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It’s Good To Talk With Merlin Live Chat

It’s good to talk with Merlin Live Chat

They say it’s good to talk – and at Merlin Software we have to agree. So we recently launched a live chat facility for our clients, provided by and aptly named TAWK.

The aim was simple: To improve the customer service we provide by offering instant live chat support directly from any Merlin page.

Live chat directly from a webpage is a tool that is offered by many larger companies, but we believe Merlin Software is the first and only timeshare software provider to offer this service.

And it’s easy for users to access. They simply click the TAWK parrot icon found on every Merlin page.


So why have we launched live chat?
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My Plans For Merlin Software

My plans for Merlin Software

My plans for Merlin Software and the future of the timeshare industry are two topics I am often asked about and, as we enter 2016, it is probably a good time to share my thoughts with you.

As far as our own prospects for the coming year are concerned it is already looking good with several new clients in the pipeline.

We also have a number of existing clients requesting refresher training due to staff turnover and assistance in using Merlin’s many new features that were released last year.

Looking back on 2015, we shifted our focus over the last half of the year, concentrating on our mission and core values.

This meant ensuring we delivered an exceptional experience to each client when interacting with us with our ‘It’s all about you’ program. Survey results show that we are making considerable progress with this.

In 2016 we will extend this with two exciting service initiatives which are currently being trialed and which we will launch in the first quarter of 2016.

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Merlin’s Timeshare Marketing Module: Ready For Today’s Marketing

Merlin’s timeshare marketing module: ready for today’s marketing

Merlin’s timeshare marketing module is feature-rich, robust and highly interactive making it the ideal partner for today’s vacation ownership marketer.

As timeshare marketing activity changes from being OPC-focused to digital platforms, we asked Merlin’s chief architect, Mike Pnematicatos, if Merlin Software for Enterprise has what it takes to support timeshare marketers.

1.    Tell us in a few lines what the Merlin timeshare marketing module is all about:

Many people think marketing is all about lead generation and sales.

That’s the end result you are hoping to achieve. Marketing is all about communicating.

While the medium of delivering the message may have changed, what hasn’t changed is the fact that you are still communicating.

Merlin’s timeshare marketing module allows you to create every marketing activity that you undertake and to track the responses that you receive to these activities.  In the end it tells you what is working and what isn’t.

2.    What are the top three significant advantages you offer versus competitors?

a.    We’re in the cloud, available 365/24/7 and all you need is an internet connection.
b.    We have functionality that no competitor has and it’s all in one software application.  We sometimes look at specialised marketing software and say to ourselves:  “Merlin does that”.  And then we say:  “And it also has all the other cool stuff our clients need all integrated into one single software application.”
c.    We’ve been in this business and know what our clients need.  We don’t just develop software.  We’ve been involved for too many years developing, marketing, selling and managing timeshare properties.  We understand the industry.

3.    Timeshare marketing is changing to digital solutions – can Merlin support this?

Yes we can.  Mostly, we can integrate everything with your web site.  From registration pages with auto email responses (for marketing) to owners gaining access to their own information, making payments and bookings online directly into Merlin.

And while the owner interactive stuff doesn’t sound like marketing, actually it is the most important thing when marketing to be able to tell prospects what YOUR timeshare can do that your competitors can’t.

4.    How can users further leverage Merlin’s technology?

There are so many ways.  We recently implemented integration between Merlin and a telephone auto-dialler system. The auto-dialler is pre-loaded with numbers to dial and, as each number is dialed and pushed to the call centre agent, this pops up in the Merlin Agent Desk Top application giving all the information about the lead being called.

It also allows for updating contact details, selling mini-vacs and booking tours, collecting immediate payment via credit card and sending confirmations to the clients.

5.    How can Merlin Software help resorts meet their objectives?

Resorts today have some major priorities:
i.    How to collect and deal with delinquent owners;
ii.    How to sell or rent out delinquent or repossessed inventory; and
iii.    How to reduce costs by allowing Owners to service themselves as much as possible and to do this online on the resort’s web site
In all of the above Merlin has the features to resolve these priorities

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Six Questions You Should Ask About Your Mission Statement

Six questions you should ask about your mission statement

We recently went through what probably all corporations go through at some point in their lives … the “what’s our mission statement?” stage.

To be honest, as CEO I’ve always known what our mission was, although I may not have enunciated it in so many words.

A close friend and colleague reminded me that we needed to share this with the team here at Merlin Software.  It was a valuable exercise and made us all think.

But then I read an article in Skyways magazine written by Patrick Lencioni and Grant Ashfield about “Taking a Closer Look”.

This made me think even more:  As CEO, was I giving enough clarity to our team?  Was having a mission statement enough?

