ARDA’s Social Media “Listening” Program

ARDA’s Social Media “Listening” Program

The American Resort Development Association (ARDA) has spent the last several months listening online to social media to learn what timeshare owners, guests and prospects are saying about the product. One of the reports resulting from the project is called the HARK Report. According to ARDA, “[The HARK Report] does not include any hard data or suggestions for what to do with the information, but rather is meant to spark ideas and prompt discussion among our members.” Nevertheless, The report does offer a number of ideas for resorts to consider when hoping to promote sales, rentals or owner  occupancy.

Here are the observations and ideas produced in the April 2015 HARK report:

Observation #1: People LOVE being able to cook on vacation.

Idea:

  • Offer content on how to get the most out of your timeshare kitchen.

Observation #2: People don’t like how time consuming and far in advance they have to plan.

Ideas:

  • Offer suggestions for making this process easier.
  • Explore why planning in advance can be fun and improve the vacation experience.

Observation #3: Family traditions keep people going year after year, and involve more than the location.

Ideas:

  • Consider a marketing campaign about how timeshare helps create family traditions.

Observation #4: People want to know how to use their timeshare after the prime “family vacation” years.

Ideas:

  • Offer suggestions for how to use a timeshare alongside a changing family.
  • Suggestions: Moms’ weekend away, kids’ trip, traveling abroad with older kids, visiting college students overseas during their study abroad semesters, sports club retreats, etc.

Observation #5: They appreciate having space to spread out rather than cram into a hotel room.

Idea:

  • Offer content to build on this primary value proposition about timeshare. [Says the HARK Report organizer, “People WANT us to listen online.”]

The May 2015 report conclusions:

Observation #1: Timeshare makes vacationing a financial possibility for larger families.

Ideas:

  • With the ability to add space without adding to the annual cost, families can grow without the cost growing too.
  • A prepaid vacation that grows with your family.

Observation #2: When offering advice to others on how to vacation on a budget, people suggest gifting or renting timeshares.

Ideas:

  • Why not give someone a prepaid vacation?
  • Great for those early on who can’t afford one yet. From parents to their kids, the gift of a vacation.

Observation #3: Location is everything to timeshare owners.

Ideas:

  • When consumers love a location, timeshare makes it easy for them to go back.
  • How can they go exactly where they want to go?

Observation #4: There is still appeal in going to the same place every year.

Ideas:

  • Discuss the perks of knowing your vacation as well as you know your home.
  • Answer the question: How can they experience the same place differently every visit?

Observation #5: When people explain the benefits of timeshare, they consider it the best of all worlds.

Ideas:

  • Create a visual comparison of what’s similar and what’s different from other lodging options.

The June 2015 report offers observations about what is being discussed on social media sites, without adding additional ideas:

  • The topic of sales is popping up more and more.
  • Current owners sing the praises of timeshare, while suggesting people look at resale options before buying directly from a developer.
  • Sales techniques seem to be producing some off-putting results, in and out of the sales office—including online.
  • Location continues to be of significant importance, with many suggesting a “try before you buy” rental option for at least a year before making a purchase.
  • Timeshare employees remain an important, integral part of the overall vacation experience for guests & owners, as unique and interesting people who also provide a useful perspective on the location around them.
  • Bloggers are reminding readers: there is no perfect time to take a vacation and the best vacation is the one you actually take.
  • They are also asking how you view your vacations: As an annual week of family bonding or a financial burden?

Among ARDA’s several projects aimed to educate the consumer about timeshare is VacationBetter.org, which they launched several years ago. This is a good resource to give to prospects who want a third-party authority to learn about vacation ownership. While you’re at it, why not go to Facebook and “Like” ARDA’s consumer Facebook page? ARDA is the only trade association we have in this business and their staff is dedicated, hard-working and committed to making our business more acceptable to consumers. Not a member? Sign up here and tell them “Sharon Scott sent me.” I’ll buy you a drink at the next convention!

DORS–Christel DeHaan’s efforts to save futures!

Can we find a woman to admire more than our own beloved Christel DeHaan? I don’t think so! Read her letter to me:

One of the most gratifying aspects of my role as Founder and CEO of Christel House is sharing student success stories. Our kids around the globe are accomplishing great things and their lives are being transformed.

On June 5, we celebrated another milestone – this time for adult students in our Dropout Recovery School (DORS) program. On that day, twenty graduates – aged 18 to 56 – received their high school diplomas, including a mother and son.

Our students’ stories are unique, and their reasons for having dropped out of high school vary. But, all demonstrate important qualities that point to their future success, including a strong work ethic, determination and perseverance.

I applaud their courageous efforts, and thought you would enjoy this short video of our graduates telling in their own words what Christel House means to them.

 

How Garden & Gun Came Back, And Now Thrives – Folio:

Garden_Gun_logoA Q&A with Rebecca Wesson Darwin of Garden & Gun.

