Resort Trades: 12 months of editorial planning

For those of you interested in contributing articles or advertising in Resort Trades, we are beginning to work on our 2018 calendar. For now, the following represents the next 12 months of topics:

June 2017
Top Resorts
Top developers, resorts and the folks that make them special.

July 2017*
The Money Issue, From Growing Revenue to Expanding Opportunities
We will look at helping resort operators grow revenue, expand opportunities, serve their owners and guests better, streamline costs and get smarter about tax planning.

August 2017*
HOA Annual Meeting
Resort managers need the latest product and service information while preparing budgets for the annual meeting.

September 2017
Marketing & Sales
A how-to manual on the latest on- and off-line marketing and sales secrets.

October 2017
Refurbishment and Design/SOIC Conference
How to beautify and maintain your resort, inside and out!

November 2017*
Legacy Resorts/ARDA Fall Conference
A look at the challenges mature resorts face, including insurance, accounting, legal, reserves and management.

December 2017
Management Company Review
Comparative review of major top management companies.

January 2018 Top New Year’s Resolutions*
What plans are resort operators making to make themselves more successful this year? We’re asking them to weigh in on how they plan to increase revenue and improve customer service to provide excellent vacations.

February 2018
Top Managers Tell All
Plus, announcing winner of the 2017 CEP Award “CustomerCount Customer Engagement Professional (CEP)/Resort Trades Award.”

March 2018
Technology – From Management to Internet Marketing 
A ‘must-read’ for resort operators who want to stay current, enhance revenue and save on costs.

April 2018*
The ARDA World issue

May 2018
Recreation: Spas, Golf, Outdoor Play & Pools
What are the latest trends for managers and resort operators to watch for, when seeking ways to attract and maintain owners/members and guests?

*Typically, the best-read issues of the year.  For advertising information, contact Marla Carroll 931-484-8819; For editorial queries and submissions, email

3 Tips on Cyber Security

My PR clients, WithumSmith + Brown, shared tips for protecting yourself online. Here are three of the ideas from Anurag Sharma’s article:

With the ever changing technologies of today, data breaches and cybersecurity are at the forefront of our minds, and rightfully so. The number of successful cyberattacks in the U.S. has grown 144% in the past four years. Attacks are happening daily, with 62% of these attacks targeting small to midsized businesses.

So how do you start protecting you and your organization? Over the next few weeks, Withum will share top tips to becoming more cyber secure. These small steps could save you and your organization from falling victim to a cyber breach or attack.

Tip #2 – Think Before You Click

Don’t fall for a “phishing attack”. Never click a link or open an attachment that you did not expect to receive. Scams today look very convincing, coming in the form of voicemails, e Faxes, invoices, social media, ADP theme, or from the IRS. If you receive a LinkedIn invite by email, confirm it is real by signing into the LinkedIn website or use your mobile app. If you’re not expecting something or have to think twice about the contents, don’t open it. If you do, you’re opening hackers to the contents of your computer. Contact your IT department if you think an email is suspect, or just delete it and report it as SPAM.

Tip #3 – Prevent Email Fraud

Since January 2015, there has been a 270% increase in email fraud instances. There have been over 17,642 victims and $2.3 billion in losses between October 2013 and February 2016, with the most prominent one being Ubiquity Networks that became a victim of a $46.7 million “CEO email fraud.”

Click here for the more!

CPAs Durkee & Combs discuss their business

Lena Combs and Tom Durkee, WithumScott+Brown PA

Lena Combs and Tom Durkee, WithumScott+Brown PA

Your accounting firm: they have their finger on your business’ pulse. They can sink you; they can save you. But, what difference can it make whether or not they know anything about the timeshare resort industry? The answer may surprise you. Does your accountant know your business? If your business or resort is involved in the timeshare industry, that just might be an important question.

It’s certainly one we put to Tom Durkee and Lena Combs of WithumSmith+Brown, PC. (The two CPAs announced the joining of their firm, Averett Warmus Durkee CPAs, [AWD] with Withum the first of this year.)

“A developer or resort operator/manager will find there’s an enormous advantage to hiring a firm with experience in the industry,” says Lena. “First, the resort’s operators will not need to explain the special aspects of handling accounting for a homeowners association consisting of thousands of members. Second, an experienced accountant will know what questions to ask to help associations present a sophisticated financial statement and address the intricacies of tax law that apply to these entities.. We can bring a lot of additional value, given our experience and depth of knowledge.”

