Category Archives: Resort Management

Could what you don’t know about SEO hurt your resort?

Recently, SharonINK, was acquired by The Trades Publishing Company, From now on THE TRADES INK will be utilizing our Content Marketing capabilities with our parent company’s array of media, which includes two of everything: Two magazines, two websites, two eNewsletters, and two social media programs.

Our first client represented a resort’s marketing department and led us on a merry chase when they refused to recognize that managing their SEO would be their primary tool. We don’t claim to have all the answers but we do recognize that the very first thing an individual does when planning a vacation is to start making plans using Google.

Once upon a time and long, long ago, you researched your trip to Disney World by going to your local AAA office and asking them to customize a set of maps and destination information, called a “TripTik.” And as far as that once-in-a-lifetime vacation in Honolulu, you would write the visitor’s bureau and wait for them to send brochures. Today, the first thing someone does when planning a vacation is turn to Google. If our new client was to be responsible for attracting leads to visit his property, he needed to place a high priority on getting his property on Page One of a Google search. In the case of this resort, our first priority was to chisel out a list of keywords and make plans for a sound SEO strategy.

Maybe, like me, you’re not a SEO professional. But tremble as we might, we know the buck stops here. We need to be aware of some common misconceptions about how Google’s algorithm works and learn all we can about how to make it work for us. Whether or not you’re doing the actual hands-on work, or entrust these activities to an expert, understanding the world’s most prominent search engine is just about the most vital thing you can do to make sure you lead that race to the top of the ranks.

In the case of our new client, we offered to assist them in reviewing their online strategy and help their webmasters improve their ranking on Google. The first step would be to identify their optimal keywords. Gone are the ‘90s when you could cram keywords into a page of copy. These days, keyword stuffing’s about as passé as spats and suspenders. Various Google updates since those early days have introduced penalties for trying to beat the system.

Today, Google algorithms are looking for 1) authority in the form of your site’s overall strength in the market; 2) trustworthiness, as in hosting high quality content and backlinks from reliable sources; and 3) the relevance of your site to your product and your users.

According to SEO 2019: Learn Search Engine Optimization with Smart Internet Marketing Strategies, by Adam Clarke, Search Metrics (https://www.searchmetrics.com/glossary/google-keyword-planner) provides the following short list of the top Google ranking factors:

  1. Overall content relevance
  2. Click-through rate
  3. Time-on-site
  4. Bounce rate (lower is better)
  5. HTTPS – security certificate installed on the site
  6. Font size in main content area (larger is better)
  7. Number of images
  8. Number of internal links
  9. Total social media activity
  10. Number of backlinks

These factors are from a study released in 2016. After its release, it was announced that Search Metrics would no longer publish their rankings whitepapers. But odds are good that the above factors remain in effect with the notable addition of mobile support. In fact, we’re constantly hearing about more emphasis being placed on the need for sites to be mobile-friendly.

The Internet and Your Resort’s Marketing Mix

Prospective customers are learning about the world around them through the Internet every day, whether consciously or otherwise. Your challenge is to educate them about the value of your resort and how it will benefit them.

As we discussed, the foundation of an online strategy begins with effective list of keywords. Buying a Google Ad campaign is the easiest way to access the data behind its search box, which enables you to use their Keyword Planner tool.

Next on your to-do list would be to ensure your site is readable to Google’s spiders through on-page SEO. Among other tactics, this entails using search engine-friendly URLs. Your URLs should accurately reflect the content of your page. Next, make sure your site’s easy to navigate. “For an additional SEO boost, include links to pages you want visible to search engines and visitors on the home page,” adds Clarke.

If your site loads like you’re waiting for a red light to turn green, this could hamper your search engine results. Plus, beware of duplicate content that might cause you to be penalized. Other tricks of the trade include controlling your site’s snippets, building backlinks, and maintaining an active and consistent social media campaign.

Content and Your Online Success

In her book, in her book, Own Your Niche: Hype-Free Internet Marketing Tactics to Establish Authority in Your Field and Promote Your Service-Based Business, Stephanie Chandler notes that the number one tactic to build your audience and establish your authority online is to produce a lot of content. “This includes writing on blogs. And today you have to not only have your own blog – so that you can publish whatever you want, whenever you want to – but you must also guest post on other blogs.”

