ARDA World 2018 – Must-See Sessions

The first not-to-be-missed event taking place during the ARDA World 2018 May 6-10 convention at Caesars Palace isn’t necessarily instructional, but it’s for a good cause: It’s the 5th Annual TrackResults Poker Tournament supporting the cancer-survivor organization, Send Me On Vacation. The extravaganza’s adventure, jocularity, and camaraderie begin at 8:00 pm in the South Point Casino and continue to 11:30 pm (and if legend holds true, far beyond). So click HERE to register.

This year’s annual convention has several educational sessions that I think will be of particular interest to resort operators and managers. Below, I’ve listed some that caught my eye. But first, I want to address resort team members who plan on attending ARDA World, directly.

Please, please visit the ARDA Marketplace and thank the vendors for their support of the Association. With the consolidation of resort developers into just a few companies, our suppliers need you to give them a shot at your business. And if you use a supplier or vendor who tells you, “I don’t need to show up with an exhibit,” CHASTISE them! They are taking your business for granted. They are showing you disrespect by not helping support your continuing education.

The same can be said of advertising in Resort Trades magazine. This is a free-to-you publication supported only by advertising. The publication strives to print the most relevant and timely resort management-oriented information. And, in truth, the Resort Trades team works to give you a monthly magazine (namely, twelve times a year) that is by you and for you almost as a labor of love. As their advertising base shrinks, so does their viability. So, if you want to see this specialized publication survive, tell advertisers “I saw you in The Trades.” And tell your suppliers you would expect them to support your education and the well-being of your company by being an advertising partner. Here’s a link to Resort Trades’ media kit.

Now, For My List of ‘Compulsory’ Sessions

Monday is devoted principally to committee meetings and a two-part “Fundamentals of Timeshare.” The day’s general session officially kicks off the convention and is to be headlined by keynote speaker Robert Stevenson. Robert is a global speaker, best-selling author, and an expert at building a high-performance culture, improving efficiency and accelerating growth. Sponsored by RCI, the session is from 3:30 pm until 5:00 pm (perilously close to Happy Hour!).

Scheduled for Tuesday:

9:00 am – 10:15 am, Twitter Alert: Trump and Timeshare. The current administration brings both opportunities and potential challenges. One fact is sure – things are changing! Hear a panel of experts discuss changes to legislation, tax codes and labor laws. Moderator: Sandra “Sam” DePoy, ARDA-ROC. Speakers: Blair Larkins, Bockorny Group; John Lehrer, Baker & Hostetler LLP; Steven Suflas, Ballard Spahr LLP.

Unfortunately, a time conflict exists for another 9:00 am – 10:15 am session that appeals to most resort professionals: “Modern Going Mobile.” Today’s customers initiate more transactions through mobile devices than traditional websites. A mobile experience is expected. Attendees will discuss resort apps, mobile security and more with industry experts. Moderator: Barbie LaMothe, Hilton Grand Vacations Inc. Speakers: Federico Beyer, Royal Resorts; Oskar Diaz de Leon, Welk Resorts; Tom Meyer, Hilton Grand Vacations Inc.

There are a number of interesting sessions taking place concurrently in the 1:30 pm – 2:45 pm slot. Among them are “#MeToo and My Corporate Culture.” How has the #MeToo movement affected corporate cultures within the timeshare industry? Find out as experts discuss what challenges exist, what changes have been made, and what you can do next. Moderator: Barbara Wilcox, Holiday Inn Club Vacations. Speakers: Amy Bellman, Fidelity National Timeshare; Jonathan Canger, Marriott Vacations Worldwide Corp.; Tracy Ward, Welk Resorts.

Also being discussed during this time period are “Optimal Fishing Holes: Guest Feedback” and “To Russia, With Love: Hacking Alert.” The latter session promises to discuss ways to protect your data and prevent hacking.

From 3:00 pm – 4:00 pm, one particularly interesting session for those companies developing alternative products or operating internationally is “Rethinking Finance: Resales, International and Beyond.” Explore the challenges in financing for international projects in places like South America or the Carribean, and for non-traditional projects such as resales, travel clubs or RVs. Moderator: Bill Ryczek, Colebrook Financial Company, LLC. Speakers: Debbie Ely, Vacation Club Loans; Scott Preston, Preston Arza LLP; Chris Hughes, Monterey Financial Services.

Schedule conflicts for this hour will once again be a problem as who wants to miss “Legal Hot Topics at Home and Abroad,” “Your Members are Talking…Are You Listening” (yes, another look at social media) or “Inspect What You Expect: Quality Assurance for Employee Programs”?

Scheduled for Wednesday:

Wednesday, May 9, has us up and at ’em at 8:45 am – 9:45 am with “The kNOws” of Communicating with Customers and Prospects.” Dive into the legal considerations related to communicating with prospects and customers. Discussion points will include new spam laws, privacy issues, TCPA and FDCPA updates. Moderator: Luke Smith, Taylor English Duma LLP. Speakers: Ed Chansky, Greenberg Traurig, LLP; Ron Naves, Welk Resorts; Jenny Perkins, Ballard Spahr LLP; Stratis Pridgeon, Wyndham Vacation Ownership

Conflicting time-wise with this session is” Safety First, Even on Vacation.” We hear stories daily of theft, fraud and terror threats affecting travelers. Learn to develop and implement a preparedness plan and ensure the safety and security of owners, guests, and team members. Moderator: Tony Mendez, MasterCorp. Speakers: David Brown, Grand Pacific Resorts; Duane Finley, Bluegreen Vacations Corporation

But if you should miss this one, perhaps you can catch up later from 2:00 pm – 3:30 pm at the “Disaster Preparedness Forum.” When disaster strikes, it’s crucial to know how to react on the ground as well as in the public eye. Join us for a critically important and timely forum where a panel of industry professionals will share their real-life knowledge and experience. Topics will include dealing with the immediate and long-term effects of disasters, communicating with both the press and with guests, and managing displaced owners. After the panel, table leaders will facilitate breakout discussion groups for further engagement opportunities. We encourage you to come – you can never be too prepared. Moderator: Stephanie Sobeck, Marriott Vacations Worldwide Corp. Speakers: Kelly Brady-Snyder, Grand Pacific Resorts; Stephen Escher – Diamond Resorts; Erin Pagán – Hilton Grand Vacations Inc.

Prior to the forum, Rob Webb, Baker & Hostetler LLP moderates a 1:30 pm – 2:45 pm panel on “Timeshare Relief.” Exit and relief companies are a huge challenge in today’s timeshare resale market. What is the industry’s response, especially on the scam front, and what are exit alternatives for consumers? Speakers: Maria Kalber, Diamond Resorts; Wes Kogelman,; Cullen Williams, Holiday Inn Club Vacations. This one will be standing room only, so come early.

Of particular interest to resorts dealing with HOA Boards will be the 3:00-4:15 pm session, “Who’s on Board? How do resorts find qualified owners who are willing serve on the Board of Directors? Come learn the best practices of recruitment, application processing, onboarding and educating new Board Members. Moderator: Dale Goodman, GoodManagement. Speakers: Tye Deyo, Vistana Signature Experiences; Kim Fries, Bluegreen Vacations Corporation; Jan Samson, Vacation Resorts International.

See ya’ in Vegas, Baby!

I’m not usually the type to casually call people “baby,” but perhaps the thought of a fun week in Vegas brings it out in me. I’ll be wandering around the Exhibit Hall, most likely. So, please be sure to say hi if we see one another at ARDA World 2018.



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