Source: How Garden & Gun Came Back, And Now Thrives – Folio:

As Publisher of Resort Trades, this article published in Folio (the B2B periodical for those involved in the business of publishing magazines), caught my eye. Garden & Gun not only has an unlikely title (not mention being somewhat unappealing to me, personally), but was launched in 2007 and yet made it through the recession. Rebecca Wesson’s response to how they survived was that they marketed themselves through the Internet. Another interesting point made in the article is that the publisher is extending the brand beyond traditional media and into areas like events and ecommerce.

These ideas are applicable to the resort world, as well. First, from the viewpoint of the resort operator wishing to promote sales, occupancy, rentals and resales; and second, from the standpoint of vendors and suppliers to the industry. Look for ways to use the Internet to attract buyers. Like Jay Baer teaches in his book, Youtility, “Smart Marketing is About Help not Hype.”

Now, Here’s More of the Story….

Now, Here’s More of the Story….

Resort Trades is a business-to-business news journal by and for the timeshare industry professional. Our “Faces & Places” section in the printed issue can only hold so much…there was plenty of news going on in June. Here is the full report from the F&P department in the July 2015 edition of Resort Trades. 

Financial holding company Capital One Financial Corporation (www.capitalone.com) conducted a survey of timeshare professionals on emerging trends and industry insights at the recent ARDA World 2015 conference in Orlando.

A few findings:

• 33 percent of those surveyed cited construction and development lending as most important for the industry, nearly triple the 12 percent response in last year’s survey.
• 30 of respondents expect the trend of renovation and modernization of existing properties to gain the most momentum in 2015, markedly down from last year’s 51 percent response.
• 50 percent of industry professionals expect points-based structures to generate the most interest in the next year, followed by travel club memberships (32 percent).

“With significant debt capital available in the bank and capital markets, we expect developers to move forward with financing their growth plans, and our Vacation Ownership Survey reflects that industry posture,” said Michael Szwajkowski, Executive Vice President, Capital One

“The timeshare market appears to be getting stronger in the United States and abroad,” said Jim Casey, Senior Vice President, Capital One. “Capital One is well-positioned to work with developers to take advantage of consumer confidence in the industry.”

Vistana Plans to Party Like It’s 1999

On June 16, 2015, Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. (NYSE:HOT) announced the much-anticipated spin-off of its vacation ownership business into a separate publicly traded company. By year-end of 2015, Starwood Vacation Ownership will become Vistana Signature Experiences, Inc. So it appears that Vistana, which was acquired by Starwood in 1999, will return to its roots.

Since Vistana’s inception in 1980, the company managed to attract the industry’s best and brightest: Raymond “Rip” Gellein, Jeff Adler, David Broderick, Ron Hensel, Don Dubin, Larry Doll, Ron Sharp, David Bruce and Dick Drechsler (who later went on to author an autobiography about his cruising life after overcoming cancer, Manning Up In Alaska, which is available through Amazon).

“As we continue to work toward the successful launch of our company, we’re pleased to unveil our corporate name, Vistana Signature Experiences, which will take effect upon completion of the spin-off,” said Matthew Avril, Chief Executive Officer-Elect of Vistana Signature Experiences.

To view a cool video introducing Vistana Signature Experiences, go to their PR web site at http://www.starwoodvacationnetwork.com/news.

Cruz, Craycraft Make Their Moves

The new online marketplace for timeshare owners to rent and sell their vacation weeks, Switzerland-based weholi, has had the good fortune to tap Fermin Cruz to open their US operation as Vice President of Sales and Marketing, Americas. Cruz brings a strong track record for driving growth and building business in global markets after his nine-year tenure with DAE (Dial An Exchange) and his tenure before that with ICE Gallery.

Cruz states, “I am looking forward to working with the weholi team. The Share Economy movement is growing and we need to embrace a new way of drawing a new generation of potential owners into resorts while helping current owners stay engaged and paying maintenance fees. weholi is building a platform and community to help do that. It’s exciting.”

Extreme Engineering, the world’s largest supplier of patented zip lines, climbing walls and adventure products for the amusement and resort industries, has also scored big! They’ve hired Bob Craycraft, who was formerly VP of industry relations for ARDA, to the newly created position of EVP of Resorts.

Bob was selected as one of the 2008’s “Power 25” individuals in the leisure travel industry by Aquatics International Magazine. He’s no stranger to the creation of fun!

“Adventure entertainment attractions have a similarity to water parks—without the water,” says Craycraft. “They fill an important need for resorts, especially those reaching out to a more youthful market. Actually, they are less expensive to operate than water parks and are an exciting amenity to add to existing and new developments. My familiarity with the products, the people and resorts in various regions of the U.S., Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean make this a perfect fit for me.”

Awards & Recognition

According to Global Connections, Inc. (GCI), a developer, travel club fulfillment and service provider with distributors and sales centers located throughout the United States, nothing celebrates a vacation like great photo memories. From selfies on cell phones to sophisticated zoom lens digital cameras, we all like to record our trips and share with our friends. For Global Discovery Vacation Members those “pics” really paid off.

The contest, “Shoot for the Stars”, began in 2005 with just 30 entries. This year, Global Discovery Vacations and Vacation Quest Members submitted 900 photos in three categories: Family & Friends; Landscape and Wacky & Wild.

