Westgate Resorts was looking for a digital transformation of its entire contracting process. The company sells approximately 80,000 timeshares and other vacation membership contracts each year, so efficient closings are paramount.
The vacation ownership leader wanted to enhance its sales processing experience to provide better, faster, and more pleasant experiences for its members and sales staff, while also reducing time spent in the sales and closing rooms. Westgate understood the move to digital would help eliminate the inefficient process of mailing paper contracts to clients, would be embraced by millennials, as well as eliminate costs accrued by providing paper contract copies to clients at signing and closing documents on CD, as required by some states.
However, Westgate knew the full value of digital transaction management went beyond eSignature. As the creation and transfer of contracts is a key business process within the vacation ownership industry, it was essential for Westgate Resorts to find a legally binding solution that provided a complete audit trail throughout the lifecycle of their contracts. Their speed and functionality requirements demanded a fully digital solution for contract management.
Westgate Resorts also envisioned an opportunity to become a pioneer in digital mortgages, and positioning itself as a technology leader in the eyes of consumers, regulators, and investors. While lending technology and practices have evolved rapidly in recent years, mortgages have remained locked in antiquated processes that do not meet the expectations of the marketplace.
Through a collaboration between eOriginal, Inc. (eOriginal®) and DocuSign, Inc. (DocuSign®), and system integration experts, Informa Software, Westgate Resorts implemented a complete end-to-end digital solution in May 2014 for their entire business processes: from sales presentations through customer contract execution, county recording and securitization – while providing a secure vaulted management of all documentation and signed contracts and loans.
To date, there are no known players in this industry that have implemented such a comprehensive digital solution that touches as many areas of their business.
The Buyer Experience
Today, when a Westgate Resorts closing agent sits down with a buyer, he or she brings a Microsoft Surface Pro 3 and a Surface 3 to the table, a presenter tablet and a signer tablet. Both run eDocs, a custom electronic closing application for Westgate Resorts, which provides workflow, electronic signature support, and document security. The agent and buyer walk through the documents together, with the buyer signing digitally where appropriate.
While the buyer is signing one document on his device, the agent is pulling up the next while also monitoring the buyer’s progress. The closing agent maintains complete control of the process, commanding both the buyer’s focus and the signing activity. When the process is complete, Westgate Resorts provides the buyer with a copy of all the signed contracts on either a USB drive or a CD.
When the closing is complete, the agent also hands the buyer his or her very own Westgate Resorts–branded tablet to take home. With a Westgate Resorts tablet in every owner’s home, the company uses Microsoft Azure Notification Hub to push notifications to them throughout the year—about special events in their region, cruise offers, and special vacation packages.
Understanding the Back-End All-Digital Solution
The all-digital solution provides a seamless buyer experience in a secure environment with access to all documents. Customer service and sales efficiency are improved by having a signing experience that is optimized for mobile and tablet devices for both the buyer and seller, complete with notarization capabilities. Integration with the DocuSign Connect feature adds advanced electronic signing and sharing functionality, enabling real-time updates to external applications on the status of transactions, including the contents of document field forms.
Contract signing is reduced from hours to minutes by eliminating the lag of snail mail and hard-copy document management. The company has improved experiences by significantly reducing customer wait times, cost and potential human error when preparing, faxing, mailing and receiving contracts. In addition, integration with DocuSign Connect increases visibility into the signing process with real-time contract tracking and streamlines this area of the company’s workflow.
As the creation and transfer of contracts is a key business process within the vacation ownership industry, it was essential for Westgate Resorts to find a legally binding solution that provided a complete audit trail throughout the lifecycle of their contracts. Their speed and functionality requirements demanded a fully digital solution for contract management.
Westgate Resorts manages risk through eOriginal’s eAsset® Management Platform with a secure path to manage Electronic Original® documents throughout their lifecycle, ensuring the ability to pledge, sell, and securitize eAssets.
The all-digital solution also eliminates third-party transaction fees and provides continuous integration for county official records. The fully-digital solution complies with state notary and management requirements, in addition to providing an in-depth profile of the document’s history from inception.
The Impact of Innovation: Company Operations
Savings: Westgate Resorts estimates that it will reduce paper-related costs by more than $680,000—the cost of buying, printing, shipping, and storing 1.8 million sheets of paper annually.
Reduce Rescissions: “New owner tablets may also reduce rescissions. These give-away tablets enable communication with new owners during the rescission period and affirm to them the value of their purchase,” says John Willman, Treasurer and Vice President of Mortgage Services at Westgate Resorts. “They can also use the tablet to show off their new property to friends and family and stay excited.” Westgate Resorts will hand out 50,000 owner tablets each year and will encourage its 350,000 existing property owners to download the owner application to their personal Windows based devices so that they, too, can engage continuously with the company.
“By replacing our paper-based closing process and marketing efforts with Windows-based mobile solutions, we’ve made our sales closing process far more efficient and our relationship with our customers far richer,” Willman says.
Digital Securitization: By proving its security and meeting stringent legal requirements, Westgate earned the confidence of its financial partner and completed its first digital securitization transaction. This required the integration of a full transaction lifecycle system that met the standards for the Uniform Electronic Transaction Act (UETA), the Federal Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act (ESIGN), as well as the Uniform Commercial Code (UCC) Article 9. Combined, these laws and codes set the standards for electronic documents to be pooled, sold, securitized and collateralized.
The Impact of Innovation: Staff
Expedite the Close: The ease of use extends to sales reps. With a click of a button, they can instantly – and securely – submit credit applications with no redundant data entry. This allows financing to be secured faster and more efficiently than current funding processes because it’s 100 percent digital. Previously, preparing these documents took time, which slowed down the process and tested buyers’ patience.
