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 hospitalitynet.org, 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 InclusiveOutlet.com 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.