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T H E B U S I N E S S O F VAC AT I O N Q 3 /Q 4 2 0 1 9

DRIVING DECISIONS Cultural mindsets define travel behaviours

TAKING CENTRE STAGE Turkey and Egypt make an impressive comeback

BREAKING BOUNDARIES Women in travel and their journeys to the top

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Welcome RCI Affiliates

4 News The latest news from Europe and around the world 7 The Business of Entertainment How entertainment and amenities are redefining resort offerings 14 Robotics in Travel Physical robots and AI are shaping the future of customer interaction 16 RCI – A New Chapter Olivier Chavy and Paul Mulcahy join the world’s leading exchange holiday provider 21 Women in Travel Three industry high-flyers share their industry views and their journeys to the top 24 Spotlight on Egypt and Turkey Two leading holiday destinations make an impressive comeback 28 Winning the Generation Game Millennials are the market, but are the Baby Boomers equally as important? 31 Getting into Character A look at how cultural mindsets influence travel behaviours 34 Final Thought Ovidio Zapico reviews the industry landscape for south-west Europe

Visit for news of the worldwide shared-vacation ownership industry and insight from the experts.

The most valuable moments of our holidays are often the times when we embark on once-in-a-lifetime experiences, or enjoy authentic, extra-special activities. Consumers seek to be entertained to make the most of every moment of their highly-anticipated holidays. Several leading RCI affiliates share how they exceed consumers’ expectations with their entertainment and amenities in our lead feature on page 7. We are delighted to give a warm welcome to the new leaders of RCI Exchanges on page 16; Olivier Chavy, President, and Paul Mulcahy, Managing Director, EMEA. Chavy and Mulcahy most recently served at Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts and bring a wealth of experience from the international hospitality sector to RCI, which will help shape the future of the company and its portfolio of brands. Keeping abreast of trends in the wider travel industry is essential. On page 14, we investigate the use of physical robots and AI to explore how robots and humans can work cohesively to deliver excellent customer service. Millennials have captured the focus of the industry, however, on page 28, we look at how the Baby Boomers remain a relevant market segment and the correlation between the desires of these two generations. The number of female CEOs has increased in recent years, but according to the Fortune 500, only 33 women have made this year’s list. Drawing insight from three women at the top of their careers, we look at how the wider travel industry can motivate others and establish gender balance on page 21. Confidence is being restored in two popular holiday destinations, Egypt and Turkey, and on page 24, we look at how they have reached the turning point from recovery to growth. Understanding motivations for travel is often based on market segmentation, but on page 31, we look at the impact of cultural mindset driving consumer decisions. In concluding, RCI’s Ovidio Zapico shares insight on south-west Europe – one of the industry’s most prosperous regions. We hope you enjoy the read!


Vice President, Business Development Europe, Middle East and Africa – RCI Exchanges

is published by RCI, a trading name of RCI Europe, Kettering Parkway, Kettering, Northants, NN15 6EY, United Kingdom. Tel: +44 (0)1536 314395. Email: EDITOR: Rebecca Gormley. ASSISTANT EDITOR: Lorraine Loveland. DESIGN: Charlotte Semark, Ginny Knight, Alex Hutchinson, Charlie Hayes and Lois Mullen. PRODUCTION: Helen Foster, Claire Williams, Natasha Hegarty, Trevor Lewis. PRINTING: Belmont Press. PHOTO CREDITS: Shutterstock. COVER: Charlotte Semark. ILLUSTRATION: pages 14-15, Lois Mullen. 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 2019



Mulcahy named MD for EMEA – RCI Exchanges Paul Mulcahy has been appointed Managing Director for RCI Exchanges in Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA). With a career that spans more than two decades in both the hospitality and travel industries, Mulcahy has successfully led a combination of finance, marketing and planning strategies at both corporate and divisional levels across EMEA. He most recently served as Senior Vice President at Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts, where he led the hospitality firm’s commercial and digital transformation, driving promotional activities that enhanced customer experience,

loyalty and satisfaction. He has also served in leadership roles at Pierre & Vacances - Center Parcs Group,, and InterContinental Hotels Group.

Olivier Chavy & Paul Mulcahy

New affiliation for The Registry Collection RCI’s luxury exchange programme, The Registry Collection, has expanded its offering with the affiliation of Los Jardines de Abama in Tenerife. The apartments are part of the expansive Abama resort, which is located on the southwest coast of Tenerife and also features a five-star hotel, indulgent spa, Dave Thomasdesigned golf course, and 12 restaurants – three of which have been awarded Michelin Stars. As part of the next phase of the resort’s development, the new residences will comprise two- and three-bedroom contemporary villas with private infinity pools, highspecification, open-plan living 4 Q 3/Q 4 2 01 9

spaces with views of the ocean. Developed by the Barcelonabased Arum Group, phase four will also see the addition of La Plaza, a vibrant lifestyle quarter offering a range of dining options, boutique retail outlets, a fitness centre and a large outdoor pool and terrace. Ovidio Zapico, Regional Director, Business Development – RCI Exchanges, said: “We are delighted to have added Abama's luxury residences to our exclusive hand-picked collection of the world’s best resort properties. “It certainly enhances our European offering and thanks to its year-round appeal and outstanding amenities, we expect it will prove hugely popular with our members.”

Olivier Chavy, President of RCI Exchanges, said: “Paul is a dynamic leader with extensive international experience, and he is committed to delivering best-

in-class sales and marketing strategies to help us reignite growth at RCI. “Paul’s experience and leadership will help us deliver great vacations in more exciting destinations for our members around the world and provide outstanding service to our affiliated resorts in this region.” Mulcahy said: “I have always been interested in the ‘sharing’ model and the fact timeshare made the dream of having access to a holiday home financially possible. For me, there is a major opportunity to reposition vacation ownership within the sharing economy, so I am delighted to be part of RCI, as it is an exciting time to join.”

RCI makes key appointment in South Africa Gian Simonato has been appointed as Head of Business Development Gian Simonato for RCI South Africa. Simonato brings wide-ranging experience to the role, having held business development roles in a number of organisations, most recently at Saint Gobain Construction, where he was Head of Business Development. He said: “I am excited to join RCI and look forward to sharing my experience to help grow the timeshare market, and RCI’s role within it, in a region that has so much potential. “Today’s customers demand personalisation in everything, including products, services and experiences. They want to take pride in their choices. As a company we need to evolve with the needs of our clients, moving beyond traditional offerings, driven by creating the ultimate experience and memories that our clients connect with.” Robin Mills, Vice President, Business Development for Europe, Middle East and Africa – RCI Exchanges, said: “We are delighted to welcome Gian to the RCI family and are confident that he has both the knowledge and tenacity to lead the Business Development team to greater success over the coming years.”


Seminar sees EUROC off to a strong start The European Resort Owners’ Coalition (EUROC), which represents the interests of timeshare owners in Europe, has held a successful first seminar, following its launch earlier this year. The event gave committee members representing clubs and Home Owner Associations (HOAs) from across Europe the opportunity to share ideas, discuss current and potential future challenges impacting the world of holiday ownership, as well as explore possible solutions together. Sessions included building a community to create positive engagement with owners; making the most of exchanging timeshare weeks; updates from the Timeshare Task Force, the organisation fighting timeshare

fraud (see KwikChex story below); discussions on current and potential legislative, regulatory and market-driven issues that impact timeshare clubs and owners, and much more. Jane Gilmartin, Member Relations Manager at EUROC, said: “The seminar was a great success, with a healthy turnout of committee members from a wide range of resorts who hopefully learned a lot, but also gave us plenty of feedback. “EUROC has gotten off to a great start with many signing up as founder members, including the likes of Cameron House, Diamond Resorts, Craigendarroch, Lakeland Village, CLC World Resorts & Hotels, Slaley Hall, and Las Mimosas Beach Club.

KwikChex earns Trading Standards’ Accolade

Jane Gilmartin

“The message is getting out there and we’re aiming to get many more resorts, clubs and HOAs on board in the near future. It’s only by working together as an owners’ community that we’ll be able to keep clubs, resorts and owners at the forefront of all things relevant to holiday ownership.”

Anfi Group teams with David Silva to fight gender violence

The role KwikChex has played in trying to stop scams and seek justice against the offenders is uncompromising.

The company that manages the Timeshare Task Force, on behalf of European trade body Resort Development Organisation (RDO), has been awarded a prestigious Chartered Trading Standards Institute Hero Award. Investigation and verification service provider ‘KwikChex’ and its Director and Co-founder, Christopher Emmins, were nominated for the Business Award by Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole (BCP) Council for years of assistance in targeting fraudsters and providing support to trading standards and local law enforcement agencies. Much of KwikChex’s focus has been on businesses targeting timeshare owners, and in addition to providing guidance and assistance to consumers through its online and telephone services, it has provided expert witness testimony in a number of court cases in the UK, all of which have been successful. Colston Nichols, Senior Trading Standards Officer at BCP Council, said: “The role KwikChex has played in trying to stop scams and seek justice against the offenders is uncompromising and it has significantly reduced consumer detriment, particularly within the timeshare sector.”

‘Stop Violence’ Ambassadors

The Anfi Group has launched an ambitious international campaign against gender violence featuring employees of the leading European timeshare company. The Gran Canaria-based company launched its ‘Stop Violence’ initiative with the help of its ambassadors – Manchester City and Spain soccer star David Silva, British actor Will Mellor, Norwegian rally driver Mads Østberg, and windsurf World Champion Daida Ruano. All feature in a video calling for an end to gender abuse. The recording also includes

individual messages in different languages and a final image of the Anfi Group employees, with one hand raised, demanding an end to gender violence. The sequence is especially poignant as Yurena López, a chambermaid at the resort, was killed by her partner two years ago. David Silva, whose mother worked as a chambermaid for Anfi Group when he was young, said: “We want to call on society to eradicate gender abuse. We must raise our voices and condemn these despicable actions.” R CI VENT U RES 5


Cameron House undergoes £2m upgrade Luxury Scottish five-star resort and RCI affiliate, Cameron House, has unveiled the first stage of a £2 million transformation of its Carrick Resort into the Cameron Club and Spa. An initial six-week modernisation project at the resort, which is located within the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park, has upgraded its Clubhouse and Café Spa, revamping the interior as well as its food and drink offering. The renamed Clubhouse at Cameron has been fully renovated while retaining original features, such as the stone fireplace and flagstone floor, and the Café

Spa has been relocated to the same level. Resort Director, Andy Roger said: “This work represents the start of an exciting transformation of what was previously called the Carrick Resort into the Cameron Club and Spa. Relocating the Café Spa to the ground floor level has allowed us to increase capacity and transform the spa arrival experience. “All of this was completed with the utmost care to ensure any changes make the most of our stunning setting. We are excited to continue to plan the next phases of the project and look forward to welcoming guests to the new Clubhouse and Café Spa.”

