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T h e b u s i n e s s o f vac at i o n Q 1 /Q 2 2 0 1 3

marketing MECHANISMS

The experts share what is working and why

THE BIG PICTURE RCI’s senior leadership outlines the company’s global perspective

SUCCESS ESSENTIALS Profile of key criteria for sales success in a high-end resort

MGM TAKES THE STAGE Indian business group buys Petchey Leisure to become a major player

©2013 RCI, LLC. All rights resrved. RCI and related marks are registered trademarks and/or service marks in the United States and internationally. All rights reserved.


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The latest in our long line of firsts In a business world that’s constantly moving forward, having access to the latest technology is imperative. That’s where the newest innovations from RCI come in. From RCI PresenterSM, our interactive touch screen technology, which helps your sales team deliver more engaging and compelling presentations, to our Timeshare Online Listening Center that helps affiliates safeguard their online reputations, we offer dynamic solutions to meet the demands of today’s tech-savvy consumer. And when it comes to the world’s increasingly hand-held approach to business, RCI’s latest app for the iPad® is helping our affiliates stay ahead of the curve.

Find out what the company who invented vacation exchange is doing next.


DEAR RCI AFFILIATE: Innovation is an important goal for business, no matter what


your industry. Companies across the globe are looking IN BRIEF 04 In Brief The latest news from Europe and around the world 08 By The Numbers A world of vacation experiences IN DEPTH 10 The Big Picture RCI offers a worldwide point of view

for ways to provide better products and services to their

One of RCI’s mandates is to ensure that we continuously work to earn your trust as a partner in the industry.

14 Marketing For A New Age How timeshare is innovating its marketing techniques and using modern media to attract contemporary consumers 20 MGM Takes The Stage Leading Indian business group enters the timeshare industry with purchase of Petchey Leisure INSIGHT 23 Success Essentials Julian Houchin of iO Adria shares some of the criteria that help to create a winning resort

customers, and the timeshare industry is no different. As an industry, we are constantly learning, developing new products and finding new ways to meet the needs of our current and prospective customers. And as your affiliate partner, RCI strives to create new tools and initiatives to support the success of your business. On that note, I am pleased to unveil the new look RCI Ventures, which has been redesigned to more accurately represent the power, impact and future of our industry. In the pages that follow, you’ll find a wealth of articles that will deepen your understanding of timeshare and the travel and hospitality industries at large. One of RCI’s mandates is to ensure that we continuously work to earn your trust as a partner in the industry. That means sharing expertise and offering products and services to help you achieve your business objectives. We want RCI Ventures to be one of the tools you rely on to help you succeed. The concept of innovation crops up a lot in this issue, particularly in our cover feature ‘Marketing For A New Age’ (p.14), which sees a range of industry experts share

26 Modern Products For Modern Times The latest examples of how timeshare businesses are creating new products to meet customer needs

their knowledge and thoughts on new techniques as well

IN DEVELOPMENT 29 Dubai On The Up The UAE city is buzzing again with an array of investment projects set to boost visitor numbers further

Modern Times’ (p.26), as well as in our feature on the

INNOVATION 32 Counting On The Cloud Cloud technology could be the solution to integrating and streamlining your resort management systems A FINAL THOUGHT 34 On The Money Securing timeshare financing in a tough economic climate

as best practices in sales and marketing. New products and ideas are also the focus of ‘Modern Products For ever-evolving city of Dubai – ‘Dubai On The Up’ (p.29) – where booming tourist numbers offer real potential for vacation ownership as well as the travel and hospitality industries. There’s plenty more to read and enjoy in this issue, and we hope you find that the new-look RCI Ventures is just one of the many ways we’re demonstrating our commitment to helping you achieve your goals. Gordon Gurnik President, RCI

RCI Ventures is published by RCI, a trading name of RCI Europe, Kettering Parkway, Kettering, Northants, NN15 6EY, United Kingdom. Tel: +44 (0)1536 310101. Fax: +44 (0)1536 314682. Email: EDITOR: Helen Foster. CONTRIBUTING EDITOR: Steve Adams. DESIGN: Richard Blaney. Front cover masthead concept, Story Worldwide. PRODUCTION: Claire Williams and Lorraine Karabin. PRINTING: ESP Colour, Swindon. Photo credits: Illustrations for front cover and pages 14-19 by Richard Blaney and iStock images. Images page 23, 35 from iStock. Original articles and contributions may be reproduced or transmitted only with written permission from the publisher. All facts and figures stated in the articles contained in this publication are provided by the contributors and no responsibility is accepted by RCI Europe for content not created by them, nor for any losses or other consequences resulting from advertisements or other material appearing in this publication. You are advised to make your own enquiries and conduct further research if necessary. © RCI Europe 2013 Q1/Q2: R CI VEN TURES 3

i n d u s t ry n e w s

Pueblo Evita and Fairways Clubs sold Martin Beesley, Developer of Pueblo Evita and Fairways Clubs, has completed a trade in brief

sale to Ian Goddard, Owner of sales and marketing

Kevin and Perry go wild!

company Richvale Limited. The purchase includes the management companies,

A daring duo from Azure Malta,

unsold stock and associated

developers of the Heavenly Collection

properties at the resorts that

at Golden Sands – an affiliate of The

are located in mainland Spain

Registry Collection – have taken part

and Tenerife respectively.

in the gruelling Dakar Rally. Project Director Perry Newton

Beesley will initially remain as non-executive chairman to

and Memberships General Manager

oversee a smooth handover

Kevin Camilleri were the first Maltese team entrants to the event. They set

Clubs – both of which are

Cela launches trial product

affiliated to RCI – would give

French timeshare developer Groupe Cela

across 15 countries, crossing the

him the opportunity to drive

has launched a new multi-level trial product

finishing line in the Senegal capital

sales forward.

with the option to upgrade to RCI Platinum

15 days later.

of operations. Goddard said buying the

“The plan is to launch aggressive rental and referral

membership. Cela Plus is a pre-paid weeks-based

off from Paris on KTM 690R Enduro bikes, riding for up to 13 hours a day

Taking part in the event fulfilled childhood dreams and raised money

plans to fill the resorts and

product to be sold on three levels: Cela Plus

for charities the Malta Community

generate prospects,” he said.

Bronze – three pre-paid weeks, used within

Chest Fund, UNICEF and Cancer

“Our fractional product is

1-3 years of purchase, plus one year of RCI

Research UK.

about as transparent as it can

membership; Cela Plus Silver – five pre-paid

Newton said: “Helping our

be and has a lot of added

weeks, used within 2-5 years, plus one year’s

charities and completing the rally

benefits to appeal to the

RCI membership; and Cela Plus Gold – 10

gave us a sense of achievement

modern consumer.”

pre-paid weeks, used within 3-10 years, plus

and contribution. I thought of us as

three years’ RCI membership.

modern-day Knights Templars on our

The Clubs’ fractional ownership scheme, launched four years ago, has proved so popular that it will be extended into new markets.

All products will be offered with the chance to upgrade to RCI Platinum. Johanna Garsau, Groupe Cela Sales and

trusty steeds racing across the desert to help the needy! “We would like to thank our

Marketing Director, believes flexibility is key.

sponsors, including RCI and The

“The member is not tied to a fixed week or

Registry Collection. It’s a race that’s

a fixed unit – it’s a pre-paid accommodation

as romantic as it is fatal but that is the

package at a preferred rate with no

spirit of the Dakar.”

maintenance fee, just a utility fee based on usage,” she explained. Garsau said the product would be marketed in-house to owners and rental guests at its three RCI-affiliated resorts – Cela Canet Malibu Village, Malibu Premier and Cela Alenya, all in the South of France – as well as guests staying at its Hotel Europa. Garsau added: “We are happy to be the first RCI French affiliate offering RCI Platinum Ian Goddard

membership to our owners, which allows us to offer a VIP service and is a great tool to help close the sale.”

4 Q 1 /Q 2 2 01 3

Kevin Camilleri (left) and Perry Newton of Azure Resorts at the end of their 15-day Dakar Rally challenge.

RCI chips in for Christel House This year’s RCI Christel

Anfi celebrates Silva anniversary

on Monday 17 June 2013 at Badgemore Park Golf Club, Henley-on-Thames. The global event,

Superstar footballer David Silva is helping lead The Anfi Group’s 25th birthday celebrations

which sees the timeshare

in 2013. The Manchester City and Spain star, who was born close to Anfi in Arguineguin

industry come together

village in Gran Canaria, is now the company’s ambassador, starring in a range of promotional

in aid of a great cause, is now in its 11th year, and

campaigns. Anfi Group CEO, José Luis Trujillo, said: “We are delighted to have this local hero as the Anfi ambassador during our 25th anniversary celebrations. “David perfectly represents Anfi Group’s values. He embodies a spirit of perseverance,

RCI will again be its title sponsor. This year’s tournament takes place

winning and teamwork.” Trujillo and Silva recently hosted a cocktail event for UK Anfi members at the Etihad

at 13 sites on three

Stadium – home ground of Manchester City – and more anniversary events are set to take

continents, and will see

place throughout the year.

nearly 1,500 golfers,

Silva said: “I’m proud to represent a company that is so important for my island and which

sponsors and volunteers raising funds for non-

continues to create employment for my community.” Silva (left) and Trujillo are pictured above in the changing rooms at the Etihad Stadium.

profit organization, Christel House International. Geoff Ballotti,

Dedicated to UK owners

CEO, RCI, said: “We’re

As a resort developer or manager with UK resident

honoured to once again

owners or club members, you should ensure they are

be able to serve as the

aware of the benefits of TATOC membership.

title sponsor of this

The 2013 annual TATOC conference attracted

very important annual

more than 160 delegates from all areas of timeshare.

fundraising event for

Following the opening up of TATOC membership

Christel House.

to individual timeshare owners, its Executive

“Our associates take

Chairman, Harry Taylor told delegates that individual

tremendous pride in

memberships now exceeded 400.

helping the thousands

Taylor urged resort managers in the audience to promote the TATOC Helpline (0845 230 2430 in the UK) and Sharetime Magazine to owners. Manager of

of children around the Mark Caldicott addresses delegates.

world from Christel House realise their

the Helpline, Mark Caldicott, highlighted the great variety of questions fielded by the service,

hopes and dreams in a

from queries about exchanging and resort telephone numbers, to the serious issues of

nurturing setting that is

dealing with bogus callers and scams.

uncompromising in its

Caldicott and the TATOC team helped to recover £219,317 from a total of £250,000 lost last year by UK owners to rogue resales companies. Sharetime Magazine, mailed to TATOC members as a membership benefit four times

pursuit of excellence.” For further information and to

a year, is packed with useful information to ensure owners get the most out of timeshare

register to play or join in

ownership, as well as inspiring timeshare holiday stories from the owners themselves.

the dinner and evening

TATOC – the UK timeshare owners’ association – is now an established media contact and

festivities, contact Liz

works closely with government agencies, international law enforcement bodies and is unique

Taylor on +44 (0)7974

in bringing together the resort management and owner member communities in one forum.

