Like it or not, social media has grown massively in the last decade and is here to stay. It is becoming an increasingly important medium in which people communicate, discover entertainment, and find out about products and brands, and this is very much true within the travel and timeshare industry.
For some resorts this is a relatively new concept, with their bosses still viewing social media as a waste of time and even banning it within the workplace. This is a huge wasted opportunity though in terms of engaging with guests, advertising your resort and increasing bookings. Instead it is vital that you encourage far more than your resort marketing department to be using social media. This includes your reception staff, bookings department and definitely your sales team.
1. Generating Referrals
The first area in which your timeshare resort sales team can use social media is through helping to generate referrals to your resort. As opposed to outbound marketing in which a company tries to buy attention through various annoying forms of traditional advertising such as cold calling, sales flyers, TV or radio advertising, telemarketing and spam emails, social media is an excellent form of modern inbound marketing. Outbound marketing is when a company tries to force its way into someone’s attention but provides little to no value in the person’s life. Inbound marketing instead is when a brand, such as your resort provides value which draws people in organically. This can be through blog posts, eBooks, videos and photos, newsletters and social media marketing.
Your timeshare resort sales staff should be actively engaging with content produced by your resort such as blog posts and social media posts (videos, photos) by liking, commenting and sharing across their own personal social media channels. This will vastly grow the reach of these various posts meaning more people will see them, increasing your page ranking, thus leading to far greater brand awareness.
Your sales staff should also be encouraged to create their own content such as an awesome sunset shot from the resort restaurant overlooking the sea, or from local activities that guests can also get involved in such as golf. The sales team should mention to guests already staying at your resort or those on a fly-buy holiday that staff and the resort are on social media, and encourage these individuals to connect with them. It is highly likely that if your sales team accompany guests or fly-buys for some of the experiences on offer such as to enjoy the evening entertainment or dinner at the resort restaurant, they will share photos with friends and family on social media, tagging both the resort and the team member.
This will generate an inbound referral as the person staying at the resort will encourage friends, family and work colleagues back home to book a trip so they can experience the amazing place they are staying at. Alternatively people they are connected to on social media will ask where they are staying, while they are stuck back in their office or commuting back home in the cold and rain. Social media should be seen as an amazing advertising tool that allows resorts to encourage their guests to help spread the word for them. By using these free services there is an incredible potential for generating sales!
Guests staying at the resort may also mention what a wonderful time they are having and encourage their friends and family to connect with your resort sales staff on social media, so that they too can enjoy such a great holiday. These leads are a byproduct of your sales staff being on social media and creating a fantastic experience for your guests. There is nothing forced it is just a natural conversation which ultimately is a far more pleasant experience.
2. Create lasting valuable connections to reduce cancellations
The connections created between your guests and your sales team should create lasting value for both the guest and the resort. Through creating these connections on social media, it displays to guests that they can trust the people they have bought from which will automatically make them happier with their purchase. For fly-buys and those who have just purchased timeshare at your resort, if they are able to connect on social media with the sales staff then this will greatly reduce cancellations.
Traditionally during the “cooling-off” period, many people who have just bought timeshare have decided that they may have made the wrong decision, once they are back home and away from your resort. This may be for a number of reasons such as friends or family persuading them it was a bad buy, worrying that they were forced to buy something they didn’t really want, or simply the memory of the holiday fading. Whatever the reasons, this is a distinct possibility for many individuals that have bought timeshare which can greatly affect your sales.
Social media can play a strong role in reducing these feelings after the holiday and ending the problem of cancellations. If guests have been able to connect with your sales staff during their first week of ownership then it shows they are buying into a community and there is a true lasting friendship. Sales staff are showing their commitment to the people they have sold to by being contactable on social media to answer questions and converse with their guests as friends, not just sales leads. If friends and family can see the community your guests have bought into on social media this also makes it more likely that they would like to join themselves which has an added knock on benefit.
Your future timeshare resort sales team
Increasingly people do not just blindly trust brands based on traditional forms of outbound advertising such as TV commercials or flyers, as they can see through many of the polished adverts and corporate logos and slogans. Instead the use of social media increases trust between your guests/potential guests and your resort by humanising the brand and showing some of the faces that work for the company. It offers a great way for guests to connect with the people who work for your resort, meaning a much greater level of trust will be established between them and your brand which is a key component in sales.
The about us page is one of the most viewed sections on any company website now, because people want to know who they are buying from. Customers are becoming increasingly tech savvy and will research services, destinations and products (such as your resort) extensively before they decide to buy. This doesn’t just include your website but also the resort’s social media pages, including the social media profiles of resort staff.
When choosing to employ new sales staff, management should aim to employ individuals who are tech and social media savvy themselves. If guests can see the profiles of sales staff on social media platforms such as LinkedIn, then it shows they are forward thinking and are more transparent and open thus building trust. This will lead to happier guests and more sales.
By Simon Turkas