Clubhouse at Cameron House

Romanainen appointed MD of Holiday Club Resorts Leading European timeshare company, Holiday Club Resorts, has named Maisa Romanainen as its new Managing Director. Romanainen brings almost 30 years of experience in retail and consumer space to the Finland-based company, having held key roles at Stockmann Plc and VR Group. She has also been active on several 6 Q 3/Q 4 2 01 9

boards, including the Advisory Board of the Finnish Hospitality Association. Arun Nanda, chairman of the Board of Holiday Club Resorts, said: “We are pleased to welcome Ms Maisa Romanainen as the new Managing Director of our company. I am confident that with her experience and entrepreneurial skills she will lead the company to its next level of growth. I wish her a satisfying and successful career at Holiday Club Maisa Romanainen Resorts.”

Yale University honours John Spence for a second time John Spence, Founder and Chairman of Karma Group, has been honoured by the Yale University School of Architecture for a second John Spence time. Spence has been appointed the Edward P. Bass Distinguished Visiting Professor of Architectural Design for the fall semester of the 2019-2020 academic year. It is the first time the faculty has offered this position to the same person on more than one occasion. Spence will be delivering advanced graduate level seminars, alongside renowned architects Patrick Bellew, Henry Squire and Tim Newton. They will be using Karma Reef, Karma Group’s resort on the Indonesian island of Gili Meno, as a test site for the students, who will be challenged to design a resort on the island to be sustainable, economically viable, architecturally exciting and as resilient as possible to earthquakes, tsunamis and natural disasters. Most of the teaching will take place at Yale, but students will also visit Gili Meno as well as Karma Kandara in Bali, so they can better understand the local environment and conditions. Spence said: “Having the opportunity to share the knowledge I have gained over many years with some of the brightest and best students of architecture in the world is an immense honour. I am looking forward to seeing what wonderful solutions this cohort devise for our Gili Meno project.” Karma Group recently opened a new resort on the island of Koh Samui in Thailand. Karma Apsara is located on an elevated slope in Mae Nam along the island’s north coast, and brings together 32 spacious one- and two-bedroom residences offering both garden and ocean views. The resort’s amenities include a horizon pool with panoramic views, on-site restaurant, bar and private beach access.

The Business of Entertainment Electrifying music concerts, serene spas and taste bud-tingling cuisine – hotels and resorts are no longer defined by their square footage; it’s all about the experience they can deliver… BY R E B E C C A G O R M L E Y


FAMILIES, COUPLES, GROUPS OF FRIENDS and solo travellers alike are embarking on holidays across the world with a common desire – to be entertained. Whether it's mountain biking with a breath-taking backdrop; dancing the night away to a legendary musician; feeling a rush of adrenaline after a high-speed theme park ride – these are the prime holiday moments we cannot forget. Cue the era of entertainment. Guests expect to be surprised and delighted at every turn. Holidays are emotive purchases, which are often meticulously planned and carry so much promise. To echo many of our RCI affiliates, we have long since moved away from the traditional lodging industry, into the business of entertaining. With today’s consumers demanding authenticity and value for money, the bar is set very high for international brands, boutique hotels and resorts to deliver. Entertainment is in our DNA One brand synonymous with entertainment is Hard Rock. Frank Maduro, VP, Marketing, AIC Hotel Group, which spearheads the sales and marketing for the all-inclusive Hard Rock Hotels in Mexico and the Caribbean, shares the brand’s vision to curate a unique holiday experience. He said: “The all-inclusive Hard Rock Hotels are known for being industry trailblazers, continuously breaking out of the sea of sameness when it comes to creating unique amenities and guest experiences. “Regardless of whether we are establishing partnerships with cutting-edge brands, hosting world-class entertainment acts or introducing innovative concepts into the all-inclusive market, we understand what the luxury traveller seeks, and we look to deliver a product that not only fulfils but exceeds what they’ve come to expect.” With venues in 74 countries, including 186 Hard Rock Cafés, 240 Rock Shops®, 29 hotels and 12 casinos, Hard Rock International is one of the most globallyrecognised brands. 8 Q 3/Q 4 2 01 9

The company’s portfolio in Mexico and the Caribbean includes five luxury, all-inclusive hotels, each with its own original offering and an abundant programme of activities for its guests to take advantage of. Maduro continued: “A few of the standout amenities we offer include: Woodward Riviera Maya – a hub of lifestyle sports offering indoor skiing and snowboarding, a ninja obstacle course, and much more. KIDZ BOP at Hard Rock & Casino Punta Cana and Hard Rock Hotel Riviera Maya is the ultimate children’s entertainment, giving them the full ‘pop star’ experience. “We also have a partnership with Les Mills™ – the largest provider of movement-to-music fitness to deliver group and youth exercise classes at Hard Rock Hotel Riviera Maya.” Unique, world-class experiences are also part of Karma Group’s offering, an international travel and lifestyle brand with more than 30 properties in some of the most sought-after destinations across the world. John Spence, Founder and Chairman, Karma Group, shared the mantra behind the award-winning brand: “We have always been ahead of the curve in the shared-holiday ownership space, as we recognise that we are in the business of entertainment. “For more than 26 years we have been punching above our weight as a resort developer, creating experiences and competing with the likes of Soho House and other high-profile private members’ clubs.”

We understand what the luxury traveller seeks, and we look to deliver a product that not only fulfils but exceeds what they’ve come to expect. – FRANK MADURO, VP, MARKETING, AIC HOTEL GROUP


The Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Dawn Terrace, Punta Cana, Dominican Republic.



Vice President, Marketing, AIC Hotel Group.


Founder and Chairman, Karma Group.

Breaking the mould and the old norms of the industry is what Karma Group is renowned for – from its DJ parties with Carl Cox and Fatboy Slim, to exclusive seats at the Singapore Grand Prix – the brand is focused on surprising and delighting its members. Spence said: “Just last week we had an idea for the Rugby World Cup and the wheels are already in motion for this. During the tournament we plan to fly several ex-rugby players to Karma Kandara in Bali, including ex-England players Mike Tindall and Chris Robshaw, to commentate and share their own World Cup stories with guests. “It’s perfect for those who are passionate about rugby but want to soak up the Balinese sunshine at the same time!” A global requirement The concept of ‘entertainment’ dates back to the dark ages – it’s an inherent human need. One of South Africa’s largest tourism companies, Sun International, is more than familiar with delivering a product to meet those aspirations. “Sun International took the lead in bringing in overseas entertainment, shows and events to South Africa when it opened its doors at Sun City, 40 years ago, with performances by Frank Sinatra, Queen and Judy Paige,” explained Janita Donaldson, Group General Manager at Sun Vacation Club, Sun International’s premier ownership product.

The mix of entertainment has to appeal to all guests and be unique – that way each resort can have its own bit of magic! – JOHN SPENCE, FOUNDER AND CHAIRMAN, KARMA GROUP

AIC Hotel Group is exclusively contracted by RCD Hotels to spearhead the sales and marketing efforts for luxury hotel properties in the US, including Eden Roc Miami Beach, Nobu Hotel Miami Beach, and Nobu Hotel Chicago (set to open in fall 2019), as well as throughout Mexico and the Caribbean, including Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Punta Cana (the world’s first all-inclusive Hard Rock Hotel), Hard Rock Hotel Cancun, Hard Rock Hotel Vallarta, Hard Rock Hotel Riviera Maya, Hard Rock Hotel Los Cabos, Nobu Hotel Los Cabos, and UNICO 20° 87° Hotel Riviera Maya (the first of a new luxury all-inclusive concept). For additional information, visit

“South Africa had been starved of entertainment during the Apartheid era, and when Sun City opened, people queued for miles for quality entertainment. “Having been the pioneers of hospitality and entertainment in South Africa, we have continued to be the industry’s lead brand in the country, with our resorts, casinos and the numerous events we host, including the biggest international golf tournament, the Nedbank Golf Challenge.” Sun City, Sun International’s flagship resort, comprises four luxury hotels within one vast destination – Palace of the Lost City, Cascades, Soho Hotel and Cabanas. Sun International’s Sun Vacation Club enables its members to earn loyalty points on their timeshare and purchases, which they can redeem at any of its properties. Donaldson continued: “This year, Sun City was voted the Best Integrated Resort and the Best Casino Resort on the continent. “Sun City caters for all guests – from lovers of adrenaline sports and spa pampering, to playing golf at two fantastic courses, or experiencing an exciting safari in the heart of the Pilanesberg Game Reserve. “It’s also South Africa’s favourite conferencing destination, with guests from all over the world visiting Sun City for that ‘one-stop shop’ experience, with everything from a game drive to a hot air balloon ride.” R CI VENT U RES 9

Entertainment is defined in different ways depending on market and destination. Large or small scale, international or boutique, entertainment options can range from a number of handpicked experiences to fullyfledged, vast amenities, such as those at Sun City. Holiday Club Resorts has seven spa hotels and 1,700 holiday homes in 33 locations across Finland, Sweden, Spain and the Canary Islands. Its high-quality resorts, which offer a traditional Scandinavian retreat, have established it as one of the leading hospitality brands in Finland and one of the largest shared-holiday ownership developers in Europe. Tapio Anttila, Director of Timeshare and Villas at Holiday Club Resorts, said: “Guests and owners can take advantage of our expansive experiences and activities in all seasons, whether it's cross-country skiing in the winter, or mountain biking in the warmer months, we have a product to suit all needs.

ABOUT KA R M A G R O U P Karma Group is an award-winning international travel and lifestyle brand offering extraordinary experiences and exclusive curated entertainment in the world’s most beautiful locations. Headed by Chairman and Founder John Spence, Karma Group is 100 per cent privately owned with zero debt or leverage, translating into a dramatically growing and impressive portfolio of luxury resort properties. From soulful spas to happening beach parties, historic hotels to design resorts, Karma Group creates five-star experiences for travellers who understand that reaching their destination is only the start of their journey. For families, friends, couples or solo travellers, Karma Group is a guide to a life more extraordinary.

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“Holiday Club Resorts is well known for its high service levels, excellent spas, restaurants and guest servicing – it’s all part of the Scandinavian experience we offer.” Authentic experiences Leveraging the resort’s destination and using it as the foundation for unique experiences, as Holiday Club Resorts has done, is one of the key ways of ensuring authenticity. The destination is also the key ingredient in the Karma Group experience, as Spence explained: “We produce our own Bordeaux wine from the vineyards surrounding our resort. Guests are able to sample our incredible wines while looking out at the views, and they can also pair it with the exceptional cuisine from our highly-skilled chefs at Karma Le Preverger.” Karma Le Preverger, former home of legendary actress Jeanne Moreau and, subsequently, English interior designer Laura Ashley, is one of the most luxurious resorts in the Karma Group portfolio. Nestled between scenic vineyards and olive groves, the resort houses a unique vinyl room for guests to peruse, with more than 2,000 original pressings, which proves incredibly popular with high-profile celebrity guests. Spence added: “Our expansion plans are based solely on two things – opportunity and destination. One of our next ventures in North Thailand will include a tiger sanctuary, offering guests a once-in-a-lifetime experience, as well as working with local communities and supporting orphanages in the local area.” Sun International also uses location to its advantage, with a prime example of this being The Table Bay Hotel, which was opened in 1997 by Nelson Mandela in one of South Africa’s most iconic spots.

IN THE BUSINESS OF ENTERTAINMENT: Karma Kandara, Bali is one of the many resorts in the Karma Group portfolio which offers authentic experiences.


