Travel Resolutions for 2015

While you are making your 2015 New Year resolutions think about including your travel resolutions too. Here are a few to help you get started.

Resolutions for Travelers

  1. Travel more often – By now you've probably read a number of articles about the benefits of travel. It's true that vacationing is good for you. Taking a vacation reduces stress, prevents burnout and makes you more productive when you return to work. A vacation also helps to increase happiness and boosts creativity. 
  2. Experience new places – Travel to a place that you have never been to before. There's nothing like a new environment to stimulate and inspire you. Get out of your comfort zone. Try an exotic location and make it a point to meet the locals. Prepare yourself by learning a little of the language before visiting so you can impress the natives.
  3. Make it a giving experience – You can make a difference while on vacation. There are travel companies that specialize in philanthropic, service travel or stewardship travel. These companies offer the opportunity to learn about and share with other cultures, as you also donate your time to help. Pick a cause and destination that interests you and use your skills to make a positive impact on areas such as the environment, public health, education and wildlife care and conservation. Check out,, or
  4. Leave technology behind – Try really disconnecting while on vacation. Leave your devices at home, or at least try a destination remote enough where they won’t work. You might discover something about yourself that you didn’t know and you’ll be better able to entirely immerse yourself in your surroundings and enjoy your trip without distraction.
  5. Rent a condo for a week with multi generations – Vacationing with the family is good for the soul. Sharing the travel experience with family members of all ages is the ultimate quality time. Work, school, chores, commuting and more leave little opportunity to spend meaningful time with loved ones. Vacationing together gives you that time to leave the distractions at home and really communicate with each other as you also develop lasting memories.

Resolutions for Timeshare Industry Professionals

  1. Speak to at least one owner a week – Just as you need to communicate with your personal family, it’s also important to communicate with your timeshare family too. Make it a point to get to know your owners. A friendly hello, how are you is fine, but real communication includes finding out what’s going on in their lives and how they feel about their ownership. Personal contact allows owners to share what they like about their timeshare, but also to give feedback on what they would like improved.
  2. Visit a competitor’s resort – What better way to keep up on what’s going on at your competitor’s resort, but by experiencing it firsthand. Schedule a friendly visit, or even a short stay. Find common ground and see what you can both do to improve.
  3. Cross train yourself or a staff member – Train sales people to work in operations, or accounting staff to work at the front desk, and vice versa. That way, you'll always be prepared and able to jump in and help in an emergency, or when staff is on vacation or out ill. 
  4. Take at least one ARDA Webinar – Knowledge is power. As professionals, it’s important to keep learning. ARDA Webinars offer the convenience of learning new information or a skill without having to leave the office, or from the comfort of your home. (
  5. Become an expert on the area where you work – Learn everything you can about your resort's area. Search for fun, unexpected, or out of the way places that you can recommend to owners and guests. Be the one that owners go to when looking for special places to visit or things to do that enhance their stay.

Thinking about Traveling for the Winter Holidays?

There may still be time!
It's holiday time and our thoughts turn to family and friends and the inevitable questions of where and when to get together. If you’ve waited this long to decide, you might be considered a bit of a procrastinator, but there still may be time to pull it off.  Just so you know for next year’s plans, the optimum time to book flights for Christmas travel would have been October 8th. According to Orbitz, that’s when prices were 5% below average for the time period, and they then rose slowly to more average holiday prices by Oct. 28th. So what’s a procrastinator to do now? 

Getting There

  • At this late date it might be easier to drive rather than fly, particularly if family members live fairly close together. 
  • Consider holding your holiday get together a week or two earlier, or later than the actual holiday.  The holiday window is approximately December 21st-January 6th. If you can do it, try getting together before the 21st and after January 6th. This may not work for some families, of course, but if you are flexible it will certainly help to avoid the the stress of flying during the holidays, save you a lot of money and could start a new holiday tradition.
  • There may not be any cheap days to fly during the holidays, but there are days the airlines designate for cheaper flights. You certainly are not going to get a good rate the day before the holiday itself, and there’s a great chance there will be no availability on those days. Because both Christmas and New Year's are on Thursday this year, a Sunday departure is not a good bet either. A better bet is to travel on the day of the holiday. Traditionally, flights on the holiday are less expensive.
  • Be sure to check all airlines for flights at this time of year and look for special air sales. An American Airlines Europe fare sale is running right now that features travel dates from December to spring with blackout dates of December 17th-24th. Amazingly, it includes discounted fares the week of Christmas. 

Staying There

Maybe you are one of the lucky ones that has a timeshare week scheduled for this holiday season, or maybe you thought ahead and exchanged for this time early, but if not: 
  • Be flexible in your choice of destinations and be willing to try a new place.
  • Check exchange sites like RCI, Interval International, and Dial-An-Exchange for last minute exchanges and unsold inventory.
  • Rental sites such as and are also options to consider.
It’s worth a little effort to get all your family and friends together and who knows, this could turn out to be your best holiday ever. Happy Holidays!

Travel is Trending - Increases in Both Domestic and Global Travel

2015 is shaping up to be a good year for the timeshare industry.  Adding to ARDA’s latest glowing report that shows significant growth in 2013 are more positive predictions from travel industry experts of increased domestic and global travel in 2015. As the recession has receded, confidence in the economic situation has returned, and both domestic and global travel has increased. After four consecutive years of growth that surpassed the world economy by 1.5 percent, predictions are that 2015 should be an even bigger year for the travel industry.    
These 2013 travel statistics from industry experts, are helping to fuel the positive outlook for 2015:
  • 70 million international travelers visited the U.S.  
  • International travelers visiting the U.S. spent a record $181 billion on goods and services
  • U.S. residents took 1.6 billion trips for leisure purposes 
  • Spending on leisure travel generated $91.9 billion in tax revenue

Travel’s economic impact important to trade balance and job creation

Even President Obama agrees that travel is a significant influencer on many of his economic priorities such as the U.S. trade balance and job creation. This spring, Obama met with leaders of America’s travel industry at the White House to talk about more activities to spur economic growth through travel and tourism. Discussion included the renewal of Brand USA, a public-private partnership that has successfully marketed the U.S. as a tourist destination. 

