Fraud and Deception at Wyndham Vacation Ownership

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A NEGATIVE AND PUNISHING CULTURE
I've been fortunate. Life is punishing - we all get injured, become sick, lose loved ones, and eventually die. How we deal with these challenges defines us. And, I've been fortunate. I've learned faith. Life ultimately doesn't work out, but it's an awesome ride!

I've also been surrounded by winners all my life: whiners or winners, that pretty much sums up life. This doesn't mean we always won. We didn't. This doesn't mean I expect to always win - I don't ... ok, maybe I'm lying there. I guess I do always expect to win. LOL That's part of what defines me. Yet I'm tempered with humility, as well as pragmatism. It's okay to fail. Michael Jordan missed over 9,000 shots in his illustrious career. I would give just about anything to have missed 9,000 shots in the NBA. More important though, maybe there's no failure: maybe the concept of failure is an illusion.

Talking with a group of coworkers after my friend, MovieStar, wasn't able to close her deal (I call her MovieStar because she's the most gracious and giving person I've ever met), there were sad faces around the table. I posed this question: Why think of these sessions in terms of win v. lose? How about win v. learn? Interested reaction from the others. We will see a tour like this again. What did we learn from this? How do we get stronger for next time?

This is how I was raised. We were a basketball family. I was born while my father played college ball. He tried a few pro circuits and retired to coach. I starting shooting in my crib. If I missed, someone gave the ball right back to me, encouraged me, and instructed me to do it again. "Do, try not. Do or do not. There is no try." thanks Master Yoda Over and over; repetition ... yet with immediate positive feedback and encouragement, these are critical to learning. Whatever you want to teach, follow these simple steps and your student will be successful.

This positive environment is missing with Wyndham. The agent gets the NO (expected), but the support isn't there. The first step is positive feedback. It's okay to miss - but alow the student to learn why they missed. A teacher can "tell" you: "you shouldda, shouldda, shouldda." Or students can see for themselves. Athletes get to watch video playback ... most amazing thing how the mind's eye works. I remember the first video session I had as a player. We had won the game, enjoyed a fantastic celebration and after party, went to sleep on the Top of the Hill. Yet the next day Coach played back the game. Yipe!!! Last night, I remembered only the success highlights. Video doesn't lie. Look at all the mistakes! And, I was a newbie ... whew, I had made so many. Yes, humility lies deep in athletes! Not only do we see our mistakes, over and over and over, but they're posted on megatrons and TVs around the globe. There is no escape. If one lives the attitude: win v. lose, they don't survive. You must learn to see life as win v. learn. Wyndham's system simply makes it difficult to learn.

RE: CORRECTIVE ACTION FOR SCOTT GOOLD

Yep, that's what I saw across the computer screen as I rushed to coordinate tour strategy with my manager. The computer was visible to most in the area and the area was crowded with managers and coworkers. I was working an intense deal - there was some positive energy on the table. I needed to brief my manager about the tour: give him a quick summary of their needs, our talking points, and pricing strategy. The memo was distracting to both of us at a critical time. We needed to be working the deal.

DoS Rackley called us in immediately after the tour departed. I was adrenaline-filled and deep in concentration. The tour had closed me. I was trying to replay my weaknesses, focus on openings I missed, and begin the process of learning from the experience. I would be quicker, smarter, stronger next time. "You got two POORS now on exit surveys. This is unacceptable!" he said. "What did I do?" I responded. "Doesn't matter. Don't let it happen again!" I was flabbergasted and unsure how to accept this information. "What should I do to correct this?" I asked. "This tour wrote, 'three hours. too long'," the DoS pointed out. "OK, I'll be quicker but I didn't handcuff anyone to their chair. When was this tour? Why did they stay that long?" I asked. DoS, "Doesn't matter. It's perception. If they mark it as poor, it is." He showed me the second one. They wrote I had "insulted their intelligence." I thought it might be related to a tour I had recently, but it wasn't an official tour of mine. I had been called in to assist. I wouldn't be the rated Agent on that tour. I had no idea what I had done wrong.

How does one learn from this? There's too little information to help one correct their shortcoming. There isn't anything positive in such feedback. It's just a negative sledgehammer.

As I thought back over the past week, I could only come up with one tour that might have made the "too long" comment. They were a cute couple from Canada, who were working (actually starving) as actors in LA. They hoped to soon receive citizenship. We connected well. As an athlete, I trained in LA and had done a number of commercial spots. All of us knew the challenges of professional entertainment. They respected my stories because I knew "the bidness" of Hollywood, as insiders like to say. This earned me credibility with the two and we talked a long time.

