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Updating your vacation ownership resort software? Don’t forget your online owners and guests when choosing your next provider Why your timeshare and resort software must offer interactive websites and dynamic pages. At a time when more owners and guest expect to interact with you online, it is essential that your timeshare or resort software is able to provide and support your activities Emily Collins for Merlin Software 7/1/2011

Updating your vacation ownership resort software? Don’t forget your online owners and guests when choosing your next provider Much of the focus when choosing a new software partner for a timeshare or vacation ownership resort is on how it will help the business; does it manage different product types, can it run management fee collections, is it multi currency, does it operate reservations, track commissions and print contracts?

More owners are online and expect online services

But how often do resorts consider whether the chosen software also includes functionality that can improve the experience of owners and guests? Can your software of choice make it easier for them to interact and transact with you? Can it reduce your costs but increase your service levels? Does your software open up new and exciting e-commerce opportunities that will encourage your owners to buy or transact more with you?

A recent report stated that over 70% of the over 65’s in the UK are now online. That is sobering news for many resorts with an elderly or aging membership. And for resorts that are actively selling to a younger market, having an online presence is more than needed, it is expected – it is even a requirement. There is now more need than ever to ensure that your website and your operational software work together. Gone are the days when you can say that your owners are not computer savvy – they are and they now expect to be able to communicate with you in an online environment. A quick survey of resort websites shows that there is already a level of interactivity on many of them. A site might have an online form for owners to communicate with you for request availability for example. But technology is always moving forwards and interactivity has come a long way from a simple online form.

Research has shown that a fully interactive website with dynamic pages creates greater user interest and long-term loyalty. And this is why it is essential that your operational software can offer interactive and dynamic web pages opening a whole new world of interactivity for your owners and guests. So what are interactive websites and dynamic web pages? Simply explained this is a website with pages that allow visitors to communicate with it. Visitors are allowed to make actions related to a web page's content and these actions are live and are recorded immediately in the database of the software. So if you use email websites like AOL or Gmail, use a banking website or visit a national weather page, you are looking at a dynamic web page on an interactive website.

A sample interactive log in page from Merlin Software

As such the page responds to the needs of the user and provides relevant information to them about their ownership, payments, reservations and much more. It goes beyond just static text and graphics – and allows for a truly interactive experience with the user in control of the information he views. In many circumstances the user does the work for you. A simple example is an owner being able to view and pay their management fees. Previously they would have to send a cheque, make a bank transfer or ring a member of staff with a credit card.

With an interactive website and dynamic pages, owners can go on-line and make the payment directly to your account. Just think of the staff cost savings.

But of course, it doesn’t stop at changing contact details. With such interactivity, you can be as creative as you want. Here are just a few examples: 

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E-commerce facilities – allow your owners and rental visitors to search for live availability direct from your website, make the booking and pay the rental or reservation fee directly. Or allow them to pay for their management fees online with their credit card. Private areas - customers can be given private access to areas of the site using password protection to allow them to log in to specific information for their eyes only. They can check their ownerships, reservations and payments. They can even rent out their weeks or deposit them with an exchange company. And even tell you if they need a cot or are going to be a late arrival. Response forms – allow owners and visitors to your site to feedback straight from the page. E-mail address – click on an e-mail address and e-mail from that. Web links - have web links to other sites. These can open new windows when the user clicks them, so you don't lose the visitor. You can link to documents and videos, PDFs and larger images where detail is to be shown. You can also control the size of the new window, which opens. Image rollovers - use alternative images that show when the visitor’s mouse is placed over them. Interactive menu – automated menus allow visitors to find what they require on the site quickly and easily. JavaScript - add further features using free JavaScript - for example add current time and date, visitor data capture (counters) etc.

Guests can check their accounts, ownership and any reservations

And the best of all is your owners will not notice any difference. Your interactive pages will look just the same as any other part of your website. And it is secure too.

For the technically minded the web page server accesses your live database of information, searching for what the owner has requested. Once the information is found it is brought back to the webpage and displayed. So a simple question is: Does your current software provide you with pre-built interactive pages that you can modify to your own requirements and style to reflect your web design? If it can’t then it might be time to look elsewhere. Merlin Software provides a complete, single software solution for today’s resort and timeshare business from single timeshare weeks to complex rotational fractional ownership and destination clubs. They are also leaders in cloud computing technology for the timeshare industry and have been for over 10 years. But it now offers so much more than sales, marketing and operational functionality. Many of Merlin’s clients are already benefiting from using Merlin’s interactive and dynamic pages allowing their owners to have more access and control over their ownership, reservations and payments. Not only does this reduce the costs of customer service but it also means that owners have access to their accounts at any time of the day.

With Merlin Software the data that owners and guests see and access comes from the resort’s live business database. So it is real time data allowing owners and guests to transact online with transactions written directly to the live database. Interactive websites and dynamic pages allow users to feel a greater sense of control or ownership over the sites they visit, which can create user communities and help users find useful information more quickly and easily. Resorts can keep track of what information is being accessed, see how their site is being used and with this knowledge improve and expand their site in a way that benefits their owners. So, when choosing your next software provider don’t buy outdated technology. Make sure that it is one single piece of software that drives all of your business and client requirements seamlessly. Today there is no need to bring different software together to make one solution. One software solution exists and is the norm today. It really is a win, win situation – and Merlin has the magic to make it happen. To find out more visit and request a demo. Follow us on Facebook at Resources: rd Margo Upson "Dynamic webpages” wiseGEEK. 23 June 2011., G.Wiesen “Interactive rd websites” wiseGeek 23 June 2011.

Updating your resort software? Don’t forget your online owners when choosing your next provider  
Updating your resort software? Don’t forget your online owners when choosing your next provider  

In an online world it is essential that timeshare and fractional resorts have software that supports interactive websites and dynamic pages....