Americans are keeping it domestic

According to a recent survey by, only 13 percent of Americans traveled abroad last year. And of those who did travel abroad, more than 75 percent made more than $100,000 a year.  Issues such as as a weak dollar, high ticket prices, and safety, are some of the reasons Americans are preferring to vacation in their home country.  

International travelers 

On the other hand, the international travel market is growing rapidly, and many of those travelers are traveling to the U.S. America’s competitors in the international travel market were the first to realize the importance of travel promotion - the targeted marketing of countries to potential international visitors. In 2010, after losing ground to the important global market, the US Congress passed the Travel Promotion Act (TPA). That act also created Brand USA, a destination marketing organization for across the globe promotion of the U.S. According to the U.S. travel Association, Brand USA’s efforts has helped add an additional 1.1 million incremental visitors to the U.S. - an increase of 2.3 percent. 

Niche Markets are Trending

A recent article in Travel Age West Magazine reports that the new travel markets on the rise are experiential travel, upscale adventure travel and wellness travel. Hotels and airlines are incorporating more personalized services and the latest technologies. The cruise industry is debuting new ships that combine ocean-going and river cruise itineraries.


Who’s Buying Timeshares Now?

New timeshare buyers are a diverse group according to a recent Shared Vacation Ownership study from ARDA International Foundation (AIF). Younger and culturally diverse, these new buyers are fueling the timeshare industry's current growth mode of 7.9 percent up from 7.2 percent in 2012. 

What Defines the New Buyers?

Howard Nusbaum, president and CEO of ARDA says, "We're excited not only about the fact that sales are up in our industry, but also about why they are up. While existing owners continue to enjoy the lifestyle and purchase more timeshare, it's the new owners that are responsible for the majority of qualified new sales." Statistics from the Shared Vacation Ownership study show just who these new buyers are and the reasons they can qualify for a timeshare purchase.

They are younger and more diverse 

  • Almost 10 years younger than conventional owners - median age of 39
  • 42% are African American or Hispanic

They are highly educated, employed, have families, own homes 

  • 72% are college graduates
  • 79% are married or in a committed relationship 
  • 51% have children under age 18
  • 72% are employed full-time
  • $94,800 is median household income
  • 91% own a home

They do their research before they purchase

  • 75% had some form of experience with timeshare before purchasing
  • 35% attended multiple sales presentations
  • 44% vacationed at the resort before they bought
  • 42% experienced timeshare by renting first

They understand value

  • 36% bought their timeshare to save money on vacations
  • 31% bought a timeshare for the vacation flexibility it offers

More Good Signs

Other trends from the Shared Vacation Ownership study showed that the overall purchase price of a timeshare rose to an average of nearly $20,000. Timeshare owners are spreading their vacations evenly between summer, fall and spring, and 40% are as likely to travel under 500 miles as they are to travel 1000 miles or more. Though 75% of owners vacationed at a timeshare resort, the study showed 16% converted their timeshare to a different type of vacation-related purchase such as a cruise or airline ticket. 


What do Eric Cantor and David Gregory Have in Common?

Attendees at this week's ARDA Fall Conference in D.C. are in for a treat - both Cantor and Gregory are keynote speakers at this year’s event. The Honorable Eric Cantor, former House Republican Majority Leader, speaks Thursday at the legislative luncheon. David Gregory, the former host of Meet the Press, is a keynote speaker later in the afternoon on Thursday. The two are both masters of reinvention, having both survived and flourished after being fired from their previous positions. They are sure to have some interesting insights to share.

Eric Cantor

From 2001 to 2014, Eric Cantor served as United States Senator for Virginia’s 7th congressional district. During that time, he was also House Majority Leader and House Minority Whip. In a surprising upset, Cantor lost his bid for re-election in 2014 to economics professor, Dave Brat. It didn't take Cantor long to get on with a new life. He resigned early from Congress on August 18, 2014, and immediately went to work as vice chairman of investment bank Moelis & Company for compensation many times greater than his Senate salary.  With his years of legislative experience, Cantor is the perfect choice of speaker for the legislative luncheon sponsored by ARDA’s Resort Owner Coalition (ARDA-ROC).  This grassroots coalition (made up of timeshare owners) lobbies to protect timeshare owners from detrimental legislation.

David Gregory

David Gregory was the host and moderator of NBC’s Meet the Press for six years where he had a reputation for asking tough questions of many of the world’s leaders. Since 2001, he was also NBC’s chief White House correspondent and often featured on NBC Nightly News, the Today Show, and MSNBC. In August of 2014, Gregory was fired from Meet the Press and was paid $4 million to leave NBC. It was rumored he also had to sign a contract not to speak out against the network. Gregory, like Cantor, has bounced back as a much in demand moderator and speaker. In his presentations, he speaks openly about the topics he is well-versed in: politics, current affairs, and popular media’s responsibilities in mass communications.

More Conference Speakers

Other featured speakers at the conference are: Marci Rossell, former CNBC Chief Economist and co-host of Squawk Box, and Chris Cillizza, journalist, political pundit and author of the Fix column at the Washington Post.

Not Attending the Conference?

In case you are unable to attend the fall conference, ARDA will post the important issues covered at the conference on its website. ( 

ARDA International Foundation Promotes Professional Growth for Success

ARDA kicks off its fall conference on November 12th in Washington, D.C. It;s sure to offer many opportunities for attendees to learn about key timeshare issues, set goals for the future and network with colleagues, but ARDA is not just about conferencing a few times a year.  ARDA International Foundation (AIF) offers a continuing source of education programs. What began in 1982 as a research tool to keep up with the rapid growth and change of the timeshare industry now has evolved into much more. AIF offers timeshare industry members multiple opportunities for professional growth.