A first step is to begin by producing and distributing content: press releases, feature-length articles, and blog posts. It may be that your local chamber has additional tools at your disposal, especially if you are a member. One of our clients, located in Tennessee, has access to that state’s tourism site, https://www.tnvacation.com, for example. The client’s sales team can use the site in various ways, such as helping visitors plan their vacation and promising free tickets to events.  

How about having your satisfied customers tell their story through personal testimonials in the form of Case Studies to use as articles and blog posts. Once these are posted on your own blog site, they can be offered to prominent (and not-so-prominent) travel bloggers to use as free content. Don’t forget about curating content for your blogging and micro-blogging from other sources.

Build media relationships. Put together a proprietary database of media contacts for your local media as well as media in your target markets. An extension of this effort would be to build backlinks to publications’ and organizations’ websites and connect with editors and publishers through LinkedIn. Using a media CRM such as Cision comes with a $2,000-plus price tag, but is great if you can swing it.

Learn from competitors. Utilize Google Alerts and other means to track online activity of your competitors. Chandler writes, “You don’t have to contact competitors to learn from them.” She recommends reviewing their on- and off-line materials, studying their services, and paying attention to how they promote themselves.

“Pay attention to where they advertise and what kind of media coverage they have received.”  She mentions that being aware of your competitors’ strengths and weaknesses will also help you respond to any questions you might get from prospective clients.

Social Media. “Many of the independent studies on Google’s ranking algorithm show a large correlation with high-ranking pages having strong social media activity,” says Clarke. “While the official stance from Google is that they do not directly use social signals in their algorithm, the SEO community pretty much agrees it is certainly a factor in achieving rankings.”

Blogging and Other Secrets

As I wrote in my May 2018 Resort Trades article, “4 Reasons Why Blogging is Still Relevant” (https://resorttrades.com/4-reasons-why-blogging-is-still-relevant), blogging helps you 1) optimize your website, 2) connect with the right customers and connect more frequently, 3) maintain archived content that continues to work for you, and 4) connect with customers.

Remember to focus on quality, not just volume. In my September 2018 Resort Trades article, “Online Lead Generation: Pipe Dream or Full Pipeline?,” I discuss ideal article lengths by referring to an article in Forbes written by John Rampton in 2016 (forbes.com/sites/johnrampton/2016/05/05/7-seo-trends-every-small-business-needs-to-know). Rampton says, “Searchmetrics, for instance, found that the top 10 pages contained an average of 1,285 words. serpIQ, on the other hand, has found 1,500 words to be a good target length.”

Another article suggests the number may eventually change as more readers sign on with mobile devices. According to a post by snapagency.com, (snapagency.com/blog/posts-2018-whats-best-length-seo), “In the past couple years, the best post length for SEO was around 2,000 words. Longer blog posts ranked better, but evidence also seems to suggest that readers don’t typically want to read posts this long.”

The Be-All/End-All

“One of the most powerful on-page SEO strategies is adding more unique, fresh content to your site,” observes Clarke. “If you consistently add new pages to your site, you are going to receive more traffic. In fact, not only can you increase your traffic, you can receive an exponential traffic increase as you publish more content.

“It’s a no-brainer when you think about it. This is why blogs, publishing, and news-type sites consistently get good results in search engines. More contact means more rankings, more visitors, and more sales.”

Finally, a word about quality: If you’re planning to handle the creation and distribution of content, yourself, you may wish to reconsider. Are you going to be able to produce and distribute quality materials consistently? You may well have the intellectual capacity to research, write, post and follow through with the various tasks to optimize your blogging activities. But, before tossing a new, and fairly weighty, additional burden into your in-basket, make sure you have the time to make it a priority. Otherwise, you may be better off outsourcing your company’s online content production.

Sharon Scott Wilson is Publisher of Resort Trades and Golf Course Trades magazines.  Her firm, SharonINK – providing clients with B2B and B2C content – recently became a subsidiary of The Trades Publishing Company and is now called SharonINK/THE TRADES.

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, BuyATimeshare.com; 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.

–Sharon

 

4 Easy Tips to Stay Fit on Vacation

(As published on Bay Tree Solutions blog: https://www.baytreesolutions.com/blog/2018/03/28/4-tips-to-stay-fit-on-your-next-vacation.)