I realised, probably not on both counts.  So I “took their test” and asked myself the questions they posed in their article.

You might want to ask yourself these questions as well.

1 Why do we exist?

Now’ I’ve always wondered about the meaning of life and our purpose on earth until we shuffle off this mortal coil.  But this question is less esoteric and more about why we exist as a business. (I might share my “meaning of life” ideas another time).

For the corporation, the answer has to be something aspirational; something grand.  It’s not about “making money” although this is certainly the measure of success in many cases.

It’s about what inspires and uplifts us in our lowest moments.  It’s about the dream we have and what we hope to achieve together one day.

Without even thinking, I’ve always had a dream when starting a new business.

Our latest venture is no different.  At Merlin Software our dream is to create a platform that can ultimately link our industry together, providing efficiencies and economies of scale unheard of within the current paradigm.  I believe that’s aspirational enough.

I think I passed this one.  I know why we exist.  I just need to share it more often with the team.

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The Importance Of Technology

The importance of technology

web-applicationsThe figures released recently by Facebook, Instagram and the like have been eye-opening to say the least. This week, Merlin’s Mike Ashton shared his views on the importance of technology in our own industry to the team at TATOC’s Sharetime magazine, so I thought I’d share them here as well.

News that the computer giant Facebook reached the staggering figure of ONE BILLION people – one in seven of the world’s population – logging in on one day must make all of us involved in sales take a long, hard look at our future.

The vital importance of modern technology to the whole operation of a timeshare resort cannot be overstated. From sales and marketing through to management, collections, personnel and accounting today’s technology must lead the way.

Throughout the whole sales process resort sales and operations need to be directed towards a new, more savvy prospect. In all probability the potential purchaser knows his way around his computer and its powers.

So marketing has to be based on the strategy that targets areas on the web where your chosen prospect is either living or visiting. It has to engage and communicate with them from the start – and keep them ready to receive more.

Brand management has never before been so important and technology is the tool to make it all happen. Sales and marketing today is all about clients and how you present to them. It is no longer any use to make lengthy face-to-face presentations.

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Weak Passwords Still Going Strong

Weak passwords still going strong

Secure loginMerlin Software’s Mike Pnematicatos chief architect talks about the worrying and continual use of weak passwords to access sites containing personal data and gives some top tips on how to set a strong password to prevent your own life being hacked.

It’s 2015 and for years now many of us have been logging onto the World Wide Web (the Interweb as technophobe James May from Top Gear calls it). So it would be fair to expect that we would have a good understanding of the importance of a strong password by now.

After all, a good password will stop you being hacked or your identity being stolen.

But clearly this is not the case if we look at the annual list of the worst passwords issued earlier this year by SplashData.

SplashData compiled the 3.3 million stolen passwords made public throughout the year and assembled them in order of popularity – and 2014 was, well, a little worrying.

Here’s the list of SplashData’s worst passwords of 2014 (and their position in relation to 2013):

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Cracking The Technological Challenge Of Context Switching

Cracking the technological challenge of context switching

mad-at-computerMerlin’s chief architect Mike Pnematicatos considers the relatively new technological challenge of context switching and explains how he’s cracked it to become more efficient – and kept his wife happy too.

I read an article recently about software developers and multi-tasking and how inefficient it is. Apparently by the time developers are working on up to four projects they are losing 60 per cent of their time due to “context switching”.

So I thought.  Wow.  As a CEO I’m involved in far more than four “projects”.  I must be context shifting like crazy and must be hugely inefficient.

Well, there are certainly days when I feel I get nothing done.  Fact is: Most days I probably don’t get the stuff done that I wanted to do.

When I was younger, the stress I felt at the end of, and even during the day when I realized I was not achieving what I set out to do was enormous.

Now I’m more mellow … that’s not to say I don’t care.  I’m just more mellow.

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It Really Is All About You

It really is all about you

Merlin Software It's All About YouWhen it comes to timeshare software for your resort, it really is all about you.

The announcement this week of the appointment of Lyanne Naiker as customer support manager was the culmination of several months of work at our head office in Cape Town.

The late Steve Jobs once said: “You’ve got to start with the customer experience and work back toward the technology – not the other way round”.

And we heartily agree with this ethos.

So over the past few months we took a good look at our processes and asked ourselves a very simple question.

Is the customer experience of our clients the very best it can be?

And the upshot is that we could do better.

Our focus on providing the very best, cutting edge technology had perhaps clouded (no pun intended) our vision and we had lost sight of what is most important of all – what our clients experience.

So with the words of Geoff Ramm of Celebrity Style Service ringing in our ears, we studied every interaction we have with our clients from the moment they find out about us to when they send in a support request – and even pay their monthly license fee.

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