Timeshare Sales and Marketing Measured by the Inch

The following article was originally published in the April 2012 issue of The Resort Trades magazine. It is reprinted here with permission from The Resort Trades. You will find this article and other informative information about the vacation ownership, timeshare and fractional resort industry in print and online at www.theresorttrades.com.

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Timeshare Sales and Marketing Measured by the Inch

by Jason Tremblay

Hollywood was in its heyday. Having mastered the addition of sound and later color in the moviemaking process, the industry felt confident, almost untouchable, in its capability to be the world’s primary format for filmed entertainment, documentaries, and news. Even when the next decade ushered in the mass production of tube TVs, the innovation of television did not, at first, feel like a threat to moviemakers. Who would choose to watch a small, black and white box when they could have the big screen experience of movie going?

Yet by the mid-1960s, technology had changed even more dramatically. With color television sets taking over living rooms around the world, the film industry realized that not only was the innovation of television challenging the traditions of moviemaking, it was rewriting the rules. Moviemaking would still be important, but movies would have no choice but to assume a redefined role.

For businesses, including timeshare sales, resales and rentals, the World Wide Web has been a dramatic silver screen that has permitted the industry into the homes of current timeshare owners and potential buyers and renters. But mobile Web access from phones, notebooks, tablets, and other portable devices is quickly becoming today’s equivalent of life moving from the big screen to a vastly smaller one – one that now measures roughly only 4 inches on the diagonal.


Tim Berners-Lee (knighted in 2003 and properly known as Sir Timothy John Berners-Lee), is credited as being the man who “invented” the World Wide Web. Berners-Lee is a British computer scientist and MIT professor who in 1989, proposed an information management system, and in 1990, implemented the first successful communication between a Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) client and server via the Internet.

Berners-Lee is one of today’s strongest advocates for net-neutrality, the practice of keeping the content, sites, platform, information, and communication of the Web open and accessible to all. In an often-quoted speech he delivered in 2007 on the subject of ever-evolving disruptive technologies, Berners-Lee said, “It isn’t just about making the Web you know today work on mobile phones. We are talking about innovation. The innovations which will really count are the things which I can’t imagine now…”

When viewed in the big picture, you have to ask: In a world that once couldn’t imagine television or fathom the concept of the World Wide Web, how do we as timeshare business people wrap our minds around a vision for the future of our industry?

One answer comes from the “most interesting man in the world,” best known through the television commercials in which he advises, “Stay thirsty, my friends.” Sales and marketing have never been a more fluid process than they are right now. Change is the new stability and our willingness as an industry to stay fluid, be receptive, and to stay thirsty for change, will ultimately determine whether timeshares and vacation ownership moves forward in fresh and vigorous ways or is relegated to being a product with a shelf life rapidly approaching expiration.


If the inevitable evolutionary path the Internet will lead us on is difficult even for those who conceived it to predict, how do the rest of us deal with it? We deal with it by understanding that we cannot permit the apprehensions of impending change to hold us back from making the adjustments necessary to be an effective vacation resource today.

Although change is inevitable, here are short-term strategies timeshare companies can address in order to compete better in the rapidly growing mobile marketplace:

1. Acknowledge that your existing Website may not be adaptable for your mobile users. Companies face the decision of whether it is better to rebuild their Website in a way that supports m-commerce and t-commerce, or whether they should simply build a mobile site.

2. Simplify because speed matters. Creative techniques such as the use of Flash make our Websites more interesting. But many functions do not translate well to mobile devices, and the slower your load time, the more you risk Web users simply moving on to another site. Mobile Web users have shown an even lower tolerance to wait for a site to load than that of Web users accessing your site via a desktop computer.

3. Houseclean because looks matter. Google’s Instant Preview feature shows Web users (from any type of device) a visual sample of their search results. Pay attention to how your site looks in this preview because a cluttered or uninviting preview may stop a potential client from ever reaching your site. Website cleanup goes beyond having effective title tags and meta descriptions, and speaks directly to the quality of your visual design. Simplify your content and consider using a single column layout for your mobile site visitors.

4. Pay attention to navigation. Don’t expect people to type in lengthy search terms or responses. Abridge options and convert as many components of the question-and-response or search process to yes or no format or multiple-choice answers.

5. Take down barriers. Surprisingly, many corporate executives don’t visit their company’s websites regularly, don’t try using their own forms and site options, and haven’t tried accessing their sites via a variety of devices. Take your website for a test drive on a regular basis. View it from the eyes of your consumers who are often individuals who do not know your corporate lingo, your resort properties, or your ownership structure. As you explore your website, look for barricades you can eliminate.

Lastly, don’t give up. Your website functionality and design probably fall short of where you know they should be; most businesses feel this way. In 2011, a Google survey revealed that 79 percent of Google’s largest advertisers do not have mobile-friendly sites. But within the greatest challenges are found the greatest opportunities. The ephemeral natural of business marketing today yields abundant potential for vacation ownership to shake off its problems of the past and rise to become a product that is desired, purchased, and sought after by the mainstream marketplace.