AIF Education 

Timeshare professionals who are looking to gain expertise in a certain area of the industry need look no further than AIF's education programs. Through AIF, education participants can increase their industry knowledge, develop skills and earn professional designations including the Associate Resort Professional (ARP), Registered Resort Professional (RRP) and Certified Timeshare Supervisor (CTS).  

University Partnerships = More Industry Awareness

As a means of bringing new people into the timeshare industry, AIF partners with universities to provide resources to build course curricula, and internship programs to familiarize students with the industry. AIF's scholarship programs offer networking opportunities for both students and professors that help to bring them closer to the timeshare community on a personal level.

Suppliers also Benefit

Those supplying goods and services to the timeshare industry can earn AIF's Supplier Certification designation. It's a win-win situation. Suppliers become more knowledgeable of the industry, the characteristics of timeshare buyers, and trends and legal issues. Timeshare buyers gain savvy suppliers who know what the industry needs and can provide the best services.

Easy and Convenient Access to Learning

AIF offers easy and convenient access to professional development opportunities through its online learning platform.  Professionals may participate in self-study-courses, downloadable research, and webinar presentations accessible through computer or smart phone. Courses like Timeshare 101 teach the basics to industry newbies. Partnership Strategies helps timeshare professionals strengthen their customer skills with new ways to market and service the timeshare product.

Leadership Development

ARDA LEAPS is a program specifically designed to nurture and develop future ARDA leaders. The one year program requires nomination by an organization. As part of the selection process, nominated candidates must submit a 500 word document on why they should be in the program. After completion of the year long program, ARDA LEAP's candidates are encouraged to continue service to the industry such as mentoring new LEAP candidates, and participating on an ARDA committee.

Future of the Industry

As the timeshare industry continues to grow and evolve, it is important that those of us working in the industry continue to grow and evolve too. Professional development opportunities for industry professionals and education partnerships that develop awareness of our industry, help to keep the industry growing and thriving.

How is Timeshare Handling Recreational Marijuana?

A session on Happy Owners at ARDA West in Denver last week, brought giggles from the audience when the topic turned to recreational marijuana use. What better place to discuss it than in Colorado, one of the first states to legalize recreational use of pot. Tourists visiting Denver can check into "Weed-Inns", (not to be confused with weed-ins, popular in the 60-70's).  In various other cities across the state, marijuana tour companies such as "420 Tours" transport visitors around in their "Canna-Bus" for weed cooking classes, Grow Tours and Weed Sommelier Tours. The tour company also offers stays at 420 friendly hotels where use of the drug in your room is no problem.  

It's Complicated

Ok, enough of the silliness. Let's get serious. How are timeshare resorts in states that legalize recreational use of the drug going to handle it? At present, though Colorado and Washington are the only states to legalize recreational use of marijuana, other states are lining up to follow suit—with some pushing initiatives for upcoming years. California, Oregon and Alaska are tops on the list for recreational legalization, with Arizona, Nevada, Montana and Massachusetts close behind. It’s not a simple matter to decide. 

ARDA Looks at Issues Surrounding Legal Marijuana Use

Many issues result from recreational use of marijuana and some are not humorous. A recent article in ARDA Developments, brought up several of these issues: accommodating medical marijuana use, employment policies, off-duty use, hiring practices. In addition, there is the issue of owner/guest policies, disposal of marijuana left in rooms, and keeping marijuana and marijuana products out of the hands of minors.

Owner/Guest Policies

The ARDA article says that at present, most timeshare resorts follow the written rules and regulations of the HOA and management company in dealing with marijuana use. Timeshares do not allow tobacco smoking in general, but some may have specifically designated areas. General rules may also state that no activity that’s improper, offensive and unlawful take place on the property, but when state initiatives pass this rule will need to change too.
What’s harder to control is marijuana edibles, and the use of the drug in e-cigarettes and other vaporizers that do not produce smoke, and emit little odor. In Colorado, hotels are smoke free and that means marijuana too, but there are companies promoting marijuana tourism like the Colorado Pot Guide, who give advice to tourists that it’s ok to use these products if they are discreet.  Vaporizers, E-cigarettes and edibles may require new HOA rules specific to their use. Or, as the article in Developments suggests, the topic may need to be specifically addressed in the developers Declaration documents.

What to do with Guest Left-Overs

A potentially serious issue is what to do about marijuana left behind by guests particularly when it’s disguised in other products. These products often contain higher levels of the drug and are often packaged to look like common commercial products. Depending on the policies of the timeshare (some resorts currently allow employees to take home consumable items left behind by guests), there is a danger that employees may unknowingly eat the product. 
It's apparent that staff need to be educated about the danger of the products that are labeled as such, but they also need to be aware of items that are homemade with marijuana and not labeled. The ARDA article mentions one instance of a housekeeper and her children who were hospitalized after eating a guest’s left-over brownies.  

Disposal Problem

Disposal of left behind marijuana is another consideration. As the ARDA article states, it can't just be thrown away in a dumpster. It needs to be quarantined and then made to be unrecognizable. Colorado uses a system to make marijuana unrecognizable by mixing it with shredded paper, food waste and grease. It’s then put in a secure receptacle or taken to a solid waste disposal facility.
This is not a simple issue. As more states pass initiatives for recreational use of marijuana, timeshares will have to look long and hard at how they are going to address the issue. 

Who’s Helping Resort Managers and HOA Board Members?

Find out Who and How at the TBMA 2014 Meeting

Doesn't it sometimes seem that the big guys have it easy? The Marriotts, the Hiltons, the Wyndhams, with huge support staffs and access to all the latest in software and technology, seem to have all the bells and whistles to be successful. But, there's an organization that wants to make sure the little guys have what it takes to be successful too. 

The Timeshare Board Members Association (TBMA) 

The Timeshare Board Members Association (TBMA) helps on-site resort managers and HOA board members deal with the nuts and bolts of managing owner-controlled resorts. The organization works with these individuals to find what they need to run a successful timeshare resort—from where to buy linens to setting up booking engines on their websites. Through its educational resources, TBMA helps resort managers and HOA board members find the support and tools they need to be effective representatives of their resorts. 

