Ozzie and Harriet. Peanut butter and jelly. Humanity and the smartphone.
Some pairings were just meant to be. How did we exist before smartphones? How did people entertain themselves on car rides or visits to the restroom?
We're joking, but the consumer addiction to smartphones is something that shouldn't be undersold. It's where people are spending their time - 54% of the population suffers from nomophobia, or the fear of being without their smartphones. Two-thirds of Americans own one, and they're moving their lives onto them - from how they connect with others and how they pay for things to how they search for information and how they goof off.
Every industry has an impetus to engage their audiences on mobile. It's no different for timeshares and travel clubs - two groups Access has served for over 30 years. These are industries ripe for mobile engagement, complete with customers who look for great experiences at reasonable prices and the time to pursue leisure.
The key word in there is engagement, and that's where the industry needs to evolve. Specifically, companies need to start engaging their customers more beyond the few weeks they spend on a property, or the couple of hours they spend exchanging and booking each year.
Why is that important? Most interactions between a timeshare company and an owner are formal, and many of those are asking for money - payments, maintenance fees, loan payments, and so on. This places the company at a disadvantage when it actually comes time for the owner to sign up for another contract, because they're going to ask themselves if the value is there, "What did I get besides a condo in Boca for a couple weeks every year?"
The economy is recovering, but thriftiness is fully ingrained in consumer minds. They're looking for expenses to cut, and will continue to do so for a long time.
They may decide to renew, they may not; their engagement with the brand (and perception of the value received from it) is what tips the decision, and the resort needs every ounce of good will possible to ensure the owner's decision is an easy one.
The key is providing valuable content that fills in the gaps when an owner isn't at your resort or paying your bills; the mobile phone is simply the best conduit to get a message across.
That means focusing on social media, text updates, contests, and member benefits such as mobile coupons (which provide a great incentive to open a branded app on a regular basis). They don't have to be contained within a branded app, either - but it's important that every aspect of communications is mobile-friendly, from corporate websites to emails.
We preach it daily here: relevant value expressed regularly is the path to engagement, which leads to loyalty.
The result? The next time a the contract renewal comes up, or even the next time maintenance fees are due, the owner won't think twice about it, because they know the overall value of their investment. And it all starts with their dearly beloved smartphone.
Brandon is a former writer and marketer for Access Development. He's a frequent blogger on customer and employee engagement & loyalty, consumer trends, and branding. Connect with him on LinkedIn or Twitter at @bscarter