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.

Pointers for managers or employees going through a merger or acquisition

When considering a merger or acquisition, owners need to consider several potential pitfalls.

When considering a merger or acquisition, owners need to consider several key points.

My clients at Averett Warmus Durkee CPAs Lena Combs and Tom Durkee recently sent me their newsletter with pointers on how to deal with mergers or acquisitions. Whether you’re in senior or mid-level management, it might be of interest to take a look at what the business owner or ownership group is considering while examining a deal.

And for owners, they advise, “Determining the right time to sell your business can make a huge difference in the price.” They provide a video that discusses questions you should ask yourself before jumping in. The article offers guidance on conducting a qualitative cultural evaluation to help detect critical incompatibilities with a potential merger partner.

I watched a close friend go through a merger in which there was plenty of redundancy and several cultural barriers which were difficult to overcome. In hindsight, when faced with this or any kind of change in your professional career, perhaps it’s best to get all the information you can in advance. It may be the difference between being naively blind-sided or in finding a way to make your career or your business’ point of view survive.

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

In Memoriam

Sadly, we learned that timeshare pioneer Clayton A. Barnes RRP passed away earlier this year. Barnes got his start in the industry when he joined Lehigh Corporation (one of the first companies to affiliate with RCI) in 1973. After that his resume was peppered with the names of legendary pioneers. For example, it was Art Zimand who introduced him to Perry Snyderman and Shelly Ginsburg who were in the process of purchasing Vistana. Zimand and Barnes both joined the Vistana team and Barnes was vice-president of sales from February of 1980 to June of 1985. Later, he joined The Welk Resort Group where he reported to another industry icon, David R. Clifton. Barnes was instrumental in organizing and launching start-up sales and marketing programs for new timeshare projects including  Hilton Hotels Corporation’s Flamingo Hilton Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada, and helping Jim  Watkins [that’s right…another iconic figure] restructure the historic 54-room Gaslamp Plaza Suites in downtown San Diego, before rejoining The Shell Group in 1996.

Still fresh in everyone’s mind was earlier news of the death of Jay C. Finley III, another powerful influence on the timeshare industry scene. Finley, of Branson, Missouri, passed away January 20, 2015 in his home. He was born April 22, 1947 in Jersey City, New Jersey and was raised in West New York, New Jersey. Jay entered the land development business after receiving an honorable discharge from the army. He spent 38 years in the vacation ownership business and was most recently president of Compass Resort Group. He really made a difference to the ARDA Awards program during his 25 years on that committee. Jay was united in marriage to Theresa Kathleen Law on October 19, 2013.

This author had the distinct pleasure and privilege of assisting Jay and his partners Jeff Alexander and Chuck Fry at Compass Resort Group to promote their company as their PR provider several years earlier. Pictured here is a treasured personal memento of the evening when Jay, assisted by Deb Linden, presented Concord Servicing Corporation President Bob Bertrand and me with an ARDY.

(l. to r.) Deb Linden, Sharon Scott, Bob Bertrand and Jay Finley III.

Life After ARDA World 2015: Reflections

ARDA World 2015 is over. (Many attendees’ hangovers linger on, however, as I write this.) It’s time to ponder what we learned. The Opening General Session on Tuesday certainly made a positive Act One. In Act One, Scene One, we greeted this year’s crop of LEAPsters. These are the recipients of an AIF educational program who are sponsored by their employers to undertake a year-long program of study. We applaud the ARDA team for a really great program that is grooming tomorrow’s leaders in the industry.

One of LEAP’s projects was to design an investigative educational session, the Legacy Resort Management Forum, to discuss the top concerns of maturing resort HOAs and managers. Data gathered from a survey of resort managers showed these to be 1) the increasing rate of owner defaults in payment of maintenance fees, 2) the rising costs of maintenance fees and 3) resales. Forum participants discussed possible remedies including resorts offering a variety of activities and services to earn additional revenue; resorts providing assistance to owners who wish to sell their timeshares including crafting a classified ad and finding advertising agencies; permitting owners to stagger payments of their annual fees and communicating more clearly with boards to explain the importance of increasing maintenance fees.

