April 1, 2012

I just got back from Cancun, Mexico. The last time I was there was the late 70’s when I was an airline executive and was asked by the Mexican government to evaluate flying there. I remember they wanted us (Western Airlines) to fly daily from Los Angeles (135 people a day), but the area only had about 230 hotel rooms. The government told me that they were 100% committed to making Cancun the #1 beach resort in Mexico. I said thanks, but no thanks; there was no way we could provide daily service unless we wanted to encourage people to sleep on the beach! Well, I should have listened. Returning 30+ years later was eye-opening. They don’t have 230 rooms anymore. They now have 230 hotels with 29,000 rooms. Plus, almost every airline I can think of flies there.

While in Cancun I also checked out timeshares. The Cancun Palace (proposed Hard Rock Hotel) presentation was a shocking improvement over the last one I attended ten years ago. It was respectfully and compelling with nice people. I followed up this presentation with another and it was a terrible experience. Disrespectfully, long (three hours) and pretty darn unpleasant. The style of this one hadn’t changed in a decade.

My trip reminded me of two principles in my book. First, that it is hard to predict the future, so you always need to be focused on embracing grand visions.  Unfortunately, I simply couldn’t envision what Cancun would become, the most popular and most expensive beach resort in Mexico. Second, reflecting on my timeshare experience, doing what you have done in the past is a receipt for failure since your customer is changing all the time.

So, next time someone presents a new idea that sounds totally unreasonable, take a moment to think to yourself, will it be outlandish in 30 years? And also take a look at your sales approach today. Make sure you change it before your customers reach the future before you do.

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