AWD became involved in the timeshare industry in 1990 working with four HOAs at Island One Resorts. From there, they quickly picked up other clients in the Orlando area and beyond. As Combs, Durkee and their team worked with their timeshare clients, they came to understand the importance of relationships and loyalty that is so unique to our industry.

“It’s personal with us,” Tom comments. “We get to know the client. We like them; we’re part of their team. It’s not all about making money. We want our clients to understand that we’re involved, from those of us at the senior level, and throughout our team.” Their team includes more than 100 employees who work out of their Orlando and Altamonte Springs offices.

Wouldn’t a close relationship with a vendor be a desirable thing for a resort? Lena thinks so. “We work hard to serve,” she says. “We feel it’s important to deliver on every promise. Certainly, expertise in the space adds value, but added to that, a heartfelt interest makes a huge difference. Our clients tell us we help keep them healthy. We do this by letting them know when there’s a problem. ”

The two mention that they are available to advise resort operators about matters that concern them, even when they fall out of the realm of accounting. “We’ve had occasions where we wound up advising a resort going through a refurb, a special assessment, an insurance loss and claim or dealing with other issues,” adds Tom. “If we can help them find a vendor, or suggest a provider, for example; we are glad to help. Lena and I are always happy to chat on the phone or over lunch if we can help a client think through a challenge.”

Unflinching loyalty carried their company through the recession during which time, they managed to retain their full complement of staff. “We didn’t lay off a single person,” says Tom. “We focused heavily on business development by hiring SharonINK PR & Marketing, for one thing, and appointing an in-house marketing person. We continued focusing on keeping clients healthy and safe. If they’re happy and safe; we’re happy and safe.”

Whenever a resort company seeks to hire the services of a professional – whether they specialize in law, accounting or other specialty – it’s wise to take a look at the overall health and stability of the company. What sets Tom and Lena’s organization apart from others is an inclusive management style that puts them on the Orlando Sentinel’s list of “Best Companies to Work For” each year. “We seek to encourage employees to be self-motivated,” says Lena. “Our firm has been able to inculcate a spirit of collaboration, fairness and teamwork throughout our group. For example, lifestyle enhancement activities are encouraged; our support of flexible scheduling and so much more.”

“There are a lot of employee activities like softball, kickball, and running groups – all organized by the employees, themselves. They are a happy group and we aim to keep it that way,” smiles Tom.

Tom and Lena say they and their team are committed to staying involved in industry by studying the impact of the economic situation on the health of the industry, through their sponsorship as a RCI Affiliate Access Partner, by speaking at events such as meetings of the Timeshare Board Members Association, and by their activities and involvement in ARDA. They have produced an invaluable HOA Benchmarking Study of Florida timeshare resorts since 2008.

“We know the necessity of staying up-to-date on any new accounting standards,” adds Tom. “It’s also of vital interest to us to keep tabs on current trends in the timeshare industry. Helpful in this regard is our service as members of the ARDA HOA Outreach Committee. We are very supportive of industry, striving to keep clients on the high road; keeping them safe.”

Going forward in 2016, Tom and Lena are excited about joining the Withum team. As time passes, Combs and Durkee expect to discover and exploit the synchronicity between members of the old AWD firm with their new, larger organization and the opportunities that provides.

Sharon Scott is publisher/managing editor of Resort Trades and CEO of PR/marketing firm SharonINK. Scott is an American Resort Development Association (ARDA) registered resort professional (RRP represents The Trades as the ARDA Resort Operations Council’s Sole Media Partner and is an ARDA Chairman’s League member.


The Colebrook Chronicle’s 8th edition entertains and informs.

Colebrook Principal Bill Ryczek

Colebrook Principal Bill Ryczek

The Colebrook Chronicle’s 8th edition entertains and informs.

Bill Ryczek and his team always manage to inject a note of humor while covering important and interesting information about the timeshare industry and their own particular interest as a lending institution. They’ve themed their eighth edition of the ultimate insider’s newsletter, The Colebrook Chronicle, “Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, and Something Blue.”

“In our lineup of articles,” reads the Editor’s Note, “we have something old, if he will pardon the label, in industry veteran Herb Hirsch; something new, dynamic young Patton Hospitality CEO Will Horton; something borrowed as discussed in Bill Ryczek’s article on hypothecation loans; and finally, we have beautiful Blue Water Resort in Nassau.”

