Global timeshare concepts need local flavors to succeed
Over the years I have watched timeshare from the ringside - as a committee member at AIRDA. I have also been inside the ring, as a timeshare customer. And I am happy to say that I can see that the product offering and the service support around it, has gone up several notches.
If I were to look back just twenty years at the “typical customer”, I can see someone who would duck every opportunity to go on a vacation. Because he looked at holidays as an intrusion into workspace – with the Boss, happily agreeing with that sentiment. His family on the other hand, waited patiently for things to ease at office.
The closest product in India in terms of “pay now and benefit in the future” was insurance. And insurance was a tried and tested product in India. What the timeshare marketer now had to do was convince the customer through logical dialogue about making an upfront investment – though timeshare is not technically an investment. What the customer is investing in is worry-free holidays for 25 years, or more.
Younger customers, (the emerging segment) don’t need convincing because they are in that work hard, play hard zone. They are also comfortable with “paying now, holidaying year after year”.
Timeshare promoters had to do another thing to widen reach in India. They had to blend the product into the Indian cultural landscape – embracing centers of pilgrimage, heritage sites, and other locations of unique tourist interest. The vacation experience here included backwater holidays, plantation visits, traditional ayurvedic health farms, and other outdoor experiences that were unique to the geography and landscapes of the location.
While resorts needed to blend within a culture canvas, the product had to stand out in other ways – in terms of quality of vacation experience and service standards.
Here again, I am happy to say that timeshare has raised the bar on product, facilities, and the quality of service delivery – giving the international traveler and vacation seeker an “India Experience” that compares with the best with the world. If international timeshare players are opening their doors to us, our standards have to reflect the same concerns for comfort and convenience.
Industry leaders in the sector have worked hard to address the needs of different customer segments that we can market to in a logical manner. They have also fine tuned customer strategies, by looking at emerging customer profiles.
One emerging profile is the young, upwardly mobile professional who works hard and plays hard. He is curious, outgoing, daring and wants to explore the world around him. He also wants to share his vacation time with people close to him. This makes him a good prospect to engage with, and also in terms of the growth of the industry.
Another task for timeshare promoters was to have conversations with businesses already in the hospitality business, and entrepreneurs who could look at timeshare as a way to increase footfalls right through the year. The big picture here presented a productive synergy with new entrants looking at timeshare as a viable business opportunity, and existing players considering mixed use to increase occupancy rates.
With timeshare taking root in the hospitality industry and showing encouraging signs of growth, it was a matter of time before large, international exchange companies set up base in India – to network with Indian timeshare companies and place India on the world map. This was a major step forward – giving customers in the country an opportunity to experience timeshare in other parts of the world, and give the international traveler a window to the myriad holiday experiences in India.
Looking at the crystal ball once again, I can see positive indicators for timeshare in India – with growth coming from reinventing customer experiences, and the setting up of ventures in undiscovered locations with tourist potential. Especially where timeshare activity will contribute to local commerce, employment and economic activity.
As stakeholders responsible for organized growth and ethical standards in the industry, we need to make sustained investments in the quality of a customer’s vacation experience. It is all about building value around it. A happy customer is a satisfied customer.
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.