Creating Strategy for Legacy Properties

Jack Welch, the engineer turned executive responsible for raising General Electric’s value 4,000% once said that, “an organization’s ability to learn and translate that learning into action rapidly, is the ultimate competitive advantage.” This advice is applicable no matter what industry you work in, such as the legacy timeshare business.

In this industry, learning and actions have to come from examining the current operations, budgets, management and marketing in place as well as the current landscape of your property. Getting by doesn’t cut it. Excelling in this industry takes hard work, learning, and constant adaption.

When I began working in this industry I found it interesting that I had never heard the term “legacy” used in business before, but the deeper understanding I developed for the business I realized that it makes perfect sense. According to Merriam-Webster, a legacy is “a gift by will, something transmitted from an ancestor or predecessor or a candidate for membership who receives special status because of their familial relationship to a member.”

Those of us currently working in this industry are the receivers of a unique gift. We’ve been bestowed a special status of figuring out how a product that has been passed down throughout generations can be relevant to today’s consumer market. This product isn’t irrelevant or destined to fail, but instead, possess a uniqueness to it that we can examine and locate the opportunities within it.

A couple of the biggest opportunities for legacy timeshare resorts is their locations and owner base. Many properties I’ve seen throughout my career and travels reside in prime oceanfront or mountaintop locations and while declining owner bases seems to be the trending topic in this industry we cannot forget about those loyal guests who do pay their maintenance fees.

A strong strategy for a legacy timeshare properties will examine how to make operations; including daily tasks, human resources, owner records, quality assurance programs, administrative support, marketing and more work for the resort and the owners. We owe our owners and our properties the hard work of creating a strategy.

All of this begins with the focus of the Board of Directors. The board should be focused and motivated to truly examine the long-term strategy of the property. In most cases that means being willing to adapt. If the board is focused on the details of weekly payroll or website updates then they become ineffective at looking at how today’s decisions effect the property 10 years down the road.

Effective long-term strategies include things such as reserve planning and smart improvements. Today’s market cares less about a solid oak table in the kitchen and more about Wi-Fi strength and comfortable bedding. Resorts that are currently being built are now actually being designed to be “Instagramable.”

Look at the improvements you’ve made at your resort over the years and the ones that will come up in the next five to ten years and ask yourself if it’s the most efficient and effective improvements you can make that increase the vacation ownership resort’s competitive advantage or is it just what you’ve always done?

Now for your owners. While they need a property to be constantly improving and adapting to the times they also need to feel important to have the desire to keep paying their maintenance fees. Communicate with them. Don’t just bill them once a year and smile when they show up at the resort. Include them in photos, decisions and exciting updates about things changing at the resort and the geographic locations of the property. Keep in mind that wherever your resort is, your owners don’t live there full-time, but they are vested in these locations. They want to know when a new attraction is going in or the beach is getting revitalized. As resort managers if we make the effort to keep owners engaged then they will stay active and excited.
While current owner bases are aging they are leaving their ownership to a younger generation. The timeshare industry functioned as deeded weeks when it made sense. It was during a period when people cared about owning something that they could truly call theirs. It meant something to someone to say “I own week 32 in unit 17.” To today’s market, that statement is overwhelming. Society has changed so that today’s market wants flexibility and options.

A true long-term strategy does what it needs to do in order to accomplish meeting the demands of this new market. It builds rental, exchange and sales programs that expand the opportunities for room nights to be used.

Your management company should be able to assist in answering the needs of your timeshare resort and building strategies, partnerships and programs to address these needs. At National Hospitality Group, we have been utilizing the Board Member Strategy Planner, which we developed to create a true framework for identifying resort needs and developing an action plan for meeting those needs. It contains an expansion of the tips found in this article as well as more information.

You can receive a free Board Member Strategy Planner in the mail by visiting FreeBoardMemberStrategyPlanner.com.

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