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:

Millennials:

Married–52%
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 Generations.com. “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.

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.

What in the [Timeshare] World Are We Thinking?

[Excerpts of this post appear in the July 2015 edition of Resort Trades (ResortTrades.com). Below is the full article.]

Michael Szwajkowski photo

Szwajkowski, Executive Vice President, Capital One, voices optimism for 2015.

“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.

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. Szwajkowki’s observation followed findings like these:

• 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).

This was music to Capital One’s ears and it’s music to ours, too. These survey results lend credibility to our former supposition that there was an increase in optimism at ARDA World this year. Many timeshare industry professionals expect sharply increased demand for construction loans in the coming year. Last year, working capital loans were pretty much topping the list of ‘must-haves.’ This year they were cited as most important by only 27 percent of respondents, a decrease of more than 40 percent from the prior year. This would seem to indicate that resorts are more and more operating in the black, at least those resorts able to afford the ticket price to attend the convention. The bank reported 94 percent expected consumer interest to be stronger or on par with the past year, while 6 percent anticipate a decline. (Wouldn’t it be interesting to question the 6 percent?)

Thirty percent 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. This is of particular interest as our industry grapples with maturing resorts slipping further into decline. On the other hand, it could be that many of last year’s respondents achieved their funding goals and financing has become more readily available.

“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.”

To which we would only add, “Hear, hear!”

New Directions for Resort Trades & for SharonINK

New Directions for Resort Trades & for SharonINK

It was early in December 1989 when I showed up for my first day of work at ARDA (then called ARRDA). My boss, Cynthia Huheey, and Tom Franks who was president at the time had tried to explain “timeshare” to me, but it was the charismatic Jack Richardson from Resort Trades who really taught me the most in those first few days. Who knew that one day I’d become the publisher/managing editor of that very publication? Pure irony.

But allow me to back up, just a bit. On the cusp of the ‘90s, it was like a garden in springtime. Entrepreneurial developers, marketers and, yes, exchange companies, were sprouting like jonquils. And, of course, there were several ‘problems’ that needed weeding. In fact, with little-to-no consumer protection in place at the time, there were many who felt like nuclear winter was upon us. Timeshare had met the Horseman of the Apocalypse and he was directing a fly-by-night phone room.

But enter the white horseman in the form of Hilton, Marriott and Hyatt and with them, the decade of consolidation. The new millennium witnessed the end of the gold chains and white bucks as large companies grew, became public and performed asset-backed securitizations. (Who the heck knew what a securitization was before then?) Today, I’m told that 85 percent of the inventory in the U.S. is controlled by seven or eight companies.

And so now we get to the irony part: It’s ironic that the industry’s attention that once focused exclusively on developers, marketers and salespeople has now expanded to encompass HOAs, resort managers and management companies. And the real irony to us at The Trades is that this publication, which was once viewed as just a vehicle for advertising, is now the industry’s most widely distributed media – both print and online – and reaches not only those in the boardroom, but in many cases, ours is the only voice heard in the most remote areas.

From there it gets personal for me. I can no longer be the wide-eyed novice, because now I am head of a team that must ethically and wisely select news items and topics that will provide real value. We don’t support an association and typically, we have more genuine, informative editorial than we do advertising. We are an independent. It’s a gift, but it’s a responsibility.

So now as your newly appointed publisher, I wish to pledge that I will do all I can to inform, to educate and to empower. Thank you, dear Reader, for your continued loyalty to us.

Sharon Scott, RRP

Arf…arf!

Sharon Scott

Sharon Scott, Publisher/Managing Editor, Resort Trades & Managing Editor, Golf Course Trades

By Sharon Scott, RRP

Help! Under the terms of “the buck stops here,” as publisher/managing editor of Resort Trades, I goofed: The April 2015 issue neglected to give the ARDA World booth number of our dear friends at ETTSI Incentive Premiums – 741! I’m so embarrassed.

ETTSI is in the business of helping you “generate sales initiatives in a completely new and refreshing way. With Industry leading incentive programs in travel certificates and merchandise; ETTSI prides itself on its fundamental and in-depth understanding of the needs of their clients and they excel at converting that wealth of knowledge into strategically and tactically designed sales incentive solutions that work!”