671373 or email: etaylor@ or r ci Ven tures 5

in brief

House Open Golf Europe Tournament will be held

i n d u s t ry n e w s

The power of positivity The industry will be pleased to hear that Mark Cushway, CEO of Silverpoint, is back at his desk and well on the way to a great recovery just six months after being diagnosed with leukaemia and then contracting pneumonia. Speaking to RCI Ventures, Mark said: “You can’t change what’s happens to you – only the way you deal in brief

with it, and I stayed very positive throughout. I believe that the power of the mind is absolutely crucial in making a good recovery from this type of illness. “My wife, who has always been a strong woman, was a tower of strength for me in creating a positive atmosphere and helping me through the treatment. She was absolutely incredible, on top of being super positive she brought me delicious meals from local restaurants and kitted out my room with everything from lovely bedding to the latest entertainment equipment. It ended up being half

from my bed. Our decks are fairly advanced in technology

Moness in management buy-out

and I got to keep in touch with my team via 25 TVs on the

Scottish Highland mixed-use property Moness Resort

deck. That was fun and great for me to keep in touch with

(above) has been the subject of a management buy-out.

hotel room and half office. “It was fun to hold a few sales meetings with my team

all the people at Silverpoint who were a constant source of encouragement and strength. “I also got tremendous support from all my friends in the industry which was such a boost and I would like to thank everyone who sent me their good wishes.

Managing Director Terry Vose has agreed terms with Geoff Siden, majority shareholder in Worldwide Leisure Group, to buy the resort in Aberfeldy, in a move designed to create additional investment and job opportunities. The resort, which has been affiliated to RCI for more

“When I was first diagnosed on 17 September last

than 25 years, comprises a 26-bed four-star hotel and 108

year the doctors and friends tried to make me feel better

four-star self-catering cottages, 88 of which are managed

Mark Cushway

by telling me that leukaemia was very

for the holiday ownership club by a management

treatable and I had a 60 per cent chance

company that Vose has run for the last 13 years. The

of a full recovery. That sounds good unless

resort also contains a leisure centre, function suite and

the stats are referring to you! All that said,

three bars and restaurants. It employs more than 70 staff.

six months on I am back at work and feeling strong. “The support of family, friends and my industry colleagues was so important

Vose said: “I am pleased to be leading a great team at Moness Resort attentive to the enhancement of what we offer here in Aberfeldy. “We shall be continuing to invest in the resort and

during the last six months on top of my

look forward to welcoming new colleagues in the

own positive outlook.”

coming months. As ever, our focus is on delivering

Mark was given the all clear on 22 March, though he will be returning to the hospital for more than his check-ups. He explained:

family breaks and holidays in a very special place in Highland Perthshire.” Siden will remain as a Director of the new venture for

“Having spent so much time with driven

the next 18 months, while Steven McKenzie of Acumen

sales people chasing their own goals over

has also been appointed as a Non-Executive Director.

the last 25 years, my hospital stay opened my eyes to the

Dimitris Manikis, RCI’s Vice President, Business

selflessness of the nurses and staff who are dedicated to

Development Europe, Middle East and Africa, said:

helping others in a very difficult time of their lives.

“We congratulate Terry on this move, which represents

“I have a far greater appreciation and a real love and

a changing of the guard at Moness as it looks to the

respect for the staff in that hospital and I now want to spend

future. Geoff Siden has been a great friend and ally for

some time visiting patients to help them realise chemo is

many years and his experience and expertise will remain

very ‘do-able’ and there is light at the end of the tunnel.

invaluable as the resort moves forward.

“I am also looking forward to working with the

“Moness has a long history in the industry, as well as

Silverpoint team on the introduction of many new

with RCI, and we have already been talking to Terry and

products, sales locations and innovations. There are

his team about projects and how we can work together

many exciting times ahead and I am looking forward to

going forward, and look forward to doing just that. We

all of them.”

wish them every success.”

6 Q 1 /Q 2 2 01 3

RCI news

Milestone and new benefits for RCI Platinum RCI Platinum, the company’s key lifestyle product designed to provide a new level of RCI membership, now has more than 100,000 global members. The milestone figure was reached less than two years after the programme was launched, and more members are in brief

expected to sign up as more and more holiday travel and lifestyle benefits are added to the package. Recent enhancements to the programme include:

• • •

50 per cent off membership as well as 2-for-1 offers and

discounts at 1,600 quality golf courses across Europe with Open Fairways Discount on wellness treatments and products around

the world from SpaFinder Wellness, the world’s largest spa and wellness company Discount access to more than 200 airport VIP lounges

at over 120 airports worldwide through Lounge Pass. Further benefits – including international holiday

RCI’s TOLC team monitor social media coverage.

adventures and membership to ‘Tastecard’, the UK & Ireland’s

Controlling your online reputation

largest dining club.

The exponential growth of social media has given a voice

Dimitris Manikis, RCI’s Vice President of Business

to millions – and millions are listening. Anyone managing a

Development, Europe, Middle East and Africa, said: “The

brand needs to know what is being said online about their

RCI Platinum product has been a huge success and is

brand and product, especially as user-generated online

helping our members realise the lifestyle benefits of being a

content is trusted by other consumers.

timeshare owner and RCI member. “We see it as a real addition not only to the RCI

Monitoring what customers and potential customers are saying about your brand – good and bad – as well

offering, but a major sales tool for our developer

as knowing what they are searching for and wanting to

partners and affiliated resorts, as potential buyers can

know about your products and services is fundamental

see the range of lifestyle benefits that come from being

to success. This is why RCI has developed the Timeshare

timeshare owners.”

Online Listening Centre (TOLC), a turn-key service dedicated to the timeshare industry and driven by a team of RCI professionals to help you better understand how

New look for RCI Ventures

your brand is perceived online.

You will notice your latest edition of RCI Ventures has

customer service and social media teams to help protect

a fresh new look. The redesign reflects the power and

your brand image and enhance the consumer perception

dynamism of today’s shared-vacation ownership industry

of it. Sources covered include 150+ million blogs, user

and has also been carried through to the magazine

forums, review sites, Twitter, Facebook brand pages,


and more. The listening and reporting platforms are fully

RCI Ventures is the most established and reliable voice of the business and both the magazine

RCI’s TOLC team works directly with your existing

customised to suit customer needs. RCI’s TOLC currently provides monitoring

and the website carry news of industry

coverage of over 345 resorts in over 10

developments, expert views and inspiring

countries and three languages – English,

ideas, as well as updates on RCI’s own product and service innovation. The website has been completely redesigned to make it easier and faster to access the information you want with improved site navigation, either by resort developer journey or region, and under the Magazine

Spanish and Portuguese. In all phases of the social listening process, RCI will provide support and guidance to assist you in protecting and enhancing your online reputation. Contact your local RCI account team or email to learn more. For more details visit

tab you will find RCI’s four regional magazines for online viewing. r ci Ven tures 7


A world of vacation experiences When you know what experiences guests are looking for, your next resort can be the place they enjoy it.

Vacation ownership experiences offered by non-U.S. properties in 2010. Data is from the World Wide Shared Vacation Ownership Report: 2012. Resorts surveyed were IN BRIEF

allowed to select multiple choices. Commissioned by the American Resort Development Association (ARDA) International Foundation (AIF), the World Wide Shared Vacation Ownership Report: 2012 was conducted by Oxford Economics and the Research Intelligence Group. For further information about the study, visit overview.aspx




















15% 67%




0% 33%




0% 0% 19% 35%



0% 20% 63%





28% 30% 33% 0%





7% 22% 57%



2% 20% 45%

8 Q 1 /Q 2 2 01 3









50% 50%

0% 90% 50%


59% 11% 0% 67% 0% 33%

14% 67% 47% 87% 14% 33%

73% 11% 5% 91% 6% 0%

32% 49% 26% 84% 11% 52%

14% 18% 23% 50% 14% 23%

0% 0% 0% 50% 28% 0%

15% 18% 25% 68% 9% 22%

30% 25% 19% 70% 12% 28% R CI VEN TU RES 9





When the ARDA International Foundation (AIF) published its World Wide Shared Vacation Ownership Report: 2012 last summer, it did more than reveal the vacation habits of owners and the reputation of timeshare around the world. It affirmed an exciting reality: timeshare is transcending its traditional North American and European roots to become a truly global industry. Translation: after enduring a lengthy recession, vacation ownership is entering an era of unprecedented opportunity. RCI is poised, and enthusiastic about the chance, to help affiliated resorts seize the ever-expanding global opportunity. A roster of RCI’s senior leadership – CEO Geoff Ballotti; President Gordon Gurnik; Asia Managing Director Adrian Lee; Juan Ignacio Rodriguez, Senior Vice President of Business Development for Latin America; and Dimitris Manikis, Vice President of Business Development for Europe, the Middle East and Africa and Managing Director for South Africa – have outlined the company’s global perspective and industry opportunities, as they see them. 10 Q 1 /Q 2 2 01 3

By the Numbers A global view of timeshare, based on key findings from the AIF report


Chief Executive Officer, RCI


Managing Director, RCI Asia

Nearly $114 billion Amount generated by global shared vacation ownership in 2010

76% Average global occupancy rate



Senior Vice President, Business Development, RCI Latin America


Vice President, Business Development, RCI Europe, Middle East and Africa; and Managing Director, RCI South Africa

RCI® Weeks Affiliated Resorts RCI Points® Affiliated Resorts

Latin American Vacation Ownership

Mexican Vacation Ownership

Brazilian Vacation Ownership

20 million





Number of owner households (24 countries surveyed)

Number of intervals sold worldwide in 2010, representing more than $14 billion in sales

weeks sold in 2011

weeks sold in 2011

weeks sold in 2011




resort affiliations*

resort affiliations*

resort affiliations* *At close of 2011

Latin America means business

resorts, most of the opportunity

already exhibiting promising

It’s no secret that tourism in Latin

lies in two geographical markets:

signs regarding timeshare.