The Table Bay Hotel, South Africa.

JANITA DONALDSON Group General Manager, Sun Vacation Club.

Donaldson said: “The hotel has the slogan ‘The Best Address in Cape Town’, which it quite literally is. It’s located at the foot of Table Mountain, dominating the beautiful Victoria and Alfred Waterfront which can be seen from the hotel on one side, and on the other side the hotel overlooks the ocean, enjoying views of the famous Robben Island where Nelson Mandela was incarcerated. “The hotel is an excellent base for enjoying all of the experiences this beautiful city has to offer, from visiting the acclaimed wine estates to taking advantage of the sightseeing opportunities.” Donaldson also explained how Sun International tailors its offering for each resort: “We look at the geography, community, and the potential market we are catering for, and then we look at how we can create the most relevant and entertaining offerings.” Resorts are becoming the destination While location is key, larger brands have also built their success on guests purchasing an ownership product or holiday to buy into the brand itself. Staying true to its heritage, Hard Rock Hotels puts a musical twist on many of its entertainment offerings and amenities with its Sound of Your Stay® programme, which also gives guests the chance to hire a Fender guitar to play at their leisure. Maduro commented: “We have set ourselves apart as a premier entertainment product, which fuels us in delivering top-of-the-line luxury accommodation and endless entertainment options for all ages. “The key to staying ahead of the curve when it comes to innovative holiday experiences is to understand your consumers and have the ability to pinpoint areas of opportunity in the industry where your product can shine.”

As pioneers of hospitality and entertainment in South Africa, we have continued to be the industry’s lead brand in the country. – JANITA DONALDSON, GROUP GENERAL MANAGER, SUN VACATION CLUB

In addition to its infamous rock shows and parties, one of the most innovative ways music has been incorporated as part of the overall guest experience is the Rhythm and Motion spa treatments at Hard Rock Hotels. Maduro said: “This ground-breaking experience takes guests on a rhythmic massage journey with sound waves sending pulses through the body, leaving guests feeling energised and invigorated.” Holiday Club Resorts’ Scandinavian culture is an integral part of its offering, however the company’s success is largely a result of the mix of the entertainment options it provides. Holiday Club Katinkulta is the biggest property in the RCI affiliate’s portfolio. Hailed as ‘the most versatile resort in the Nordic countries’ and located in the Kainuu region in north-eastern Finland, the resort offers a variety of accommodation options, including a spa hotel, villas and apartments. In contrast to Hard Rock Hotels, Karma Group and Sun International which offer world-class acts, DJ parties and once-in-a-lifetime experiences, Holiday Club Resorts has played to its strengths by offering a family-friendly experience that can be enjoyed year round, by families, couples and groups of friends of all ages. R CI VENT U RES 1 1

ABOUT S U N I N T E R N AT I O N A L The Sun International brand has a proud legacy in the gaming, hospitality and entertainment sectors. Its superior hotels and resorts portfolio makes it a recognised premium brand. The Sun International Group has a diverse portfolio of assets including world-class, five-star hotels, modern and well-located casinos, and some of the world’s premier resorts. Its destinations offer experiential luxury, enduring quality and incredible adventure, supported by an authentic dedication to personal service. Today, Sun International is one of Africa’s largest tourism, leisure and gaming groups and operates, or has an interest in, a total of 18 resorts, luxury hotels and casinos. Its entry into Latin America began in Chile in 2008 and has been a success story for the group, giving the company the track record and confidence to look for more gaming opportunities in the region.

Anttila explained: “The package of experiences and amenities we offer, including, water sports, fishing, cycling, an incredible spa, and so much more, ensures that we fully exceed our guests’ expectations, as they know that they can visit a Holiday Club Resort and will leave with lasting, fun-filled, family memories. “Active holidays are the future, and we believe there are many opportunities for Holiday Club Resorts to appeal to other European source markets who are looking for these types of experiences.” Entertainment: trend or transition? There has been a clear trend across the industry, with holidaymakers looking to gain much more from their holidays – rather than spending their days lounging by the pool. While entertainment has always played a crucial part in large resort developments, the demand for experiences and activities has greatly increased in recent years, with many travellers placing such high importance on the experiences they have during their holidays. Millennials are regarded as the most important consumer travel group today. They are a key driver of this trend because of their focus on culturally rich experiences, as well as a love of exploration of the unknown. However, older generations, such as the Baby Boomers, are also seeking unique experiences from their holidays – whether that is exploring new cultures and local communities or taking part in exhilarating water sport activities. Donaldson shared Sun International’s strategy for remaining relevant to today’s consumers: “Millennials are seeking a mix of experiences, and exceptional ones at that. Instead of bricks and mortar, I believe customers will keep coming back for entertainment, festivals, concerts and exhibitions – places where people can congregate as a community to create a positive energy. 1 2 Q3/Q 4 2 01 9

“People love being with people, and while digital has helped to grow communities online, it will never match the real experience our guests have at our hotels and resorts.” With Airbnb and other brands in the sharing economy space launching experiential products, there is a greater focus in the industry to meet this demand. Spence explained: “I think it is both a trend and a transition, as so many resorts are now investing in these offerings, although the concept of entertainment is entirely different in each market – from European, to Asian, and inbounds from the USA – they are all looking for different things.” How can smaller resorts deliver? While global brands have traditionally had the edge on entertainment and experiences, boutique hotels are becoming increasingly well placed to react faster and offer more authentic options. “Experiences and entertainment cost money – instead of making money – which is the concern for some larger hotel chains, as you don’t immediately see the return on investment,” Spence said. “Boutique hotels can react quickly to trends and introduce new products or experiences, which is what we need for today’s consumer.” Investment is, of course, key to delivering an exceptional experience, although responsibility also lies with the resort staff to deliver a high standard of customer service. Spence added: “If we simplify things and look at the old concept of hoteliers managing one single property, they were able to meet every guest, take them out on excursions or to local restaurants, and ensure they had the best possible holiday. That concept has been lost in the globalisation of companies – we need to empower managers and our resort teams to create these guest experiences again.” Donaldson agrees with Spence’s comments, stating that Sun International provides fewer, yet more relevant activities at its smaller properties. She said: “Sometimes it’s better to introduce smaller attractions to keep the community enticed and excited, and it’s also better from a business point of view, as the return on investment is greater. “The common denominator across properties of any size is to keep your offering fresh, because if you don’t rapidly change the entertainment options, it becomes stale and boring.”

Holiday Club Resorts is well known for its high service levels, excellent spas, restaurants and guest servicing – it’s all part of the Scandinavian experience we offer. – TAPIO ANTTILA, DIRECTOR OF TIMESHARE AND VILLAS, HOLIDAY CLUB RESORTS


Director of Timeshare and Villas, Holiday Club Resorts.

THE RIGHT MIX OF VERSATILITY: Holiday Club Katinkulta, Finland.

The future is entertaining Regardless of size or scale, delivering exceptional experiences and resort entertainment remains key to strengthening brand presence, staying relevant to owners and guests, and increasing business. Holiday Club Resorts has a strong line of communication with its owners, which enables it to stay ahead of the curve in the industry. Coupled with the appointment of its new CEO in July 2019, Maisa Romanainen (see page 21 of RCI Ventures), the future certainly looks exciting for the company, as it continues to drive growth and increase its appeal to new source markets. Anttila added: “We are constantly monitoring trends across the industry and we frequently contact our Holiday Club owners for their input, so that we can improve our product and enable our owners to have the best possible holiday experience. “Customers are seeking new experiences all the time, and whilst we have a distinctive product offering, it’s essential that we continue to improve not only our amenities, but the relevance of resorts to our owners and guests.” Maduro of Hard Rock Hotels also believes staying abreast of global industry trends is essential. He explained: “It’s important that we cater to each and every type of traveller, offering a well-rounded experience unlike no other, as we do with our Limitless All-Inclusive product, which enables guests to experience those extra special amenities. “With travel being more accessible than ever before, we need to be ahead of the next big trends in the industry, which will include micro-trips – short, yet experience-dense holidays, in addition to social media-driven tourism.

“As with any business, the goal is always to grow as much as possible. Our family of all-inclusive Hard Rock Hotels has just recently added Hard Rock Hotel Los Cabos in Mexico to our portfolio, and we can’t wait to see where our success will take us next.” Echoing Maduro’s comments, Spence concluded that catering to every type of traveller requires a blend of entertainment options. He said: “If we look at our flagship resort – Karma Kandara in Bali – we’re currently doubling it in size to include another beach club, an Indian restaurant, a new gym, and space for more yoga and spiritual retreats. “These options appeal to different demographics, and even when we play host to our Rugby World Cup commentators, we will align this with a special yoga week so that there is something for everyone. “The mix of entertainment has to appeal to all guests and be unique – that way each resort can have its own bit of magic!”

ABOUT H O L I DAY C LU B R E S O R TS Holiday Club Resorts owns seven spa hotels in Finland and 1,700 holiday homes in 33 destinations: 25 in Finland, 5 destinations in Gran Canaria, a holiday destination in Calahonda, Spain, as well as Holiday Club Åre and Ekerum Golf & Resorts (Öland) in Sweden. Holiday Club Resorts is one of Europe’s largest holiday ownership enterprises. It was established in 1986 and in the beginning it focused primarily on the holiday ownership business. Holiday Club Resorts is owned by Mahindra Holidays & Resorts India Ltd and Fennia Group. Mahindra Holidays & Resorts India Ltd is the leader in the Indian leisure hospitality industry, offering quality holidays designed for discerning guests who value individuality and high quality.