“There are a couple of other articles that don’t fit the theme, and we utilized the old trick of getting your attention by using a photo of a beautiful actress who is only peripherally connected to the subject matter.” The photo is of Herb Hirsch, together with Bo Derek, circa 1985. To find out more, check out the January 2016 edition of the newsletter on

Don Clayton has new release

Don ClaytonAs Don says, “I would like to thank each one of you for your continued support throughout 2015. During the past year, I released two brand new albums (Songs From The Heart and Three Chords And The Truth), and re-released a special holiday song “Emmanuel”. I even filmed two music videos (“Home” and “BBQ) featuring my friends and family. My very own mom makes a cameo in “Home”.

Visit Don’s website and watch his very entertaining videos. My personal favorite is still BBQ.

Rock on, Don!

Still Time To Support Send Me On Vacation with a Year End Contribution

Cathy Backus (right) attends SMOV Think Pink Bermuda Cruise.

Cathy Backus (right) attends SMOV Think Pink Bermuda Cruise.

Send Me On Vacation — a philanthropic group supporting breast cancer survivors — teaches us that vacations have the power to profoundly change the lives of breast cancer survivors. Send Me On Vacation provides survivors with a vacation experience that serves as a catalyst, bridging the physical treatment of cancer with the emotional healing process needed for complete recovery.

The group has just completed a Think Pink Bermuda cruise on NCL in October and is hosting a second cruise beginning on November 30th to Mexico on Carnival Cruise Line. During the stay in Bermuda, SMOV conducted two workshops at The Bermuda Cancer Center for more than 40 local survivors.

The last cruise was amazing, says SMOV Founder, Cathy Backus. “It totally exceeded my expectation. We had 35 people onboard and spent 7 days facilitating workshops, transforming survivors into Mermaids and memorializing the moment with a photo shoots.”

The cruises are the organization’s hallmark program called “A Mermaids Journey.” They provide a much-needed vacation for SMOV recipients and an opportunity to engage in programs that accelerate healing. Once a year the Mermaid’s Journey experience is offered as an empowerment retreat to the public to assist women in connecting to their inner mermaid. Thanks to Sponsor-donated accommodations the money collected from attendees goes toward fundraising. Last year the event was sponsored by SFX Preferred Resorts and Vidante.

Make a donation online at or email to donate a week or air miles.

Courting the Millennial…There’s Hope!

David Stillman, Bridgeworks

David Stillman, BridgeWorks

As promised in “Faces & Places” of the November 2015 edition of Resort Trades, following is our review of a presentation given by David Stillman during the 2015 Shared Ownership Investment Conference.

According to David A. Stillman, co-founder of the marketing consulting firm BridgeWorks, if you are of an opinion that you just can’t interest a millennial in purchasing a timeshare interest, you can rethink that! In his remarks at last month’s Interval International’s Shared Ownership Investment Conference, Stillman offered insight on the potential value of marketing to those aged between 25 to 35, as well as tips on what to tell them.

His book, The M-Factor: How the Millennial Generation Is Rocking the Workplace (HarperCollins) has become a business favorite and with good reason. Resort developers and managers have been comfortable promoting sales, rentals and resale weeks to Gen Y’s elders for quite a while now. The ‘traditionalist’ (born prior to 1946), ‘baby boomer’ (1946-1964) and ‘Gen X’ (1965-1979) are a fairly well known quantity.

In the traditionalist’s case, marketers learned they are a loyal, hard-working group; accustomed to self-sacrifice. Baby boomers are optimistic, idealistic and competitive. For this generation, marketers need to keep the choices simple (offer two options, rather than ten), help them feel they are on the cutting edge and avoid turning a concern about an issue into fear. (For example, minimize the concept of maintenance fees by emphasizing the factors that will keep them on the cutting edge.) On the opposite side of the coin, Gen X needs options and information. They are innately distrustful and skeptical, preferring to be well informed and self-reliant. They hate to be “sold to”; they thrive on transparency. With this group, flexibility is crucial. They want to build traditions with their family, however. So when they challenge you and appear to be negative, they are sending a signal that they just need the facts. They’re not going to buy the 3-day/2-night pressure. You need to be viewed as a resource and not hit the ‘BS-o-meter.’

Millennials, on the other hand, thrive on collaboration. Surveys show their perception of timeshare is rated higher than any other age group. They just need for you to work with them. This is the group that grew up bonding with their parents almost as partners. Decisions were made in a democracy wherein the children were consulted before taking a vacation, changing the channel or even choosing a new car. While they, by themselves, may be NQs, they are definite influencers and love to share. Your time spent with them may have a payoff with residual interest.

