Disruption of traditional marketplaces is healthy for the growth and evolution of products. It keeps products current with how consumers really want to use them. This couldn’t ring more true than for vacation ownership, an industry that must keep pace with how modern products are sold to consumers with a higher level of product knowledge, online, and at competitive prices.
Timeshare was meant to be fun, flexible and full of opportunity—and our online communities offer a way for those aspects to come together for consumers the way they should.
Jason grew up in the heart of the Sunshine State—in Orlando, Florida. From the age of 15, he embraced an entrepreneurial spirit by opening his own car detailing service. By 17, he was heading up a European car sales company. That fire inside would only grow from here.
Turning 18, he decided to work part-time as a registrar for a seminar business. His charisma and interest in this industry led to an opportunity to become a speaker for the company, where he would travel to all 50 states and over 20 countries speaking to more than 100,000 people. Topics ranged from motivational speaking to career training.
As an adult, Jason took his passion for teaching and self-improvement into the career prep field in the metro Boston area. He founded the American Achievement Center (AAC) in 1998, about the same time that he and his wife started a family. Business was booming around 2002 just after the TSA was created, when the AAC was the only career entrance exam facility in the northeast that conducted certification for the agency. But technology was rapidly changing in this industry. To keep pace with changing curriculum and marketing approaches—and continue to be a contributing member to support his growing family—Jason made a commitment to get up to speed with technology. He would take the next year to learn everything he possibly could about internet marketing and search engine optimization (SEO).
During this time, Jason’s wife supported the family while he attended virtually every online SEO course available. “Plan A” was to take his learnings and new course content into the online space, where he would recreate his career prep business in an e-commerce environment. But Plan B showed up. By the time he was ready to return to A, it was too late; the internet’s speed had superseded his efforts to catch up. It was a great life lesson, one he’ll always be thankful for. Because Plan B worked.
In 2003, Jason’s mom, an owner of five timeshares, had an unpleasant experience with a timeshare resale company. She went online and found that others shared the same experience, and thought that she and Jason could make a difference. Jason immediately recognized his SEO experience could play a major role in elevating this opportunity. He was right.
That year, with just three employees, Jason created SellMyTimeshareNOW.com (SMTN.com). He watched the once-fragmented marketplace for resales quickly emerge. The buyer offers were coming in, the site traffic was rolling in. He was starting to feed a hungry, untapped demand. Shortly thereafter, a traditional real estate brokerage division was formed, which later became branded as VacationOwnership.com. The company quickly grew to 200 employees. In 2008 they attracted the attention of Edison Venture Fund, who identified the company as a forward-thinking, disruptive technology-based business. Edison evaluated and confirmed SMTN.com’s business plan and growth, contributing $10 million in venture capital towards their expansion plan. Today, SMTN.com is the largest online marketplace for timeshare sales and rentals. In 2012, Jason’s path was met by business partners Scott Roberts and Chad Newbold, owners of a company that provided strategic consumer and business solutions to the vacation ownership industry. Scott and Chad partnered with Jason to merge Vacation Innovations with SMTN.com, with Jason stepping into the executive role of Chief Marketing Officer. Together under the Vacation Innovations parent company, they’ve created products that address every consumer need in the timeshare marketplace. From their VacationOwnership.com brokerage services, to their ResortRentals.com online booking engine for upscale resort stays – they do it all.
As Chief Marketing Officer for Vacation Innovations, Jason heads up a team of marketing and information technology professionals, overseeing the marketing communications strategy and operations for all brands. His focus also includes technical and SEO scaling, managing and maintaining the company’s customer relationship management, email platforms and inventory management systems and ensuring brand and product integrity through each customer touchpoint.