America is getting big – and fast.

Mexico and Brazil. Mexico is, and

According to figures from the

most likely will continue to be, the

America is transforming into

World Travel & Tourism Council

most important country for RCI in

a significant region for the

(WTTC), the region’s tourism

Latin America in the years ahead.

timeshare industry, and RCI

industry contributed $134 billion

Not only is the tourism industry

is uniquely positioned to help

– or 3.2 per cent of total GDP –

thriving – in 2010 it contributed

affiliated resorts navigate this

and attracted $49 billion worth of

7.8 per cent of the country’s GDP,

exciting new landscape.

investment in 2011. But what about

according to the WTTC – but it is

Latin America’s prospects for

also conducive to timeshare.

timeshare? RCI figures show that

In 2011 the country saw $3.1

The bottom line is that Latin

RCI has offices in six countries in Latin America and maintains a presence

vacation ownership in the region

billion in interval sales, or a

throughout the region. RCI

grew significantly in 2011, by about

whopping 22 per cent of global

is focused on becoming a

10 per cent, and generated $3.6

vacation-ownership sales. Brazil,

strategic ally in all areas of the

billion in sales volume.

meanwhile, is also enjoying a

vacation-ownership business

healthy tourism industry and is


For RCI and its affiliated



The Global Exchange Market Map indicates destinations with RCI® affiliated resorts.



Projected population growth

$6.6 billion

Asia versus Americas and Europe

Potential timeshare sales volume in China, per a study RCI conducted with Ragatz Associates in 2010

5.5 billion ASIA


$1.57 billion



total sales of shared vacation ownership in Europe





people employed in the shared vacation ownership industry

Asia: One big investment There are infinite reasons to invest in Asia, but for RCI and its

markets, China is among those

opposite for all the countries

affiliated resorts it boils down

expanding fastest. In the past

served by and languages offered

to one inescapable fact: the

few years, RCI has increased its

on, hired local vacation

population is skyrocketing. By

­destination footprint in China

guides and built a team of

2050, 5.5 billion people will live

significantly, boosting the total

employees of diverse cultural

on the world’s largest continent.

number of affiliates to 27, and

backgrounds and nationalities.

But it’s fair to wonder whether

the RCI member base has grown

It’s a philosophy that has worked

this population will grow to suit

an average of 15 per cent year

extremely well in the past, and

the industry’s products. The

on year. And RCI will continue

we expect to do even better in

short answer, we believe, is yes.

to invest in shaping the future

the future.

A large middle class equals a

of timeshare in this market,

large market for vacation owners,

in terms of resources, PR and

Europe revisited

and Asia promises to provide

government-relations efforts.

The Old Continent has been and

just that: in 2009, 23 per cent of

The ‘emerging’ markets are

always will be a tremendously

the global middle class’s spend

equally exciting. Take Vietnam.

popular travel destination. Of

was by the Asian market; by

RCI’s first resort affiliation there

the world’s 10 most visited

2030 that ­number will jump to a

was established three years ago;

countries, six are in Europe,

remarkable 59 per cent. And RCI

today there are three affiliated

can help affiliated resorts tap it.

resort groups with properties

RCI has been in the Asian

in five destinations across the

market for more than three decades and views it as having

country. From its first days in Asia,

Asia... By 2050, 5.5 billion people will live on the world’s largest continent.

according to a July 2012 report by the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO). And when the 2012 Trip Advisor Travelers’ Choice Awards named

three categories: established,

RCI has stood by the same

growing and emerging. Some

philosophy: stay true to the

of the newer resorts in the

RCI brand’s core values while

‘established’ market are located

adapting to local demands and

in Thailand, ­Malaysia and

needs. RCI is embracing different

Europe will continue to be a

Indonesia. Of the ‘growing’

languages (see the chart

critical market for developers

12 Q 1 /Q 2 2 01 3

the top 10 best destinations in the world, seven were located in – that’s right – Europe. It’s no surprise, then, that offers content in these languages: Chinese Danish Dutch English Finnish

French German Greek Hungarian Italian

Portuguese Spanish Swedish

To provide localised service to these countries and areas: France Germany Greece Hungary India Italy Mexico Middle East Netherlands

New Zealand Portugal Spain Sweden United Kingdom United States Venezuela

existing properties and another

l Launched a mobile-friendly

4,000 at new resorts.

version of

Yet there are challenges.

(1.5 million visits and counting)

Timeshare still has an image

l Launched the Online Tour

problem – and the fraud that

Generation program

continues to surround the

l Launched the Timeshare

industry isn’t helping. Despite

Online Listening Center

the high percentage of happy

l Launched RCI Presenter for

owners, the public perception

the iPad*

of the industry remains negative

l Launched Deposit

in many parts of the world. We

Simplification that includes

need to get the good word

providing a courtesy link on

out. It’s no coincidence that the to affiliated resort

countries where timeshare has

websites for RCI subscribing

a positive reputation – such

members to pay outstanding

as India and Colombia – are

resort maintenance fees.

seeing solid growth. Imagine the impact that would result if we

And that’s just the beginning.

and RCI. It currently has more

could spread that reputation to

than 1,300 affiliated resorts and a

In 2013, RCI will continue to

European countries like France

healthy average occupancy rate.

explore innovative ways to

and Portugal.

And the good news is, there’s

promote on-the-go interactivity.

more. RCI looks forward to

For example, you’ll be able

out there for the industry.

expanding its presence in eastern

to see PAD-ORAMIC views

According to the Shared Vacation

Europe and the Balkans in the

of destinations in the Endless

Ownership Owners Report: 2012

years ahead.

Vacation magazine app for

Edition, commissioned by the

iPad. (What’s a PAD-ORAMIC

American Resort Development

view? Download the app and

Association (ARDA) International

see for yourself!) The goal is

Foundation (AIF), and conducted

always to better enable our

by The Research Intelligence

developers with technology and

Group, about 83 per cent of

provide users with rich online

timeshare owners rated their


experience as ‘Excellent’, ‘Very

Raising the technological bar There are 1.1 billion smartphones in use, 800 million active Facebook users, four billion daily YouTube video views. The numbers speak for themselves. Technology is changing the

160 new resorts under construction

There’s a lot of good news

Good’, or ‘Good’. In addition,


Taking it home

approximately 66 per cent of

timeshare units added last year

International tourism keeps

owners would recommend

going up. In the first four months

their home resort or vacation

of 2012 alone, arrivals were up

ownership club to their families

with its website,, and

five per cent despite economic

and friends.

today it gets approximately

uncertainties remaining in some

130,000 visits a day. Last year

of the major outbound markets,

delinquencies are dropping, new

was an especially big one for

according to the UNWTO.

developments are increasing,

technological milestones. In the

Shared ownership’s going up as

value proposition is growing, and

past 12 months, RCI has:

well. ARDA found that in 2011,

emerging markets are flourishing.

l Integrated online travel

the industry outside the United

services through RCI Travel®

States added 9,600 units at

world at a rapid pace – and RCI is taking full ­advantage. Four years ago RCI set out on a journey to transform exchange

Sales are improving,

From now on, the only point of view is a global perspective. R CI VEN TUR ES 1 3


Argentina Australia Brazil Canada Chile China Colombia Denmark Finland

l Launched in Chinese



for a new age

Innovation created timeshare – and now timeshare is innovating to meet the needs and expectations of a drastically different consumer. DAVE THACKERAY reports.

A recent report on shared ownership

(MMGY Global Shared Resort Real Estate Ownership 2012: A Market Perspective) says the average age of a prospective timeshare purchaser is 42. Which suggests it’s the Millennials and their radically different attitudes – both to brands and ownership – that your marketing campaigns should be speaking to. Sally Burnett, President, Customer Insight Group, said: “Your company is no longer in control of your brand. The customer has decided what your brand stands for, and they’re telling friends and strangers. “They’re driving the message about what your brand stands for. As a marketer you have to influence that, and be part of the conversation by providing information that others can share.” Altogether this seismic shift in the playing field has demanded timeshare developers set sights on new tools, techniques and territories. Though the essentials remain the same – finding the right prospect at minimal marketing cost, making the sale through credibility and transparency, getting your

14 Q 1 /Q 2 2 01 3

owners to champion your resort and bring referrals through your door using word of mouth marketing. DIGITAL DIRECTION If you’re accustomed to harnessing traditional channels to reach prospective owners, finding your feet in the digital world can be an intimidating prospect. To give its affiliates maximum advantage in reaching the growing internet community, RCI has developed an online tour generation platform building on the exchange company’s solid brand reputation. Julia Geffner, RCI’s Vice President of Marketing, said: “ enables us to help affiliates build their pipeline of tours and bring a younger generation of prospects into the sales centres in a transparent and engaging way. This generation is sceptical of being solicited on sidewalks or receiving a phone call saying they have won a vacation package.”

EndlessVacation enables us to help affiliates build their pipeline of tours and bring a younger generation of prospects into sales centres. Julia Geffner


RCI invests heavily in search engine marketing to drive qualified leads to its website, creating a steady tour flow going back to affiliated resorts. So far the initiative is reaping major rewards with affiliates reporting tour flow growth of up to 30 per cent. “It’s very transparent. The guest selects how many days, and what they want included in the package – from theme park tickets to spa experiences – and there’s a button on the page saying it’s such a great rate because you’re taking a resort tour,” explained Geffner. “Transparency is essential to modern buyers.”

PRODUCT RE-PACKAGING The timeshare product continues to be popular among baby boomers, but like the younger buyers coming on stream, they are looking for shorterterm ownership. Products such as The Timeshare Channel’s package, which includes five years’ ownership and

all maintenance fees, could be a solution. St David’s Vacation Club has the dual distinction of being the first timeshare resort in Wales – and the first property to work with The Timeshare Channel. Director David Lloyd, a former hotelier, turned what was a rental complex into 17 timeshare units in 1984. Located on the Pembrokeshire peninsula, the resort was a big hit and sold out three years later. Lloyd said: “We sold 50-year leases on the basis we believed it was sufficient tenure to give a sense of real ownership. On reflection, 30 years would have been better. “If you lose out on maintenance fees you’re not going to be able to maintain the high standards your owners expect. You’ve got to have full ownership.” Lloyd admitted he was initially sceptical about working with The Timeshare Channel. He said: “We were very wary of getting involved with external salespeople, having only ever sold timeshare ourselves. We were anxious that they should share culture and ethics, and we discovered they did. “We’re only doing it for weeks where problems have arisen. It’s a limited but hugely important programme for the future health of the resort.”