Yet that morning, the Specialist Presenter gave the training. Teamed with my manager, they instructed us to "Get out of our comfort zones to where the magic happens." And, for today, this meant to get the tour to complete their credit application prior to showing prices. Yes, this was outside my comfort zone. In my experience, asking for the app too soon can break a deal. One can ask people many different personal questions, but asking how much money they have or about their credit history evokes a lot of emotion. To many people, it's a measure of their success. I preferred to wait until they were more realistic and excited about buying - generally, this occurred after we had some discussion of pricing. At this point, tours simply asked to know the best pricing and willingly completed the application. Yet I wanted to comply with my manager's directive and give it a try.

After my presentation, they saw excellent value in Wyndham ownership. Money was their concern. I "got them in the picture" using a couple examples. We talked so long, as I had really learned their lives. I asked, "Bob, let's say you land an audition in NYC in a week. You can put costs on your credit card, maybe at a bad time financially, or use some prepaid Wyndham points. Which would make it less stressful for you?" He saw my point. "Susan, let's say you land a serious part. You need quiet time to practice and prep. That will be hard in the confines of your apartment and regular environment. Wouldn't it be great to jump in the car, head up to Big Bear or a secluded resort ... just get away, and rehearse?" This caught her attention. I talked with them about considering our packages, not simply as vacations, but business investments in their careers. "How badly do you want to succeed?" I questioned.

I would have preferred to leave the table at this point; have them look at the Dream book for a couple minutes, while I gathered pricing information with my manager. Yet I jumped out of my "comfort zone." I asked, "Let's do this. Complete this credit inquiry and I'll be able to show you our best prices." HUGE MISTAKE

What if they believe or know they have poor credit? Then, I will return with LESS than our best offer. Second, I might learn they are struggling or have fallen down on payments previously. This request made them sensitive. Their immediate reaction was to close down. The male answered. "No. I don't want to do that. My credit's not that good." He became insecure. I responded, "I wouldn't worry. I'm sure you will be excellent." Yet he was uncomfortable now. He didn't want to go further. Maybe this is getting them "real," as trainers like to say, but it created a paradox. As I had asked them to complete the app, and they said NO, how do I show pricing, as management demanded.

Using my method, I simply left the table, didn't bring up actual pricing or the credit app, and returned with the packages I wanted to show. They couldn't say NO, because I hadn't asked them. For me, this flowed more naturally and left people comfortable. Reversing this created an awkward tension. And, when I said, "let me just show you pricing," they said NO to that as well. I had lost them.

Yet my manager demanded we show prices. Tours were not to leave without being shown at least one package. He wanted to be on every table for this step. I excused myself, grabbed my manager, and briefed him. He said he wanted to stop by. He selected a couple starter packages and returned with me to the table. "You remember my inventory manager, Paul? We found a couple excellent options for you. Give him a minute to show you these fantastic specials."

Totally pissed them off! I had betrayed them, as we had connected intimately. I had earned their respect and a bit of friendship in a short time. Yet they had asked me not to do something. Not only had I failed to respect them in return, I brought in a SR agent. I was double-teaming them now. The guy withdrew from the table, slumped back in his seat, folded his arms, and fumed.

The woman politely paid attention but we gained nothing positive. I had been inspiring; now I was a Vegas or Mexico hard-sell timeshare peddler. My manager talked and I diminshed in shame. The chemistry was poisoned. I'm sure they rated me poorly. I was sad. I wrote to Suki, "What do we do when managers deviate from protocol?" I tried to get lunch with him to discuss, but our schedules never permitted.

Ultimately, I was the one in trouble - for following management's directives. DoS Rackley didn't want to know the WHY behind the rating. When training about selling, he emphasized again and again the importance of asking WHY. "Dig deep," he urged. "Get to the second and third levels with your tour," he always added. Yep, more Wyndham double speak. Act and behave this way with clients, yet treat your own personnel - the human beings who are keeping this multi-billion dollar global company running - as maggots. He told me not to pass blame, "Just don't do it again!" FINE! I promise not to listen to managers again, I thought to myself. That's the Wyndham way ... a system of negativity.

And, please don't misinterpret my comments. The people I worked with were talented and committed. My managers were fantastic sales agents. They simply were inexperienced trainers and managers. Imagine being coached by Michael Jordan. He hands the ball to you. "OK, simple drill. Start at the opposite free throw line. Dribble the length of the court. Take off from the foul line and dunk the ball."

As much as I wanted, I could never Be Like Mike -- Mike Jordan or Mike Rackley. This doesn't suggest failure. We're all different. This is why Wyndahm said they hired us: because we are unique and different. Einstein put it best, "Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid."

Wyndham's negative evaluation system left agents feeling stupid. What a shame! What a waste of human potential and money.