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