President, Customer Insight Group


Vice President of Marketing, RCI



St David’s Vacation Club on the Pembrokeshire peninsula in Wales is selling contemporary short-term products to help combat maintenance fee collection issues and maintain standards at a resort that has been sold out for more than 25 years.

LASTING ENGAGEMENT In timeshare, it’s known as rescission – when a new owner feels they made the wrong decision. Since the introduction of the 14-day cooling-off period, having a dedicated new customer engagement plan is essential. “The customer engagement plan should start from the point of purchase of the timeshare through the first use,” said Burnett, who addressed delegates at last year’s Resort Development Organisation conference on the power of social media to engender loyalty. Burnett said creating a series of newsletters to reaffirm the new customers’ wise purchase decision is a method to consider as part of any engagement strategy during those early days of ownership. SEEING IS BELIEVING A knack for spiriting the sense of delight and passion for vacation back into the equation once the new owner returns home is what helped Group Impact win the contract to create an anti-rescission video for Disney Vacation Club. It’s a major coup for the Northamptonshire business, because as CEO Steve Pentland explained: “Disney is the world’s most famous producer of film based on emotion.” Whatever the methods you use to market the product, it’s important to bear in mind that with a craving for evolved technology, consumers are equally expecting an evolved product. Said Pentland: “At the end of the day, marketing is one thing, but the product itself needs a fundamental shift. I think it needs to be shorter, a more flexible 16 Q 1 /Q 2 2 01 3

length to suit the customer, and there absolutely has to be an exit option.” By comparison to timeshare, the fractional market is immature – which means there are many opportunities for those developers who offer the highest levels of resort quality and customer service. Companies like Regency Resorts are already enjoying significant success offering fractionals, and it’s a product also on the agenda for Onagrup Hotels & Resorts in the near future. Onagrup Sales Manager Gerardo Maccio told RCI Ventures: “Quality and service are at the heart of everything we do. As well as innovating our product mix by working on offering fractional ownership in the future we are continuously searching for new destinations so that our partners can continue to enjoy a good holiday of ‘quality’, focused mainly on resorts on the Portuguese coast and Canary Islands.” REFER Once you’ve got prospects pouring through your door, discovered the sweet spot in your needs discovery to close the sale and successfully

The customer engagement plan should start from the point of purchase of the timeshare through the first use. Sally Burnett

negotiated customers through the cooling-off period, it’s time to apply everything you’ve learned to your sustainable sales strategy – referrals. The resorts with the greatest customer relationships consistently win when it comes to word of mouth marketing. Regency Resorts estimates up to 40 per cent of new sales come from referrals. One company that’s ticking all the boxes of building relationships and adding value to the social ecosystem is Hilton. It uses @HiltonSuggests on Twitter as a virtual concierge for anyone going on holiday, anywhere. It doesn’t focus on Hilton, but on helping. Having someone with responsibility for the social channels is a prerequisite – but the smartest operators are putting social networking into different roles across the organisation to ensure expertise is available when specialised queries are being aired. THE NEW MARKETING TOOLKIT When it comes to building effective customer relationships, you can’t afford to forget social networking – because if you do, you can be sure someone else is influencing your new owners. Burnett told RCI Ventures that more than 40 per cent of people turn to social networks as their first point of contact for social media requests. With Twitter you can ramp up your customer service efforts, and with email you can deliver messaging that reinforces your commitment to your owners. Twitter CEO Dick Costolo told delegates at the

WHERE ARE THE BUYERS? Marketers playing the long game have unlocked major rewards in Russia. Using independent agents selling trial packs in the former Soviet Republic, Mark Akkerman’s team of Premier Holiday reps convert up to 60 per cent of prospective clients at resorts across Tenerife, Mallorca and Montenegro. Akkerman said: “These people have money, they’re receptive to timeshare, and they love holidaying as a family. It’s a great combination and a great product for them.” Relaxed visa requirements have opened the floodgates to Russians travelling further afield than their usual holiday destinations. As an increasingly affluent consumer they are demanding more for their money, and from their holiday experience. “You can’t put them in a small unit and tell them they’ll be buying into a show apartment. They don’t believe in showrooms – they want to experience what they’re buying into,” said Akkerman, who has 18 years’ experience selling to Russian families. Having faith – and heritage – in nations only now truly awakening to timeshare has been a priceless asset for Premier Holidays, as it has been for Regency Resorts and its Marketing Director Eivind Steffensen. From the Nordic countries, when the company was created a quarter-century ago, Central and Eastern Europe, through the Baltic nations and the Balkans, Regency has fostered successful alliances with sales agents and established tour operators


Director, St David’s Vacation Club


MARK AKKERMAN Co-owner, Mediaset Consulting



The Regency Club near Playa de las Americas in Tenerife is one of five luxury properties that belong to the family of Regency Resorts. The company sells fractional as well as timeshare products, and estimates that 40 per cent of new sales come from owner referrals.

2012 Internet Advertising Bureau’s Engage conference that the company was processing half a billion Tweets daily – and chances are, you’re already involved. RCI launched the Timeshare Online Listening Centre (see story, page 7) at the American Resort Development Association (ARDA) conference last year. Already affiliates and ARDA itself are using the service to learn about discussions in which they’re featured – anywhere on the internet. RCI’s Geffner said: “Innovation is at the heart of what we stand for; we’re here to help our affiliate partners to change and evolve to adapt and grow in the new marketplace. “We all know it’s changing, but we haven’t all taken action yet. Five years from now it’s going to be very different and RCI is doing everything it can to provide affiliates with the tools and solutions to be prepared.”


Fortina Spa Vacation Resort in the popular Maltese resort of Sliema receives an average of 700 arrivals per week. The numbers offer great scope for a range of hotel marketing programmes, which have proved hugely successful for Marketing and Promotion Limited.

such as Neckermann, and developed affinity marketing strategies to reach millions of prospective owners. With referral programmes generating up to 40 per cent of new sales, it’s the on-site experience that makes the difference. “Eastern Europeans sometimes approach new destinations with trepidation – they were typically accustomed to holidaying close to home, in places like the Croatian coast, Lake Balaton in Hungary and Black Sea destinations,” said Steffensen. “We smooth the way at Regency Resorts with reps talking their language, and available 24 hours a day. They are there to help our guests plan their holidays and will often go out on excursions with them to make sure they get the very best from their holidays.” Regency has embraced the changing face of timeshare products by offering a range of options, from traditional weeks’ ownership through RCI Points, shorter-term products and fractional units. “Eastern Europeans in general love the exchange component that RCI offers, so they can explore the world,” added Steffensen. Regency has a dedicated social media team working on a range of Facebook sites to strengthen relationships with existing owners and generate interest among prospective guests through unbranded pages which don’t exist purely to promote Regency, but the island of Tenerife in general. The company operates various social sites to provide its owners with another communication channel, and unbranded travel and promotional sites that gain awareness through year-round organic SEO and pay-per-click initiatives. 18 Q 1 /Q 2 2 01 3

RCI Europe Regional Director Vassilis Themelidis said all eyes are on Eastern Europe – specifically Poland, Czech Republic, Russia and Lithuania – for growth in shared-ownership sales, thanks mainly to a rapid rise in the middle class population. Themelidis added: “We will not necessarily see resort development in these countries, but they will act as source markets for existing developers mainly in the south of Europe. We are already seeing these nationalities travelling heavily over recent years in destinations like Malaga, Greece and Cyprus.” CHANGING TIMES OF TIMESHARE Nine years ago Malta-headquartered Marketing And Promotion Limited (MAP) was 100 per cent OPC. “Now it’s about two per cent – prospective buyers are more savvy than ever before and do not respond well to being stopped in the street by an OPC,” said MAP’s Sales and Marketing Director Richard Alden. “Many consumers are concerned with the techniques used by OPCs to get them to attend sales presentations and we found that over the years this programme greatly lost its effectiveness, not to

Prospective buyers are more savvy than ever before and do not respond well to being stopped in the street by an OPC. Richard Alden

Directive has made timeshare a much more client-friendly product.”

mention that the costs and regulatory burdens to maintain an OPC operation have greatly increased.” Hotel programmes, holiday exhibitions and a dedicated telemarketing centre form the mainstay of sales efforts for the established company, which markets five-star Maltese resorts and houseboats on the Venetian Riviera. “Hotel programmes are a big hit for us,” said Alden. “Our conversion rates are higher, the quality of clientele is higher, and the focus is there – they’re not clock-watching and everything is much more relaxed. “You have to be very careful with hotel programmes. It’s absolutely vital you don’t upset your client base within a resort, and you have to spend a lot of time as the timeshare director coordinating with hotel management.” There are on average 700 arrivals a week at Fortina Spa Vacation Resort, one of the properties it markets in Malta. “If your people are pushy or rude and mislead people in any way, they’ll tell all the other arrivals in the restaurants or by the pool, and they won’t come to your presentations. And you have to be 100 per cent transparent,” said Alden. MAP works with promoters at 15 holiday exhibitions in the UK to collect data about prospective owners and conduct holiday draws. “Unlike the days gone by of £49 fly-buys, inspection visits cost between £200 and £500. You don’t need thousands of people and packed sales decks,” added Alden. “The days of playing the numbers game are gone. Absolute transparency and the new Timeshare


Marketing Director, Regency Resorts


Regional Director, RCI Europe


Sales and Marketing Director, MAP


CEO, Macdonald Resorts Ltd



Macdonald Hotels & Resorts’ latest partner property is Vale D’Oliveiras in the Carvoeiro area of the Algarve. The five-star, mixed-use resort includes 80 townhouses offering fractional ownership, and the Macdonald brand is playing a key role in a diverse marketing strategy.