A vacation should be a means to restore your vitality, as well as to enjoy the company of those with whom you travel. For Americans, this usually includes lounging by the beach or pool, enjoying a cocktail while gazing at a perfect outdoor scene at sunset and enjoying leisurely meals and …oh yes!…sampling deserts! According to an article in Eat This magazine, “It might come as no surprise that vacation days can cause weight gain, but it’s not just the alcohol that’s doing it. Between skipped workouts, lazy days by the pool, and extra-indulgent restaurant meals, there are plenty of vacation mistakes that are wrecking your body goals.”

My theory is just the opposite. If properly planned and executed, I believe these four tips will help keep you fit on your next vacay. So, read on!

Tip #1 – Stay Active & Engaged.

Fortunately for those of us enjoying our vacation at a timeshare resort, we’ve got options. Many resorts are actually famous for their activities, such as the award-winning ‘INSPIRED FOR YOU’ program at the Welk Resort in Escondido. There you can try your hand at one of their championship golf courses or enjoy one of the five recreation centers and a stunning new 6,000 square foot fitness center featuring spin and yoga rooms, state-of-the-art strength and cardio machines and a two-story climbing wall.

Typically, a resort’s activities director will host poolside activities. For example, Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort and Spa features several pools. One of these, High Rock Spring Pool, is the resort’s hub and includes a Donald Duck-themed splash area for tots, plus a 126-foot waterslide zipping past a waterfall. For grownups, there are two whirlpool tubs nestled on a rocky hill overlooking the pool. Monster’s Inc., G-Force and Enchanted are just a few of the poolside movies offered at night.

Tip #2 – Save Your Restaurant Outings for Special Occasions.

One blogger advises keeping a fairly consistent diet. “It helps maintain weight better than being erratic.  Even when you’re on vacation, aim to eat roughly the same amount and kinds of food as you usually do. Your body will thank you.” Consider stocking your fridge with plenty of easy-to-fix ingredients. We especially like keeping packages of precut veggies and fruits on hand to tempt the kids instead of having them load up on sugary snacks or begging to go to a fast food joint. Most evenings we will serve a simple meal like a salad, canned or frozen veggies and a rotisserie chicken or a broiled steak. There’s nothing like having a home-away-from-home with a dining area and kitchen facilities to make this possible!

We especially like the way Marriott Vacation Club timeshare condos are designed in this respect. Marriott’s Grand Chateau in Las Vegas has one of the most spacious and commodious suites we’ve encountered, yet. Located within a short walk of the Strip a block south of Flamingo Road, you can stroll over to one of the casinos to try your luck. But with the marketplace and restaurants, fitness center, rooftop pool and spa facilities located in-house, you may never wish to leave this luxurious palace!

Tip #3 – Get Out And Enjoy the Sites.

Maybe it’s time to be adventurous and try something new. Challenge yourself to try something different while you’re away. Break out of a workout rut and use vacation as an excuse to try rock climbing, sailing, zip-lining or parasailing. Or maybe you’d be more comfortable on the golf course or at the bowling alley. How about a walk on the beach, a hike through the foothills or a stroll through a colorful village?

Whatever you choose, staying active is a great way to keep your mind young and your body in shape. My husband and I enjoy studying history. So whenever possible, we love to visit sites such as Williamsburg, Virginia, where we can get our exercise in while learning more about the life and times of colonials. In addition to historic attractions, there are world-class roller coasters in Busch Gardens and other theme parks and theaters presenting Broadway-style shows, not to mention tours such as a sunset voyage on a pirate ship. Aargh!

We found King’s Creek Plantation to be a great location. The resort is fairly new and we like the roomier accommodations and more modern layout and fixtures. When you get tired of tromping around the historic district, the resort has all the amenities you’d expect and then some. It has a delightful Aquatic Center with a beautiful junior-size Olympic swimming pool for year-round enjoyment. Plus there are three outdoor pools.

Tip #4 – Enjoy Your Travel Companions

Keep work away. It’s a vacation, remember? Resist the urge to check work e-mails and focus on having fun. It will keep your mind clear and allow you to decompress. Free your mind. Meditating for just a few minutes each day can help relieve anxiety and stress. Bonus points if you can find a beautiful space to do it in.Most of all, enjoy the company of the people around you.

When we take a vacation, it’s like meeting one another for the first time in years…I mean, really getting reacquainted, connecting and communicating. Getting away to a resort with living areas separate from bedrooms is about the only way to truly do this, in my opinion. We play games, talk about school and work or just sit together reading or watching TV. There’s a closeness in this that we just can’t get at home and certainly can’t get in a starchy hotel room.

