For Aspire Lifestyles and Interval International, Strong Partnership Means Long-Term Success
The evidence of any great business partnership is obvious: long-term success through collaboration with outcomes designed to exceed customer expectations.
Since 2002, Aspire Lifestyles has been collaborating with Interval International, a leading provider of vacation service, to offer Concierge service to its approximately two million members. The goal: deepen customer loyalty and support the Interval International value proposition.
For nearly 30 years, Aspire Lifestyles has been providing its clients with high-performance Concierge programs. Aspire serves the business-to-business (B2B) market with Concierge services and customer loyalty solutions, designed to provide users with “global reach and local expertise.” Aspire Lifestyle’s full suite of services includes Concierge and loyalty solutions, custom-built benefits and experiences, customizable digital solutions, end-to-end airport services and more.
Interval International is a pioneer in the vacation ownership market, offering members from around the world a vacation exchange network of more than 3,000 resorts in more than 80 nations.
Differentiation through value
In the highly competitive industry of vacation services, Interval International has differentiated itself by providing access to its network of hundreds of quality resorts in some of the world’s most sought-after vacation destinations, its industry-leading value-added member benefits and high-touch, personal service.
“Customer service is paramount,” said Sharon Freed, Senior Vice President of Consumer Marketing for Interval. “Personalization is critical because we are a high-touch brand – and we put our brand on the line with every customer interaction.”
Aspire Lifestyles brought the differentiating value of high-touch, personal service to the table. With its combination of extensive offerings and global reach, Aspire provides a white label Concierge solution for Interval’s members.
Interval’s Gold- and Platinum-level members can turn to Interval’s VIP Concierge service for assistance in planning their vacation experiences: from getting tickets for local tours and excursions to making dinner reservations – and for those who want to stay in, even arranging for a private chef.
The Concierge also provides Interval members with discounts on services relevant to their vacation experience, such as trip planning, chauffeured transportation, global airport meet-and-greet service and global luggage delivery.
Global presence is another reason that Aspire Lifestyles is such an ideal partner to provide VIP Concierge service to Interval’s members around the globe. Because Aspire has a team of over 1,000 Concierges located in 21 markets worldwide, there is a Concierge knowledgeable about every destination where Interval has a presence. Whether an Interval International member is planning a week in Hilton Head, Hawaii, or Hong Kong, Aspire Lifestyles has Concierges who are on the ground, knowledgeable about not only local hot spots and tourist attractions, but also local customs.
“The key to the VIP Concierge program is the ability to personalize and customize experiences for our members,” said Freed. “We had to have that depth of knowledge and experience in each specific location to really make it work.”
Keys to Partnership
A 15-year partnership is significant in any business especially one that has weathered the ups and downs of the hospitality industry. The fact that Aspire and Interval continue to collaborate and thrive in a challenging market can be attributed to three basic components:
- Synergy of services. Organizationally, Aspire brings to the table elements to the table that are essential for Interval: a global reach with resources around the world; industry experience and expertise that bring knowledge and insights; and finally, what can be best described as “chemistry” – the organizations and individuals complement each other well, in terms of approach, capabilities and attitude toward collaboration.
- Defined expectations. Clear, consistent, two-way communication is vital in making sure everyone shares and understands the goals and objectives. With both organizations grounded and confident in the relationship, as well as in the strong, strategic leadership, they have the ability to evolve and bring new ideas and enhancements to better serve customers.
- Shared values. Both Aspire and Interval are companies that are deeply rooted in a commitment to outstanding customer service. Aspire understands the client vision and is able to fulfill it on an everyday basis. That familiarity, combined with positive results, creates a sense of trust between organizations and encourages them to push the envelope to bring more to the customer.
“What we appreciate most about the folks from Aspire is that they have passion, which leads to excitement and engagement,” said Freed. “They approach our business as their business – and they’re invested in our success.”
“For a successful partnership, you have to bring it all – your knowledge, your insights, your resources – and put it on the line,” said Mary Naylor, Executive Chairman of Aspire Lifestyles Americas. “With Interval, we feel we have that. Our organizations push each other to go a little further to be the best.”
Anticipating and meeting customer needs doesn’t happen by accident. Representatives from Aspire and Interval regularly meet to review results and plan forward-looking strategies. As part of the process, key performance indicators (KPIs) are reviewed and evaluated.
“Our quarterly sessions take a 360-degree view of the landscape and engage all functional areas,” said Naylor. “We have contractual KPIs to meet, but we also use them to support a proactive, long-term approach. As we interpret the results, we measure them against our priorities and begin identifying next steps and action items.”
The meetings involve multiple staff members from each organization, from day-to-day project managers to Naylor herself participating.
It was through this continual cycle of review and enhancement that a new service offering was created, through repackaging of current VIP Concierge offerings in a manner that resonated with the wants and needs of Interval’s member base.
These four new VIP Concierge offerings, from which Interval members can request in-depth guidance and specialized services, include:
- Golf Connection: The Golf Connection program offers Interval members access to some of the most prestigious golf courses in the U.S. and Canada, including nearly 900 private courses. VIP Concierges are able to help Interval members arrange everything they need from tee times to golf equipment purchases.
- Dining Connection: The Dining Connection is a collection of nearly 650 dining partners throughout the world. Dining Connection, which includes some of the hottest restaurants in the country, highlights partner restaurants that can provide Interval members with VIP treatment, special amenities and perks when reservations are made via the Concierge.
- City Guides: City Guides provide Interval members with guidance and access to distinctive local attractions in 33 markets around the world. Interval members can enjoy shopping opportunities, nightlife options and sightseeing must-sees from experts on the local scene.
- Interval Experiences®: Interval Experiences allow Interval members to exchange their vacation week/points for exciting and unique adventures. Experiences include everything from tickets to the Kentucky Derby and sailing lessons to a reindeer safari in Finland where you sleep in your own igloo.
These new offerings have ignited tremendous interest among Interval’s members: The company tracked an unprecedented uptick in web views quarter over quarter after their launch.