Mastering the Podium: Opening & Welcome

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This week marks my six month working with vacation clubs and I’ve had some amazing opportunities thus far. I’ve had the privilege of (1) learning from executives and functional employees at countless clubs, (2) sitting in on both podiums and signing ceremonies at many of said clubs, and (3) attending informative industry events like AMDETUR, ARDA, and VO-CON. True to hospitality norms, all have been enjoyable and welcoming experiences.

As a thank you for the welcome I’ve received: I’d like to start giving back to the community by periodically sharing learnings from my travels–particularly as it relates to vacation club sales operations, podiums, and contract closings.

To kick this off, I’ll be summarizing some best practices I’ve seen from the masters of the podium in a three-part blog series: from their welcome, to the body of their appeal, to their closing remarks. For today, here are some of the best practices I’ve seen from podium masters as they open their podiums and welcome visitors:

  • Greet each visitor – Presenters that I’ve seen get encouraging participation typically take time to work the room before their podium, briefly introduce themselves to visitors, and begin to commit visitors’ names to memory for use later on. In mastering the practice of committing names to memory I’m reminded of a passage from Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends & Influence People: “Remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language”. This effort to work the room is a great time for the presenter to begin reading into each visitor’s psyche to understand which visitors they can rely on for participation and which may need a little extra love.
  • Open up the room – Within the introduction, it proves wise to begin to open up visitors by getting them to talk briefly about their visit. Great prompts might include asking about: (1) birthdays, (2) anniversaries, (3) plans for their visit, (4) what their kids are excited about, (5) memories/blunders from the road trip or (6) what they’re escaping. This serves the dual benefit of (A) empowering your visitors to share what they are proud about and (B) gets them to begin actively participating in a dialogue with you.  Referring back to the importance of names: it always seems to open up the room a little faster when the presenter can use the names they gathered to call on otherwise passive visitors and get them participating. This is also a good time for any accompanying sales agents to begin surveying which visitors seem eager to join the club and which would rather be elsewhere.
  • Build agreeance and common ground – Of course, the end goals of the podium are (A) to get the visitor excited about the benefits of becoming an owner/member in your club and (B) to act on that excitement by signing on as an owner/member. One of the ways you can get them excited about their desire to say yes to joining up is by getting them to say yes to other things they are likely excited about: (1) “Are you happy to be here?”, (2)  “Are you happy the kids are worn out at the end of the day?”, (3) “Are you happy that [insert something topical, humorous, and non-political that happened]?”, and, if the room is cold, a sarcastic (4) “Are you at least happy to be alive?” has shown to get a few laughs. Yes is such an important word in developing any relationship, as each yes is a permission to move forward and progress that relationship. Look for opportunities to cultivate agreeance and begin to build common ground with your visitors.

That’s it for today. Next post: I’ll begin to breakdown some of the best practices I’ve seen in terms of using Aristotle’s three modes of appeal during the podium and then move into tips for strong podium finishes. I hope you find something of value throughout the series and, of course, please drop me a line if you have any questions or feedback.

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