The timeshare industry has been experiencing positive financial growth over the last few years, proving despite all the negative press people are still buying timeshares.
Mike Flaskey, CEO of Diamond Resorts sat down with Yahoo Finance and explained how Diamond Resorts have changed their business model and are targeting the next generation of timeshare owners. Diamond has seen a 25% increase of millennial buyers for 3 years in a row.
Yahoo Finance carried out a survey of millennials and asked how they liked to travel. Most of those questioned admitted they are willing to spend the extra money on experience vacations. Unexpectedly, of those surveyed, many millennials said timeshare ownership seemed an attractive option or had already purchased a timeshare or holiday points based product.
So is timeshare still thought of as something your parents and grandparents did? The team at Yahoo Finance sat down with Mike Flaskey, Diamond CEO and asked how the timeshare giant is targeting its business model to attract the millennial demographic.
He was asked how are you changing the perception of timeshare? “Well we have led the industry in focusing on experience vacations. So what we have done is get heavily involved in entertainment and music. And what we have found is that if you can give the millennial demographic that experience in addition to the real estate. We have 437 resorts around the world, but it’s that key experiential model that’s bringing them in.”
He went on to explain how Diamond are attracting new buyers and how they close a sale. In offering new customers an incredible and unique experience, he says their closing rates have nearly doubled since introducing this scheme. It seems they are going all out when attracting potential buyers, in an example he gave, he explained how treating a family to a once in a lifetime meeting with a famous baseball player was now a routine practice. By showing customers what they can expect from Diamond they are more likely to make a purchase.
Flaskey was then asked how they cater for millennials who want flexibility in where and how they travel? “Our product is a points based product, it’s not the traditional fixed weeks product. With points currency, they can use it on a daily basis, they can use it for airline tickets, hotels or they can use it for the traditional timeshare. They can also use it to go do there unique experiences. So that piece of it is what creates the flexibility.”
Flaskey was also asked how Diamond plans to keep its customers happy and engaged? “We do over 3,000 unique events annually. On our website they can log in to see the entire outline of upcoming events. It may be PGA golf, it may be a culinary experience, it may be climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, we do 125 live concerts annually.”
Finally Flaskey was asked the tricky question about resale and how Diamond deals with people who want out of their timeshare obligations, and how do they help those who cannot re-sell their timeshares in a market which sees no value in holiday products.
Flaskey explained that as the timeshare industry and developers become more credible they have seen a slight improvement in the resale market. He added that Diamond do offer an exit program to owners. He said: “We have transitions where they can reach out to us, if they fulfil their obligation, they have paid their bills and their lifestyle has changed, if they reach out to us we have a program that will work directly with them to help them exit.”
The Problem with points based holiday products!
Owners buy points to gain access to a resorts properties, the more points owned, the more access a vacation owner has to top properties at peak times. Points programs can start at anything from £10,000 and owners are consistently persuaded to purchase more.
Points are valued depending on factors such as time of year, destination, size of accommodation etc. Points do provide a greater amount of flexibility, however, before purchasing a points based holiday product, do the math! Ask yourself, can the amount of point’s purchased provide you with the holiday you want each year without having to purchase additional points you didn’t budget for?
Can you gain access to the types of locations and facilities you want to visit when you want to? There are far too many holiday club members who report being unhappy with the standard of their accomodations using their annual points allowance. Even reports of people unable to book a specific week during peak seasons, when they were told by the sales agent they would be able to do so.