I saw this smart young man at a bookstore the other day, with several books on travel. Now that was something that got me interested.
I asked him if he was interested in travel and he nodded, with a weak grin. I prodded him further. “When did you last go on a holiday,” I asked him. “Five years ago,” was his response. When I heard that, I let him pay for his books and gently guided him to the small coffee shop next door. And we continued our conversation.
The young man – let’s call him Alok – was probably 35 years old. As I got chatting with him, I got to know that he was a chartered accountant working at a flourishing practice owned by him and a partner. Work was so hectic for Alok that he seldom got back home before 9.30 pm. His wife too was in a high-pressure job at an IT firm that meant long hours at office and working through weekends. “Now you know how difficult it is for us to go on a holiday,” he added.
I asked Alok if he had heard of timeshare. “Oh, don’t tell me about timeshare,” he said. “I don’t want to lock up money for 25 years.” Over three cups of coffee, I realized that he had very strong views about timeshare, without first-hand experience or adequate knowledge about the product or industry.
Alok was not even aware of exchange companies, and how you could opt for different resorts in India and across the world. I explained to him how he wouldn’t be stuck with one resort location for 25 years. He also wondered about the need to pay annual maintenance fees every year. I gave him a brief overview of the timeshare business model and how the fee collected actually went towards maintenance and upkeep. I told him it was a legitimate fee, charged by timeshare resorts all over the world.
Alok had one other misconception about timeshare. He thought his wife would have to do all the cooking on vacation – and that wouldn’t really be a holiday for her. I was truly amused, but reassured him that his wife wouldn’t have to cook if she didn’t want to, as timeshare resorts today have specialty restaurants serving a wide range of cuisines. If he wanted to, Alok could always make a cup of tea for her, in the room’s kitchenette first thing in the morning.
For me, all this was a revelation – the more people you meet, the more you learn about customer perceptions. Alok represented today’s generation of young professionals - he had a successful practice and an enviable social circle. Strangely, he still believed that hotels were a better option, where everything would be looked after – without realizing that today’s timeshare resort gave you all that, and more. I explained to him that unlike hotel tariffs which could go upstream over the years, timeshare could give him protection from inflationary pricing right across the entire term of his subscription.
Here’s my advice to customers and sales teams
Here’s another thing about Alok that I forgot to mention. He’s buying a new SUV and knows just about everything about the car there is to know– technology, features, convenience, comparative benefits. Maybe you don’t spend as much on a timeshare plan, but it’s still hard-earned money. You may not have the same car for 25 years, but you will still have your timeshare membership.
My good deed for the day was promising to send Alok on a timeshare weekend at a resort within driving distance from Bangalore. I guess he could put that SUV to good use.
B. S. Rathor
Advisor & Member - Executive Committee
What does an AIRDA membership mean to resort owners and developers? AIRDA comes in as your industry partner, conscience keeper and business catalyst - with a wide portfolio of support services.
What does AIRDA mean to holiday seekers and prospective customers? AIRDA comes in to provide information and offer guidelines on making the right timeshare decisions.