So please visit Booth 741 and tell ‘em Sharon sent you. While you’re there, ask for a quote. They can give you case studies of other similar businesses who’ve experienced results from their travel certificates and merchandise sales incentives. They might even throw in a ‘freebie’ like a complimentary $2,000 Travel Cash tri-fold.

So please help me save some face here and call Chris Cantwell at 386-255-3393 or email Chris@ETTSI.com and get me out of the doghouse! Or visit their booth at ARDA: 741! (Now, repeat after me: “Sharon sent me”!)

Carrie Vandever appointed social media director

Carrie Vandever, Resort Trades Social Media Director

Carrie Vandever, Resort Trades Social Media Director

February 2, 2015 – Resort Trades, the news journal mailed to a nationwide subscriber base of almost 7,000 resort professionals, and its online news source – ResortTrades.com – are pleased to announce the appointment of Carrie Vandever as Social Media Director.

Vandever has been instrumental in building an online presence for ResortTrades.com that receives almost 5,000 unique visitors per day and indexes over 11,000 pages, or 86+ gigs, of data. She was one of the earliest social media experts in the timeshare industry when she operated the company’s previous site, AskMANDO.com.

“ResortTrades.com and our social media sites are updated throughout each day with relevant, timely news,” says Resort Trades Managing Editor Sharon Scott. “Carrie’s work is essential to our commitment to keep our readers informed. In turn, this ‘socialization’ provides our advertisers with the ultimate avenue to educate resort managers and developers about their products and services.”

“ResortTrades.com has amassed a unique archive of information that is unparalleled in the industry,” adds Publisher Tim Wilson. “We have stored every press release and print edition that has been posted or printed since 1997. Given this tremendous volume of materials, ResortTrades.com’s archives are undisputedly the most complete repository of the industry’s history in existence and include biographies of industry pioneers, the famous “Women in the Industry” series, supplier/vendor information and much more.

About Resort Trades
The Trades was established in 1987 and distributes approximately 7,000 print copies monthly to every U.S. vacation ownership resort, to a voluntary subscriber base of resort professionals of all walks and at all the industry’s important conventions and conferences. Along with the publications online social media activities and ResortTrades.com, the entire enterprise adds value to the industry as a whole with an enormous volume of informative content to assist resort operators in running their properties more efficiently, raising revenues more effectively and making better-informed buying decisions. www.ResortTrades.com.
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Promoted to Publisher

Sharon Wilson_email sizePerhaps it’s a little sentimental, but here is my very first “Publisher’s Corner” printed in the March 2015 edition of Resort Trades:

This publication has been mailed throughout every timeshare resort in the U.S. and many in Canada every month since 1987. (I know, I know…most of us were practically in diapers then, right?) Being the timeshare resort industry’s very own, dedicated resource for current news and information is a passion for us that has been under development for almost 30 years.

We’ve reported on everything from battling bed bugs to emergency preparedness. Our interests are expansive; we are avid followers of current events and trends in sales and marketing, front and back office, human resources, financing, HOA management and beyond. Suffice it to say, we know our audience and it is you, the timeshare professional…not the vacation ownership, shared ownership or whatever-term-de-jour… but the timeshare professional. We’ve reported on the comings and goings of so many special people. (Yes, we remember you, Jim Lambert, JP Ottino, Nick Kosmas, John Sweeney, our very own Jack Richardson, Bill Armbruster, the recently deceased Alex Marxer and Jay Finley and so many others.)

You might say we’ve formed an emotional attachment to you over the years. I’ll bet you feel the same for us. I hope so.

After serving as Resort Trades’ managing editor, I am proud to announce my recent promotion to Publisher/Managing Editor. The very top item on my list of objectives is to build a tightly knit relationship with every one of our readers. I salute you and want you to know that this ‘goes deep’ with me..with all of us at The Trades. It’s about so much more than money: Publishing Resort Trades is the greatest honor, the finest gift I’ve ever received. It’s also the tallest order and brings with it a responsibility I take very seriously. I pledge to the best of my ability to provide you with a news resource – both in print and online at resorttrades.com – that continues to raise its standards for excellence, integrity and loyalty.

Gratefully,
Sharon Scott, RRP
Resort Trades & resorttrades.com Publisher/Managing Editor
Supporter/Advocate of The Timeshare Industry Profession