Plus, we always seem to meet fun people at resorts each and every time we go. The atmosphere is so relaxed; people are at their most serene and friendly.  The most current belief in the health community is that people who connect with friends and loved ones actually live longer and have greater health.

A vacation doesn’t have to mean you’re going to gain five pounds. If you make the most of your time away, you can return refreshed, renewed and invigorated. And who knows? Perhaps you will have added precious time to your lifespan!

One Top Travel Secret: Kennebunk, ME, in the Off-Season

(Published on Bay Tree Solutions’ blog, https://www.baytreesolutions.com/blog/2018/02/15/one-top-travel-secret-kennebunk-maine-in-the-off-season)

As a recent article, “What the Travel Industry Needs in 2018,” posted by Robin Amster on TravelPulse.com mentions, “the line between ‘high’ and ‘shoulder’ season has blurred as travelers head out to explore destinations year-round.” The author prognosticates that this year’s travel trends will be punctuated by “New Seasons for Traditional Destinations.”

This is particularly good news for timeshare resort owners who might wish to optimize their week by using their week(s)’ exchange value or points. You can really stretch your vacation ownership privileges when you explore resorts in the off-season.

How about a visit to Kennebunkport, Maine? Long an elite vacation spot for well-heeled patricians, this is the site of the summer home of former U.S. President George H. W. Bush, father of former U.S. President George W. Bush. During his presidency, George H.W. Bush would occasionally host world leaders here, including Margaret Thatcher and Mikhail Gorbachev. Later, George W. Bush found it the ideal setting for a less formal get-together with Vladimir Putin.

While you are not likely to run into a member of the Bush dynasty outside the summer season, you can still enjoy having an entire beach to yourself if you visit from September through May. Located nearby is the small (with only 10,000 or so inhabitants), historic town of Kennebunk, where you can enjoy the full range of condo amenities in “84 Maine,” a cozy timeshare resort in the heart of town.

84 Maine is part of the popular Capital Resorts Group Vacation Club points program; allowing owners to exchange to any Capital Resorts location worldwide, in addition to Interval International’s network of more than 3,000 resorts in over 80 nations. Located in the town of Kennebunkport, 84 Maine offers eco-friendly one, two, and three-bedroom units with hardwood floors, gourmet kitchens, and private patios overlooking the town’s charming Main Street. Browse Capital Resorts timeshares for sale at 84 Maine at low ‘for sale by owner’ prices!

The Brick Store Museum is located just down the street and is worth visiting several times during your stay. Founder Edith C. Barry amassed a large number of family heirlooms and art during the beginning years of the Brick Store Museum, beginning in 1936. Today, the Museum houses close to 70,000 artifacts and archival materials.

Ms. Barry’s great-grandfather, William Lord, began constructing the main part of the museum as a dry goods store in 1825. At the time of Lord’s death in 1873, he was one of the wealthiest men in town. “Initially known as Lord’s Store, it was unusual for its time by being constructed of locally-kilned brick, a far more expensive alternative than constructing from plentiful Maine timber,” we are told by the website. “Although the brick exterior of the building remains relatively unchanged from the 19th Century, the interior has been altered significantly. Evidence of the building’s past as a store still remains upstairs, however; a windlass (or pulley system) used to hoist heavy goods is visible through a skylight.”

How fortunate for us that Lord took such pains to erect a building that has lasted almost 200 years! Edith Barry acquired three other buildings, all dating from the 1800s and expanded the museum’s footprint considerably. “These buildings date from 1810 to 1860. The initial core of the Museum’s collections came from the Lords and related families, but the Museum today is a regional history, art, and archives center.

“While many items can be found on display in rotating exhibits, most of our items are stored in a secured area of the Museum. Objects in our collections are used for exhibitions, educational programs, and research. The number of artifacts grows every day with new donations relating to the history of our community in the Kennebunks and southern Maine.

“Imagine quilts with secret pouches and handwritten inscriptions. Or a rare chest dating to 1685. Even a painting found floating at sea of a Kennebunkport ship captain. Examine pieces salvaged from area shipwrecks. Peek inside a Civil War drum for a real surprise. View the largest collection of World War I and II posters in all of Maine. Witness paintings created by Thomas Badger, John Brewster, Jr., Abbott Fuller Graves, Louis Norton, and Hannah Skeele.”

