WITH AN ACKNOWLEDGEMENT TO STEPPING STONES FOR THE ORIGINAL IDEA
How about having the Marriott corporation doing an emailed Census to a representative group of Marriott Timeshare (MVCI) members early this year?
This census of a portion owners including new and long term owners of the 400,000 plus members would do several things, all of which are valuable:
Dear Leslie: great idea, sorry that I forgot the MVCI owners but they need to be surveyed as well. Marriott does what is called a GSS (Guest Satisfaction Survey) but it is not specifically targeted at a sample that is representative, in my view, but at someone who has stayed at a particular property including a Vacation Club.
Super, let's get it to work!
Coincidentally. the chief customer officer of MVCI sent an e-mail survey on Monday, February 8th. Did you receive one? Future surveys are in the works. Rather than 'points', the survey is focused on vacation preferences specifically location, duration, villa size, dining, concierge and activities:
At Marriott Vacation Club, we continually evaluate possible enhancements for the on-site vacation experience to identify those with potential to provide greater value and unforgettable vacations for our Owners and guests. Through ongoing dialogue with MVC Owners and guests, we look to identify enhancements that may be more responsive in meeting your future vacation needs.
I invite you to participate in a series of surveys where we would like to capture your thoughts and ideas as we shape your future vacation experience. There is a link below to the first survey. Additional invitations will follow in the coming weeks and months.
To complete the survey please click here. Please note that this survey link will expire in 5 days. All responses are confidential and will only be used to help us develop the product and services that will provide you and your family with unforgettable vacation experiences.
In appreciation of your time to complete this survey, your name will be entered into drawings for three (3) annual prizes in which one (1) Grand Prize winner will receive a complimentary five (5) night stay (Premier Award) at any Marriott® Hotel, and two (2) First Prize winners will each receive a $500 Marriott Gift Cheque. If you do not wish to or are not able to take our online survey, but would still like to participate in the drawing, please mail this letter to P.O. Box 691029, Orlando, FL 32869. Acceptance of a prize constitutes permission for Marriott Vacation Club® to post the winner's name on our website. To obtain the list of winners and the Official Rules, please click here. This site is updated annually with the list of the new winners.
Thank you for your time and candor.
Chief Customer Officer
Marriott Vacation Club
There is a lot of discussion regarding this survey (and the speculated MVC program change in June) on TUG. I am disappointed that I did not receive the survey, nor have I ever received a survey regarding MVC. I purchased my first timeshare several years ago and now own five weeks (all purchased from Marriott), therefore I would think my opinions would be valued. Since I am responsible for designing and conducting marketing research, I have concerns regarding their sampling methods for their surveys.
Shifting attitudes combined with revved up interest in what vacationers want is fueling speculation. Here are the first 5 questions from the recent survey:
The survey asks for a second choice and then branches focusing on duration, villa size, dining preferences, activities, concierge and more. Then it repeats the questions for the second choice. It's very tedious, I almost bailed.
I wish I would have received a survey, since the subject matter appears to be interesting. One of the challenges in conducting surveys is that more detailed information is really needed to make sound business decisions. I don't mind taking more time, as long as the questions are relevant and are on topics that are important to me. The worst surveys are those that ask you to rate several products for attributes that you could care less about.
It appears that many who received this survey had also received the previous survey, while other multiple week MVC owners like myself have never been surveyed. The company doing their research may not be using best practices sampling methods. My profession is not part of my member profile, so I don't understand why I have never been asked to participate during my 20 yr. of MVC ownership. I would be real curious to see what impact the MR point devaluation has had on overall membership satisfaction and likelihood to recommend to friends.
Here's a few more survey questions...
It appears that offering shorter stay options may become a key component of MVC in the future. Although this will add flexibility for shorter trips, I would think this will cause major challenges in getting preferred villa locations for the traditional longer stays. Two Bedroom villas with lock-offs will be getting all chopped up. I doubt that I would use shorter stay options, and actually look forward to more back-to-back weeks when I have more vacation time. I could understand this short stay concept for more urban locations, but not resorts.
Given the challenges of travel today, I doubt that many families would go to resort locations for 3-4 day trips.
DSV I and DSV II have 2 BR villas w/lockout, and Grand Chateau has 3 BR villas w/a 1 BR lockout + 2 full kitchens! The new villas we saw at Shadow Ridge are very tiny 2 BR w/lockout. With more inventory that was designed with the short stays in mind and smaller families, I think you are 100% correct.
With multiple weeks I also prefer back-to-back vacations. What's the point of going to Hawaii or Thailand for a week? After all that travelling you need 3 days to recover from the jetlag.
Like I said, the survey was very tedious. Here are a few more questions:
It definitely appears that MVC is moving forward with more short stay options, and this concerns me as an owner. One thing I have always enjoyed at MVC is the relaxing atmosphere due to the fact that most guests were there for 7 or more night stays. I enjoy meeting other owners and often see the same people over the years. There is usually a lot of commotion on check-in days, but this is short-lived. Adding more short stays will definitely have negative consequences:
1. There will be crowds in the lobby and elevator areas on a daily basis with people checking in and out.
2. PArking will become a greater problem because more 2 bedroom units will have multiple cars per unit, especially in lock-off locations. People with shorter stays will likely spend a greater % of their time at the resort, so resort activities will be more crowded.
3. It will be more difficult to get a two bedroom unit in a preferred location on the traditional check-in days, since fewer will be allocated for 7 night stays.
4. Housekeeping costs will increase dramatically, and owners will likely pay.
5. Wear and tear and kithen utensil shrinkage will greatly increase, creating higher replacement reserve expenses. The resort facilities will also have greater usage requiring more frequent repairs and replacement. Who do you think will pay for this?
The timeshare experience will become just like a hotel experience, and this is not what I signed up for. I can understand offering shorter stays in urban areas, but this would be a big mistake for resort locations. I hope MVC truly thinks this through before implementing such a program. It may be more profitable for them, but it will drive away many of their long-term owners, such as myself. It is interesting that I was told MVC was moving away from lockoffs when they built Oceana Palms. They appear to be changing their minds.
"Adding more short stays will definitely have negative consequences"
There are several contributing factors that support the trend towards shorter stays. Affordability being a key driver. Segmenting timeshare ownership into blocks of 3, 4, 5 or 7 nights will make vacation ownership more attractive and accessible. Diversification of the product by offering more increments of time increases flexibility, affordability and to some extent profitability (if renting out your villa).
Due to owner demand, several owner associations have approved the expansion of 7-night check-in dates beyond Friday, Saturday, Sunday to include Thursday to Tuesday. This gives owners more flexibility based upon travel plans that typically align with the airline practice to offer off-peak discounted travel. As an owner looking to maximize the most advantageous airfares and car rental rates, MVCI's response to market conditions and owner demand is positive.
While the thinking outlined presents some plausible scenarios outside of the US where my knowledge of local statutes is very poor, let's keep in mind that in the US, Marriott among others is subject to city, state and federal laws that protect the consumer.