Q&A: Talking to Sharath Bhat – a freelance advertising writer who
handles web content for AIRDA
Sharath Bhat is a freelance advertising writer from Bangalore. He is interested in Creativity & Innovation, Content Management & Blogging, Technology & Computers. He is also fascinated by the limitless expanse of the internet, where you can share ideas across time zones – in a world without boundaries.
Sharath also handles the content for AIRDA’s websites and other components of our online presence. We’re chatting with him here, purely on the basis of the number of interviews he has done for the Q&A column on our website.
Talking to Sharath Bhat
A: I have done over 30 interviews till now for the AIRDA website - with customers, member resorts, associates and other stakeholders. Every time I make a Q&A interaction I learn something new about likes, dislikes and expectation levels. I even get constructive feedback that resorts might find useful. This information can throw new light on how to improve quality of service, or add value to what you are offering.
There’s another thing I have observed during my interactions. Customers today – and they don’t mean to be rude – are pretty vocal about what they feel. In other words, they don’t pull any punches. So, it’s important to hear what our customers are saying, and take note of constructive feedback.
A: Here’s something that is right on top of their list of concerns. Many of the customers I spoke to had a problem understanding the logic or structure behind annual maintenance charges, and the fees incurred on exchange options through gateways such as RCI, Interval and others.
From my point of view, resorts could raise awareness levels about maintenance costs and why it is important to charge this annually - or maybe even hike fees marginally when the need arises. I also see the need for a 24/7 helpline to address queries and clear doubts. Timely customer interactions and a sustained connect with customers can go a long way in narrowing the gap on certain perceptions that may need to be altered.
There’s another thing customers need to know: Even though AIRDA has enabled a common Code of Ethics, each resort is different in terms of facilities, real estate investments and operating costs. If Resort A has a larger resort in a high value location than Resort B, his entry and maintenance charges are bound to be at a different level, or scale. Customers need to understand this.
A: I can certainly see a trend. I can see more and more customers in the early and mid 30s segment. This age group shows a keenness to take a break from work for that well deserved vacation. They work hard, play hard and don’t feel guilty about taking planned time off with their families. Importantly, this is a generation that’s very comfortable with buying on hire purchase, or instalments. That’s how timeshare comes in with convenient monthly payouts on the initial entry fee that resorts charge.
There’s another aspect to younger prospect segments – they are energetic, daring and adventurous - which means they expect more on a vacation than lazing around in a pool. This can call for activities such as wild-river rafting, rock climbing and things like that, which younger prospects find exciting.
A: There is one common assumption that I would like to correct while answering this question. Most people think young nuclear families are lost in their own world and not in touch with a larger family circle; what I have observed here is encouragingly different. I have come across many young couples wanting to go on a holiday with entire families – even extended families. Sometimes, the numbers here can go up to 20 people on a holiday. I also find the younger set more interested in engaging their children constructively. On a nature trail, or trek for instance, young parents will take the pains to explain the flora and fauna of the location to the kids.
A: I have found my interactions with resort owners very, very encouraging. Resort owners on the AIRDA network are progressive, forward looking and keen adding long term value to customer offerings. They understand that happy customers are essential to any growth model they choose to invest in. What also reassures me is the kind of IT investments resorts are making these days to ensure accurate transaction processing and regular customer connect.
Another encouraging trend is the profile of decision-making people at member resorts. I beginning to see younger people at key levels - which means they know, understand and can anticipate what the new age customer is looking for.
This interview is “to be continued” in one of the upcoming months.
Welcome to AIRDA's virtual tours gallery - an initiative to provide an enhanced visual experience of our member properties.
What does an AIRDA membership mean to resort owners and developers? AIRDA comes in as your industry partner, conscience keeper and business catalyst - with a wide portfolio of support services.
What does AIRDA mean to holiday seekers and prospective customers? AIRDA comes in to provide information and offer guidelines on making the right timeshare decisions.