Fraud and Deception at Wyndham Vacation Ownership

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MIKE RACKLEY: WYNDHAM EQUAL TO APPLE
One thing at which I grew more effective from working with Wyndham is how to create value. I'm a good writer and witnessed how my coworkers and I were treated unfairly and unprofessionally. In my opinion at this point, Wyndham is deceptive and there is value in getting this information to the public. Future applicants need to know. Potential customers should know the "behind the scenes" reality of this large commercial enterprise. How Wyndham treats their sales staff says a lot about their underlying culture.

Wyndham makes a Count on Me promise ... Treat People Respectful In Every Way! I bought into this. My coworkers did as well. Yet this global corporation isn't respectful to the sales staff. Wyndham managers talk endlessly about the importance of family. How is it now for our family with me unemployed during the Christmas and holiday season? Wyndham had no choice but to fire me? This simply doesn't make sense. I didn't even get 90 tours. A significant number should have been disqualified. Wyndham didn't give me VPG credit for two sweet deals. I made those happen and this was well known. My skill added four happy new owners to the Wyndham family. Yet Wyndham's flawed accounting system robbed me of this credit and success. With accurate, fair measurement, I would be working today.

And, had I been working like superstar sales agent, Mike Rackley, who repeatedly told us he didn't get a sale until after 90 tours, I might have found my stride. I was close on so many deals and was connecting strongly with people. I was creating solid value about Wyndham and vacation services. In a basketball analogy, I was taking good shots, and they were falling deep into the basket yet rimming out. My attempts though were not "air balls." Experienced, quality coaches encourage more shots. They see talent and potential and work to fine tune their player. They do not cut him from the team - especially if he works hard, has a good attitude, and continues to show initiative.

For the previous two months, I was getting close on many deals but coming up short. As I was close, I asked for a ride-along. I wanted someone to study me - not simply observe for a minute or two here or there but throughout the entire tour. Yet this did not happen. Finally, my manager rode along on November 26th. My client was a single guy, about 30. He was a farmer and Jehovah Witness from Iowa. I came from potato country in Idaho and know farmers well. My Jehovah Witness friends stop by our home frequently to minister and drop off their publication, Awake! This is connection! I had made a friend. Yet being alone, he wanted to talk with his father before committing. I got permission for a B-Back. He was serious and completed his credit application. Decent credit.

I texted my manager later: "Thanks for the ride along. Appreciate your time. Had a DR appt @ 3:45 and had to rush off. Enjoy the turkey tomorrow!"

His response: "You as well, I'll put it together and give you some feedback. That might be a deal. : )" I never received rhe results and feedback from my manager's ride along. We were off for the holiday. He had an extended break. I was fired after my next tour. This summarizes the Wyndham training program. I begged and pleaded for training. Didn't happen!

On the other hand, my manager witnessed the entire tour; saw the value I created. We were close to a deal. Yet it's a challenging tour: single guy, not a lot of money, and didn't vacation regularly. It's kind of lonely for a single guy with extremely conservative values to stay in Kaua'i Beach Villas. He's not the type of person who frequents bars or nightclubs. It's not much fun to attend a luau alone. I was trying to "get him in the picture" commenting how fun it would be to take his bride on their honeymoon one day using Wyndham points; or imagine bringing your kids and wife back here in ten years to vacation and make memories. I told him about the Jehovah Witness Hall at the north end of Kapa'a. Suggested he visit ... he might meet a nice girl. He was shy but liked that. We laughed.

That was my Wednesday, pre-Thanksgiving, tour. Director of Sales Rackley demanded we work Friday. It was my day off. I agreed though. I told him I would work because I had no family on island and it was more important for my coworkers with family to have that time together. Although I came in on my day off, I sat there for about five hours - no tour! Nothing to do but sit there. Wyndham doesn't even pay us. We draw from future sales.

In the morning sales meeting, someone asked Rackley about Black Friday specials. He arrogantly answered, "Wyndham doesn't need to give specials. We're like Apple. Apple doesn't give bargains. They have so much value people are happy to pay full price." I couldn't believe what I just heard. Does this sales director know anything about Apple? I'm a "power user" with Apple products. I directed a Mac-based research lab. I'm also a major Apple investor and follow the company closely. They have specials for the holidays, back-to-school, etc. More importantly, Apple spends billions in marketing each year. This strategy took them from a "little company that would never amount too much," as Michael Dell famously stated in the late 1990s, to one of the Most Admired Companies in the world. Apple has branded billions of consumers today. Wyndham doesn't yet have a million owners and has to pay people to attend a sales presentation. Rackley compares Wyndham to Apple?

Since I had so much free time that morning, I visited Apple's website. They had a new homepage and featured "specials" linked to their Inspi(red) product line. I showed it to my manager, "Yes, DoS Rackley, even Apple gets in the game on Black Friday." We didn't and no-shows were extremely high that day. That's why I didn't get a tour. Marketing had tours scheduled; that's why management needed extra personnel. Yet Rackley didn't compete. There were more exciting offers elsewhere. It was a cloudy and rainy day but people could visit us another time. Buyers follow shiny lights. It's basic shopper psychology. If you enjoy shopping and buying, and Shop A offers BIG deals today, while Shop B highlights no deals and you can get the same thing tomorrow, people visit Shop A today. It's that simple.

Black Friday specials were creating excitement and urgency throughout the nation. Rackley arrogantly told us Wyndham didn't need to compete. I sat there wasting my day. I don't believe FrontLine agents got a deal. The energy in the building was dismal. Management BLAMES the sales agents. I was simply thankful I didn't get a tour. I sat there and watched talented agents strike out. The energy in the building was dismal! That's not the fault of the sales team ... that's management's job.

The bottom line at Wyndham is they fire some 90% of the sales force, as our manager reported. As Rackley likes to compare timeshare sales to the NFL, let me use a sports analogy here. Imagine you're hired to coach the world champion Seahawks. Yet at the end of your first season, you've fired 90% of the players and have a 14% winning percentage. What does the General Manager do? One doesn't need to be a brain surgeon to know this answer. The GM fires the coach! The NFL doesn't throw away talent like they do at Wyndham. It's not because they are protective of personal feelings or devoted to compassion ... they're a business - just as Wyndham is a business. They are dedicated to winning because winning makes money. And, NFL teams win more with more experienced players. They nurture and develop talent.

So, all things equal, consider two agents: one has been with the sales team for two years, the other two months. Who do you want on your team? Most people choose the individual with more experience. Wyndham's process sheds agents. They are constantly hiring. This wastes money and destroys talent. Such a process also creates a negative and fearful environment. Under this pressure, agents are incentivized to "cut corners." They may embellish features or benefits. They may actually lie about products or services. A manager explained the system to me this way, "You can be fired poor or fired rich. Which do you choose?"

A confident company does not act this way. Winning NFL teams do not; Apple surely does not. Why then does Wyndham? The talent was amazing. Our front desk staff was second to none. I adored coming to work each morning to be alohs greeted by Noelani, Tabatha, Kave and Lena. My coworkers were some of the most talented people I have ever met. They were highly motivated, driven, personable and ready to do the impossible. Let a great coach direct this team, put us in the White House, for example, and we would revolutionize the entire world. How hard is it then for a team like this to sell vacation and travel dreams? With positive, skilled management, this team wouldn't have a 14% close rate and lose 90% of the talent.