Stacey Gregory, Creative Director of Global Connections, Inc., says, “Members were awarded an array of prizes totaling more than $3500 including a $500 gift certificate for any Global product as first prize in each category.”

Sundance Vacations announced that CEO John Dowd was awarded Glassdoor’s Highest Rated CEO recognition for 2015. Glassdoor, a jobs and careers marketplace, released its annual report highlighting the Highest Rated CEOs, this year recognizing top leaders in countries throughout North America and parts of Europe.

“When I heard about this award, I was so happy,” said Sundance Vacations CEO John Dowd. “Here at Sundance Vacations we always strive to be the on the cutting edge of the travel industry. Our revolutionary travel product is only amplified by the people that we have working for this company and to be honored by them, and to see that they agree with my vision for the future of the business, is an amazing feeling. I am honored to be named to this list and even more honored to be surrounded by the ones who make this company great each and every day, its employees.”

On the International Scene

Three of CLC World’s European resorts have won entry into TripAdvisor’s prestigious 2015 Hall of Fame having achieved Certificates of Excellence for each of the past five years – adding to an impressive roll call of awards made to CLC World resorts.

Hall of Fame accolades were awarded to: CLC Duchally (Scotland); CLC Hustyns (Cornwall) and CLC Monterey (Tenerife). Coveted TripAdvisor Certificates of Excellence, awarded for consistently high scoring reviews and requiring scores of at least four out of a possible five, were again awarded to CLC Trenython Manor (Cornwall), CLC Apollonium Spa & Beach (Turkey), and San Diego Suites at CLC Club La Costa World (Spain) for 2015, joined by CLC Sunningdale Village (Tenerife).

VRI Management España, a subsidiary of VRI Europe, a joint venture between Interval Leisure Group and CLC World Resorts & Hotels, manages CLC World resorts in Spain and Tenerife. Others are managed by the company’s own resort management division.

Egypt

Worldwide exchange provider, DAE, announced a deal with Egyptian travel group, Tamaf Tours to service the company’s La Siesta Vacation Club members through DAE’s worldwide exchange membership.

“As resort developers and Vacation Clubs look to expand their services, they are looking to DAE for our innovative range of products and services that can deliver greater benefits to their members through our worldwide exchange network,” said CEO of DAE, Francis Taylor. “We are continuing our efforts to work with developers and tourist organizations within the region, such as Tamaf Tours, as we grow our local operation.”

Cabo

Vacation Resorts International (VRI), a provider of management and leisure services to vacation owners and an operating business of Interval Leisure Group (Nasdaq: IILG), announced that it has entered into a property management agreement with Los Cabos Golf Resort in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. VRI will deliver a variety of services, including reservations and rentals handled through VRI’s reservations center; financial assistance in the areas of planning, budgeting, and forecasting, in concert with the developer; and communications between the developer and its members. In addition, VRI will oversee resort operations, such as front-desk check-in, housekeeping, and unit maintenance.

“We are proud to welcome Los Cabos Golf Resort to our property management portfolio. The resort’s stunning location and full range of amenities brings a highly desirable destination to our managed owners and loyal vacation rental customers,” said Tom O’Brien, senior vice president of resort operations for VRI.

South Africa

Interval International, a prominent worldwide provider of vacation services and an operating business of Interval Leisure Group (Nasdaq: IILG) announced the affiliation of L’Ermitage Chateau Hotel & Villas, an exclusive estate in the heart of the Cape Winelands near the village of Franschhoek. Located less than an hour away from Cape Town, South Africa, the area is known for being one of the most beautiful wine valleys in the world and has recently attracted international hospitality-based investment.

“L’Ermitage’s idyllic setting and prime location make it the quintessential Winelands experience,” said Darren Ettridge, Interval’s senior vice president resort sales and business development for Europe, Middle East, Africa, and Asia. “The town of Franschhoek has developed a reputation as one of South Africa’s culinary hotspots and is home to several of the country’s most celebrated restaurants, including the world famous Haute Cabriere wine estate and restaurant. This resort is a fitting inclusion in the impressive portfolio of developments by éLan Property Group across South Africa and Mauritius.”

Finland

The Investment Committee of the Board of Directors of Mahindra Holidays & Resorts India Limited (MHRIL), India’s leading leisure hospitality provider, yesterday approved the exercise of its option to increase its stake in Holiday Club Resorts, Oy, Finland. Holiday Club Resorts is a major European vacation ownership company, with 30 resorts in Finland, Sweden and Spain.

India

SPI Software was selected by India-based Jukaso, which will use its cloud-based SPI Orange Enterprise software for its vacation ownership projects. With administrative offices in Switzerland and India, Journeys by Jukaso vacation ownership destinations include London, Dubai, Goa, Mussoorie, Nainital and in South India.

In Memoriam

Sadly, we learned that David Siegel, founder of Westgate Resorts, and his wife Jackie recently lost their teenaged daughter, Victoria. We are deeply distressed and wish to express our sincere sympathy to the Siegel family at this time.