"No Resort Should Operate in a Vacuum"

TBMA holds that no resort should operate in a vacuum. The organization feels that owner-controlled resorts have been especially hard hit in today's economic and business environment. HOA Board Members and managers are having to deal with issues such as: inventory of unsold intervals, fraudulent transfers, and managing delinquency rates. TBMA helps these members and managers identify problem areas, and make a plan for dealing with them. One way the organization provides information to members and managers is through informative, educational meetings with industry experts.

TBMA 2014 Meeting October 26-28 in San Diego, California

According to TBMA, this year's meeting features a new dynamic, interactive agenda and a special introductory session to meet and greet peers. Educational panels, case to case studies and peer to peer networking provide additional opportunities for ideas and support. A few of the key issues that will be featured and presented by industry professionals at this year’s meeting are:
  • Analyzing your resort’s financial health
  • Coping with unsold HOA inventory
  • A closer look at Board Member fiduciary responsibilities
  • Essential refurbishment/upgrades, planning and funding
  • An analysis of the evolving marketplace

It’s Free

Membership in TBMA is free and there is no registration fee for board members and resort managers to attend the TBMA meetings. Board members and resort managers can join TBMA at  RSVP for the San Diego Meeting via Email:

Planting Trees, Saving Turtles…

Most timeshare resorts are involved in some type of green program that involves such things as recycling, water saving methods, use of environmentally friendly products and alternative energy sources.  Some timeshares are taking it to the next level. Not only do they promote environmental practices in their resorts, but they are also giving back to their community’s environment and looking out for the needs of future generations through worthwhile projects.

Wyndham’s Worldwide Commitment to Social Responsibility

One company committed to a program of conserving natural resources, preserving habitats and preventing pollution on a worldwide basis is Wyndham Worldwide. The WyndhamGreen program is used not just in their North American resorts, but in all of their resorts across the globe, including countries of Africa, and Central America, India and China. By adopting best practices with owners, franchisees, employees and guests, in 2013 Wyndham has reduced its carbon emissions by 13 percent and its water usage globally by 16 per square foot from its 2010 baseline. 
Giving back to the communities that support their locations is also a top concern of the company. Here are a few of their projects:
  • Wyndham Vacation Ownership has launched a Million Trees Project which has already planted 450,000 trees in forest lands lost to fires. 
  • With their Arbor Day Foundation Rain Rescue Program they help to save rain forests, promote human compassion, and support the Raw Forest Alliance certified coffee. 
  • Wyndham Exchange and Rentals Indianapolis partners with Indian Land Trust to support the Browning Marsh, a wetland area with many rare and endangered species.

Royal Resorts Helps to Protect Mexican Sea Turtles

Royal Resorts, a timeshare company with resorts throughout Mexico, rescued and released 3,773 baby sea turtles into the ocean this year. The company’s Sea Turtle Protection Program has since its inception in 1998, released 522,394 turtles and protected 6,264 turtle nests. Not only is this a worthy conservation project, but members and guests staying at Royal’s resorts, are provided an awesome experience. During the season from August to November they can watch the exciting release of the baby turtles.

Employee Buy-In a Must for Efforts to Work

A sure sign that your resort’s business management sustainability programs are working, is gaining the support of the surrounding community. But programs also need buy-in by resort employees. 
Grand Pacific Resorts (GPR) understands they need employee buy-in to support their environmental efforts. GPR supports its green program with a company-wide green committee, the Green Squad, comprised of employee representatives from each of its resorts. The committee meets monthly to develop new ideas and innovations to reduce their environmental impact and satisfy owner/guest expectations for environmentally conscious hospitality practices. 
The company also strives to educate guests, who can be a big part of how well your program works, as to how they can help. During the regular Welcome Breakfast, guests are reminded of such things as to be conscious of A/C usage and to use alternate cooling methods like opening windows, or keeping windows closed when the A/C is on.  All these efforts must be working for GPR’s Carlsbad Seapointe resort. It won RCI’s 2013 top green recognition, the Platinum RCI Green Award.

According to Breckenridge Grand Vacations (BGV), their primary focus is highly committed to business management sustainability. Their employees and guests are empowered to devote daily operations to this effort. BGV also strives to positively impact the lives of owners, guests and employees.  Their focus seems to be working. BGV was selected as one the best places to work in a recent ranking by the Denver Post and has also won the industry ARDY Employer Choice award.  In addition, the town of Breckenridge and the High Country Conservation Center recognized their sustainability efforts by awarding them a 2014 Sustainable Breck Certificate. The certificate recognizes the adherence to the strict green standards set by the town of Breckenridge.

Getting Personal

Our first thoughts for our vacation plans are often of the new, fancy timeshare resorts. But mature, established legacy resorts still have plenty to offer, and some companies are reaching out to them to help them along. It may just take a different approach to reach them and personal contact seems to be the key.

Are Home Visits Back? 

One company is using the home visit approach to assist single-site resort developers and HOAs responsible for properties that may be declining due to issues such as maintenance, shrinking reserves and escalating debts. Compass Resort Group President Jay Finley III, and partner, Chuck Frey feel certain one on one contact is key in communicating with owners of legacy timeshares. Finley feels that a meaningful face to face conversation with owners that is not a sales pitch, goes a long way in building trust and relationships. 
Compass owner service representatives make in-person consultations to access owner needs, answer questions, keep them updated on changes and develop an ongoing rapport. It seems to be just the ticket to keep the owners of these resorts actively engaged. A few of the resorts that Compass Resort Group has helped to become more profitable, gain new owners, and recover lost revenues are Branson Yacht Club, Galleon Bay, Fox Hills Development Group and Desert Breezes Resort.