Robotics in Travel How would you feel about a robot checking you in at a hotel? Or delivering room service? The hospitality industry has been slower than others to embrace the use of robotics, until now. BY N ATA S H A H E G A R T Y

FROM APPLE’S SIRI TO GOOGLE’S ALEXA, chatbots are becoming a standard addition to households all around the world, and Artificial Intelligence (AI) is now a business asset in many different industry sectors. With big brands, such as Hilton, introducing mechanical robots in their reception areas to assist with check-in, and Eurostar introducing Pepper, a humanoid robot at London St Pancras International to help with customer queries, robotics are becoming much more prevalent in the industry. But, will these robots replace humans altogether? James Matcher, Intelligent Automation Leader for US East Region at Ernst & Young, believes it is unlikely, although mechanical robots in the travel and hospitality industry will proliferate in the future. “There will come a time soon when you won’t need a concierge to assist you after checking into the resort. A robot will deliver an automated trolley for your bags and it will follow you up to your room. Similarly, room service will be delivered to your door, but instead of it being a porter, it will be a little robot ambling down the corridor,” he explained. “We will also start to see more software robotics in resorts’ technology infrastructure, as well as the data side of the hospitality industry, in the form of Intelligent Automation. “By nature, the hospitality industry is geared towards human interaction. People want the human touch, they want the personalisation, so robotics 1 4 Q 3/Q 4 2 01 9

will enable employees to spend more time engaging with customers, rather than spending hours in the background doing administrative work that a robot could do in minutes,” he said. “The key thing is, robotics can process larger volumes of information. Less than 15 per cent of data that a company holds is ever used or analysed. With AI, we have the ability to constantly mine the information accurately, which is something humans just can’t do.” Matcher noted that smaller hoteliers will have an edge on the larger players when executing this technology. “The bigger players may have the investment capital for robotics, but the downside is their processes are non-standardised across their chains. It can be harder to implement this type of technology into a chain because every hotel, country and region has its own processes and nuances, so it can be a bit of a challenge to integrate systemically. “Smaller hotel chains can very quickly adopt new technology,” Matcher explained. “A lot of robotic technology is becoming democratised, so instead of having to raise venture capital to get it going, it is now moving into the Cloud so you don’t need a big infrastructure to run it, you can simply pay for it when you use it. “Smaller resorts can then set things up cost effectively by going to small, niche companies to integrate the intelligent robotics which will do exactly what they need them to.” While it means that this technology will soon be

JAMES MATCHER Intelligent Automation Leader, Ernst & Young.

widely available across the hospitality and travel sectors, it is looked upon with some trepidation by both employees and holidaymakers. “I refer to this as ‘automation anxiety’,” Matcher explained. “It is the generic fear of employees that they will lose their jobs because of robotics, or from the customers worrying that the robot will make a wrong decision.” However, Matcher stressed that implementing robotics in a customer service-driven environment will only enhance the customer experience. “It will empower the employee to do what they were originally hired for – customer service.” He continued: “Most customers want a blend of human and robot interaction. For statements and confirmation of flight tickets, we don’t want to have to waste time on the phone waiting for a call centre agent, we want it to be automated.” Matcher feels the most innovative use of robotics, at the moment, is the ability to be able to predict a customer’s requirement based on information that is already sitting in the public domain. “Many people choose their holidays based on what their friends have posted on Facebook. As a result of social media, resorts and hotels can collect even more information. “Therefore, before the customer contacts you to book a holiday, you can contact them first and offer them exactly what they’re looking for based on what you already know, and that is great customer service.”

I N T E L L I G E N T AU TO M AT I O N I N C LU D E S F O U R M A I N G E N R E S : •• Digital Workers: Technology emulating human actions •• Digital Readers: Reading structured and unstructured information •• Digital Talkers: Chatbots can listen and talk in generic situations •• Digital Thinkers: The most advanced AI is machine learning to find trends in vast amounts of data.

He added that chatbots are becoming much more intelligent and are a great example of how the blend of human and robotics can work coherently together. “In some cases, a customer can interact with a robot which can pick up the change in their tone of voice, and recognise that the customer is unhappy and put them through to a human customer service agent. It’s not ‘one or another’, it’s an ‘and’.” Blending human and robotics can be of real benefit to both the customer and the business. In the age of digitalisation, the integration of robotics into back-office processes can deliver greater data handling efficiencies, while freeing up your staff to ensure that the human touch is as it should be – where and when your guests need it most.  R CI VEN T U RES 1 5

RCI – A New Chapter Two appointments at the highest level within RCI Exchanges bring fresh thinking from outside the shared-vacation ownership sector – at a time when there is much opportunity for an organisation with the scale, technological platforms and international reach that RCI has. HELEN FOSTER puts some of the questions you might want to ask to RCI’s new leaders. 1 6 Q3/Q 4 2 01 9


Olivier Chavy, President, RCI Exchanges.

TODAY, OLIVIER CHAVY IS AT THE HELM OF RCI Exchanges. The recently appointed President is now responsible for the strategic direction, operation and growth of the company’s network and travel services, as well as its portfolio of leading brands, The Registry Collection, Love Home Swap and DAE. Chavy is joined by Paul Mulcahy, who takes on the role of Managing Director for RCI operations in Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA). Both men have risen to the top in their careers within the hospitality sector, having worked for major brands. A French national, Chavy comes to RCI Exchanges from Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts where he served as CEO, bringing with him three decades of experience in international hospitality operations. Mulcahy’s career in the hospitality sector spans more than 20 years, serving most recently as Senior Vice President, also with Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts. The new RCI leadership team has strong foundations, given that the two have worked together before and share many important values, characteristics and a mutual respect. “I know Paul very well,” said Chavy. “He has worked in distribution, e-commerce, marketing, brand and revenue management for leading brands, all of which will be a tremendous asset as we continue to gain EMEA market share. He has a successful track record in growing businesses organically, and in building strong, skilled teams through mentoring, coaching and training. We both agree that a company is only as strong as its people and, in addition, Paul’s unique perspective and approach towards business means he will complement RCI’s Senior Leadership Team perfectly.” Mulcahy is also clear on why he believes Chavy is the right person, in the right place, at the right time: “Olivier is a very effective leader who is never afraid to challenge the norm and bring meaningful change to organisations. In terms of the values we share, I would list them as being openness to new ideas, transparency, respect, the importance of team culture and, ultimately, aiming to get the right things done.” Why RCI? Given the industry’s longevity – the timeshare concept was launched almost 50 years ago – it’s not surprising that RCI is known to the new leaders, with Chavy having had significant first-hand experience with the business. In 2006, he was transferred from Hilton Paris to Hilton Grand Vacations (HGV), which is an RCI affiliate. Five years at HGV saw Chavy being appointed Senior Vice President of Operations, opening resorts in Hawaii, Las Vegas, New York and Orlando. This was Chavy’s first exposure to timeshare. He explained: “I have always perceived timeshare as a part of the hospitality industry. For me, the common goal of both sectors is to create memorable travel experiences. I was drawn to RCI because it is the best within the industry. At RCI we are committed to delivering on our purpose of putting the world on vacation and, being the worldwide leader in vacation exchange, we are able to offer our customers more opportunities. RCI’s ability to maintain this 45-year legacy is remarkable, and I am

I was drawn to RCI because it is the best within the industry. – OLIVIER CHAVY, President, RCI Exchanges

excited to join its many teams around the world to take our company to the next level.” Though Mulcahy’s experience of the timeshare industry and RCI hasn’t been quite so hands-on, he was quick to recognise the potential of access to assets, rather than ownership – and to understand how timeshare is an ideal fit in the sharing economy. “I have always been interested in the ‘sharing’ model and the fact that timeshare made the dream of having access to a holiday home financially possible for many – albeit for a week at a time, but without the hassles of actually owning a second property – interested me greatly,” he said. “I believe the future of the shared-vacation ownership industry is very exciting. It is an industry which is way ahead of its time, being a key disrupter in travel. “There is a major opportunity to reposition vacation ownership within the sharing economy with the marketing message highlighting that, relative to the likes of Airbnb and Uber, shared-vacation ownership offers much more in the way of quality standards, customer service and spacious accommodation. The concept of access over ownership, driven by the Millennial generation, is now fully entrenched in all walks of life and vacation ownership is well-positioned to take advantage of this trend.” Chavy had the advantage of knowing that RCI would be a good career move for him, having familiarised himself with the company during his time with HGV. “I have been an admirer of RCI for quite some time,” he explained. “When this opportunity became available, I quickly realised that RCI is a company that is a ‘business of people’ – it doesn’t own any assets or properties. However, it does have amazing associates around the world interacting, transacting and providing exchange holidays for its members. It’s a ‘one-to-one’ business. Having spent the first few months at RCI travelling to meet our teams in different regions, I can say that it is an experience which has had a profound impact upon me. The passion for the business I’ve seen in our teams has truly energised me. Its people and its culture are, for me, the true strengths of RCI.” In agreement with Chavy, Mulcahy said that meeting the RCI colleagues he will be working alongside has been a highlight of his early RCI experience: “In my first two weeks I have had the opportunity to visit our offices in Cork, Johannesburg and, of course Kettering where I am based,” he said. “I’ve been really impressed with the high levels of tenure and commitment to RCI and to our industry. It has been great to experience the upbeat vibe at our call centres and to see the dedication of our Guides to helping our members and, in so doing, our affiliates too.” Mulcahy hasn’t had Chavy’s experience of working with RCI directly, but as a savvy businessman he appreciates the potential of RCI, as he explained what drew him to the company: “I am delighted to be part R CI VEN T U RES 1 7


Paul Mulcahy, Managing Director, EMEA – RCI Exchanges.

I believe the future of the shared-vacation ownership industry is very exciting. It is an industry which is way ahead of its time, being a key disrupter in travel. – PAUL MULCAHY, Managing Director, EMEA – RCI Exchanges

of RCI. It is a very exciting time to join. It is certainly a company with a strong reputation with both its owners and affiliates, and has long held the accolade of being the world’s largest vacation exchange network, having more than 4,300 affiliated resorts in over 110 countries, combined with its expanded offering following its acquisition of Dial An Exchange and Love Home Swap.” Future focus It is early days with RCI for both leaders, but drawing on their experience and knowledge of the hospitality industry - and the role of timeshare within it - they come to RCI with well-defined ideas as to the strengths of the company, and how those strengths can be developed and more fully exploited. After visiting RCI’s regional centres around the world, Chavy has established a global strategic review process, 1 8 Q3/Q 4 2 01 9

which is inclusive of his regional heads across RCI’s business, to start defining the company’s direction for the years ahead. Known as the Spark Collective team, as a result of their early work together, an outline of the strategy and vision for the future is taking shape. “Our focus will be on the organic growth of our business via our current portfolio of affiliates and our members. We will, of course, continue to seek and sign new affiliates, as well as work to enhance and develop a wide array of products and services,” Chavy explained. “It is also important that we focus on growth via external sources, which means we will be looking at the further acquisition of new businesses. This strategy will allow us to diversify and, therefore, strengthen our model and offering to enhance the value proposition for both affiliates and our members.” The fact that RCI pioneered vacation home exchange is important for Chavy, who describes RCI as “the original disrupter of the market”. This leader is not one to stand still. It is clear that leveraging all the advantages RCI has, Chavy wants to forge ahead with a programme of product innovation which will cause further disruption in the market, as he explained: “While we have a legacy that is undeniable, we now need to refresh and reinvent ourselves. We need to make transacting simpler and more user-friendly. We should find more ways of taking care of our members from ‘home to home’, as opposed to ‘checkin to check-out’. “We want to be more than just an exchange company to our affiliates and members. RCI has an opportunity to become fully integrated and give its members access to a broader selection of accommodation and a 360-degree travel experience to serve them at all stages of their vacation journey. We will inspire travel, develop innovative products and simplify the rules that may currently limit maximum visibility and transparency to our customers.” Great minds think alike, as they say, and Mulcahy is also excited about the potential for future product development at RCI. He told RCI Ventures that he believes there is opportunity to adapt the business model and product to increase its appeal to a younger generation. “They are very travel-orientated, but demonstrate a reluctance towards ownership and commitment,” he explained. “When you talk to potential timeshare customers, it is clear that they don’t generally have a picture of the flexibility, choice, luxury and access to new experiences and unique cultural destinations in mind. These are all key elements of what timeshare ownership with exchange has to offer. With this in mind, I think the opportunity is there to grow all our brands across EMEA, and not just RCI.” Speaking of RCI’s sister brands, The Registry Collection is recognised by both leaders as being a strong brand which has enjoyed healthy levels of growth. It has strong synergies with the Mövenpick mission and personality – indulgence allowed and cultivation of authenticity – so could we do more with that brand experience? “Absolutely! The Registry Collection has grown over the last decade to become the largest luxury exchange collection in the world,” Chavy responded. “However, if we are to see the same level of growth in the next ten years and beyond,

2000 - PRESENT

There are many successful highlights and standout achievements throughout Chavy’s extensive career in hospitality. As Senior Vice President, Resort Operations for HGV, Chavy managed the operation of 52 vacation ownership resorts in the portfolio. While at Hilton serving as International Head of Luxury & Lifestyle Brand Performance, he led global teams through the expansion of Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts, and the Conrad brands, including 22 major property openings worldwide. Under Chavy’s leadership, Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts went through a period of unprecedented expansion via new resort openings, pipeline developments and a portfolio growth of more than 40 per cent.