INDUSTRY INNOVATIONS With approximately one million hotel guests passing through its 40-plus UK hotels each year, and a refined attitude to data analysis, Macdonald Hotels & Resorts is in prime position to deliver the right guests to the door of its new Portuguese partner property Vale d’Oliveiras. Located in the Carvoeiro area of the Algarve, Vale d’Oliveiras is a five-star mixed-use resort featuring 104 units – including 80 townhouses offering fractional ownership. Simon Jackson, CEO of Macdonald Resorts Ltd, said: “We don’t buy external leads for marketing purposes – 100 per cent of our leads will be coming out of the Macdonald hotel group.” Vale d’Oliveiras has swiftly been incorporated into the Macdonald Hotels & Resorts marketing touchpoints to benefit from the brand strength of its new partner. That means guests will start seeing the resort promoted in diverse ways including in-room marketing, lobby displays and even pillow drops, as well as through the company’s website and other digital channels. Jackson added: “Fractionals at Vale d’Oliveiras are high quality, so they’ll also be available to the highend rental marketplace, which will also be a source of potential purchasers. As you’d expect from a major hotel group we’ve amassed a great deal of data and information about our guests, and their compatibility to the properties that we market to them. “We also have several golf courses across the UK in some very prestigious locations, and the Algarve is obviously very golf-intensive. We can narrow down in our database people who are keen on golf, or guests that prefer suites, apartments or even hotel rooms, and tailor make their holidays at Vale d’Oliveiras or one of our other resorts to suit their specific holiday requirements. “We have the skillset and a diverse arm to our business that’s been very successful in managing hotels and resorts for many years now,” said Jackson. “When we first went into our current resorts it was as the managing partner for Barratt International Leisure. We only enter into ventures that produce a win-win situation for both parties – any deal has to be beneficial for the partner company and any stakeholders that come into the deal.”

stage IN DEPTH

MGM takes the

Leading Indian-based business group MGM’s acquisition of the Petchey Leisure Group instantly made it a major player in the timeshare industry. And with ambitious plans for expansion there’s more to come from a company which puts service first. By STEVE ADAMS

The news

that timeshare industry veteran Jack Petchey was selling his long-established Petchey Leisure Group (PLG) after a remarkable career may not have surprised industry insiders when it was announced towards the end of last year. What did come as a shock was the purchaser – Magnum Global Holdings of Singapore, an associate company of MGM, the MG Muthu Group, a vast Indian company with more than 3,000 employees and operations spanning Asia, Europe and the US. MGM’s diverse operations cover a wide range of industries, including logistics, shipping, mining and hospitality, and 2013 marks the company’s 50-year anniversary (see opposite page). STRENGTH IN DIVERSITY Having such a diverse business base gives the company strength and resilience to global economic fluctuations. And though it has no previous experience in timeshare, Vice Chairman MGM Maran says the industry is a natural fit for his company. “MGM has been involved in the hospitality business for the last two decades, operating 2 0 Q 1 /Q 2 2 01 3

hotels, theme parks and fast food restaurants all over India,” he said. “We have resorts in India and Singapore and, although they are not timeshare resorts, the aim to provide customer satisfaction and high-quality service standards is exactly the same.” He said timeshare resorts’ reliable year-round occupancy rates coupled with the Petchey Leisure brand name created an appealing business proposition. “Timeshare provides a secure future for any resort and our wealth of hospitality knowledge, together with the timeshare background of Petchey Leisure – which has thrived from the 1980s to the present day – opens up a world of opportunities to explore,” he explained. “Our aim is to provide the ultimate holiday experience, not only in Europe but Asia and India as well.” A GOOD MIX MGM Anand, who heads MGM’s hospitality operation in India and Singapore, said Europe and Asia are a good business combination, not least because of the growing number of Asian residents who want to travel to Europe, coupled with Europeans developing a love >

ABOUT MGM Now one of India’s leading private business groups, MGM was founded in 1963 by Dr MG Muthu – its current Chairman – and started life as a small logistics firm before developing operations in a variety of businesses. Its diverse operations now include shipping, mining, carton manufacture, real estate, distillery (it has more than 60 liquor brands in India and Sri Lanka), commodity hotel and resort properties in India and Singapore under the banner of MGM Hotels and Resorts. Its property portfolio includes: MGM Beach Resort, Muttukad – Set on the Blue Beach opposite the Bay of Bengal and comprising over 88 cottages, rooms, suites and a range of facilities. MGM Hi-Way Resort, Ranipet – Located on the main road between Bangalore and Chennai, and ideal for business travellers, with 19 guest rooms and suites.

MGM is always looking for opportunities to grow its business globally and we saw the potential in combining Europe and Asia, which is a good mix of business.

MGM Hill Worth Resort, Coonoor – A quaint yet urban retreat 6,500 feet above sea level in the Nilgiri hills featuring lovely views and 10 guest rooms. Eastwoods, Injambakkan – A relaxing resort comprised of 21 guest rooms and suites in landscaped grounds just 30 minutes from Chennai. MGM Mark Whitefield, Bengaluru – A 76-room business hotel close to Bangalore with state-of-the-art facilities. MGM Vailankanni Residency, Vailankanni –

MGM Anand MGM is confident that timeshare is a natural fit with its business portfolio, having been involved in the hospitality business for two decades across India and Singapore. It operates a range of high quality properties across the region under the banner of MGM Hotels and Resorts.

Under a mile from the sacred Vailankanni shrine and comprising eight condo-style cottages and 27 rooms in lush gardens. The company also operates serviced apartments, runs the 36-branch Indian franchise operation of fast food chain Mary Brown and pioneered theme parks in India. Its MGM Dizzee World attracts around three million visitors every year. R CI VEN TURES 2 1


trading and a hospitality arm that operates



Vice Chairman, MGM


Head of MGM’s hospitality operation in India and Singapore

> affair with holidaying in Asia. “MGM is always looking for opportunities to grow its business globally and we saw the potential in combining Europe and Asia, which is a good mix of business to grow,” he explained. Maran confirmed that the Petchey Leisure name will remain for the foreseeable future, with Petchey’s long-serving project director, Isla Murray, staying on to head up MGM’s timeshare division on a global basis. MGM has also extended its long-term relationship with RCI, signing a new Master Affiliation Agreement with the exchange company. The deal covers Petchey Leisure’s six properties in Portugal, Spain and Tenerife (it also has inventory at a number of other resorts in Europe and worldwide), and also sees RCI servicing the group’s Infiniti, Atlas Weeks, Atlas Points and Genesis Club brands. Dimitris Manikis, RCI’s Vice President, Business Development, Europe, Middle East and Africa, said: “These are very exciting times for Petchey Leisure and we are delighted by their continued commitment to RCI and look forward to continuing our long and 2 2 Q 1 /Q 2 2 01 3

successful partnership. “MGM is new to timeshare but as a hugely successful hospitality company its entry will bring further credibility to the industry.” MGM’s commitment to the continuity of a successful business also sees the majority of Petchey Leisure staff remaining in their roles, as Maran acknowledges their importance to the ongoing project. “We’re interested in building a professional team and aim to motivate existing employees to grow with the organisation,” he explained, adding that he expected the company’s expertise in the hotel industry to play a key role in developing resort standards. The MGM executive also has ambitious plans for expansion. “We’ll be renovating all the Petchey Leisure Group properties, and are planning to add resorts in the UK, France, Italy, Spain, the Maldives, Sri Lanka and Morocco,” Maran added. “MGM never stands still and talks are already in place to secure a new resort in the UK, plus the acquisition of other resorts in Asia and Europe to add to the portfolio.” In addition to the acquisition of new resorts, MGM will bring properties from its existing portfolio into Petchey’s club products. Anand said: “We intend to select the resorts we feel best suit the core product of Infiniti in order to offer both existing and new members the utmost flexibility when choosing their next holiday destination. “We will also offer the very best in luxury and comfort and, where necessary, improvements and refurbishment plans will be put into action. “The differences between countries and cultures will play an important part in giving clients a memorable and enjoyable holiday experience in whichever country they choose.”

MGM aims to deliver the best in luxury and comfort in its guest experience. An aggressive resort refurbishment and expansion plan is in place to ensure MGM members get the highest quality accommodation in the widest choice of destinations. Resorts pictured top to bottom: Clube Praia da Oura and Oura Praia Hotel in Portugal and Grangefield Oasis Club in Spain.

MGM never stands still and talks are already in place to secure a new resort in the UK. MGM Maran

There isn’t a simple equation or magic formula for creating a winning resort development. But Julian Houchin, Commercial Director at iO Adria, developers of the hugely successful Sun Gardens residential leisure real estate development in Croatia, believes there are definitely several criteria which are essential to success. By SARAH LEE


Essentials Julian Houchin is in an enviable position. Just 15 months after taking sales and marketing in-house at the upscale residential leisure development, Sun Gardens, his company has seen sales in excess of €9 million. A remarkable insight

achievement in what remains a very challenging leisure real estate market. A five-star mixed-use residential and resort development, Sun Gardens comprises 207 one, two- and three-bedroom residences sold on a whole-ownership basis, together with a five-star 201-key Radisson Blu Hotel. iO Adria has also affiliated the property with The Registry Collection, the world’s leading luxury fractional exchange programme. This enables purchasers, who intend to use their residence as a holiday home, to benefit from the flexibility of being able to exchange unused time in their Sun Gardens

Sun Gardens takes full advantage of its location near Dubrovnik’s Old Town, enjoying high year-round occupancy rates and excellent rental returns.

property for a stay in one of approximately 200 luxury properties in 37 countries across the globe. The resort also offers a very successful rental

Flexible Cachet

programme to allow owners to generate income

Situated just a short distance from Old Town

from ownership.

Dubrovnik and enjoying panoramic views of the

Naturally, Sun Gardens’ success has not come

Adriatic, excellent rental returns of four per cent

without a long period of research and planning for

per annum are achievable for whole-ownership

developer and management company iO Adria. As

purchasers as demand and occupancy levels

Houchin said: “The company monitored the Croatian

continue to grow. Occupancy in the summer

market for 8-10 years before being presented with

period typically runs at 95 per cent plus, so

an opportunity to acquire what we believed to be

owners tend to visit in the shoulder and low

the best resort development in Croatia. It enabled

seasons meaning the resort benefits from high

us, as investors and long-term operators, to roll out

year-round occupancy, while owners capitalise on

our first five-star resort in Dubrovnik in July 2009.”

rental returns.

