Timeshare: Focus on Relationships for Better Owner Retention

Everybody wants customer loyalty, right? It’s wonderful to have people like a brand, come back to it time and time again, even refer their friends to it. What a great concept!

The only hangup? Consumers are hard to please. They’re demanding. They’re cheap. And they’re over-informed.

This is the crossroads at which the timeshare and travel club worlds find themselves. Rescission rates are growing, and selling to Millennials is proving to be a challenge. The internet is full of horror stories, and there are still a lot of scams dirtying the waters for everyone else.

Loyalty is attractive to these groups, as it should be, but it requires a focus on relationships that might be a bit of a shift. We think the timeshare world is primed for a major gain in this area.

They have a combination of an exciting product and enthusiastic (at least initially) customer base. By maintaining that enthusiasm and giving more power to owners/members, loyalty can become the major driver of revenue.

Consider these four basic guidelines, and we think your timeshare or travel club will be differentiated from anyone else in the industry:

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1. Give them what they were promised, right off the bat. One of the most important aspects of the owner experience is offering value early. First day incentives are important, but so are the ensuing weeks when the new owner is back home, wondering if they made the right decision. Maintain that initial engagement by validating their decision. Reward their decision with ongoing member benefits and personalized communications.

2. Plus a little more, on an ongoing basis. Engagement, of a much less desirable sort, will also occur when members receive their maintenance fees. Help owners offset those fees by adding value through benefits, discount programs, travel vouchers, or something else that can defer at least a portion of those fees (without breaking the club’s budget, either).

3. Let owners own the relationship. Browse around online and you’ll see a lot of bad reviews for timeshares and travel clubs. Most of these revolve around broken promises made in the sales process, along with countless complaints about hidden fees, shady contract clauses, escalating costs, and so on. Happy owners say they feel like they’re getting a lavish lifestyle, but paying a fraction for it. Value-conscious consumers need to feel like they’re getting more out of the relationship than the business. For that to happen brands need to be much more transparent about their systems and the costs.

4. Don’t be an impediment to a great experience. The bottom line is people come to a timeshare or travel club for a home-like vacation experience at a fair price. The groups winning loyalty are the ones who focus on delivering and maximizing those experiences. Earning revenue through alternative (or in some cases, underhanded) tactics isn’t a major concern for those groups because their rescission rates are minimal. They're profitable because of it.

We predict big things for timeshares and travel clubs in the next few years. More companies are coming around to the customer-centric way of doing business, and their success will drive others to follow suit. The timeshare industry will see a renaissance with new travelers, who are broke yet still looking to see the world. Those folks will share the news with the world online. 

It'll actually be easier than you think, and owners will love you for it. 

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Topics: timeshare loyalty, travel club incentives

Written by: Brandon Carter

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

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