Career Timelines


RCI Exchanges

PAU L M U LC A H Y RCI Exchanges • Managing Director, EMEA

Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts

Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts

• CEO – President

• SVP Commercial (Distribution, Sales and Marketing, Digital, Revenue Management) 2015 – 2019

Wilson Associates


• President

• CEO – President

• VP Distribution, Digital and Revenue Management 2013 – 2015

Pierre & Vacances – Center Parcs Group • Group Direct Distribution Director 2011 – 2013

• International Head of Lifestyle and Luxury Brand Performance: Conrad and Waldorf Astoria Hotels 2010 – 2013


Hilton Worldwide

• VP & SVP Operations Hilton Worldwide, Eastern Americas 2006 – 2010

• Director, Sales and Marketing, Europe 2009 – 2010

HotelClub/Orbitz Worldwide • General Manager, EMEA


Cendant • Commercial Director

Hilton Worldwide • Hilton Arc de Triomphe – General Manager 2003 – 2006

Intercontinental Hotels Group

• Hilton Mauritius Resort & Spa – General Manager 2000 – 2003


• Area President


Groupe Lucien Barrière

• E-Commerce Director, EMEA

ABOUT PAU L M U LC A H Y A native of Ireland, Mulcahy participated in INSEAD’s Creating Customer Value International Marketing Programme. He has an MBA from Lancaster University; a Masters Degree in Economics from the University of Leicester; and an Economics Degree with a minor in French from University College Cork. Mulcahy has successfully led a combination of finance, marketing and planning strategies at both corporate and divisional levels across the EMEA region in his career. As a member of the Executive Committee at Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts, he led the company’s commercial and digital transformation, driving promotional activities that enhanced customer experience, loyalty and satisfaction. In his current role, he will be based at the RCI offices in Kettering, Northamptonshire, England. R CI VEN T U RES 1 9

we need to reinvigorate the product. We are in the process of doing just that and look forward to relaunching The Registry Collection next year with an even stronger brand and value proposition which will truly meet the desires of luxury affiliates and owners around the world.” The nuts & bolts Chavy knows, of course, that he can leverage resources from parent company, Wyndham Destinations, to support future strategy and product development for RCI. He says this will be particularly helpful in the areas of technological enhancements and solutions designed to drive greater value for RCI’s customers. The Spark Collective leadership strategy review certainly gave Mulcahy food for thought and inspiration for developments in the business falling under his remit. “While it is very early days for me with RCI, I believe there are opportunities on the systems, digital and social media side of our business,” he added. “I was fortunate to be able to attend a two-day strategy planning session recently and was delighted to see the plans and vision for transformation that the wider team has for this area.” Digital strategising is in Mulcahy’s DNA. He has a proven track record with Pierre & Vacances – Center Parcs Group,, InterContinental Hotels and, most recently with Mövenpick, in successfully using digital transformational strategies and e-commerce routes to consumer markets. Highlighting the importance of digital marketing, he said: “I’ve been fortunate to work in some iconic travel companies across the hospitality spectrum, from leisure parks to the pure online players. The one thing they have in common is that the digital strategy starts with the customer experience and works back from that point. “At Mövenpick, we completely transformed the company, taking it from a decentralised organisation with outdated IT systems, to a modern hospitality firm using cutting-edge technology. It was key that customer experience was allowed to dictate the digital transformation, and not the other way around.” Again, calling on his diverse experience in all areas of operation, Mulcahy has been involved in call centre operations and CRM in his career. Being very much a digital strategist, RCI Ventures asked him if he believes there is still a place for the ‘human touch’. 2 0 Q 3/Q 4 2 01 9


The Spark Collective team has established a global strategic review to define the company's direction for the years ahead.

He commented: “As I said, I believe it’s important that we don’t dictate how our customers should interact with us. We should develop and maintain an omnichannel strategy where we are able to offer a consistent, personalised service that gives customers the opportunity to transact across all platforms, be it call centre,, social media… CRM is essential in ensuring that we provide a personalised service which, ultimately, will give our customers a more meaningful and enjoyable experience, before, during and after their holiday stay.” The cornerstones With people at the heart of RCI's service and product delivery, Chavy is bringing with him the ‘Natural Enjoyment’ business philosophy and culture from Mövenpick. “This is a real priority for me,” he said. “RCI has been recognised with many external accolades for who we are, including being ranked as a top workplace in Indianapolis for the tenth consecutive year. It is important to me that RCI is an enjoyable workplace and I will support our teams in continuing to make this happen. It should be standard in every RCI office and call centre and, as we refresh, we will enhance the DNA of our culture to build on our inclusive, thriving work environment that leverages the talent and expertise of our staff and rewards high performance.” For Mulcahy, a crucial focus will be strengthening existing affiliate relationships and nurturing new ones. RCI has always valued the contribution its affiliates make to the success of RCI and the wider shared-vacation ownership industry, fully appreciating the significant investment of capital, effort and risk they commit to the process of putting quality resorts and accommodations into the holiday exchange network. Many things about RCI’s business may change, going ahead, but this is one element that will never change, as Mulcahy concluded: “Our affiliates are the cornerstone of the RCI success story. Deepening our partnerships will be essential as we move forward. I have been fortunate in meeting some of our key South African affiliates during my second week with RCI and was impressed by their professionalism, as well as the passion they clearly have for their owners and, indeed, the industry overall. I very much look forward to building on the ties we have with our EMEA affiliates in the coming months, as I settle into my role with RCI.” 

D OE S T HE G LASS C E IL IN G ST I LL EX I ST ? The year is 2019. The Fortune 500 list includes more female CEOs than ever before, yet at a closer look, that’s still only 33 women. REBECCA GORMLEY explores how several women in the shared-holiday ownership industry have achieved their high flying roles, and how we can motivate others to get to the top.


ON 1 JULY 2019, MAISA ROMANAINEN TOOK the helm of Holiday Club Resorts – one of the leading shared-holiday ownership developers in Europe. Today, more and more women are achieving leading roles which were once only possible for their male counterparts. There is increased exposure on gender pay gaps and gender diversification in the workplace, while many organisations have been set up to inspire, educate and mentor women to realise their full potential. Since its inception, the shared-holiday ownership industry has seen many inspirational female leaders pioneering new products and moving up the ranks to the most senior positions. Christel DeHaan is an excellent example. The co-founder of RCI now ranks 27th on the Forbes’ list of the richest self-made women in America today, an achievement which is even more impressive when you consider that DeHaan also launched and continues to make a substantial investment in the Christel House International charity. While the wider travel industry is also home to many female trailblazers, the number of women in leading roles across all industries is still somewhat small, especially with the number of female leaders in the FTSE 100 falling to six last year. RCI Ventures speaks to Maisa Romanainen, Holiday Club Resorts; Fiona Downing, RCI Exchanges; and Lisa Migani, First National Trust Company (FNTC), to discover their views on the shared-holiday ownership industry and how more women can be inspired in business. Maisa Romanainen, Managing Director at Holiday Club Resorts “I prefer to see myself as an equal, rather than as a woman in business,” explained Maisa Romanainen. “I believe anyone hoping to succeed in business needs to be brave, be bold and be active. “We are increasingly seeing more women moving into the top roles, but it is still a fact that there are less women than men in those leading positions, and this is evident in Finland too. The responsibility lies not only with the company, but with individuals themselves. “Women often have a tendency to be shy, whereas it’s important to take the opportunity, move forward, and believe in yourself.” Romanainen has certainly followed her own advice, with a career spanning 18 years at Finnish retail giant Stockmann Plc. After joining the business as a Purchase Manager, she worked her way up to Vice President, which involved running and opening stores in Russia, Latvia, Finland and Estonia.

The key thing I've learnt throughout all of my roles is to put the customer at the centre of your business. – MAISA ROMANAINEN, MD, HOLIDAY CLUB RESORTS.

2 2 Q 3/Q 4 2 01 9

“I was trusted with a lot of responsibility from a young age and I managed fast-growing markets with lots of potential and overcame many challenges along the way,” said Romanainen. After rising to the top at Stockmann Plc, Romanainen sought a new position as Director at VR Group, which MAISA she held for more than four years, before assuming her ROMANAINEN Managing Director, role at Holiday Club Resorts. Holiday Club With seven spa hotels and 1,700 holiday homes in Resorts. 33 destinations, Holiday Club Resorts employs more than 700 people, being one of the largest shared-holiday ownership companies in Europe. “The key thing I’ve learnt throughout all of my roles is to put the customer at the centre of your business. Regardless of the industry, you must align everything to their needs, by listening to trends and analysing data. “It is far easier to succeed that way, and if it involves forging new relationships and bringing new partners on board, then do it, not only to give the customer what they want, but to give them that added extra,” said Romanainen. Looking to the future Romanainen commenced her role at Holiday Club Resorts at the beginning of July 2019, and already has a clear vision for the future of the company. Romanainen explained: “We’ve enjoyed many family holidays at various Holiday Club Resorts, and we also owned a week at Katinkulta, the largest resort in our portfolio. After visiting a few more of the resorts, I’m incredibly impressed with the company’s offering. “I have driven growth and expansion in my previous roles, and I foresee many opportunities to do so at Holiday Club Resorts with Scandinavian, European and Russian customers, using the data we already have. “I believe my experience and insight from other sectors will ensure that I can drive the company forward by building a personalised offering for our customers, which is something I have always been focused on.”


SVP Global Strategic Growth & Development – RCI Exchanges.

Fiona Downing, SVP Global Strategic Growth & Development – RCI Exchanges A renowned global veteran of the shared-holiday ownership industry, Fiona Downing’s impressive career has seen her working for RCI Exchanges for more than 28 years, moving through the ranks and across the pond to achieve her position with RCI’s Senior Leadership Team. “Even after all this time, I am hugely passionate about our industry and the part that RCI plays in its success. I love the variety my job brings, as we continue to strategically support our affiliates, both large and small, and meet the needs of their owners. “I have been fortunate to lead so many different areas of the business over the years including, the call centre, business development, product development, club development, revenue management, brand delivery, digital, e-commerce, Endless Vacation Rentals and affinity partners among others, and also have been involved in the launch of almost every new RCI product or initiative. “It’s one of those initiatives that took me to the United States, and it was a risk to move my family, but it paid off,” explained Fiona Downing.