Now, just over four years later, the iO Adria team

Houchin recognised the benefit of becoming

has developed a resort that’s much in demand

part of RCI’s luxury exchange portfolio, as he

by investors, home buyers and leisure-orientated

explained: “Membership of The Registry Collection

holiday purchasers alike.

is a great benefit to our owners, and one they

Julian Houchin

Commercial Director of iO Adria, developers of Sun Gardens r ci Ven tures 2 3

thoroughly appreciate. They come to buy a property from us, then have the opportunity to travel to resorts of the same high quality elsewhere. It really is a fantastic add-on.”

The old adage For Houchin the secret of Dubrovnik Sun Gardens’ success, and that of any resort, is tied to location, design and styling, wellness programmes and professional management. ‘Location, location, location’ may be the old adage of real estate developers but according to Houchin its importance should never be overlooked. It’s no accident that the resort is located in Croatia, a country that grows in popularity with leisure investors and travellers each year. “Location is the most important thing,” says Houchin. “Each of our resort sites is within one hour of an international airport. Many airlines have daily flights to Dubrovnik in peak season and still maintain at least a couple of weekly flights during low season which makes it easy for people to visit year round, with the option of short breaks and longer stays. This increases footfall in resort and boosts rental incomes. “Sun Gardens has a prime location, 15 minutes from Old Town Dubrovnik and 20 minutes from insight

an area called Pelješac, known for its wine, oysters and seafood. It’s a terrific area for luxury travel. We’re also right on the coast which is crucial, and within 90 minutes’ drive of fantastic locations such as Mostar and Montenegro for those who want to venture further afield.”

The resort also has extensive conference facilities – it can cater for up to 900 delegates. “Conferences are vitally important for any resort. They maintain

Design for modern travel

footfall and represent a good rental return for

Catering for the modern traveller in resort design

owners. But it is a fine balancing act between

– from the way your accommodation and facilities

hosting conference delegates and holidaymakers,

are structured, through to interiors – also gives a

so we only run conferences in low and shoulder

competitive edge.

seasons which also enables us to extend the

Houchin explained that Sun Gardens hosts a lot of multi-generational family groups. Alongside

seasons,” said Houchin. “Our range of facilities is so diverse it puts us in

apartments sleeping up to eight guests, the resort

competition with leading five-star resorts across

also has hotel rooms appealing to couples, and can


also cater for conference delegate travellers out of season.

As a luxury brand, iO Adria has created a product perfect for its clientele. Sun Gardens is the

He said: “We run at full capacity with families

epitome of modern living with interiors inspired

visiting from June to September. We have some of

by the acclaimed Hirsch Bedner Associates, yet

the longest-stay guests in the region, with an average

the developers have been careful to ensure it is in

of eight to ten nights. Some will stay for a whole

keeping with the region.

month because there is so much to do in our resort.” Sun Gardens was designed with multi-

Houchin explained: “The architect was from Zagreb, so quite local. We ensured the resort

generational family groups in mind, with a full

exterior was culturally authentic. The residences

range of facilities including 13 bars and restaurants,

were built about 30 years ago, yet they look like a

comprehensive sports facilities, a marina providing

traditional Mediterranean village.

boat transfers to Dubrovnik’s Old Town and

“Inside we used quality materials that will

tours of the Elafiti Islands, a beach club, as well

stand up to long-term use, such as oak floors and

as an award-winning spa by OCCO. A further

bathroom ceramics. When you develop somewhere

development phase will bring in another five-star

which isn’t just being sold, but rented, the quality of

hotel and a further 200 residences.

materials is very important.”

24 Q 1 /Q 2 2 01 3


13% increase in visitors

38% increase in Japanese visitors

25% increase in UK visitors

A stunning location close to the city of Dubrovnik, modern interior design, the embracing of travel trends such as spa and wellbeing, and a ‘can do’ attitude have all contributed to the success of Sun Gardens.

Yes we can Houchin said having a ‘Yes We Can’ attitude to service – adopted from franchise hotel partner, Radisson Blu – running through the staffing structure is imperative to delivering world-class guest experiences. “The resort management team is at the heart of resort success,” he explained. “It should be supported by the owning company. Many iO Adria directors are experienced hospitality experts, having insight

worked for some of the leading luxury brands in the business, including InterContinental Hotels, The Rezidor Group, TrustHouse Forte Hotels, Abercrombie & Kent and One & Only. Between them they have operated in some of the finest resorts and hotels in the world, including Sandy Lane in Barbados, Grosvenor House in London, La Mamounia in Marrakech, the InterContinental and

Growth in wellbeing Travel trends evolve and it seems travellers’ passions

Churchill Hotels in London. “This is important to our owners, as it gives the

for spa and wellness experiences are unlikely to tail

product credibility and this helps with sales. Good

off any time soon.

day-to-day resort management is vital. We have

Embracing this, Sun Gardens features The Spa by

seen for ourselves how some resorts are not well

OCCO, which has received many accolades including

managed and the effects this has on the product

the Spa Traveller Award for Best International Spa.

they offer and the subsequent results,” said Houchin.

Houchin said: “People are becoming healthier

“There are two big issues. The first is managing

and so we offer detox programmes, yoga and

seasonality and ensuring you have the right levels of

fitness classes. We’re raising awareness of the resort

staff for the peaks and troughs throughout the year.

as a spa destination and seeing a big uplift in visits

We manage our distribution, renting our residences

in the shoulder season for spa getaways.”

first and then the hotel rooms, to ensure rental

Another trend is the traveller’s desire to learn something new while on holiday. “An enrichment

incomes for our owners. “The second is pricing and positioning.

programme is valuable as people want to learn

For example, we don’t look to what resorts in

when on holiday – perhaps how to cook a local meal

Dubrovnik are doing, but those across Europe, as

or to play a sport,” Houchin added.

we need to be competing on an international level.

“We have enrichment programmes for adults and

Croatia by the numbers:



inbounds – up

Generally when people consider visiting us they are

children. This isn’t a new phenomena, but something

comparing us to resorts in Italy and other five-star

that’s been overlooked by resorts in recent years. Luxury

integrated family resorts across Europe. When

travellers do look for more enriching travels offering

they are looking to buy here they compare us with

destination insights. It gives guests more reasons to

residential resorts in Cyprus, Greece, Spain, Italy and

stay in resort and increases the on-resort spend.”

others. In the end, knowing your market is key.”

% on 2011

r ci Ven tures 2 5

modern products for modern times Trying anything new can be challenging, but entering timeshare at a time of economic and social flux when owners are changing their travel habits is even more difficult, writes SARAH LEE

Today developers are creating short-term products, mixing exchange options with whole ownership, as well as devising a range of investment models. Rainer Greune is General Manager of Hotel Interstar in

The fact that consumers are changing the way they travel insight

and how they spend their money

Saalbach-Hinterglemm in Austria, which is pinning its hopes on its new product to transform sales. The resort opened in 2001

has not escaped the notice of

selling weeks at this popular

timeshare developers.

mountain destination and

Many are testing new

recently launched a VIP Travel

products and altering

Card for timeshare owners

already successful ones to

offering a broad range of travel

fit contemporary needs. And

benefits. The card also enables

expansion of the hotel will add a

while some think this is a less

them to purchase short periods

further 1,000 weeks of inventory

than opportune time to enter

of ownership of either five or ten

by 2015.

the industry, a number of new


entrants to the market are

The €3,440 flexible weeks

Greune said: “There’s enormous demand around

making waves with innovative

product allows for all-inclusive

the world from customers

products and mixed-use models.

packages for just €30 per

who want to exchange into

person, per day, and additional

resorts in Austria, so having a

Evolution solution

services worth €400 a week

four-star resort in the Salzburg

In business it’s crucial to evolve,

such as 20 per cent reduction on

region, where there are many

and shared ownership has come

golfing green fees and discounts

attractions, is an asset.

a long way since timeshare

on local attractions.

developers only sold a week-long right-to-use product.

While the resort currently has 1,200 weeks for sale, a planned

“Through our collaboration with RCI we have had the opportunity to welcome more than 100 guests from around the world at our hotel and their very positive responses have shown us that we are on the right track.” Hotel Interstar principally markets its revitalised timeshare product on the internet but is seeking sales offices in Europe, Asia and the Middle East.

2 6 Q 1 /Q 2 2 01 3

Main image and this page: Hotel Interstar in the popular winter sport destination of SallbachHinterglemm in Austria is aiming to extend its appeal by launching a VIP Travel Card for timeshare owners.

Facilities at Turkish resort Hattuşa Astyra Thermal Resort & Spa, pictured left and below left, include nine thermal pools and a 4,500 sq m spa.

Interesting developments

have a resort and found this

The location of resorts is as

health-giving properties –

important for today’s new

whether you bathe or drink the

developers as ever, yet they’re

waters here it is excellent for

looking at more than just being

dealing with health problems. The

in a popular destination. With

waters have also been proved to

happy with the product so we

today’s travellers seeking more

be very good for the heart.”

are using this fantastic statistic in

The 144-apartment resort has

our sales. Ninety per cent of our

place to lie in the sun, developers

nine thermal pools and a 4,500

owners are Turkish, but we also

are turning their focus to popular

square metre spa. It has already

have owners from Scandinavia,

interests such as spas, wellness

sold out of its current units

Holland, Germany and the UK,”

and cultural city breaks, building

and has close to 100 per cent

he explained.

them into their products.

occupancy, success Koşar puts

There is no better example of this focus on location and travellers’ interests than at

“As this region will get a

down to its spa and wellbeing

new international airport this


year, we’re also expecting much

“We are helping people with

more interest from international visitors.”

Hattuşa Astyra Thermal Resort &

a resort that promotes their

Spa, one of RCI’s latest affiliations

wellbeing and helps them with a

While a focus on health and

in Turkey.

variety of health conditions, and

wellbeing has become popular

this is becoming more and more

with travellers, there has also

important today,” he said.

been a growing interest in city

The resort, which is located near Mount Ida on the north Aegean coast, has been

“Thermal spa systems are

breaks and developers like

established by Hattuşa Saglik

effective all year but usually

András Kovács are creating

Termal Turizm A.S., part of

people prefer to use them in the

products to fit this need.

geothermal energy producer

winter months so we have a

Hattuşa. The company has

year-round product.”

harnessed the geothermal

Koşar said Hattuşa’s strong

the Austrian capital Vienna, a

image had also helped its

product as much of interest to

create a thermal spa and wellness

marketing efforts.

leisure visitors as business people.

“Timeshare is relatively new

Our members are 99 per cent happy with the product so we are using this fantastic statistic in our sales.

