David Stillman, BridgeWorks
As promised in “Faces & Places” of the November 2015 edition of Resort Trades, following is our review of a presentation given by David Stillman during the 2015 Shared Ownership Investment Conference.
According to David A. Stillman, co-founder of the marketing consulting firm BridgeWorks, if you are of an opinion that you just can’t interest a millennial in purchasing a timeshare interest, you can rethink that! In his remarks at last month’s Interval International’s Shared Ownership Investment Conference, Stillman offered insight on the potential value of marketing to those aged between 25 to 35, as well as tips on what to tell them.
His book, The M-Factor: How the Millennial Generation Is Rocking the Workplace (HarperCollins) has become a business favorite and with good reason. Resort developers and managers have been comfortable promoting sales, rentals and resale weeks to Gen Y’s elders for quite a while now. The ‘traditionalist’ (born prior to 1946), ‘baby boomer’ (1946-1964) and ‘Gen X’ (1965-1979) are a fairly well known quantity.
In the traditionalist’s case, marketers learned they are a loyal, hard-working group; accustomed to self-sacrifice. Baby boomers are optimistic, idealistic and competitive. For this generation, marketers need to keep the choices simple (offer two options, rather than ten), help them feel they are on the cutting edge and avoid turning a concern about an issue into fear. (For example, minimize the concept of maintenance fees by emphasizing the factors that will keep them on the cutting edge.) On the opposite side of the coin, Gen X needs options and information. They are innately distrustful and skeptical, preferring to be well informed and self-reliant. They hate to be “sold to”; they thrive on transparency. With this group, flexibility is crucial. They want to build traditions with their family, however. So when they challenge you and appear to be negative, they are sending a signal that they just need the facts. They’re not going to buy the 3-day/2-night pressure. You need to be viewed as a resource and not hit the ‘BS-o-meter.’
Millennials, on the other hand, thrive on collaboration. Surveys show their perception of timeshare is rated higher than any other age group. They just need for you to work with them. This is the group that grew up bonding with their parents almost as partners. Decisions were made in a democracy wherein the children were consulted before taking a vacation, changing the channel or even choosing a new car. While they, by themselves, may be NQs, they are definite influencers and love to share. Your time spent with them may have a payoff with residual interest.
Older millennials are fast becoming great prospects as they marry and start having families of their own. Here are a few facts from a survey referenced during the SOIC:
Use mobile device–97%
Use a tablet–9%
On social media –77%
The same survey found that of non-millennials surveyed who say they don’t own a timeshare, the majority says they are planning more travel, do their research online and routinely look for deals. 55 percent of them prefer to be contacted by email. Their priorities are:
Asked to respond to marketing messages, the phrases “home away from home” and “timeshare encourages more vacations” were least likely to resonate. Millennials found destination, short-term product and low interest rates to be critical in making a buying decision. It’s reported that in most cases:
- Millennials and Gen Xers can be big advocates.
- Millennials are ready to buy.
- Millennials are interesting in traveling globally.
- Online communication is vital.
- Millennials want short-term bargains.
So if you can engage them on their terms and offer affordable, short-term products, they are great prospects. It may be time to change our concept in addition to modifying our marketing and products.