Timeshare’s Millennial moment is right now.
The older wave of Millennials (those born in the early to mid-80s) are planning big family vacations. The younger wave is walking into the workplace and wanting to visit all the places their friends are sharing on Instagram. (Millennials are now the largest generation in the US workplace.)
In other words, lifelong vacation preferences are being formed today.
We’ll just come out and say it: timeshares should be killing it with Millennials.
They’re thrifty yet they love experiences. They take more vacations per year than other generations. They value value and simplicity. They crave personal attention.
Timeshares can deliver all of these things, right?
Yes, and the connection will happen – but a few industry adjustments may be required.
Another strong characteristic of Millennials is they’re information seekers. They rarely make a decision without consulting Google and/or their social networks. They put in their research, yet they’re not finding a lot of timeshare advocates.
It’s an industry with some reputation baggage. High pressure sales, inflexible arrangements, long term commitments, restrictions – these are all things that don’t sit well with Millennials, who show an inclination to do things on their own terms.
The solution isn’t a total about face, but it is going to require different ways of doing business.
- Focus on the experience – A property and the surrounding area being sold needs to stand on its own. And free wifi is a must for this ever-connected generation. (Do everything possible to enable them to save and share their great experiences at a property.)
- Add frequent value – This is a generation buried in debt, but they still love to travel. They’ll check multiple sites to find the best mix of value and experience. Since a timeshare is looking for more than just a one-time travel commitment, there must be a focus on owner rewards and point redemption options. Millennial owners need to feel as if they’re still getting a bargain year-round, especially if there are annual maintenance fees.
- Show some transparency – An honest communication of terms and fees needs to be given to potential Millennial owners. Besides value, “good” brands rank very highly for Millennials in purchase decisions. They’ll reward brands who are open and honest about terms and fees.
- Let them come to you – Millennials know marketing. In general, this generation believes that the harder someone tries to sell them something, the more skeptical they should be. That isn’t to say the traditional high pressure sales tactics need to go away entirely, but an equally strong investment must be made into getting the “experience” in front of Millennials. This means a focus on online and mobile channels, social media and third-party review sites. Millennials need to hear how awesome a timeshare is from their networks, not just the property itself.
- Be flexible – As we’ve mentioned, this is a generation that is fickle with brand loyalty. They’ll switch at a moment’s notice, sometimes just for the sake of changing. They’re probably not going to sign off on long-term contracts and commitments, and chances are if they do, they’ll make things difficult for a brand's customer service operation somewhere within the term. Consider limited-time options, or partnering with exchanges. Timeshares will make their money by earning Millennial trust with every vacation, not by locking them into indefinite contracts.
Essentially what this all boils down to is a focus on value and a customer experience that stands on its own, every time. If a timeshare can deliver on that, it’ll earn a high level of engagement and possible loyalty from members of the new generation.
(Resort image courtesy of Phalinn Ooi)