What Timeshares Need to Learn from IBM – Part II

In yesterday’s The Timeshare Authority blog I shared how impressed I was that a Forbes Magazine interview between magazine publisher, Rich Karlgaard and IBM CEO Sam Palmisano, that reads as if it is written as a business plan for the timeshare industry.

If you haven’t read yesterday’s post, you’ll want to because I looked at three points that IBM has seen as critical to helping it reach its 100-year /$100 billion milestone. Now let me share a couple other takeaways I had from the interview, which to me, is a road map that the timeshare industry should be following

Timeshares and Learning from Mistakes

In the early 1990s IBM almost went bankrupt. Yet here they are today, twenty years later, going strong. How did this happen?

IBM invented a PC, but according to Palmisano, the company viewed it as, “a gadget”. Because the company did not see the PC as a platform, it “missed the shift”. And as Palmisano goes on to explain, “So the lesson to me is you cannot miss the shifts. You have to move to the future.”

The way people buy, sell, and use timeshare has clearly shifted. No one wants to be “sold to” anymore. Consumers want to read reviews, comparison shop, and negotiate a deal that includes the features that are best for them and the way they like to vacation. Buying online, whether it is timeshare, timeshare resales, or timeshare rentals, is a way of shopping that most people are very comfortable doing. People already book hotels and air travel online; it is a logical step to them to also engage in timeshare transactions the same way.

What consumers are not comfortable with is a vacation ownership product that lacks options and lacks flexibility, both in the way they buy and sell it and the ways they can use it.

More Wisdom for Vacation Ownership

When asked how IBM was dealing with the current economic climate, Palmisano said, “To me it’s no different than post World War II. Then the world was restoring itself economically after the great wars. Now the world is rebalancing itself after a big financial crisis. Then, as now, IBM is aggressively moving into new countries, new markets.”

But in the same interview, Palmisano also reminded us, “But you can’t push everywhere. You have to focus.”

This isn’t contradictory advice; this is rock solid business planning. Timeshares, which didn’t get their start until the early 1970s, didn’t weather the great Depression or need to bounce back after two world wars, as IBM has done. When the economy faltered in the last few years, the timeshare industry had no previous learning experience from which to draw. We could not look at our business history and ask, “What did we do to drop back and punt the last time this happened?”

With no history to draw from, some timeshare companies did not recognize what steps to take next. At Sell My Timeshare NOW, the changing economy caused us to do our own rebalancing. We changed where and how we spend money; we tightened our belt; and most importantly, we looked for ways to serve our market better.

We elected to place more emphasis on giving timeshare owners a choice between a timeshare broker assisted sale and a sale by owner. We’ve ramped up our skills to make sure we offer top notch service for both types of timeshare sales. Among other things, we are doing, we’ve rebuilt much of our website to make it easier and more efficient for buyers and renters to find the properties that fit their budgets and their vacation needs.

In short, we have both rebalanced and sharpened our focus and as a result, despite the economy, Sell My Timeshare NOW is a stronger company than ever before. With only an eight-year history of business, Sell My Timeshare NOW is certainly no IBM. But we can proudly say that we share a few values and strategies with the business behemoth; we focus on our clients, we work smart; and we try very hard to be relevant to today’s consumer’s demands.

And who knows where the next 92 years will take us …