After a morning spent surveying how the typical ‘Maineiac ‘ lived during the Nineteenth Century, you can virtually remain in the past with lunch at the picturesque general store, H.B. Provisions. In 2002, an enterprising couple took over this 1865 building, turning it into a popular meeting place for the town’s community and where visitors can find a variety of unique gifts from Maine, as well as wine, beer, liquor, made to order deli breakfast and sandwiches, fresh baked goods, specialty coffee and more.

Those interested in the Great Outdoors may wish to visit the Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge. It was established in 1966 in cooperation with the State of Maine to protect valuable salt marshes and estuaries for migratory birds. A few of the activities to be enjoyed — particularly during the warmer months — include hunting, fishing, shell-fishing, kayaking and more. “Located along 50 miles of coastline in York and Cumberland counties, the refuge consists of eleven divisions between Kittery and Cape Elizabeth. It will contain approximately 14,600 acres when land acquisition is complete. The proximity of the refuge to the coast and its location between the eastern deciduous forest and the boreal forest creates a composition of plants and animals not found elsewhere in Maine. Major habitat types present on the refuge include forested upland, barrier beach/dune, coastal meadows, tidal salt marsh, and the distinctive rocky coast.”

With easy access to beaches from Kennebunk, here are some ideas one writer at www.weekendnotes.com/visit-the-beach-winter offered:

“You might think I am bonkers for mentioning going to the beach during the coldest season of the month, but I’m not crazy, I actually have a lot of good reasons for you and your family to visit the beach and things you can do there in Winter.

• Go shell collecting. The sand won’t be hot like it is in the Summer so it will be easier to walk around and dig up old shells. Lots of fun, my boys seem to really enjoy this activity – they paste the mini shells onto paper using glue.

• Take lovely photos of the beach. It will be less crowded and easier to take some really nice landscape shots. Kids at the beach also make for really good photos too.

• Watch the sunset and the waves crashing while there is no one around, most likely the beach will be empty. It is the perfect time to sit on a blanket or pier and watch the waves rolling in.

• Eat some hot food on the beach, if it is slightly warm or a bit cool it will feel nice eating hot food like fish and chips on the beach. You can even eat it from inside the car, but still watching the beach.

• Go for a run along the beach, much easier to do than in Summer because there isn’t a lot of people.

• I love the beach during the Winter, I think it is more beautiful and more fun to enjoy. My favorite part is that there is hardly anybody there, and if there is you can always make friends.

• I have noticed tides can be quite rough in the Winter time so always be careful and make sure your kids do not fall into the water.”

If beaches are your ‘thing,’ then check out gokennebunks.com/pages/visiting/beaches to read reviews and select your favorite. Regardless when you visit or how you like to spend your holiday time, however, this vacation destination is a great spot for anyone interested in beating the hustle and bustle of the city. Plus, you’ll fall in love with 84 Maine!

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 interested 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.

Resort Operators/Managers: Share This!

The Value of Vacation

ARDA posted the following blog on its web site, VacationBetter.org 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?

SharonINK to Manage Resort Trades

SharonINK to handle Resort Trades’ editorial, promotional and advertising activities.

Resort Trades, timeshare’s most widely-read B2B news journal, recently announced it has retained SharonINK PR & Marketing to oversee all of its editorial, promotional and advertising activities.

“One of our primary duties will be to clarify Resort Trades’ quality of editorial content and depth of readership,” says SharonINK CEO Sharon Scott. “While other publications in the industry serve a useful purpose and reach a select audience, Resort Trades is the only one sent every single month to every single resort in the US, as well as to a subscriber-base of senior-level executives at development, management and timeshare-related travel companies.”

“Sharon began writing for us in 1996 and has served as Resort Trades’ contributing editor since 2006,” says Publisher Tim Wilson. “We are looking to her firm to continue our information-rich tradition, as well as to promote a better understanding and appreciation for the value we bring to the timeshare industry.”

“Resort Trades is an avid ARDA supporter,” Scott adds. “This year we are looking forward to forging alliances with organizations and entities that support the growth and health of the industry. I welcome a discussion along these lines and can be reached at 1-310-923-1269 or Sharon@SharonINK.com.”

About Resort Trades

The Trades was established in 1987 and distributes approximately 5,500 copies monthly to every US timeshare resort, a voluntary subscriber base of resort professionals of all walks and at various conventions and industry conferences. The Trades adds value to the industry as a whole with an enormous volume of informative content to assist resort operators run their properties more efficiently, raise revenues more effectively and make better-informed buying decisions.SharonScott_Trades card_2014