ORLANDO, Fla. — Timeshare company Wyndham Destinations used to greet potential buyers with paper clipboards and pens.
And carbon copy paper in triplicate.
A year ago, it retooled its touring process with Salesforce, and hands guests iPads where they can input information at the beginning of a tour. Data flows into the customer relationship management (CRM) platform, where it can help smooth out workflows and offer business insights.
"It's a completely different experience," said Brad Dettmer, EVP and CIO at Wyndham Destinations, speaking Tuesday at the Gartner IT Symposium/Xpo. "We’ve taken the old timeshare process from the 70s to real life."
One clear stat the company can see, and monitors in real time, is conversion rate. After a potential lead's first tour of a property, Wyndham makes a sale 8% of the time. If a customer returns for a second tour, that number jumps to 35%.
Wyndham Destination's experience with data analytics and customer journey mapping is part of a broader trend of the digital age, where virtually no business process is left untouched by the rise of digitally-savvy consumers and the evolution of business tools.
Players who fail to respond quickly enough are at risk of suffering the same fate as Blockbuster or BlackBerry, as digitally-native competitors encroach.
Salesforce's market strategy relies on its platform's ability to make companies rethink how they do business by bundling capabilities such as CRM, AI and low-code under one system.
Innovations from companies including Amazon, Google or Facebook have collectively set a new bar for the experiences technology offers, whether that's in B2B or B2C, said Jeff Hickman, area VP at Salesforce, speaking at the Gartner IT Symposium/Xpo.
"We're all chasing this standard that has been set," Hickman said.
For Wyndham, digital onboarding of timeshare sales helps streamline a messy process for anxious customers, who often take pause due to the size of the investment.
"It's been a really good journey for us," Dettmer said onstage, though he admits the company still needs to expand its usage of the platform's capabilities.
And then the exec was candid.
"Now, the challenge is to use the rest to justify the cost." The audience laughed, then applauded.
"Listen, Salesforce is not cheap," Dettmer later told CIO Dive. "So you better use your full licenses, or your ROI goes out of the water. We need to expand our use of it, otherwise we can't justify it."
The next priorities for Wyndham include expanding use of data analytics, introducing new strategies to mine customer data and getting the IT team to deploy Salesforce's low-code capabilities to build new applications.
Currently, they're built in-house from scratch, in Java. But the appeal of retooling that initial customer touchpoint remains.
"It's about the experience, baby," Dettmer said.