Affiliate Access Programs

Being the largest timeshare vacation exchange company in the world, doesn’t stop RCI from keeping the personal connection with their affiliates through their Affiliate Access Program. In an effort to reach owners in a more personal setting that also gives them a chance to have their questions answered directly by an RCI representative, the company has been holding "Lunch and Learn" events.  At these HOA-focused get togethers, affiliate access program participants have a chance to talk face to face with RCI sales and servicing teams about the best practices to get the most out of vacation ownership. There's also an opportunity for participants to get acquainted with RCI's 86 vendor and supplier affiliate access partners.
Online customer survey company and member of affiliate access, Customer Count, believes in the personal approach when reaching out to customers for feedback. Their Smart Survey assesses customer needs by asking questions that really get to the heart of the issue or problem an affiliate may be experiencing. The survey takes advantage of the ability to ask certain questions based on certain answers. It then uses the "skip patterns" process to ask questions that are personalized to a particular respondent. 

ARDA Works with HOAs

One of the timeshare industry's largest advocates, the American Resort Development Association (ARDA) is making sure HOAs are supported. ARDA's HOA Outreach Committee's goal is to be a resource for the industry's single-site, sold-out homeowners' associations, their officers & directors, and individual owner members. The committee hopes to promote the understanding and development of the industry owners’ associations through education, directed outreach, communications, committee and task force efforts, and advocacy. 

Social Media Use Earns Guests Rewards - Resorts & Hotels Gain Brand Loyalty

We recently stayed at a hotel property in Northern California and just by liking them on Facebook, we received a free bottle of Napa wine. Now, in case you think we did it just for the wine, we did enjoy our stay and it wasn’t any effort to like them on Facebook. Hotels and timeshare resorts are more than ever before using social media to connect with guests and to reward their loyalty with various perks and points when they use social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. In addition, it’s great advertising for the resort or hotel.  Guests and members posting positive reviews and pictures they've taken at the resort, are often viewed as more authentic and believable than more traditional types of advertising.

Major Chains Embrace Social Media

Major hospitality chains are expanding their rewards programs beyond just the reserving of a room. Members and guests are now more likely to be rewarded for certain behaviors and actions.  Many of these hotel groups have coordinating programs with their vacation ownership arms.
Starwood’s Preferred Guest Program and Caesars Entertainment's Total Rewards programs have come together in a strategic partnership. Members of both programs have the ability to both earn and redeem Starpoints and Total Rewards when staying at either of the chains’ resorts.  Mark Vondrasek, Starwood’s SR VP of Distribution, Loyalty and Partnerships, explained that through the new partnership, "we can fuel our members’ passions by creating exclusive opportunities that allow guests to experience the best of Vegas and beyond, from world-class restaurants to famous shows, shopping and nightlife."
With Marriot Reward Plus Points, members can earn points by doing what they were probably already doing anyway. Rewards are earned by checking in on Facebook, uploading pictures to Instagram and tweeting about their resort stay. Extra points are added for following participating hotels’ Twitter and Instagram accounts or re-tweeting content form the Marriott Rewards Twitter account.

Social Loyalty Platforms

If a resort or hotel would rather, there are companies that can handle the setup and maintenance of the resort’s loyalty program. These companies include I.C.E. and Leisure Loyalty.

Timeshare Advisor

Timeshare Advisor advertises itself as one-stop website for the resort industry and timeshare developers and managers. It provides them the opportunity to showcase their properties to current and potential timeshare owners. On the Timeshare Advisor site, you'll find more than 5,000 worldwide timeshare resorts with pictures and reviews. Their Go and Tell points program, makes it easy for members to share their personal resort experience with their own reviews and pictures. Members receive points for participation which qualifies them for prizes.

Loyalty 360

The Loyalty Marketer's Association, Loyalty 360, sums it all up best with this quote, "As companies continue to strive for the ultimate customer relationship, loyalty marketing is continually evolving to include engagement marketing, customer relationship management, experiential marketing, voice of the customer, data analytics and more. No matter the industry or size of a company, a loyalty strategy should be a top priority."

Upcoming Timeshare Conferences Provide Wealth of Information

Conferences are always a great source of information and networking for individuals and businesses alike. As timeshare owners and professionals, it's always a good idea to keep up on the changes and the innovations that could affect you. Knowledge is power in any industry!

Canadian Resort Conference

The Canadian Resort Conference of the Canadian Resort Development Association (CRDA) takes place September 23-24. This annual event is dedicated to promoting the interests of the resort industry in Canada and throughout the world. Not only will participants be treated to presentations by the industry's key players, CRDA's President & CEO Jon Zwickel promises opportunities to "learn, network and take advantage of business-to-business opportunities." Over the two day event participants will experience a half day networking activity, and a day and a half of debates and educational sessions.
The event is being held at the Pantages Hotel in Toronto and attendees can spend their time outside the conference enjoying downtown Toronto’s art, entertainment and shopping districts.

Conference Highlights

The conference features such industry experts as CRDA's President/CEO Jon Zwickel, Bob McGrath, and VP of Business Development for RCI, and Robert Craycraft VP of Industry Relations for ARDA. Gregory Crist, CEO of the National Timeshare Owners Association, Mark McCullough, Senior Territory Manager-North Americas for TripAdvisor, and Jim Madrid, CEO of Advance Corporate Technology Inc. and Bob Kobek of CustomerCountTM will also be among the many timeshare experts sharing their knowledge.

Kicking off the conference is a State of the Industry overview which will include updates on Timeshare, Travel Clubs and Vacation Clubs. The first day’s key note address, Employee Engagement and Culture, will be delivered by Jim Madrid, who as CEO of Advance Corporate Technology, has plenty of experience in that area. He will share his employee engagement process and the effects it has on company culture.
The second day’s keynote speaker, Mark McCullough from TripAdvisor speaks on what he knows well, the explosive impact of online review sites on the travel industry and how best to utilize TripAdvisor. Other intriguing session topics include "There’s No Escaping Getting Old—how does the industry cope with aging buildings, an aging customer base and an aging HOA, and So What Now?", a panel discussion on how to take the concepts discussed in the sessions from great ideas to working implementation. 