Kovács is one of the team behind Clubhotel Cortina in

properties of the local area to resort. Assistant Manager and


from their holidays than just a

location which has great

Clubhotel Cortina is a rare find

Sales Coordinator Gürcan Koşar

in Turkey compared to other

in shared holiday ownership – a

explained: “The region is one

parts of Europe, but it has been

timeshare resort in the heart of a

of the best places in the world

seen as a bit ‘dirty’, which is why

capital city. It has a four-star hotel

for geothermal energy and the

we’re using our strong brand

with 27 rooms and 20 timeshare

oxygen quality there is excellent.”

name to help us sell here. And

apartments across two buildings in

“We saw an opportunity to

our members are 99 per cent

the city’s elegant Hietzing district.

Gürcan Koşar rci V e n tu res 27

Starting mixed-use was a commercial solution. The hotel income can cover your everyday costs, while timeshare can be used to generate cashflow. András Kovács

commercial solution. The hotel income can cover your everyday costs, while timeshare can be used to generate cashflow.” But as Kovács points out, the two resorts are very different. Clubhotel Cortina reaps the rewards of its city location with a long season. Conversely, Clubhotel Kreischberg, which opened in 2001 in the Austrian countryside, has 137 units and 5,000 timeshare members, and is popular with winter sports fans but has a short winter season. insight

“Kreischberg’s main season is over by spring,” explains Kovács. “But hotel occupancy in Vienna is high year-round and runs at about 70 per cent.” The mixed-use model is also central to the product offering at Hattuşa Astyra Thermal Resort & Spa. “We will be opening a second phase with for new entrants to the market

215-apartments, a five-star hotel,

to experience their culture but

it seems an essential element of

and an 11,500 square metre

there are few great examples of

their product offering.

health and spa centre, and a

“People love visiting cities

timeshare resorts in cities. Given

“While having a hotel as an

hospital in 2014,” explained Koşar. “Mixed-use is so important

our experience in developing

element of your development

resorts we felt this was an

gives you income over many years,

to our product offering – the

excellent opportunity to give

timeshare provides a quick source

timeshare apartments will give

people a quality resort in a prime

of capital, which is great for your

people the chance to stay with us

location,” explained Kovács.

credit,” explained Kovács.

for a longer period after having

“It’s a very good market –

The developer had the

treatments at the hospital.” Whether it means integrating

the resort is very close to the

experience to inform the

Schönbrunn Palace so not only

introduction of the mixed-use

a five-star hotel into your resort

do we have plenty of tourists but

model at Clubhotel Cortina as it

development, providing a

also business guests – another

had already developed another

comprehensive wellness offering

great market to sell to.”

resort, Clubhotel Kreischberg, in

or creating an appealing and


well-structured product for the

In the mix

“Mixed-use has been the

modern traveller, all these new

While older resorts are often

key to our success. For us it’s

entrants agree that for a resort

dedicated to timeshare, for some

been a good idea proven out by

to succeed it must offer today’s

time much of the industry has

results,” said Kovács.

clients something just a little bit

lauded the mixed-use model, and 2 8 Q 1 /Q 2 2 01 3

“Starting mixed-use was a


Clubhotel Cortina, in the heart of Vienna, is one of a limited number of timeshare resorts to be located in a capital city – a factor the mixed-use resort aims to make the most of in its marketing.

Dubai on the up

Dubai is back. The United Arab Emirates (UAE) city whose skyline became synonymous with a stream of fantastic buildings and widespread development – and then idle cranes, when the real estate market crashed and a corporate debt crisis brought work to a standstill – is buzzing once again. Not surprisingly the city that’s home to the world’s tallest building isn’t doing things by halves. Plans are already under way for a massive tourism and retail development that will include the world’s largest shopping mall, a park bigger than London’s Hyde Park, hotels and

a Universal Studios franchise. The ‘Mall of the World’ alone is expected to host 80 million visitors a year. A huge proportion are likely to come through Dubai International Airport, which saw more than 57 million passengers in 2012 and is now the second busiest international airport in the world. Its facilities, along with the number of routes operated by chief carrier Emirates Airlines, are being expanded and Dubai’s ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum expects airport traffic to top 90 million in six years.

Ambitious Plans The Sheikh is reported to have said: “Our development initiatives concerning infrastructure in all sectors should be aligned with this growth rate. The current facilities available in Dubai need to be scaled up in line with the future ambitions for the city.” Those ambitions are largely being fuelled by the tourism boom that has been at the heart of Dubai’s dramatic recovery. Visitor numbers increased by 9.3 per cent in 2012, taking the annual total to more than 10 million for the first time in the city’s history. A range of factors has contributed to the growth,

in development

After a tough couple of years with rapid development suddenly stalling, Dubai is surging back to life. A variety of investment projects and tourism initiatives are set to boost visitor numbers, and the sharedownership industry is taking note. By STEVE ADAMS

Dubai by the numbers:

2,105,000 Largest population in the UAE

10.16 million Hotel guests and cruise passengers in 2012

r ci Ven tur es 2 9

We’re aiming to develop a Dubai market for what we call ‘affordable luxury’ with our next YOTEL project.

in development

Joe Sita, IFA

according to HE Helal Almarri, Director General of Dubai’s Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM), DUBAI’S including a coordinated city-wide RULER destination management strategy, Sheikh Mohammed world-class infrastructure, having bin Rashid al-Maktoum an ideal location at the crossroads of East and West, and “unrelenting efforts to enhance our already diverse and compelling tourism offer”. Increases in hotel guests, revenues and nights stayed all demonstrate Dubai’s strengthening position as one of the world’s most popular destinations. Shafi Syed The boom has seen 24 new RCI Regional hotels open in 2012 (adding 3,600 Director, Middle East and rooms) – taking the total to 599 North Africa (57,000 rooms) – with more to follow this year. A recent report by real estate experts Jones Lang LaSalle suggests there will be another 5,400 extra hotel rooms in 2013, with a further 13,600 rooms over the next three years. The additional supply isn’t reducing room rates. According joe sita to DTCM figures, average room President of rates rose from AED 563 in 2011 IFA Hotels Investments to AED 588 in 2012. Increases in occupancy, up to 78 per cent from 74 per cent in 2011, helped to drive a revenue rise of 17.7 per cent, with average length of stay going up to 3.76 nights, a 4.1 per cent increase. HE Helal Almarri said: “The increasing average length of stay and the rising number of hotel apartments is evidence

30 Q 1 /Q 2 2 01 3

of a growing trend in people and families visiting Dubai for longer periods – historically the city was seen by some markets as a stopover destination but in recent years it has become the destination.” Opportunity for shared ownership These statistics will be welcome news to the shared-ownership sector, which has yet to fully exploit the region, according to Shafi Syed, RCI’s Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa. “Dubai’s future is very bright,” he said. “It’s no longer a construction site but an established and exciting destination that supports success. “The ongoing regeneration shows there is real confidence in the region, and Emirates Airlines increasing international routes will make it even more accessible for visitors. The potential for shared ownership is tremendous.” A variety of factors support his conviction. Dubai’s real estate market is bouncing back, strong hotel room rates strengthen the timeshare value proposition, average length of stay is increasing and recent upmarket developments sit perfectly with products such as fractionals and private residence clubs. Another encouraging factor is Dubai’s popularity with the British and European markets. Some 80 flights arrive every day from the UK, delivering around 700,000 visitors in 2012, making it the third largest source market after Saudi Arabia and India. “The British are the main tourists to Dubai,” stated Syed. “And they are also the biggest timeshare buyers in Europe.” The correlation seems perfect,

and while Syed admits development costs can be high, Dubai is increasingly being seen as the safest place to invest in the region. “The uprisings in the Middle East and civil war in Syria have made Dubai an investment oasis in the region, attracting funds seeking a politically and economically stable haven,” he explained. “The improving financial situation makes Dubai a good source market for shared ownership and a great tourism destination. “Middle Eastern customers are adventurous travellers – they visit the US, Europe, Malaysia, Turkey, Morocco, India and more. RCI affiliate Club Mahindra opened a sales office in Dubai in December 2012 and acquired a stake in a Dubai hotel property based on heavy demand from their members. I think others will follow – we’re working with a number of developers keen to open sales locations and resorts here.” IFA set the bar One of those developers is IFA Hotels & Resorts, which opened its first private residence club, Fairmont Heritage Place, The Palm, in February. The resort is affiliated to luxury exchange programme The Registry Collection, a move that gives it a distinct marketing advantage, according to Joe Sita, President of IFA Hotels Investments. “The increased global reach from which owners benefit is extremely attractive,” he says, adding that quality brand names coming to the region are improving the image of shared ownership. “The history and stability of IFA Hotels & Resorts, plus the proven quality of our product upon delivery, certainly help to quell any investor concerns as to

Left: An aerial view of Dubai’s stunning Palm Jumeirah, which features IFA resorts Fairmont Heritage Place, Golden Mile and Kingdom of Sheba. Below left: One of the Kingdom of Sheba’s Baliqis Residences. Page 29: Stunning views from Fairmont Heritage Place.

Land of opportunity Joe Sita, President of IFA Hotels Investments, highlights Dubai’s sharedownership strengths.


The climate is not as subject to seasonal variation as other destinations and there’s a wealth of entertainment and retail on offer.


Inbound tourism numbers now exceed 10 million

per annum from a diverse geographic marketplace.

Dubai by the numbers:

Hotel guests in 2012

37,445,453 Guest nights




Hotel revenues – up 17.9% on 2011.

freehold office space and 860 residential units, while Kingdom of Sheba, a mixed-use residential and leisure resort, is set to be the company’s largest single development. “A beach club, several pools, shops, restaurant and convenience store are planned for phase 1 of the resort with a five-star hotel and possible vacation club planned alongside further phased development,” said Sita. “We are currently working on a vacation club venture aimed to help drive the expansion of the product in the Middle East by removing some of the typical barriers to sale – one of which is the lack of Sharia-compliant financing options,” he explained. “Our goal is to then expand the product on a global scale.” This is a vision that could also be used to describe the destination of Dubai itself.


The authorities have set a stringent set of rules

and code of conduct to prevent miss-selling or misrepresentation.


The prevention of off-plan sales assures purchasers that what they buy is tangible.


