Thursday, June 29, 2023

The Cinderella Customer

Resorts that use the fear of missing out to sell memberships must fear missing out on digital age customers.

The resort was a marvelous machine that hummed day and night. I had recently watched a documentary called ‘Secrets of the Mega Resort’, so I simply had to slip away from a family event to understand the sales and marketing at such a resort.

The booking desk for the ‘presentation’ promised me a 90-minute process. I had my timer ready, but they told me I had to go through two registration desks before I could start the timer. I tried to nudge them along, but they insisted on printing out the forms. It turns out that the back of the printouts become part of the working papers they use to explain complex pricing by masterfully writing numbers upside down when seated across. After being passed on from desk to desk, the fourth person I met was the 'tour guide'. She wanted to drag out the process by including a lunch hour, but my timer was on.

I took the liberty of rearranging their sales workflow.

I asked to first see their best room, then talk to a customer, followed by pricing. I was driven in their ‘Cinderella carriage’ (a better golf cart) to a faraway section of the resort to see a luxury suite with a stunning view of the ocean, chef included. On my way out, I stopped a passerby who turned out to be a ‘member’ who loved his scheduled vacations and in there was a compelling testimonial from one workaholic to another. For pricing it was another building. We crossed a massive hall buzzing with salespeople pitching prospective customers. I was soon handed off to another impressive salesperson who didn’t care for my compliments about their sales machinery but was focused on assessing my purchasing power, inclination and impulse to buy. I was upfront that I do not make impulse purchases. Then another handler appeared and advised me curtly that I will never be returning and won’t get their special deal again. He pointed me to the final handler symbolically positioned near the toilet for my dismissal.

Resorts can do better with their marketing:

  • Wallpapers in other rooms showing the best views from member suites to encourage inbound inquiries.
  • Account managers, not handlers. Train all staffers to subtly weave sales pitches within conversations.
  • Use the time with a prospect to open up a lead pipeline to their contacts.
  • Compress the tour and complement with direct email marketing.
  • Make prospects your brand evangelists even if they don’t buy immediately.
  • Celebrate your members, publicly, with their permission.
  • Build a community of your members.
  • Bundle products like event services, insurance, air-tickets and ride-share.
  • Straightforward pricing like Costco to prevent buyers’ remorse.

My time was up. I was their Cinderella customer. My carriage disappeared as my timer chimed. I was left to find my way back from the far end of the resort but left wiser.