A Few Points for GM’s to Remember Going Into 2015

As you know, we've had a lot to be thankful for in 2014. The economy finally turned around and employment rose. Wall Street set many records with the Dow and we saw rising forecasts in most areas. Timeshare ownership reached a record high of over 9 million U.S. owners, and there was new growth in the global timeshare market as well. The industry also welcomed new owners that are more affluent, younger and more diverse. What can industry GM’s do to help keep the growth going?

· Know that change is good

One thing is certain - we can't rest on our laurels now. The mark of a successful company or industry is to stay ahead of the game by continually thinking about what comes next. At November's ARDA-West Conference one session was devoted to the key attributes that tomorrow's product must have in order to appeal to future generations and drive the industry forward. Everyone agreed that that we cannot become complacent about our customers. Ours is a service and people driven industry, and we need to understand the needs of our customers to keep meeting their demands.

· Know your customer

Before you can offer the perfect personal experience for your owners and guests, you need to identify who they are and what they want. Today's travel trends include a more personalized approach to travel offerings.  Many owners and guests use their mobile devices for every aspect of their life. They share their personal information and look for travel information on their mobile devices.  This sharing of information provides a great opportunity to personalize the owner/guest experience - is your customer celebrating a special event soon, what activities interest them, are they interested in points and rewards systems? Use what you find out about your guests to help you to best meet their needs.

· Know your technology

We don’t have to tell you about how technology has permeated every aspect of our lives and our owner’s lives. Changes in technology happen rapidly. Every day there is a new device, new app, or a new program to aid you in tracking every aspect of your business from booking to marketing. Not only should you know the technology of your business, it's also important to know the technology of your owners and guests. Your resort needs to support all their platforms too. Make sure you are using technology effectively. Does your resort offer Wi-Fi?  How do you use technology to reach and to inform your owners and guests of your offerings?  Can guests use their mobile devices to check in?

· Redefine your sales approach

Another major point of discussion from the ARDA-West session was the realization that timeshare is a product that is never going to be sought after, so the sales approach needs to change. One of the best ways to change it is to develop a culture of transparency within the industry. The sales approach needs to be transparent and honest. Telling it like it really is, is not difficult because we have so many good features to share about our product. 

·Support your story with data

In a recent article in Hospitality Net, Kelly McGuire, Executive Director, Hospitality and Travel Global Practice, SAS, reminded us of the importance of backing up our story with data. McGuire urges us to "build and support the analytic culture and find opportunities to provide training, add resources or invest in technology that helps build the culture." She adds, "the point is not the data itself, but the story you tell around the data." And what a story timeshare has to tell!

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