Ownership titles are held by the authorities and a maximum sales per unit is enforced to prevent the oversell of inventory. These rules and regulations ensure that developers must know about the industry and be well prepared before entering the market.

r ci Ven tur es 3 1

in development

9.96 million

the longevity of the company or the product,” he says. “There’s also an overall sense of security for tourists when they see familiar Fortune 500 companies setting up shop in the Emirate.” Sita said the market was also starting to see the benefits of a wider product mix, with the emergence of three- and four-star properties and budget accommodation shifting the emphasis away from five-star hotels. “There is still room for more variety,” he said. “We’re aiming to develop a market for what we call ‘affordable luxury’ with our next YOTEL project, for which site negotiations are underway.” That’s not all. IFA’s plans for the region are “expansive” according to Sita, with whole and shared-ownership projects to the fore. Golden Mile, Palm Jumeirah, comprises 10 interconnected buildings that include retail and

Ahead in the Cloud Whether a single, multi-site or mixed-use operation, most resorts will have data stored on multiple systems which don’t talk directly to each other. Using Cloud technology, Merlin Software has a fully-integrated software solution to streamline all aspects of resort management efficiently. HELEN FOSTER reports

A single database is what every resort operation should be working from, according to Mike Pnematicatos, Founder of software solutions provider Merlin. Having been in the timeshare industry since


1983, when he became involved in resort

“Our USP is that we are clients,

development, the frustration and extra work

not analysts. We understand what

created by using several disparate systems

operations managers want from the

vicariously linked to each other inspired him

process and have been able to re-

to develop his own software in 1987, which

engineer it to create a more logical

launched in 2006. The software development

process,” said Pnematicatos.

was based on 17 years’ experience of resort

understanding of the timeshare business


and resort operation because they have

Merlin is the only complete enterprise

Mike Pnematicatos

done it all. I think it is fair to say we have a wider

timeshare software system to be Cloud-

overview of all the processes and how they work

based and served on demand over the

together than many of our clients do.”

internet. Users can access their Merlin

It’s not just the industry-based experience

accounts securely, via a web browser,

that drives the Merlin magic, as he explained:

anywhere with an internet connection.

“Cloud-based technology is the way of the

The service functionality includes INNOVATION

“The Merlin team has a genuine

operations, from sales through to day-to-day

Today, Merlin has clients on every continent and in 17 time zones, with teams on the ground in Australia, Spain, the UK and South Africa and the US.

future. In addition to the obvious advantages

the Merlin marketing, sales, front-office,

of using one database to reduce replication

property management and back-office

of work and the opportunity for error, Cloud

modules, stand-alone exchange facility and

technology is not outdated as soon as it is

website integration. This form of ‘software

purchased and implemented.

as a service’ (SaaS) helps businesses become more efficient and productive. Today, Merlin has clients on every

“Our clients subscribe to Merlin software as a service and rent resources – software – not in their offices, but in the Cloud or the internet.

continent and in 17 time zones, with support

They buy only what they use and any software

teams on the ground in Australia, Spain, the

updates are given to them automatically as

UK, South Africa and most recently in the US

their application is updated in the Cloud. Unlike

as the company expands into this exciting

traditional back-office systems, clients do not


have to pay for upgrades and any upgrade will be a seamless process. We upgrade the systems every week and our clients know nothing about it – it just happens.”

32 Q 1 /Q 2 2 01 3


BACK OFFICE BENEFITS There is a package for every area of operation. For example, inter-company accounting and the business of balance sheets and income statements, though not often debated at industry forums and hidden away in the back office, are a crucial and complex part of any resort operation. Merlin has automated this process in the Cloud, effectively eliminating the possibility of leaving out any vital account entry replication or overlooking any transaction entries. Automated inter-company accounting delivers a simple and accurate end-of-year account balancing process. Accrual suspense accounting can be dealt


with similarly.

Merlin has been working with RCI for some time. In December 2012 RCI announced the launch of its Deposit Simplification Interface, allowing links between its system and external property management systems. The interface is designed to integrate and automate operational processes for RCI affiliates. Merlin Software For Vacation Ownership created an interface


with RCI which allows members’ deposits to be automatically validated and

“At minimal cost we carry out a business

deposited into the affiliate’s site on Merlin’s Cloud-based software. Inbound

process and product analysis with our clients

RCI reservations are also automatically created and maintained in both

and then set up a test process and user

systems using the intelligent interface.

acceptance testing,” says Pnematicatos.

Because Merlin software is purchased as a service package, the new

“This is proof of concept stage, after

functionality will be available to Merlin customers who are also RCI

which a client can decide whether it works for

affiliates for a minimal configuration fee but no additional on-going cost.

them. When they proceed we provide one to four weeks of on-site training and a further

1. Real time deposit verifications with little or no manual processes

two weeks of ‘hand holding’. Even when our

2. Inbound guest lists automatically entered into the Merlin system

clients are flying solo, they have access to a

3. Inbound guest reservations automatically booked

sophisticated 24/7 online support system.

4. Time-saving in assigning units for inbound guests 5. Improved check-in process for resorts.

“We price according to the scale of the client’s operation and a resort with 25 units will get exactly the same software and functionality

Pnematicatos explained: “Merlin Software is one of the first of the

as a 1,000-unit resort. The technology platform

property management software providers to complete such an interface,

for Merlin consists of a Microsoft SQL Server

which allows RCI affiliated resorts to have their live data automatically fed

database (back end) with the front end built

from the RCI system directly into Merlin. Our team worked incredibly hard

using Active Server Pages (browser front end).”

on this project because we understood the huge benefits it can bring to our clients who are RCI affiliates.” The system is infinitely flexible and its architecture can accommodate weeks, points and bonus weeks in a single package.

With a full order book for this year, many in the industry have already got their heads in the Cloud. R CI VEN TUR ES 3 3


Those RCI affiliates are now able to access:


On the money It’s still possible to secure timeshare financing in a post-financial crisis US. Michael Szwajkowski, EVP, Vacation Ownership Team, Commercial & Specialty Finance, at Capital One Bank, sets out what he expects of the developer to seal the deal

Independent finance companies were the primary source of debt capital to the vacation ownership industry

Strong consumer credit and FICO

prior to the 2008 crisis. However, many

scores are critical – In the post-

such companies ceased lending to

financial crisis environment these are

the industry and some ceased to exist

no longer options, but rather the norm.

altogether, leaving operators facing

Maintaining consistent, disciplined

more stringent lending criteria while

credit criteria while building a portfolio

competing for scarce loan proceeds.

of receivables will pay dividends.

But adversity is the mother of

In addition to increased earnings,

invention and many timeshare operators

timeshare operators will benefit

demonstrated ingenuity in fine tuning

from greater access to financing and

sales operations and financial profiles to

operational improvements that come

emerge in a better position than before.

with a well-performing portfolio, such

Many developers who survived now function more efficiently and are in a

as lower delinquency in terms of customer accounts.

better position to pursue financing within

MICHAEL SZWAJKOWSKI EVP, Vacation Ownership Team, Commercial & Specialty Finance, Capital One Bank

the industry’s current business model.

Robust reporting systems are

Another important 2011 change was the

essential – Information is power

metamorphosis of funding sources for

and in-depth reporting systems

the timeshare industry, when banks and

are tantamount in providing both

Capital One Bank’s Vacation

the securitisation market became the

banks and the capital markets

Ownership team provides

dominant liquidity providers.

with accessible, but detailed views

receivables, inventory and

of receivables portfolios. More

working capital loan facilities

serving the vacation ownership industry,

comprehensive reporting systems

to timeshare operators across

Capital One Bank’s team made four key

give financiers and other key

the US and the Caribbean.

observations to help those pursuing

stakeholders the ability to stratify

This team is part of the Bank’s

financing – wherever they may be

portfolios across multiple criteria (ie:

Commercial and Specialty

operating in the world:

FICO scores and geographic location).

Finance Business, which serves

Strong, clean balance sheets attract

Experienced management teams

more than 200 associates who

capital – A clean balance sheet is the

with a proven track record – In a

have expertise in healthcare,

‘new normal’ for companies looking

more stringent financing environment

security and defence,

to secure attractive financing. The

the calibre of a leadership team is

technology, asset-based

focus should be on simplifying and

more important than ever. Strong

lending, rediscount finance,

strengthening their balance sheets, for

management teams provide the

as well as equipment leasing

example, by providing adequate reserves

confidence that lenders and investors

and finance.

and more closely matching assets and

look for when making financing



As a ‘Top Ten’ US bank committed to


clients through a team of

34 Q 1 /Q 2 2 01 3

Higher standards for exceptional holiday experiences

“Over the last six years, with the help and support of the RCI® team, Macdonald Resorts Ltd. has achieved eight RCI Gold Crown Resort Awards and an RCI Silver Crown Resort Award across our RCI-affiliated properties. Working closely with the RCI team we have enhanced our service and quality to the high standards of today, benefiting the whole Macdonald group as well as all 25,000 of our owners.” Simon Jackson Chief Executive Officer, Macdonald Resorts Ltd. RCI Affiliate since 2001 Macdonald Elmers Court Resort, England

For more than 35 years, RCI® has been the exchange provider of choice for some of the most successful developers in the vacation ownership industry. With over 3.8 million members and more than 4,000 affiliated resorts worldwide, we are uniquely positioned to help you achieve your goals in shared ownership. Success, by any measure, begins with a solid business vision. RCI is ready to support you in yours. For more information, e-mail or call +44 (0) 1536 314651.

RCI and related marks are registered trademarks and/or service marks in the United States and internationally. All rights reserved. ©2011 RCI, LLC. All rights reserved. Printed in the U.S.A.

What’s the key to sensational sales? We’ll help you put your finger on it.

In our increasingly point-and-click world, the customer demand for more dynamic presentations of information is growing. As a leader in the industry, RCI has a tradition of meeting the future head-on, supporting our affiliated resorts with both quality content and powerful, leading-edge technology. RCI’s most recent innovation, RCI® Presenter, is a touchscreen interactive sales tool that can add extra sizzle to your sales centers. Packed with engaging content, RCI Presenter offers you and your business exciting new ways to drive traffic, generate sales and ultimately lower your marketing costs. Need flexibility? RCI Presenter lets you customize the content to align with your sales needs.

At RCI, the best vacations start with great innovation. To learn more visit or email

© 2013 RCI, LLC. All rights reserved.

RCI Ventures Q1/Q2 2013  
RCI Ventures Q1/Q2 2013  

All the latest RCI timeshare news from Europe, Middle East, Africa and India plus experts share their views on Marketing Mechanisms.