Greater Knoxville, TN, area; July 24, 2017 – Resort Trades CEO Tim Wilson and Publisher Sharon Scott, RRP, recently attended the 30th Annual Convention of the Asociación Mexicana de Desarrolladores Turísticos A.C., or simply AMDETUR, held in Puerto Vallarta, earlier this summer. “We attended the meeting because we are considering publishing and mailing a Spanish language edition of The Trades,” Scott remarks. “We were not surprised to see that using digital tools for marketing and customer communication were the hottest topics.
One particularly insightful panel, “New Opportunities and Challenges in the Digital Era,” moderated by Jim Wehrle, focused particularly on these and other evocative questions. Wehrle, a board member of C.A.R.E. (Cooperative Association of Resort Exchangers) who provides Internet marketing services primarily for Sunset World, began the session by observing the challenge inherent in trying to keep in step with rapidly evolving technology.
His was an interesting point, which he illustrated with several examples of how change can disrupt or change how business is conducted. Take, for example, the purchase of WhatsApp, which Facebook acquired last year for nearly $22 billion. Since Facebook already owned another direct messaging tool, Messenger, it remains to be seen how the company will utilize both. Another example is the increasing use by companies of chat boxes and robots to provide instantaneous response. In an era of instant gratification, these ‘right-now’ tools provide both challenges to fully implement and opportunities to provide great service and promote a resort’s business.
Attracting and selling to millennials is a common theme in the industry these days, as witnessed at the conference. The “M” word was perhaps the most commonly used term throughout the meeting and was certainly a part of any discussion about technology. Panel member Kevin Schneider, CEO of SaveOnResorts, shared statistics about young adults in the U.S., including the fact that there are 92 million of them right now and they are spending $1.4 trillion on travel. He observed that while in the past, millennials and others began making travel plans by finding a hotel on the Internet, more and more vacationers in this age group today are focusing first on what experiences they hope to have. They are more likely to turn to friends, first, before checking on TripAdvisor.
Schneider also predicted a rising prevalence of virtual reality and a dependence on artificial intelligence as marketing tools. Plus, technology is already changing the sales process as prospective buyers ‘Google’ prices, competitors and even the salespersons, themselves, as they sit at the table.
Also on the panel was Consulting & Advisory Tourism Oriented Real Estate at Resort Condominiums International de México Leonel Matiz, who mentioned the use of Big Data in generating business intelligence. Certainly, RCI has significant access to sophisticated technology when addressing data security and spam regulations. Matiz encouraged developers to consider ways to introduce disruptive technology internally within the industry, rather than having it foisted upon us by outside agencies like Airbnb or Uber. “Think of ways to ‘massify’ an existing product,” he said. “We need to deploy technology that will make our products easier to use.”
Along these lines, another panel member, César Ramirez, KPMG Cárdenas Dosal’s national leadership partner, Tourism and Hospitality Sector, termed the disruptiveness of technology as the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Interestingly, he observed that while the revolutions of the past have typically survived for a century before the next big change, that of technology has evolved much more quickly. He predicted timeshare resorts will soon be creating apps like the My Disney Experience mobile app with its interactive, GPS-enabled map and event- or wait-times prediction capability. He said the back office will undergo a total change with the use of artificial intelligence to run routine operations. “There will eventually be a ‘tier three’ robot that has the ability to make decisions about certain activities,” said Ramirez. “Resorts will be saving time and money, as well as providing exceptional service, by using automated procedures and responding to customer-driven demand, instantaneously.”
According to Wehrle, “There will be tremendous advances including cell phone check-in and replacing keys with mobile device applications.” Wehrle predicted greater use of technology to provide analytics will become the hallmark of the timeshare industry.
Track Results VP of Business Development Ryan Williams remarks were in-line with this assessment. He pointed out that resorts should not only be collecting raw data, but can have their data analyzed even today through intelligent technology. “We need to use analytics to interpret the information we already have,” he said.
In Williams’ view, transparency is a big challenge for the industry thanks to technology. “The customer can learn all about the company,” he observed, “but the company needs to learn about the individual customer, too.”
Several members of the panel suggested there has been an over-emphasis in the focus on millennials. Wehrle suggested resort operators who concentrate on staying current with leading edge technology will reach vacationers at every age level. “Millennials are those who were born in the ‘80s and ‘90s, but I’m from the ‘40s and I manage 15 social media accounts using my mobile device,” he said. “So it’s not a matter of age. We just need to develop apps and tools to reduce response time and deliver the best customer service.”
About Resort Trades
The Trades – the vacation ownership/timeshare industry’s most widely-read publication — was established in 1987 and adds value to the industry by delivering an enormous volume of informative content to assist resort operators to run their properties more efficiently, raise revenues more effectively and make better-informed buying decisions. The print edition is distributed monthly to every US timeshare resort, plus to a large subscriber base of resort professionals. The publishers also distribute online news updates to a 20,000-plus subscriber base. ResortTrades.com receives more than 250 unique visitors per day. The digital edition, Resort Trades Weekly (our eNewsletter) and our website are rapidly expanding to have a global reach, particularly in Mexico, Europe, South America and the Far East.
The Mexican Resort Development Association was born in 1987 as a result of the rapid and sustained growth of Mexico’s tourist resort developers and the need to maintain a solid front for negotiating and working together with authorities and private enterprise, to develop standards and define an appropriate regulatory system that would support the Mexican tourist real estate industry. (www.amdetur.org.mx)
Media Contact: Sharon Scott, RRP
SharonINK PR & Marketing