Older millennials are fast becoming great prospects as they marry and start having families of their own. Here are a few facts from a survey referenced during the SOIC:


Use mobile device–97%
Use a tablet–9%
On social media                –77%

The same survey found that of non-millennials surveyed who say they don’t own a timeshare, the majority says they are planning more travel, do their research online and routinely look for deals. 55 percent of them prefer to be contacted by email. Their priorities are:

#1           Quality
#2           Flexibility
#3           Value
#4           Choice

Asked to respond to marketing messages, the phrases “home away from home” and “timeshare encourages more vacations” were least likely to resonate. Millennials found destination, short-term product and low interest rates to be critical in making a buying decision. It’s reported that in most cases:

  1. Millennials and Gen Xers can be big advocates.
  2. Millennials are ready to buy.
  3. Millennials are interesting in traveling globally.
  4. Online communication is vital.
  5. Millennials want short-term bargains.

So if you can engage them on their terms and offer affordable, short-term products, they are great prospects. It may be time to change our concept in addition to modifying our marketing and products.

Generational Divides

Whether you’re dealing with Millennials (those roughly ages 18- 33), Generation X (those ages 34-49) or the 50-plus/Baby Boomer generation, you’ve probably experienced there’s a cultural disconnect between age groups. Resort managers and operators deal with it on two levels: First when members of their own team clash and, second, when dealing with owners/members or prospective new owners.

How can you  overcome these divisions and find a unifying way to cope? David A. Stillman, co-founder and a Generation X voice of BridgeWorks, a company dedicated to speaking, writing, training, and entertaining on generational issues in the workplace and the marketplace, says he has some advice for professionals looking for answers.

He’ll be offering up his top tips during Interval International’s Shared Ownership Investment Conference  at the Fontainebleau Miami Beach from September 30 – October 2. In particular, Stillman will offer hard-hitting facts on generational attributes and their potential impact on the timeshare industry. The Resort Trades team – Founding Publisher/CEO Tim Wilson and yours truly – will be covering it in detail.

Stillman has also written and co-authored a couple of books that can help. When Generations Collide: Who They Are. Why They Clash. How to Solve the Generational Puzzle at Work (HarperBusiness). His latest book, The M-Factor: How the Millennial Generation Is Rocking the Workplace (HarperCollins) has become a business favorite.

Himself an early Gen X voice in a business world dominated by Baby Boomers, “David has become one of the youngest, most outspoken, and popular keynoters to hit the national circuit,” according to “His unique blend of humor, fairness, and frankness won over audiences of all generations and made him a go-to speaker for organizations that ranged from the IRS to MTV. David’s keynote speeches and workshops on bridging the generation gaps in the workplace and marketplace continue to receive rave reviews from corporations and associations nationwide.”

“As part of his mission to connect the generations using humor, David wrote and produced TimesFour, a one-man show that is breaking new ground in the corporate entertainment market as a comedy about how the generations click, collide and cope in the world of work. David’s creative communication projects have earned him numerous accolades including gold medals at the NY Film Festival, and the much coveted CLIO Award. He was named to the prestigious list of “Forty Under 40” movers and shakers by The Business Journal, as well as one of 200 Leaders to Watch.”

It sounds like he’ll present a very entertaining session. We’re looking forward to having a laugh and hopefully, learning a lot.

Resort Operators/Managers: Share This!

The Value of Vacation

ARDA posted the following blog on its web site, and is encouraging resorts to spread the word. This is not copyrighted material; ARDA prepared it for your use. So, use away! The site also has infographics that might be useful in promoting sales/resales.

How do you place a value on vacation?

Do you measure a vacation’s value by finding a good deal on airfare? Getting a chance to relax? Spending precious time with your loved ones? Chances are, it means different things to different people. Over the last decade there have been numerous studies conducted to measure the value of vacation. The good news is that the research has found vacations are good for you – that taking regular time away has positive effects on health, wellness, job performance, relationships and lifestyle.

The bad news is that millions of Americans each year choose to ignore the evidence. Last year, 169 million Americans did not take all of their earned vacations days last year!

In a new infographic from the American Resort Development Association (ARDA), taking time to get away has important health and lifestyle benefits that, if neglected, can lead to negative consequences. Ever hear of burnout? Yes, research has found that people who don’t take time to reset their batteries are more likely to suffer from burnout. Everything from work performance, added stress, strained relationships and decreased mental stamina are among the many negative results from not taking time to get away from it all.

The timeshare industry and its owners say that in addition to the lasting health benefits, the pre-paid nature of ownership guarantees that you will vacation at least once a year and ensures you take future vacations. In fact, owners save $18,160 over 18 years of vacationing with timeshare, compared to an average hotel vacation over the same time period.

But the real value of taking regular time off with loved ones is the special memories it creates. How do you place a value on that?