Transmission is faster – meaning less waiting and faster funding. Access to capital improves. Less time is spent on each deal. Faster, smoother deal processes result in fewer hold-ups, fewer kinks in the close, and more deals realized. More completed deals equals more sales.
Reduce Errors: One reason for the expedited close is the reduction of errors. With its new electronic closing process, Westgate Resorts has greatly reduced errors such as missing signatures. For the staff, this eliminates the time and potential human error of hard-copy document management by eradicating the process of printing, scanning, faxing and mailing paper contracts. Not only does it provide greater ease for the sales staff, but it ultimately makes for a happier customer.
Communication and Upsell Opportunity: When the closing is complete, the agent hands the buyer his or her very own Westgate Resorts–branded tablet to take home. This tablet is preloaded with a custom Windows Universal Application. Users use the tablets to manage their resort ownership, browse the resort catalog, and learn more about resort services. Previously, Westgate Resorts presented new owners with a leather-bound portfolio full of printed marketing collateral. However, this portfolio typically ended up on a shelf at home, where it collected dust.
Consequently, the only time Westgate Resorts had contact with owners was when their payments were due or when they visited the resort once a year. With a Westgate Resorts tablet in every owner’s home, the company uses Microsoft Azure Notification Hub to push notifications to them throughout the year—about special events in their region, cruise offers, and special vacation packages. That’s not all. Westgate Resorts captures anonymous owner interactions with the owner application using Microsoft Azure Event Hubs and uses other Azure big-data services to analyze the data and determine which communications owners are clicking on and how much time they’re spending on them.
Westgate Resorts has achieved a new level of interaction with property owners throughout the year with the addition of Westgate Resorts-branded tablets, building a far richer customer relationship and enabling better customer engagement.
The Impact of Innovation: Industry
The Dawn of Digital Mortgage: Westgate Resorts is changing the face of purchasing vacation ownership and upending traditional mortgage industry practices. The company is leading the way for the adoption of fully digital non-MERS mortgage solutions across the industry. Today, Westgate Resorts has enabled over 42,000 digital mortgage contracts completed.
Technology integration into the mortgage process, whether for timeshare ownership or traditional homeownership, not only empowers greater consumer understanding when going through the purchasing process, but can enable automated, fully digital mortgage processes with audit trails for every document involved with every transaction. This ensures secure management of documents and loans throughout the entire loan process, from loan execution through to post-life cycle management.
Furthermore, by going digital, Westgate Resorts confidently meets required jurisdictional regulations and standards, such as Fair Lending Act; Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act; Truth in Lending Act – Reg Z; Home Mortgage Disclosure Act – Reg C; Unfair, Deceptive or Abusive Acts or Practices – Reg AA; Reg A&B (2017).
By adopting digital mortgage practices, Westgate Resorts is securing a premier role in the market and attracting new potential buyers by responding to the pressure for digital business processes from consumers and regulators. Westgate Resorts innovation is shaping the future of the vacation ownership/timeshare industry and making digital mortgage an industry standard.
Improved Customer Experience: Incorporation of mobile and advanced technology takes the vacation ownership industry into the 21st century. Vacation ownership companies are famous for their immersive sales processes and customer courtships. This white-glove treatment attracts clients with sleek invitations, free luxurious accommodations, captivating presentations on the golf course and the like. Client prospects are treated like guests.
Digitally closing deals preserves the elegance and luxury of the moment for the customer while positioning the vacation ownership company as cutting edge. Westgate Resorts is leading the industry in a digital transformation that will have lasting effects as a result of its innovation.
Rather than interrupting the ambiance with burdensome paper contracts, modern vacation ownership companies are increasingly initiating the closing process on an iPad or other mobile device and making it as simple as splitting the dinner tab. Sales reps offer the option of having hard copies delivered to the client’s suite or having the contracts emailed to them, while also adding that the documents can be securely accessed anytime online.
Meeting the Millennial Digital Demands: Incorporation of mobile and advanced technology not only meets, but exceeds the digital demands of the millennials. If implemented correctly, this opens up new market share opportunities for the vacation ownership industry.
According to ARDA’s Shared Vacation Ownership Study, modern timeshare buyers are younger, more diverse, and wealthier than ever. These new owners are about ten years younger. Roughly 39% of these owners are Gen Xers and 30% are millennials, which makes the median age of a timeshare buyer about 39 years old. Moreover, these millennials expect to use technology. An Expedia survey revealed that 82% of people under 30 own and use smartphones in their day-to-day activities.
About Westgate Resorts:
Westgate Resorts is one of the largest timeshare and hospitality companies in the United States with more than 13,500 villas and 28 resorts in seven states. Founded by President and CEO David Siegel in 1982, Westgate Resorts operates as a subsidiary of Central Florida Investments, Inc. (CFI), which employs 10,000 people and has expanded into the largest privately held corporations in the Central Florida area. With humble beginnings, Westgate Resorts started with a 16-unit resort at Westgate Vacation Villas. More than 30 years later, Westgate Resorts now encompasses more than 13,500 villas at 28 beautiful resorts in premiere travel destinations throughout the United States. From the white, sandy beaches along the Atlantic coast to the snow covered mountains in Utah, families can affordably experience the most sought after vacation destinations in the country through Westgate Resorts. With resorts in Florida, Tennessee, South Carolina, Missouri, Utah, Nevada, and Arizona, Westgate Resorts has established itself as a world leader in the timeshare and hospitality industry. For more information, visit: www.westgateresorts.com/about/.