness: Do you urgently address issues as they arrive?  Do you religiously publish key performance indicators and react quickly when you see declines?  Do you know when things are awry before your customers tell you?

Armed with the necessary support, leadership and information, you are ready to begin the mapping process. My next post tackles the key steps in successful implementation.

About the Author

Wendy Poe is Associate Vice President of North Highland, a global management consulting firm known for helping clients solve their most complex challenges related to customer experience, performance improvement, technology and digital, and transformation. We add value and support our clients across the full spectrum of consulting, from strategy through delivery. Previously, Wendy spent 15 years at Bluegreen Vacations, where she served as Chief Customer Officer, Senior Vice President of Club Services and Travel Sales, and Senior Vice President of National Sales and Marketing. She holds a bachelor of science in marketing communications from Florida State University. Wendy can be reached at

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