Shared Ownership Investment Conference

Interval International gets its Shared Ownership Investment Conference (SOIC) going in Miami Beach October 13-14. This event promises to provide complete resources for both new and established developers who are looking to learn more about future trends in resort financing, sales, marketing and operations in the industry. Hospitality executives and investors, hoteliers, real estate investment trusts, investment bankers, shared ownership consultants and private equity firms are encouraged to attend.

Conference Highlights

Kelly McDonald, a nationally recognized marketing expert and author of "How to Market to People Not like You", headlines the conference’s networking luncheon with her speech "Multicultural Marketing Today."
Other prominent speakers include Howard Nusbaum President & Chief Executive Officer of ARDA, Michael Flaskey, Executive VP Chief sales and Marketing Officer of Diamond Resorts International, and Madeline Berges, VP of E-Commerce and Digital Marketing, Consumer Marketing for Interval International.
Participants can learn more about the trend toward joint ventures and fee-for-service structure in the session, Hospitality Investment Trends, and can engage leaders in the hospitality industry for their unique perspectives in the session, "A View From the Top."
Other session topics include: Lender Talk, the Reality of Rentals, Marketing, the Engine that Drives Sales, and Social Media: Real people, Real Results. To register for the conference, email at:

The Busy Summer Season is Over - What does it Mean for the Timeshare Industry?

When the kids go back to school in September, it's the end of one of timeshare’s prime seasons. But it doesn’t necessarily mean that resort business will go down. For some resorts, this may be the time of year they pick up more business, or at least maintain summer’s demand. 

No Low Demand Season for Certain Areas

The demand for many resorts varies seasonally - as a standard, beach resorts are more popular in the summer, ski resorts more popular in the winter. But in certain areas, there are no low demand seasons. Summer weather often extends into September and October and beyond in Southern California. In fact, sunny days and year-round good weather can be expected most of the year. California’s abundance of theme parks, Disneyland, LEGOLAND, Universal Studios are a draw for families, and a preponderance of year-round schools, allows families to travel outside of the summer season, thus providing area resorts family business throughout the year. Similarly, Hawaii's perfect weather and beautiful beaches keep it a high demand area all year long too.

A Good Time for Adult Travel

Exotic Destinations

Now's a good time for adults to explore international timeshare opportunities that, with the addition of air travel, might be too costly for an entire family to attempt. The popularity of international timeshare is on the rise. Vacationers are looking for timeshare options in Asia, Africa, Latin America and Western Europe. 

Urban and Seasonal Destinations

The fall is a good time for timeshare properties in urban areas where trees abound in glorious fall colors, weather is crisp and vibrant, and often lower travel prices are in effect. Cities like Chicago and New York offer many cultural activities and parks to experience the fall colors. Portland, Oregon has limitless microbreweries for unique beer tasting and central and northern California abounds with wineries. Wine and beer focused properties in those areas arrange tours and tastings, and food-pairing dinners to enhance the timeshare experience and pull in more bookings.
Timeshare properties near National Parks and in ski resorts are also options at this time. Weather is often lovely and the summer crowds have dispersed. Properties in those areas offer hiking, biking, tram rides and beautiful scenery.

Smaller Properties

Smaller upscale boutique properties such as L'Auberge Del Mar, which cater more to adults and have fewer child friendly amenities, are often another draw for adult travelers at this time of year. L'Auberge’s prime location above the beach in scenic Del Mar, California has easy walking to stores and restaurants, and also offers gourmet dining and a luxury spa on the property.  

In the months ahead, owner weeks can still remain steady greatly impacting the economy of the area. As one season goes, another one follows with other offerings for owners and guests. ARDA’s recent report on the "Economic Impact of the Timeshare Industry on the US Economy" states - spending by timeshare visitors brought $7.9 billion to the communities where timeshare resorts were located, and that wasn’t just in "high" season.

Are “Singles” the New Timeshare Market?

We've done recent blogs on both Millennials and Baby Boomers as viable sources of timeshare buyers, but now it seems there is another viable source to consider - singles. A 2013 Gallop Poll population survey found that only 54% of the US population was married. With barely half of the adult population of the US married, that leaves a lot of singles - about 103 million of them.
In the past, timeshare marketers tended to overlook singles as potential buyers; sometimes even requiring marriage as a prerequisite to attending a time share presentation. As Ph.D. Richard Ragatz says in his study of the timeshare industry, the reasons listed for ignoring singles as prospects were: "they weren’t as stable as married couples, single women didn’t have the money, and single men would not fit in at a family resort." But that study was done in 1978, and as we all know, things have changed considerably.

5 Reasons to Market to Single Buyers

1. Singles are active: Timeshares appeal to the single buyer because many are looking for an active vacation with plenty of ways to socialize. Timeshare resorts offer numerous activities, dining and nightlife choices. The timeshare lifestyle is fun!
2. Singles like to have choices: Some don’t want to be tied to one location and appreciate the flexibility a timeshare offers such as the opportunity to exchange for a different resort in a different destination. 
3. Singles appreciate security and also getting the most for their money: A timeshare is perfect for singles that like to vacation in their favorite location year after year. They like accommodations that are familiar, secure and have room for a guest. Though they have discretionary income, maybe they don’t want to get involved in purchasing a vacation or second home that often includes a large down payment or the hassle of a another mortgage. Timeshares offer an easier and less expensive option.
4. Singles have children: Most timeshare resorts have activity programs for children - pools, water parks, playgrounds, and other activities built around children. Single parent families can have all the comforts of home - kitchen, entertainment center, separate bedrooms and plenty of room to spread out. Some resorts even offer babysitting or can provide a list of qualified sitters, and may help with arrangements for family activities in the area.
5. Singles may someday get married: A 2013 Gallop Poll on the importance of marriage found that of unmarried singles, 21% of all adults 18 and over want to get married and a whopping 56% of unmarried 18-34 year olds want to get married.  If they've enjoyed the timeshare experience, they know that one of the advantages of a timeshare includes a great family vacation. Plus, they'll have the perfect place to impress their significant other and maybe the perfect place for a wedding! 

