Timeshares: Being Brilliant Together

Being Brilliant Together published in The Resort Trades
PHOTOCREDIT: Hilde Vanstraelen

The following article appears in the August issue of The Resort Trades. We are privileged to republish it here with their permission.

Timeshares: Being Brilliant Together

by Jason Tremblay

Bouncebackability is now a word, having made it to the Oxford English Dictionary in 2008. If you look it up there, you will find the definition along with a lovely illustration of a timeshare resort.

Okay, perhaps there is no direct reference in the dictionary to the bouncebackability of timeshares, but there should be. Despite facing one of the most challenging global economic climates in decades, the timeshare industry is still standing. Lehman Brothers, WaMu, Borders, and Circuit City are gone. Kodak has left the camera business and Pontiac and Hummer have driven into the dust. Businesses, large and small, across all types of industries have closed their doors forever. Yet whether you are talking about timeshare developers, resellers, brokers, management companies or other vacation service providers, in our industry most of the legitimate companies that were around five years ago are still in the game today.

But that is yesterday’s news. Our clients have forgotten what we did right yesterday to get us through to today and the popular media doesn’t care what we ever did right. Our window for laurel-resting lasted about 15 seconds and ended an hour ago. As Steve Jobs said, “Let’s go invent tomorrow rather than worrying about what happened yesterday.”

Same Game, New Rules

Alan S. Gregerman is the author of “Surrounded by Geniuses: Unlocking the Brilliance in Yourself, Your Colleagues and Your Organization.” Although the book was originally published in 2007, it was rereleased in 2010 with new insights because Gregerman recognized that in three short years, “the Web and other dramatic changes in the ways that all of us are learning, communicating, and accessing ideas,” has turned traditional business models upside down.

In the face of dramatic change, thinking creatively, seeking out profitable niches, and distinguishing yourself from others seems like a positive plan, but in some very surprising ways, it can feel counterintuitive. Todd Henry, author of “The Accidental Creative: How to be Brilliant at a Moment’s Notice,” explains, “We are hardwired to stay close to the herd and blend in as much as possible. After all, in the animal world, the members of a tribe that stand out are often eaten first.”

Fending Off Predators, Living In The Tribe

Henry takes his tribe analogy a step further, reminding us that we need the tribe and we need relationships with others. When we detach our businesses, running lone wolf in our industry, focusing on our own agenda for how vacation ownership should be structured, managed, marketed, bought, sold, rented, or resold, we limit ourselves to our own experiences and those of our particular team of employees.

By constraining our vision in this way, we become vulnerable to assumptions, such as the idea that when something has always been done in a certain way, it must continue to be done that way. Or, that because something didn’t work in one instance, it will never work – even if the consumer, product, terms or circumstances have changed.

Gregerman explains that change is amplifying the need to challenge our mindset, get outside our own company, and work in more connected ways with others. He describes it, saying, “… a growing number of companies and organizations are finally understanding the logic of casting a much wider net in the search for ideas and insights that can improve the ways we operate, the things we offer, and the nature of the customer experience.” Henry calls this outreach to work with others one of, “being brilliant together.”

One Tribe, One Voice, One Marketplace … Hundreds Of Millions Of Clients

We know in the timeshare industry, we are not wholly selling what consumers are seeking, delivered in the way they want to buy it. We know this because vacation ownership has barely dipped its big toe in the pool of potential timeshare owners and renters.

One billion people traveling for leisure this year will go far enough away from home to cross an international border. Fifty-eight percent of all Americans are planning overnight leisure travel during the months of June, July, and August this year alone. The timeshare market is a pool measured in the hundreds of millions of potential new buyers and renters. So what is holding us all back from reaching deeper into the marketplace?

Perhaps the timeshare industry doesn’t function as a tribe as effectively as it could. When we work together as an industry, we create a verdant source of ideas and innovation, stimulating and encouraging one another and generating the power needed to leverage assets in ways that are not possible when we all try to go it alone. Our united voice is stronger, speaks with more authority, and inspires more confidence than any aspect of our industry, or any brand does on its own. The more we view others in timeshare as peers rather than competitions, the harder it becomes for predators to pick us off one by one. But here’s the most important reason for the timeshare industry to start seeing itself as one tribe: the press, lawmakers, consumer activists, and consumers themselves already see us that way.

Mediocrity Falls Away

More than the impact of a challenging economy or a changing owner base, the World Wide Web is responsible for changing vacation ownership. If the tribe rises to the challenge, being brilliant together, our opportunities become limitless; we swim successfully in the deep end of the pool.

As author, blogger, and cartoonist Hugh MacLeod says, “The Internet has raised the bar because it’s so easy for word to spread about great stuff. There’s more junk than ever before… but this abundance of trash is overwhelmed by the market’s ability to distribute news about the great stuff … The web has made kicking ass easier to achieve, and mediocrity harder to sustain.”