Marketing owner resales continue to be a hot topic in the timeshare industry. Everyone is seeking the magic marketing ingredient to resell their unowned inventory. The problem is simple – marketing to the right consumers is expensive, complicated and difficult. The solution is not so simple – find cost-effective, efficient ways to market to the right consumer. Or partner with someone who will take on that responsibility and risk.
The way businesses connect with consumers is everchanging, and it always will be. In this case, marketing strategies and benefits of ownership that once attracted buyers during the initial sell-out are no longer effective. We need to be on the lookout for, and openminded to more diverse alternatives; from digital advertising and other online options to partner with a club to driving rentals. Being able to evaluate options and act in the best interest of the association requires partnerships where everyone’s goals and objectives are aligned.
Meeting the Market
The travel market is robust and growing, especially in the United States. According to the World Travel and Tourism Council, in 2018, the travel and tourism sector contributed $1.6 trillion to the United States’ GDP (that’s 7.8% of our entire U.S. economy).
To capitalize on this segment, we have to understand the wants and needs of the consumer, regardless of their travel patterns or preferences. The internet and social media have changed the way we communicate with and engage our clients. The consumer looks to these sources to verify the credibility of any offer, travel sentiment specific to a resort or organization, and perspective from fellow vacationers. Today’s client desires unique experiences, specialized service, and flexibility. According to an Annual “Good Life” study by Trafalga, travelers want experiences oversights, conscience-centered travel, sustainable practices, year-round, flexible options, and authenticity. Offering these options is the only way to give consumers what they are seeking in their travel decisions. This is a change to the traditional timeshare model and when considering resale, we need to enhance our offerings to meet these needs.
Dive into Digital
Digital advertising offers a cost-effective option for finding the right consumers for both rentals and resales. The upside of digital advertising is that you can narrow in on specific audiences to keep your budget manageable (statistics show that on average businesses make $2 for every $1 spent on digital advertising). However, the downside is the same consumer you want to see your ads, is also targeted by every large, e-commerce company among other businesses bidding for coverage.
Thankfully, there are professionals that know how to compete in this marketplace. When exploring the digital advertising space, be sure you work with a professional who is certified through Facebook, Google, and Bing. While advertising is never guaranteed, working with a certified professional enhances your potential for success and can minimize your economic risk. Truly skilled advertisers can pinpoint exactly who you want to find for pennies per click.
Join the Club
Many mature associations have had success with resales and their corresponding collection rates by reaching agreements with developers who operate multi-resort Clubs. These Clubs are backed with deeded inventory in a perpetual trust and allow their owners to trade between the resorts without cost. This flexibility has led to higher owner use, lower default rates, and resale results that improve the financial health of the HOA. Some Club Developers work with existing Fixed and Floating intervals to offer viable solutions. Those Clubs provide a win-win option to both the consumer, who receives the flexible travel options, and the association who gains a dues-paying member.
Partnering with a Club
The key to success when partnering with a club, is to ensure you find one whose goals and desires align with the Board of Directors. One common concern regarding existing inventory being added to a Club is the fear of a takeover of the board. Concerned Boards should examine the number of intervals available for sale against the number of intervals it would require to gain voting control. In the majority of cases, control could not be acquired.
“As a company that operates a 29 Resort Club, we consistently seek to add quality travel destinations for our owners to enjoy,” said Travis Bary, COO of Capital Vacations. “Combining our Sales and Marketing abilities with our portfolio of Resort Management services we feel we provide the best solutions to maintain and increase the financial health of the resorts that have entrusted us with their business. The right partnerships between mature Timeshare Resorts and Vacation Clubs present the opportunity to create happy consumers and successful associations.”
According to Bary, the Club/Management Partnership model isn’t just something that sounds good, it’s something that is proven. Last year alone Capital Vacations sold enough intervals for three Associations to increase MF collections by $72,142, $192,758, and $213,482 respectively. These results occurred without a single dollar in advertising or marketing being spent by the associations.
Fighting the Transfer Companies
Another reason to pursue the most successful resale option is the fight against unscrupulous third-party transfer companies. Consumers who want out will seek solutions. If we don’t provide a viable path, we put their ownership and the health of our HOA’s at risk.
Just as all legacy timeshare resorts are one-of-a-kind, so are the best strategies for marketing resales. Depending on your financial resources, an abundance of available inventory and the vision of the board, it may be trying digital advertising, partnering with a club or trying something new and innovative that leads to total solvency and allows future generations the ability to enjoy the resort as did the original owners.
Kelley Ellert is the Director of Marketing for Capital Vacations, one of the largest timeshare management companies in North America with 71 properties for which she oversees the marketing and communication efforts. She resides in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina where Capital Vacations corporate headquarters are located.