Let’s keep the current strong growth in the timeshare industry going and make sure we don’t overlook any segments of the population that could potentially be timeshare buyers. Current Articles like Judy Kenninger’s "The Power of One", in Interval International’s Resort help to reinvigorate the topic of singles as potential buyers, and to remind timeshare marketers of the potential of this market.

When Disaster Strikes

The magnitude 6.0 earthquake that hit the popular wine country area of Napa a few days ago is cause for the resort industry to pause and reflect. A disaster like this can be hard on tourism. Fortunately in this case, there were no deaths and mostly minor injuries due to the quake (the biggest seismic activity in the area in 25 years), but many wineries, wine stores, hotels and restaurants were affected. Area wineries closed to take stock of their losses, and some suffered big losses—B.R. Cohn Winery in Glen Ellen lost 50% of their stock. Restaurants and hotels are finding it difficult to get supplies as damage to infrastructure caused by the quake itself, and emergency crews working non-stop, inhibit entry into the area.  So what's a resort owner to do when disaster strikes?

Communication is Key

It is important to get out the information about the disaster quickly and make sure everyone who could be affected knows what’s happened and what is being done to correct any problems. Use social media sites, company blogs, and newsletters, as soon as disaster strikes to help quell any rumors and controversy about safety issues, and to  provide ongoing information to owners and guests of what is being done to assure their safety and protect their investment. 
For this reason, Grand Pacific’s Riverpointe Napa Valley Resort was quick to get out information using Facebook that the resort was okay and sustained only minor damage from the quake. Riverpointe alerted guests that the resort was currently in clean up mode and that the electricity was back on. In their post, they also assured guests that they would provide more information as soon as they had it.
When a fire struck Occidental Vacation Club’s Allegro Cozumel earlier this month, OVC President Luis Namnum posted a personal letter to members on social media filling them in on all the important details of the fire. His letter made sure members knew that the fire was put out quickly and that there were no casualties. He also let members know exactly what structures had been affected, and that an emergency evacuation plan was in place and used to move Allegro Cozumel's guests to another nearby OVC resort.  He further assured members that OVC's Customer Service Center would be contacting them with more details.

Owner Engagement

Banff Gate Mountain Resort's site staff was quick to respond to a devastating storm that hit Alberta, Canada in 2013.  The storm, called "Alberta’s worst-ever", was a major natural disaster that caused severe flooding, damaged infrastructure, knocked out power and communication, blocked roadways and closed airports. The staff met the challenge head on with ongoing communications with owners that expressed genuine concern for owner’s safety. The responsible transparency that the staff used in communicating during the disaster, and the care and comfort that the staff provided, left a positive impression. Owners and guests expressed their appreciation in many letters and posts to the resort’s parent company Grand Pacific Resorts.

Lemons into Lemonade

Who can forget the sinkhole that swallowed several buildings at Exploria’s Summer Bay Orlando Resort in August of 2013? The pictures of the scary sinkhole collapse made national news.  At the time of the collapse, the resort was working with Extreme Engineering on the high action adventure park Buccaneer Bay, in their effort to expand the overall resort experience to include every member of the family. The sinkhole, filled of course, provided extra land for the adventure park. The park, along with the renovation of all 500 guest rooms, and the addition of a 10,000 square foot Activities Center, is hoped to provide an additional marketing draw and minimize any negativity surrounding the sinkhole.
"Safety and security are the most important issues to travelers and the first aspect they consider is to be protected from hazards," according to a research report in review journal, Sage Open. The most significant components in dealing with disasters is emergency planning and preparedness. The best plans should also include the best ways to communicate quickly and openly with owners and guests, and the provisions needed to provide for the comfort and care of each individual.

Why Get an ARP or RRP Attached to Your Name?

If you are interested in enhancing your knowledge of the timeshare industry for career advancement or for your own personal growth, then an ARP or RRP designation may be just what you're looking for. 

What are these Designations?

The Associate Resort Professional (ARP) and Registered Resort Professional (RRP) are the ultimate designations for the vacation ownership industry. These titles by your name enhance your professional credibility and demonstrate your commitment to the industry through continued education. The timeshare industry is rapidly growing and evolving, and it pays to keep on top of all the changes. ARDA's International Foundation makes it easy for you to do just that.

ARDA’s International Foundation’s Learning Center

To get started on obtaining the ARP or the RRP, click here. AIF offers the entire program online from start (submit your application) to finish (print out your certificate upon successful completion of the course work). You do your course work, take tests, and earn and track your designation credits all online.


  1. Both ARP and RRP designations require the passing of the AIF Qualification Test and it's probably a good place to start the process. The test accesses and measures your knowledge of the timeshare industry. Before taking the test, you’ll want to study The Timeshare Industry Resource manual. It’s the definitive source for all the key topics relating to timeshare. Whether you are an industry veteran or new to the business, this manual is your "go to" source for all that's timeshare.
  1. Applicants for the ARP and the RRP designations are also required to be an ARDA Advantage, Trustee, or Chairman’s League member in good standing. ARP’s are expected to have a minimum of 2 years of industry experience and 6 credits. RRP’s need at least 5 years of experience and 10 credits.

The Time to Act is Now!

If you've been thinking about raising your profile in the timeshare industry, now is the time.  September 15th is the next deadline to get started on the designations. Don’t you think you owe it to yourself and the industry?

News of Strong Growth in the Timeshare Industry - Time to stop Being Defensive and Promote the Positive

In the past, the timeshare industry has received its share of negative reports. But these days, it’s hard to find a negative story about timeshares. With all the new information showing that timeshare is strong and getting stronger, it’s time stop to being on the defensive and start promoting the positive. The organization that is the strongest advocate for the industry, The American Resort Development Association (ARDA), calls its communication committee, the Reputation Management Committee. Why call communications reputation management unless you have issues that need managing? With this month’s latest report from ARDA showing the timeshare industry’s impressive growth and positive impact on the U.S. economy, managing issues is definitely not the issue it used to be.

