The Social Side

Using the online listening services of Radian 6, ARDA has spent the last several months gathering blog and social media posts about timeshare to learn what the general public is saying about the product. This triggered our interest in learning more about what ARDA members are doing with regards to the use of online media such as blogs, social media platforms and email to promote their products.

We asked a few members of ARDA’s Resort Management Council and HOA Outreach Committee to comment on the use of new marketing platforms for their own businesses.

Wes Kogelman
Wes Kogelman

Wes Kogelman, CEO, BuyATimeshare.com (Wes@BuyATimeshare.com)
“Being an internet advertising company, the online world is our lifeblood and how we have built a successful business over the past 15 years. To be frank, we’ve seen a decline in the use of blogs primarily because of the increase in peer-to-peer social media communication. Consumers can connect directly to experts and thought leaders now like never before, which allows them to research information without waiting for a blog to come out. We are on all of the major social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+ and have used these to our advantage for sharing information about the industry. Email marketing continues to be a major part of our strategic growth as we follow up with consumers who have contacted us through our website looking for information. However, our bread and butter is SEO and our ability to remain near the top of the major search engines for important industry search terms is how we continue to be a market leader in resales.”

“For us it is a cumulative effect of all of the above because of the way the search engines operate. Google has placed more emphasis on social media’s effect on search, so the consistent use of those outlets helps overall with our search results and our ability to attract visitors to our website. We’re getting over one million consumers a year to our website looking for timeshare information and deals, so it’s obviously having an impact. This has translated into over $100 million in offers to buy and rent timeshare through our site over the last two years alone, and we show the timeshares which have sold off our site through a link on our homepage. So the results are there for everyone to see.”

Hatton Gravely
Hatton Gravely

Hatton Gravely, VP of Development & Marketing, SPM Resorts (hgravely@spmresorts.com)
“We use social media in a number of ways to promote the resorts we manage to owners and guests. It’s a great tool for resorts to stay in touch with owners throughout the year. In addition, we use blogs and social media to promote the resorts for vacation rentals and sales. According to an Expedia study, vacation planners view as many as 38 websites before booking, so our goal is to make sure our resorts are visible online so when a traveler is searching for their next vacation, our resorts are in the mix of options they consider (and eventually book!) To do this, we create and share a lot of content on our travel blog and individual resort sites about destinations to appeal to travelers researching and planning their next vacation. We share all of this content through our social media networks, and have found Pinterest and Facebook in particular to drive a lot of traffic to the sites we manage. We have been able to build our email lists for both sales and vacation rentals with effective content marketing campaigns so we can stay in touch with vacationers who have expressed interest in our resorts.”

Chad J. Barker
Chad J. Barker

Chad J. Barker, President, Barker & Associates (chadjbarker@barkerandassociates.net)
“Although it sounds counterintuitive, I think the secret to successful online marketing is to avoid trying to sell. Or, at least, to avoid looking like you’re trying to sell. There is too much noise out there, and anything that is even slightly off-key will immediately get tuned out. Blogs are great because they contain personal, authentic voices, and invite the reader into a larger conversation. With quality blog content as the hub, you can then use social media “spokes” to extend your reach. But, it starts with giving people something that’s worth their attention, not just another ad.”

Tim Wilson
Tim Wilson

Tim Wilson, CEO, Resort Trades (Tim@TheTrades.com)
“As early as 2003 Resort Trades was an early adopter. We launched our own social media platform, AskMandO.com, developed a television news department and invested heavily in developing social media and online resources. What we learned is that for business-to-business marketing, social media is just not as effective as print media. Our clients are busy business people, unwilling to spend hours online following long tails. The one lesson we did learn was the value of content; we learned to view it as an asset. We doubled our paid writers and focused on delivering content in which our readers would be genuinely interested. Once we have solid content, only then can we ‘atomize’ it through our online resources – blogs, online news feed and social media.”

“The takeaway for resort operators looking to move sales and rental inventory? Don’t skimp when it comes to buying good content. Plus, know your audience. We suspect that most HOAs and resort managers will find Facebook reaches their audience. If you can sharply define your target market, then Facebook is a terrific vehicle allowing you to focus your message and make an offer to a very targeted demographic.”

”As a land tract developer marketing to a highly niched demographic, I’ve rediscovered the use of social media I explored in the ‘80s by using Facebook. The numbers work out. If using direct mail programs were like a shotgun approach (the numbers worked because it was relatively cheap); then using Facebook is like using a precision rifle. It’s perfect for a small HOA or manager who can’t afford a large marketing operation. Facebook marketing is revolutionary. This is the same concept as the old direct mail; but now, you can drill down to people you know have the propensity to buy. These days, Facebook can help you offer a higher quality premium to a highly select group of prospects with greater assurance that you won’t have to weed through a lot of NQs.”