The report from the Bournemouth undergraduate team has been published and is now available to download from the members-only section of this site. Sue McNicol and I have worked with this team of 4 final year students over the past 12 months and sat in on various meetings they have had with RDO members, to discuss the industry and where it is going and very generously they were hosted by Holiday Club Resorts in Gran Canaria and Club la Costa in the West Country, so that they could experience timeshare resorts, meet with owners and see the sales processes at the resorts. To any RDO member who has not yet read it, I urge you to do so, as it makes really interesting reading and in my view is something that management on both the resort and sales side would find 30 minutes of time well spent.
I think the value in the report is the fact that this has been put together by a team of students who have come to the industry with none of the world-weary approach of professional consultants looking to see what the industry wants to hear (been there, seen that, done it!) nor did they have any pre-conceptions about the product or the industry.
Instead we have been presented with a report that speaks as it finds – that takes the view the product is great value and the quality of resorts high. That the product would appeal to the “30 – 40 some things” generation but needs to take account of the fact that this demographic is in general marrying later, buying their first property later (not by choice but by financial coercion) and as a consequence having children later. Key to all this is the fact that the length of the product needs to match much more the timeframe this generation deals in. In other words, the product needs to be relatively short-term, certainly not the old perpetuity or long-term that the industry’s Panel of Experts is now reporting on. Before the opposition to such short-term products develops into a clamour, surely if the product is good and the experience likewise, developers will have relatively little problem in selling renewals to a customer base that already loves the product – after all if the owner doesn’t feel trapped and likes the product why not renew?
The other findings of the team relate to how better the industry can get its message across to the public and media – something we are actively looking at now after the Comms "brainstorming" last month and the need for resorts to meet the needs of this new generation in terms of Wi-Fi in the units etc. On this last point, timeshare resorts are not the only ones not yet up to speed on this. Some months ago, I spent a few days with my family in Brussels (don’t ask me why, my children like the food there!) we stayed in a Marriott apartment hotel near the Parliament – the use of the internet was about euros 25 a day and only one laptop could use it at any one time – no Wi-Fi, no iPod facilities and this was the Political Capital of Europe! I was surprised, the family scandalised! If I have referred to this before, then my apologies, but it shows how these things remain in your memory!
So a big thanks to Zoe, Tom, Khaled and Paul and our best wishes for their future careers in tourism and if any member wants their CVs I am sure Sue can help. Also a thank you to the staff at the School of Tourism, who encouraged us to participate and monitored the progress of the team. We have been invited to submit a follow-on project for next year’s batch of final year students to consider and that will go in shortly. It will be looking at ways to sell to this next generation and the various e-commerce opportunities the industry may like to consider, so watch this space and if you haven’t done so, please download the report by logging into the RDO site or contact Sue McNicol on firstname.lastname@example.org