Much Good News to Share

The timeshare industry made a $68.7 billion contribution to the U.S. economy in 2013.  That’s based on ARDA’s report compiled by Ernst & Young—the Economic Impact of the Timeshare Industry on the US Economy 2014 edition.  Other impressive statistics in the report show timeshare providing 437,000 full and part-time jobs, $23.6 billion in salaries and wages, and $8.5 billion in tax revenue. That’s big news to share with the world.  

Entire Communities Benefit from Timeshare Owner and Guest Stays

ARDA’s report also shows that in 2013, out of a total $10 billion spent by timeshare owners and guests during their resort stays, $7.9 billion was spent off-site in the communities where the timeshare resorts were located. More good news to share with the communities who provide services to the resorts.

Interval International’s Second Quarter Growth Supports ARDA Report

Interval International’s recent second quarter performance results support ARDA’s report of strong industry growth. The company, a global provider of membership and leisure services to the vacation industry, announced record second quarter consolidated revenue—an increase of 14.8%.  Other performance highlights of the second quarter include: a 128.4% increase in management and rental segment revenue (excluding pass-throughs) and the affiliation of 24 resorts. It’s all very good news for members that rely on Interval International’s exchange program to access world-class resorts, and for developers who depend on the company for access to valuable resources needed during the development process.  

Keep the Momentum Going

All indicators show that the vitality of the timeshare industry is headed in the right direction. Let’s keep the momentum going and spread the good word about our industry. We still have to keep aware of the scammers that show up in any industry to give it a bad name, but we don’t need to concentrate on the negative when there is so much that is positive about timeshare.

Is Free Wi-Fi Part of Your Vacation Package?

A vacation used to mean relaxation with time away from the reality of your daily life, but now most of us are unable to let go of the connections we have with our daily life. We take our smart phones, tablets and laptops on vacation. And even if we take the high road and leave all devices at home, many of us will soon be scouring the resort for a way to connect to home, to check emails and Facebook and any way we can to keep up with family and friends. We might even want to let everyone know what fun we are having!

Access Comes in Many Forms

Many resorts advertise free Wi-Fi access, but it’s a good idea to do your homework to find out exactly what is meant by “free.”  There may be some limitations. Some resorts may charge an extra fee for high-speed internet connections. Some resorts include internet access as part of a nightly resort fee.  From a management point of view charging for wireless service is a source of revenue that can’t be overlooked, but travelers like to see it as part of the package. This presents a challenge for some resorts where scores of folks try to download or stream content live at the same time.  Hence the solution to offer two tiers of service in many cases.

A Popular Perk for Members

Resorts may use standard Wi-Fi and/or high-speed internet as an upgrade perk. After all, a high-speed connection does give guests more optimum use of the internet. Some resorts offer access free as a reward to its higher level members, for instance, Occidental Vacation Club’s Grand Level Members receive free access as part of the Grand Level Membership package.
Another resort company that uses Wi-Fi as a perk for members is Starwood. The company provides complimentary internet as part of the best-in-class rewards and benefits given to their loyal customers. Starwood Vacation Owners may choose free Wi-Fi as a benefit when checking Platinum Member guests receive complimentary in-room access as an additional in-hotel benefit. Additionally, Starwood gives complimentary internet to all guests at Aloft, Element and Four Points by Sheraton Hotels and Resorts in North America, and in the lobbies of Sheraton and W Hotels. They do not limit the number of devices guests can hook up in-room.
Similarly, Marriot, Hilton and Hyatt also offer Wi-Fi as part of their higher tiered membership rewards.

Check to See How Many Actual Devices can be hooked up

Other resorts may have a limit on how many devices per guest can actually be hooked up to the internet. In a recent report on, Fairfield Inn and Suites, part of Marriott International, was mentioned by a guest. The free Wi-Fi offered at Fairfield Inn had a limit of one device per guest. It cost an extra $3.95 a day for each additional device.  Extra fees may or may not be mentioned in internet advertising, so it’s another reason to check with someone at the resort who is in charge.

Access Codes

Hospitality Net also warns to beware of access codes. The Atlas Hotel in Brussels advertises on its homepage “Free Wireless High-Speed Internet Access” in all rooms and several areas of the hotel. Guests have to obtain a code at the front desk to gain access to the internet. What came as a surprise to reps from Hospitality Net was that the hotel would only give them one code per room, limiting them to one device per room. It didn’t matter if the room was a double, twin or duplex…one code was it.

Charging a Fee for Wi-Fi— May Not be the Best Revenue Source

Tom Carr at All offers a few reasons as to why these extra charges for Wi-Fi are not really in the resort’s best interest. He suggests in the long run, resorts may make more revenue by offering free Wi-Fi. Free Wi-Fi may be one of the deciding reasons that guests choose the resort. Guests may be inclined to extend their stay a little longer if there is a free, reliable internet connection at the resort where they can work at the beach or from the pool. Also, internet use for such things as guest check-ins with Foursquare or Facebook, Flickr uploads, status updates, and tweets to friends can provide free advertising for the hotel.

Fully Wired Resorts

Disney World Resorts

Disney World Resorts are fully wired in both their resort hotels and theme parks. Working with provider AT&T, Disney provides complimentary High Speed Wireless Internet Access in all guest rooms.  In addition, Free Wi-Fi can also be accessed in most places throughout the resort—lobby areas, restaurants, pools and more.

MGM Resorts

MGM has wired eight of its resorts on the Las Vegas Strip. There is no fee or password required to access the local area network via phones, laptops and tablets.  MGM has teamed with the Cisco Systems network to make each resort a wireless hotspot with access available in rooms, the casino, pool, lobby and restaurants. Guests wanting more bandwidth may buy upgrades. Hotel guests receive the faster service as part of their stay.