Caribbean must sell emotions, say experts
Orlando, Florida – Potential timeshare owners are doing more financial analysis than ever before and are also looking to strike deals wherever possible.
Therefore, according to experts, the onus is on the industry to sell experiences and emotions.
Joel Santos, executive vice president of Coral Hospitality Corporation, was part of a panel during the Interval International Shared Ownership Conference last month in Orlando and said that the timeshare market had changed forever.
“People need to understand that these are the conditions under which we have to work long term, so we need to adapt.
“We need to send this message to sales – this is not a crisis. It is a normal situation for us now,” he noted.
Sue Nickason, president at Caribbean Resort Consultants, added that the pace of sales was now slower. This created problems for small island destinations in terms of maintaining current relationships and bringing people back to resorts.
“There is less financing for development to offer amenities,” she said.
“Other, lapsed developments in the area can also cause issues for consumer confidence. Failed projects scare people off. The cost of living is also rising very rapidly and there are destinations increasing hotel taxes, for example the Cayman Islands.
“Therefore it is not a price but a lifestyle issue. Can people afford to live well [when visiting these destinations]?” Import duties and cost of living create a problem for the industry with these issues going “well beyond the sticker price”, she explained.
Ms. Nickason gave the example of a million-dollar sale lost in the Turks & Caicos Islands due specifically to the fact that between the first and final visits of the buyer, a case of beer had doubled in price. This, she said, meant that the buyer looked at other, less expensive destinations instead.
Reinvigoration of existing properties to increase the appeal was a necessary part of the situation, said Clive Booker, the principal at Spectrum Purchasing and DSI Hospitality.
“We cannot just throw money at it; it must be a reinvention of how we look at our performance indicators, such as guest feedback and that from sales and marketing.
“Potential revenue to improvements needs to be calculated and assessed. Can we meet the guest expectation and honestly deliver?,” he asked delegates.
Guests responded well to improvements in rooms and in service, he said, and whilst rooms were important a focus on improving outdoor areas was also necessary. People wanted to compare their experiences outdoors to those they had seen in advertising.
“We need to identify priority items and spend money where it is visible to the guest,” Mr. Booker said. “This may mean patching up infrastructure in this difficult time.”