As women, we need to believe in our abilities, support each other and do things to feed our souls – if a career does that for you then go for it! – FIONA DOWNING, SVP, RCI EXCHANGES

Downing is certainly one of the most inspirational women in our industry, as an integral part of RCI’s expansion and offering. Her role as Head of Strategic Growth also sees her driving two of the newly acquired businesses in the RCI Exchanges' portfolio, Love Home Swap and @Work International. “I embrace change and I think it has served me well. It's important to keep an open mind and be flexible, even when the path ahead isn't always clear. Early on in my career, I volunteered to work on new ideas or run new departments, even if it seemed challenging or risky. Today I'm glad I did, as it has given me the chance to understand so many facets of the business," she added. Gender bias When addressing the topic of women in business, Downing expressed her passion for inspiring others to achieve leading roles: “Sometimes we are our own worst enemy and create our own glass ceiling. Men are often bold and confident but many women suffer from ‘imposter syndrome’. “Gender bias is real, albeit unconscious, and it can be easy to judge a woman in leadership differently to their male counterpart.” Downing believes there is still much to be done to empower women. She added: “We are heading in the right direction but there is certainly still lots of opportunity for women to break through. I would never want to be in a position where I didn’t get a job simply because I am a woman, but I also wouldn’t want to be given a job because my gender fills a quota. “The changing role of men in the household is helping. My children are well adjusted and tell me I am a great role model – but it didn’t stop me having moments when they were young where I doubted myself, and another mum would comment on my absence. “As organisations, we need to ensure that women are given the same opportunities as men. As women, we need to believe in our abilities, support each other and do things to feed our souls – if a career does that for you then go for it!” Lisa Migani, Director, Business Development at FNTC “I love working for FNTC – the team I work with shares my passion for the industry which makes it the dream job,” explained Lisa Migani. “I first started working as a consultant for the company more than 22 years ago, after initially being asked to promote the use of trustee ownership in Italy, which at that time was virtually unknown. “As my career progressed I went on to head up


Director, Business Development at FNTC.

Europe, and as FNTC expanded in the US and Asia Pacific markets, I assisted with business development and mentored the people who now hold the key roles in those regions.” Migani’s enthusiasm for the industry is evident and during her career she has experienced a huge transition in the market. “It’s an incredibly exciting industry to be part of because developers have had to diversify their offering, and so as an industry, we have regularly experienced new product launches. “At FNTC, we assist developers to set up a flexible legal structure, which is fit for purpose and can be tailored to new trends as they happen, and this is key to long-term success.” Migani believes the industry is yet to make the most of being a key part in the sharing economy: “Many Europeans aspire to buying a second home in the sun. However, data confirms that they will lose interest in that investment after using it for four or five years – demonstrating the need for part-time ownership products. “Our clients have been quick to engage with this opportunity by selling short-term fractions, meaning the buyer can purchase one or multiple weeks for a predetermined term, and at the end of the term the trustee sells the unit on the open market and distributes the proceeds to the fractional owners.” “We often talk about mixed-use resorts being the most successful business model and the addition of a short-term fractional makes the mix even more compelling – it’s holiday ownership with an exit plan.” A source of inspiration Migani spent the first 18 years of her career in the ‘traditional’ tourism sector, gathering a critical understanding of the needs of different consumer nationalities, which she has used to assist companies in maximising occupancies by opening sales lines to new markets. Migani said: “In order to succeed you need to be inspired, passionate, sincere, and importantly, think outside of the box. “Regardless of whether you are a man or a woman, to be a good leader you need to enthuse people, challenge a ‘no’ and put together a strong argument if you believe it’s the right thing to do. “As for the glass ceiling for women, if you are confident you can break it in the company you’re working for, then go for it. At times we need to step back, assess the organisation we work for, and determine whether it will provide us with the foundations to succeed.”

To be a good leader you need to enthuse people, challenge a 'no' and put together a strong argument if you believe it's the right thing to do. – LISA MIGANI, DIRECTOR, BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT, FNTC R CI VEN T U RES 2 3

The Comeback: Spotlight On Egypt And Turkey Sun-drenched beaches and great value breaks are typical mainstays for Egypt and Turkey, but their strong tourism economies have also made them politically-motivated targets. LORRAINE LOVELAND explores their comeback as two of the world’s best holiday destinations.

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Affiliate Sales Manager – RCI Exchanges.


CEO, Karaderili Group.

SEIF EL HAKIM Group Vice Chairman, Momentum.


The resort's strong service ethos and targeted approach have helped build an attractive product despite political adversities.

FOR MORE THAN 50 YEARS, TURKEY HAS experienced strong inbound arrival figures, thanks to its array of appealing attractions, desirable climate and its close proximity to both Europe and the Middle East. But its geography has also played its part in reducing arrivals too. With Syria and Iraq as neighbouring countries, combined with the Turkish Government’s support of NATO, Turkey has experienced a number of political tensions, most recently with terrorist attacks in 2015 and 2016. In 2015, international arrivals were peaking at more than 39 million, which dropped to 30.2 million arrivals the following year. From old habits to new starts The professional industry standards and the price competitiveness of the region have driven Turkey’s growth, helping to generate some of the biggest tourist arrivals in the world. Ali Egilmez, Affiliate Sales Manager – RCI Exchanges in Turkey, said: “The government’s support in creating a well-developed tourism infrastructure and encouraging local investment has been crucial to recovery. “Domestic tourism became a key source of revenue for the leisure industry. Hotels returned to traditional methods for filling rooms, dropping their room rates with all-inclusive stays for as little as €60 per night.” 2018 was the turning point from recovery to growth, with arrivals increasing by more than 21 per cent versus prior year, reaching 46 million. Tourism income increased by over 12 per cent to US$29.5 billion – it seems Turkey has found its rescue remedy. “Domestic tourism reinforced Turkey’s value perception, attracting holidaymakers from neighbouring regions, especially the Middle East, which also increased real estate investment opportunities,” said Egilmez. Renewed confidence in tourism Building confidence in Turkey as a safe destination and promoting its accessibility, diverse attractions and highquality service levels were essential to recovery. Introducing mixed-use operations also allowed resorts to diversify and adapt to the changes in the industry.

Turkey has been one of the biggest holiday ownership enrolment sources in the last seven years. – ALI EGILMEZ, AFFILIATE SALES MANAGER – RCI EXCHANGES

In 2018, there were as many as 70 shared-holiday ownership resorts built or in development, galvanising its status as an important part of the Turkish economy. “Turkey has been one of the biggest holiday ownership enrolment sources in the last seven years, and with a rise in international investment, now is the time for the industry to shine in Turkey,” added Egilmez. Tevfik Talas is CEO of Karaderili Group, which manages a portfolio of five resort developments, including Yalova Terma City. Fortunately, the resort didn’t experience a dramatic fall in revenue due to its strong service ethos and targeted approach. “We’re pleased with our commitment to high service standards and facilities for guests and, as a result, we weren’t hugely affected by the impacts of terrorism as we had carefully built an attractive product for the Turkish and Middle Eastern markets,” explained Talas. Maintaining service standards Seif El Hakim, Group Vice Chairman for Momentum – the international marketing and sales agency for Terma City, added: “It’s important that clients have a memorable time, which is why the resort provides a services team on site 24/7, a meet and greet airport service and tours to enrich the holiday experience.” The resort in north-western Turkey offers 880 stylish rooms and apartments with nine different room types. Guests have access to restaurants and cafés, a spa centre, pools and a fitness room. There is also a nightclub, gaming centre, children’s club and outdoor sports areas on site. “Our investment in the guest experience has kept us in line with market demands and has helped us to grow our business in Iran and in other areas of the Middle East, as well as regions of northern Europe,” said Talas.








Forecasted international arrivals for 2019

Jobs in the economy supported by tourism

GDP growth in tourism 2018 versus 2017

Source: WTTC 2019 Annual Research for Egypt and Turkey

El Hakim added: “Africa and the CIS are also key markets. Each region has its own specific needs so we conduct comprehensive research to tailor our services to deliver something unique, memorable and enriching for all customers, during every encounter they have with us.” The perfect backdrop As well as being popular for thermal tourism, the scenic location of Yalova Terma City is favoured year-round, with coastal attractions, nature and outdoor sports. There is also an eclectic mix of cultural influences from Europe, Asia and the Middle East, which is reflected in Turkey’s history, culture, architecture, fashion and food. “As well as being culturally rich, Turkey represents good value and, as a result, it’s one of the world's top ten travel destinations and is extremely popular with our client base worldwide,” said El Hakim. “All of these factors have positively influenced the numbers and working with RCI has also strengthened our product through its flexible exchange programme,” added Talas. Resilience in adversity “Shared-holiday ownership has proved itself to be one of the prime options to offer stability during some challenging times,” said Talas. El Hakim added “Our partnership with RCI has allowed us to diversify by offering thousands of resorts for owners to choose from for their exchange holidays, especially during times when they didn’t feel comfortable travelling to Turkey.” Part of Momentum and Terma City’s success has been forward thinking – monitoring trends and tailoring its offerings to deliver an excellent range of products and services. “Shared-holiday ownership has a promising future here so we continually look for ways to upgrade the experience to remain relevant to our source markets,” said El Hakim. “We’re now working with industry stakeholders to innovate our product to attract Millennials and futureproof our business.” This strong confidence in the industry is backed further by the announcement that the Turkish Timeshare Association has affiliated to RDO (Resort Development Organisation) as part of the government’s plans to expand. 2 6 Q 3/Q 4 2 01 9

Bouncing back in Egypt The year 2016 was a troubling time for tourism in Egypt, with a 41 per cent drop in tourist arrivals following a number of political situations, which resulted in the cancellation of flights from Russia and the UK to Sharm el Sheikh, plus the implementation of travel bans advising against all travel there. Times have changed, and while Egypt is still in the recovery phase, arrivals are on the rise, with over 11 million visitors predicted by the end of this year. Visitor numbers are still 20 per cent less than that of 2010, however reforms have led to Egypt earning the title of 2018’s fastest-growing tourism destination, according to United Nations World Tourism Organisation. So, what’s changed in three years that has turned tourism around? Yasser El Gawhary, Affiliate Sales Manager – RCI Exchanges in Egypt, said: “Tourism is a massive contributor to the Egyptian economy and urgent action was required to reduce the decline in arrivals. “Many hotel operations were forced to shut down, while the remaining resorts found themselves adjusting their pricing strategy to be more appealing to pricesensitive tourists. “This allowed us to enter new regions, including China, India and Spain, as a way to compensate for travel bans in our previous source markets, prior to the political challenges.” Government action In 2016, the Egyptian Pound was floated on the exchange market which impacted favourably on international currencies, including the US Dollar, thus improving the value factor. “Aside from pricing, the crucial objective was to tighten security measures to assure tourists that Egypt is a safe place to visit,” said El Gawhary. “Airport and resort security has increased and travel bans have been lifted over time with arrival figures starting to grow - currently Germany, Russia, UK, Saudi Arabia and Italy account for 40 per cent of all arrivals.” The devaluation of the currency and ‘travel now, pay later’ promotions generated an uplift in domestic travel with Egyptians and members of GCC countries forced to holiday closer to home, as international travel became cost prohibitive. The case for mixed-use Developers realised during this time that the sharedholiday ownership industry is very robust. From 2013 to 2016, resorts began to embrace it to create a diverse revenue stream, without having to rely entirely on open market rentals.

