Customized Experiences

Customized Experiences 2

You can have your star moment and vacation too.

By Mike Flaskey

For several years, the hospitality sector has been undergoing an interesting shift. A world that was once so heavily tied to physical real estate has moved to an experiential model where in order to stay competitive, companies have turned their focus to developing products that offer unique experiences tailored to a guest’s specific interests.

High-quality amenities and accommodations no longer set an organization apart in a consumer’s mind as they once did. We are forced to innovate not only to thrive, but also to survive.

‘Think Outside the Box’

In order to find success, organizations must be willing to take some amount of risk. The vacation ownership industry has always been very specific and traditional in what it offers. In 2013, it’s unlikely that many people would include “celebrities” or “concert series” as a part of their definition of timeshare. But when Diamond Resorts launched its Events of a Lifetime® platform a year later, we knew we had found something special.

Through the platform, our Diamond Resorts members have the opportunity to attend New York Yankees games with Hall of Famer Reggie Jackson, take golf lessons from LPGA professional Brittany Lincicome or enjoy a private concert with country music stars Dan + Shay or Cole Swindell. The events are truly once-in-a-lifetime experiences that members can’t buy, but before the platform could grow to the success it is today, we had to start with what we knew.

Know Your Audience

Customized Experiences 1Diamond’s members and guests are not only diverse in their interests, but they span multiple generations. However, common threads are still present, and research has shown that traveler’s expectations have evolved to crave experiences, vacation flexibility and activity choices.

For our first test event, we decided to tap into my connections in the sports world and partnered with PGA Tour professional Brian Gay, who had recently won the fan-voted PGA Tour Player of the Month, beating out competitors like Tiger Woods. We invited 30 of our members to a private dinner with Brian where they could meet and get to know him on a personal level. The next day, we took the members to the Arnold Palmer Invitational where they were able to watch Brian compete. On the third day, the group attended an update presentation to learn more about Diamond and our latest products. What we saw was immediate success because we had provided an answer to our members’ desire.

Scale, But Stay True to Your Brand

Rapid success can come with rapid failure. When creating a program that has clear potential, be cautious not to leave behind other sub-sets of the loyal member base. Catering to different interests means recruiting industry professionals who can think outside of the box.

It’s a constant journey of figuring out how to expand a platform in a way that provides new value and multigenerational appeal. At the same time, it’s important to stay true to your brand promise. At Diamond, we were fortunate to expand from sports to country music and more. After four years, we have been lucky to see fantastic success and in 2017, held more than 3,000 events, including Diamond Live concerts, comedy shows, private dinners and exclusive experiences.

Successful ideas boil down to smart research, as it should always help guide direction. Understanding external influences should serve as the foundation to seeing the long-term achievement, no matter how far out in left field the idea may seem.

Mike Flaskey, CEO of Diamond Resorts, has more than 20 years of senior leadership experience in public and privately held companies, with a key focus on growth-oriented companies within the vacation ownership industry. He previously held the position of executive vice president and chief sales and marketing officer for Diamond Resorts from 2014 to 2016, and executive vice president of sales and marketing, North America for Diamond Resorts from 2010 to 2014. Throughout Flaskey’s tenure at Diamond Resorts, the company has achieved unprecedented growth both organically and through strategic acquisition integration.

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