Jan Samson of VRI made an interesting comment about this last point. She observed that frequently a resort’s HOA is proud to announce they avoided increasing maintenance fees, perhaps at the cost of needing to defer maintenance. We agree with her advice to continuously point out to boards the long-term benefit of staying competitive with hotels and other resorts. If this means you must increase maintenance fees, then managers need to educate their constituency about why it is vital to the health of the resort.

Dale Goodman of Goodmanagement said their resorts have a policy of making at least one change every year to keep looking fresh. One year they’ll change the carpeting, another year they will replace appliances, etc. In this way, owners will continue to see more clearly where their maintenance fees are going.

During the general session, ARDA President Howard Nusbaum listed the association’s most recent accomplishments, among which was to undertake a “listening” project to track and answer consumer questions and concerns about timeshare. The association is fully committed to assisting developers’ sales and marketing efforts through the activities of its Reputation Management Department and their achievements are impressive.

Also in the forefront at ARDA this year was The Starwood Vacation Club spinoff from its publicly held parent company. We remember the buzz created when Marriott Vacation Club became an independent entity. Today, that company’s sales and financial viability appear to be stronger than ever. We’re expecting to see similar results from Starwood (or whatever their new name might eventually be). Head of the new independent will be Matt Avril, who has shown himself up to the task many times in the past. It will be an interesting phenomenon to watch.

Another interesting change in the vacation ownership industry lately has been the consolidation of development companies into less than ten major entities, with the emergence of a group of secondary controllers of rental inventory. That’s why Resort Trades has committed itself once more to supporting the organization representing these companies, the Cooperative Association of Resort Exchangers (C.A.R.E.). Linda Mayhugh of Advantage Travel has been nominated to be the next chair of C.A.R.E. and will most likely be inducted during its May 2-5, 2015 conference at the Westin Annapolis. Look to C.A.R.E. to soon discuss a name change to reflect the evolution of this 60-year-old non-profit organization. Whereas formerly, it was made up of smaller, independent developers looking to exchange inventory, C.A.R.E. now is made up of resort professionals involved in moving inventory.

Attendees at the meeting were estimated to be 2,500, with 99 exhibit booths, many of them first-time exhibitors. It is vital to retain these first-timers as active, participating members of ARDA. During a meeting of the Suppliers Council, Chair Jordan Beckner who owns Fiberbuilt Umbrellas & Cushions commented that he did not begin to get full value from his ARDA membership until he started getting involved by serving on committees and councils. We will be following up with many of these ‘newbies’ to share ideas on how to get the most out of their ARDA experience. We need to continue to support the association in any way possible for the excellent work it does for us all.

Tuesday’s general session paid homage to companies that had supported building the coffers of ARDA ROC, the ARDA Resort Owners’ Coalition. Resorts participating in the program request small donations from timeshare owners as part of their annual maintenance fee billing process. The funds are then used to support lobbying efforts in their interest. This process is strictly regulated by Federal law, by the way, before anyone begins to think moneys are going to pad the pockets of the Big Seven or any other company.

Prior to the introduction of the keynote speaker, Jay Baer, a digital marketing expert, we enjoyed an very creative and entertaining video featuring outgoing ARDA Chairman Franz Hanning, president & CEO of Wyndham Vacation Ownership who shared the myriad number of responsibilities imposed on an ARDA chairman. Hanning passed the baton to the newly appointed chairman, Stephen P. Weisz, RRP, head of Marriott Vacations Worldwide Corporation.

Baer shared some of his insight into optimizing your online world through using smart marketing, which he described as being about help, not hype. “If you’re wondering how to make your company seem more exciting, you’re asking the wrong question,” he said. “You’re not competing for attention only against other similar products. You’re competing against your customers’ friends and family and viral videos and cute puppies. To win attention these days you must ask a different question: “How can we help?”

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”!)