Mixed-use has improved the perceived product value and allowed us to retain our original pricing structure. – MR ANWAR, CHAIRMAN, MIDDLE EAST, HOTELS AND TOURISTIC RESORTS S.A.E.


The developer revitalised its product offering to increase occupancy rates during challenging times.

YASSER EL GAWHARY Affiliate Sales Manager – RCI Exchanges.

MR ANWAR Chairman, Middle East, Hotels and Touristic Resorts S.A.E.

“We saw an increase in new entrants to the business. The irony, in some ways, is that recovery became the perfect opportunity during this ‘down-time’ for resorts to introduce new products, including shared ownership,” said El Gawhary. Approximately 90 per cent of developments are mixed-use in Egypt, and now that many of them have shared ownership sales in their sights, competition in the market has also increased. El Gawhary said: “The benefit for consumers is the renewed focus on quality, with resorts overhauling their facilities with modern touches and embracing new products, including the bulk purchase of room nights to offer more flexible options.” Sharm Bride Hotel and Residence is a mixed-use development along Nabq Bay, at the quieter end of Sharm el Sheikh. The resort opened in 2008, and introduced its shared-ownership sales line in 2014. As well as two pools, children’s club and nightly entertainment, the resort offers a number of on-site restaurants, plus three bars. The resort mainly markets to Egyptians, and Egyptians living abroad, as well as to GCC countries, particularly Saudi Arabia. Following the inception of shared-holiday ownership, and during difficult economic times, the resort continued to adapt its offering to meet consumer needs, with the introduction of its Flexible Holiday Nights programme.







Forecasted international arrivals for 2019

Jobs in the economy supported by tourism

GDP growth in tourism 2018 versus 2017

Source: WTTC 2019 Annual Research for Egypt and Turkey

Mr Abdulrahman Anwar, Chairman, Middle East, Hotels and Touristic Resorts S.A.E. believes that if it wasn’t for operating a mixed-use model and product development, the resort wouldn’t be in the favourable position it is in today. He commented: “The effects of 2011 impacted operations for years afterwards, and the challenges of keeping the property functioning were tremendous. “Prior to 2011, the Flexible Holiday Nights programme wasn’t really considered as an option, but with a serious need for change, the idea was revitalised to increase occupancy rates. “Offering long-term stays of two weeks to one month for our fractional operation and the more fluid 300 to 1,200 nights, our occupancy levels increased. If it wasn’t for our shared-ownership sales line, we would have shut down completely.” Despite economic hardships, Sharm Bride Hotel and Residence has reaped the rewards following the rise in international arrivals over the last year. “Mixed-use has improved the perceived product value and allowed us to retain our original pricing structure. We have more sales leads and the diverse mix has supported us in generating a better return on investment,” said Anwar. Eleven million and beyond With the government’s continued focus on infrastructure and safety, combined with the hard work and efforts from tourism stakeholders, it looks promising for sharedholiday ownership – especially with international hotel chains looking to invest in the market. “You just need to look at the history books to see that Egypt will always be popular due to its inimitable combination of nature, culture and rich history,” concluded Anwar. “We must continue to increase understanding and encourage investment in this sector of tourism.” New flight routes and ongoing projects in the Pyramids and the Red Sea area, including the Grand Egyptian Museum in Cairo, will increase destination appeal over the next five years and ultimately reflect positively on the numbers. Combine this with the emergence of some serious hospitality players in the region and the future is looking bright for Egypt. R CI VEN T U RES 27

2 8 Q 3/Q 4 2 01 9

Winning The Generation Game Millennials – the young market of travellers the industry seems to be consumed with. However, writes SARAH LEE, while it’s important to target the next generation, Baby Boomers have considerable spending power – meaning it’s vital the industry keeps them in their sights too. BABY BOOMERS ARE THE GENERATION FOR whom a two-week holiday in the sunshine became de rigueur, and for whom international travel became not just accessible, but affordable and easy. At one time, Baby Boomers – those born between 1946 and 1964 – were the stock and trade of the travel industry. You could have taken the generation’s moniker literally and considered it a boom market. For many years, capturing this market segment led discussions in travel, and during the 1980s and 1990s, it was big business for shared-holiday ownership. But, in the past five to 10 years, there has been an ever-increasing focus on how the industry can appeal to, and seize the opportunities offered by Millennial travellers – those born between 1981 and 1996. Millennials have become the market. They are not just the new kids on the block, with their hyper-tech focus and ‘experiences now, possessions later’ outlook, but with all the talk of the buying power of this market, the industry has become consumed with how to appeal to it. No one would argue that Millennials have their place, and many travel brands have built a solid business by targeting that segment, but there is still much to be said for Baby Boomers and the opportunities that this market presents. A generation that enjoyed the early freedoms of international travel, Baby Boomers are big spenders. Although research suggests they travel fewer days than Millennials and Generation X (those born between 1964 and 1981), Baby Boomers routinely travel for an average of 27 days each year. But importantly, they tend to spend more on trips than their younger counterparts. The American Society of Travel Advisors’ 2019 Boomer Travel Trends survey found that US-based Baby

Boomers will take four to five leisure trips this year, spending more than $6,600. Meanwhile, the spend is expected to be $5,400 for Generation X, and just $4,400 among Millennials. According to research by Expedia Group Media Solutions, Baby Boomers are confident travellers, willing to spend what it takes to get to the places they want to visit. Only 57 per cent of them say that budget plays a factor in their trip, instead they focus on where they want to visit, with 56 per cent deciding on their destination prior to planning their trip. The trends are similar when it comes to shared ownership too. Will Hall, Director of Marketing, EME – RCI Exchanges, explained: “Many RCI members in the Baby Boomer segment are social grade AB, with a high disposable income. They are likely to be professionals – many are entrepreneurs and business owners, or have well-paid jobs. “Baby Boomers are no longer as budget-restricted as they were years ago. They have saved, have good pensions, are likely to have paid off larger financial commitments such as mortgages, and are ready to spend on memorable experiences, in a similar way to Millennials.

Baby Boomers are enjoying their lives and want to share the fruits of their hard-earned cash and those valuable holiday experiences with loved ones. – WILL HALL, Director of Marketing, EME – RCI Exchanges R CI VEN T U RES 2 9

“Baby Boomers value their freedom and independence, which is why they have a preference towards shared-holiday ownership products, as they prefer to organise their own holiday activities. Many have been committed RCI members for some time and have a passion for shared-holiday ownership products and the exchange concept.” Authenticity and experience meet comfort They may be the generation that invented backpacking and demanded the ease of cookie-cutter package holidays when raising their families, but travel for Baby Boomers is now where authenticity and experience meet comfort. Baby Boomers have travelled widely and now seek unique and engaging activities for their holidays. They no longer want to just escape to a beach resort and spend two weeks getting a sun tan. Hall said: “Travel takes people to different places for different reasons, whether it’s to explore, learn, unwind, or indulge, and with our Baby Boomer members, authenticity is key. “They seek holidays where they can immerse themselves in local culture and get a real taste of what the destination has to offer – whether it’s iconic monuments, landscapes, local cuisine, or other unique points of interest, as well as visiting local communities.” But Baby Boomers are also keen to enjoy such authenticity in comfort and for that, shared-ownership resorts are a perfect fit. Hall explained: “Most RCI-affiliated resorts have on-site entertainment, great amenities, and dining options suitable for holidaymakers of all ages. Coupled with on-resort security, these amenities appeal strongly to Boomers who seek comfort and security alongside their explorations. This also appeals to solo travellers looking for the flexibility to holiday the way they want whilst feeling safe and secure. “Our members prefer to enjoy holidays at their own pace, they don’t want to be tied down to meal times, and so self-catering options allow them to visit local markets and cook their own meals, or dine out at their leisure.” Beyond shared-holiday ownership, RCI has other brands in its portfolio which appeal to Baby Boomers. Hall pointed to Love Home Swap and The Registry Collection as two of these: “Both brands offer flexibility and a unique way to holiday, thus appealing to savvy, welltravelled Baby Boomers who have a penchant for upscale, exceptional accommodation.” However, luxury travel isn’t only reserved for the Boomers. According to TripAdvisor’s TripBarometer report, 56 per cent of Baby Boomers and 54 per cent of Millennials are prepared to pay a little more for a luxury trip. A sense of adventure It may appear as though the Baby Boomer and Millennial market segments are not just years, but oceans apart in terms of the way they travel, and thus the way the industry should appeal to them. But there are some surprising crossovers making it possible to target them with similar products. Hall explained: “Millennials tend to choose more active holidays. They are younger, braver and bolder and have paved the way for more 30 Q 3/Q 4 2 01 9

WILL HALL Director of Marketing, EME – RCI Exchanges.

activity-based holidays. However, Boomers also express a preference for activities, such as walking or culinaryfocused holidays, mountain biking and skiing. The industry is responding to this with many operators offering experience-driven holidays, therefore catering to both Baby Boomers and Millennials. “With shared ownership, one of the obvious advantages is the space the accommodation offers for those wishing to take friends and family on holiday. Baby Boomers are enjoying their lives and want to share the fruits of their hard-earned cash and those valuable holiday experiences with loved ones, and shared-holiday ownership products allow them to do that,” explained Hall. In a similar way to Millennials, Baby Boomers are also seeking flexibility and short-term commitments, and this is where products like RCI Points 10 are proving popular. Hall added: “RCI Points 10 is our short-term membership, which supports our affiliates in the sale of 10-year holiday ownership products. It is inclusive of transaction fees, giving members a flexible way to holiday. “It delivers on Baby Boomers’ desire for value for money, with ease of use and transparency.” Hall explained that RCI has continued to market to Baby Boomers while also targeting Millennials. In addition to supporting its affiliates with insight on member preferences, RCI has also evolved RCI Points and enhanced its Weeks product to give greater flexibility to members. However, with Baby Boomers planning their destination months in advance of booking their holiday, Hall advises resorts to develop a narrative of rich online content that can be repurposed across their channels, to promote destination and resort activities well in advance of travel. “It’s about being present in the places where Baby Boomers are looking for information,” said Hall. “Don’t wait for them to book with you before you start marketing destination activities. Be the source they find when they’re searching online for activities with their grandchildren in Greece or a solo adventure break in Spain.” 

MEET THE BOOMERS • Baby Boomers spend almost three times as much on holiday accommodation (£890) when compared to their children’s generation. • They seek authentic experiences but can be adventurous. UK tour operator Saga, which caters to a senior clientele, says adventure holiday bookings are up more than 400% in recent years. • They want high-quality accommodation that allows them to explore the destination by day but relax in comfort at night.

• Baby Boomers are active users and shapers of new technology. Four in 10 use a smartphone – up 11% between 2016 and 2017 – and they are the fastest growing group on Facebook. • Accessible tourism is a vital consideration when targeting the Boomer market, as their age means they have greater health and mobility concerns. Sources: TripAdvisor’s 2019 TripBarometer Report; Ofcom: Adults’ Media Use and Attitudes Report, 2017; Saga Holidays; The American Society of Travel Advisors: 2019 Boomer Travel Trends; Expedia Group Media Solutions.

Getting into Character: THE PSYCHOLOGY OF TRAVEL A recent study by travel start-up, Culture Trip, looks at the role of culture in defining travel behaviours. LORRAINE LOVELAND explores the four cultural mindsets identified, and how crucial they are to the world of shared-holiday ownership.


WE LIVE IN AN INTER-CONNECTED WORLD, with cultural exploration being a major component, especially when considered in the context of globalisation and the experience economy. Four mindsets emerged from the survey: Culturally Aware, Culturally Curious, Culturally Immersive and Culturally Fluid – all four very important considerations for the resort sales environment (see Figure One for definitions). Natalie Malevsky, VP of Product Marketing at Culture Trip, said: “Globalisation has brought people closer together and, as a result, we’re seeing a shift to a society which is more culturally open and diverse. “Travel is very accessible, especially since the economic crises which have made it difficult to get onto the property market. Holidays and ownership products are cheaper than buying a house and so it opens up the experience market, allowing people to visit new places and interact with new people.” Research into reality Malevsky explained: “We’re all in the pursuit of happiness. As per Maslow’s Theory for travel motivations, the ability to reach self-actualisation is linked to the way we immerse ourselves in the cultural context. We often compare and contrast our own culture with the ones we find ourselves discovering.” Vassilis Karamanlis is CEO and President of Villea Village in Crete, a resort which offers a variety of cultural experiences for guests. “All four groups could be staying at your resort at any one time, so you must tailor your offering accordingly,” said Karamanlis. “We opened in 1990 and introduced our mixed-use operations in 1994. Since that time, the need for cultural experiences has grown and we offer everything from language lessons to folklore performances.” Crete has an abundance of activities for the culturally inquisitive, with more than 5,000 years of history, plus Cretan festivals and events. It is also a popular destination

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NATALIE MALEVSKY VP of Product Marketing, Culture Trip.


Villea Village has spent years crafting the guest experience including Greek nights by the pool.

for botanists with over 150 indigenous plants. “The combination of outdoor adventures and attractions within an hour of the resort gives us the prime furniture to cater to those who either like to dip their toes into adventure or want more cultural immersion. “American guests are typically Culturally Immersive. They want to connect with history and culture on a deeper level, as they don’t have such a far-reaching history back home. “Greek and Italian guests are more Culturally Aware and visit for a laidback beach break, enjoying a similar climate to their home towns for familiarity.” The industry’s cultural codes The four character traits strongly correlate with the traditional shared-holiday ownership consumer and future sales prospects. RCI Ventures interviewed long-standing RCI Weeks Member, Donna Merrick, to establish her cultural code for exchanging, and where she fits in the paradigm. “I bought my first timeshare over 20 years ago when my daughters started school and not much has changed when it comes to our holiday planning,” Merrick explained. Merrick plans in advance to get the best value for her weeks of ownership and has a set criteria for her exchanges: a two-bedroom, RCI Gold Crown apartment, as it’s the same quality as her home resort. “We fell in love with Pueblo Evita in Málaga so much that we bought a week there. The resort is built in the traditional Spanish style, we visit every year and test out our language skills with the staff who we know really well – it’s truly a home from home.” As well as identifying with being Culturally Aware, with a preference for home-from-home experiences, the Merricks also shift into being Culturally Curious. Merrick explained: “Our daughters have been studying so we’ve stuck to our home resort over the last few years, but next year we’re off to Florida and in 2021 we will go horseback riding in Arizona for some active outdoor adventures.”


• Culturally Aware: Motivation for travel is anchored in pleasure. Look for familiarity and places that are reflective of their own culture.

• Culturally Curious: Motivation for travel is to discover new things and disrupt everyday routines. Love to collect different experiences from different countries.

Generation value perception Malevsky said: “As marketers, we sometimes confuse price and value. A strong proportion of survey respondents were not afraid of commitment and would happily register for subscription-based models. So the idea of signing-up to a fixed term of holidays may not be viewed as risky. “The essential contingent is that consumers must see value in your offering. Value is deeply rooted in a person’s individual cultural code so you must look deeper to find a way to tap into their needs for their travel fulfilment.” Merrick instantly perceived value in her first timeshare purchase: “I knew from friends how expensive family holidays were. Shared-holiday ownership represents great value, you wouldn’t be able to find the same quality at a cheaper price on the open market. “Maintenance fees do increase, however, I’m paying £500-600 for one week which I can often exchange for two breaks, and friends are paying more than £1,000 for the same experience for a one-week break.” Delivering contemporary features for the younger generation is also key for longevity: “Third-Culture Kids and Generation Renters are key markets to watch, they’re loyal to Airbnb and love edgy design hotels. Find some way to make yourself comparable and they will anchor onto your product,” said Malevsky. The study revealed older generations as being less immersive. However caution should be applied: “We shouldn’t be too quick to attach age labels. Although a high proportion of the older generation are sat in the less immersive segment, globalisation and technology advancements will see them play catch up – if it sits within their own personal codes to do so,” advised Malevsky. “Age cannot be applied with certainty. These codes are ingrained according to our individual life experiences which fluctuate over time. It’s more effective to base your strategy at an attitudinal level rather than statistically or geographically.” One thread which unites these mindsets is the notion that no one wants to be a tourist, they want to connect with the world around them. Holidaymakers are seeking more from their travels and resorts are now bringing more to the table with a blend of fast and slow culture, with fast culture encompassing latte art and popular entertainment, and slow culture including language, nature and folklore.

• Culturally Immersive: Motivation for travel is adventure and personal progression, travelling worldwide for adventure and off-the-beaten-track encounters.


VASSILIS KARAMANLIS CEO and President, Villea Village.

• Culturally Fluid: Natural nomads with travel in their DNA. Everywhere is home and memories are tied to human interactions.

Beyond resort boundaries “The study looked at activities respondents seek and we observed a clear division. The Culturally Curious look to tick off those must-visit sites in a systematic way. However those who are immersive or fluid would naturally find themselves unexpectedly diverted from their travel plans,” said Malevsky. With the suggestion that these segments are set to show rapid growth, it would seem challenging to cater to their ever-changing travel plans. “In reality, it’s about creating awareness as well as a provision of experiences. Provide free Wi-Fi so they feel connected, afford them those stunning views from their apartment ready to share on Instagram, and give them something novel to enjoy,” Malvesky added. Villea Village assessed its on-site real estate to deliver on these provisions: “We expanded our on-site offering to include yoga activities and a gastronomy week, which ties in with Crete’s autumn food festival. June brings world-famous folk and classic music concerts, so we can give our guests more than just the average stay,” explained Karamanlis. “You must give them access to the information they need on what to see and do in the area, and how to get there. Any opportunity to introduce something new or unusual is always worth exploring.” Travel with purpose Malevsky added: “Technology has enabled us to connect with the world, with those who maintain similar interests to our own. As travellers, we expect to participate in experiences that match our passions. “Purposeful travel is all about finding yourself in a destination, exploring your interests and discovering how they play out on holiday. “Shape your sales and marketing with powerful messages and strong platforms to address consumer needs, and resonate with their cultural leanings.” Malevksy continued: “Travel is very social. Even if you travel solo, you still interact with people, and family holidays are opportunities to bond with loved ones. We must look beyond geography and age to remain relevant, and search deeper into cultural identities to cater to our urban multi-cultural village who travel with more purpose and meaning than ever before.”  R CI VEN T U RES 3 3


Prosperity for South-West Europe Spain is home to 30 per cent of the shared-holiday ownership units in Europe, and is an excellent reflection of the demand and opportunity in the market, particularly in south-west Europe. OVIDIO ZAPICO, Regional Director, Business Development – RCI Exchanges, explains how the industry is evolving in the region.

TOURISM IS INTEGRAL TO THE Spanish economy, accounting for almost 15 per cent of the country’s GDP, with the shared-holiday ownership industry contributing to approximately three per cent of this. Resort developers in Spain, the Canary Islands and Italy have advanced their product offering throughout the years to meet the needs of today’s consumer, moving from a traditional fixed-week ownership model to short-term products. In line with this trend, Pearly Grey Ocean Club in Tenerife has recently signed an agreement to sell RCI Points 10 – one of RCI's latest innovations. The ten-year RCI Points membership is inclusive of transaction fees, working in synergy with short-term ownership products. The developer has pioneered the product in the south-west region, and I believe we will see many more resorts following suit and selling this product. It is essential for hospitality players of any size or scale to invest in regular resort upgrades, and we are witnessing many resorts across Spain and the Canary Islands investing in extensive refurbishment programmes – an excellent demonstration of our developers’ commitment to quality. One example is Hotel Tropical Park, Tenerife, which saw its €6 million renovation come to fruition in late 2017, in addition to Crown Resorts at Club Marbella, Pearly Grey Ocean Club, Club Las Calas and many other affiliates completing their renovations and taking advantage of subsidies from local governments. 34 Q 3/Q 4 2 01 9

In Italy, we are seeing similar trends, particularly with Italian leisure brand Domina, which has set its sights on becoming a global real estate powerhouse by renovating its existing resorts, acquiring new properties outside of Italy, and opening new sales lines to the international market. While south-west Europe has seen remarkable growth with visitor numbers increasing year-onyear, there is now heightened competition with the reopening of many destinations, including Turkey, Egypt and Tunisia. We anticipate this competition will have an impact on rentals in the region, reaffirming the need for shared-holiday ownership products to stabilise occupancy levels. In addition to this, many international developers are continuing to open resorts or looking at expanding their operations in the region, including Palladium Resorts, Iberostar and AMResorts, in recognition of Spain as an integral contributor to the global shared-holiday ownership industry. The expansion of the RCI Exchanges family of brands has increased RCI’s offering in the market. We are looking into a number of real estate opportunities through Love Home Swap, including signing an agreement with Higueron West in the Costa del Sol. Los Jardines de Abama Resort in Tenerife has recently affiliated to The Registry Collection, and it’s encouraging to see a resort of this calibre launching its real estate product here, demonstrating the prosperity in the market.

OVIDIO ZAPICO Regional Director, Business Development - RCI Exchanges

ABOUT OV I D I O Z A P I CO Ovidio joined RCI in 1989 and has held various roles within the company in Mexico and Europe. He has been Regional Director for RCI in Costa del Sol, Director of Affiliations for mainland Spain and Balearic Islands and was responsible for the call centre in Spain. Ovidio now has an expanded role leading the RCI Business Development team for mainland Spain, the Balearics and Canary Islands, Italy, Malta and Kenya.

REWARD WITH THE GIFT OF TRAVEL Endless Vacation Rentals offers high-quality accommodation in sought-after holiday destinations and is used by resort developers across the globe for: • Lead generation and tour incentives • Trial product fulfilment • Value add for lifestyle and membership programmes To find out how Endless Vacation Rentals could increase your sales and enhance your membership programmes, contact your RCI Affiliate Services Manager


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RCI Ventures Q3 Q4 2019  

RCI's B2B magazine for Europe, Middle East & Africa

RCI Ventures Q3 Q4 2019  

RCI's B2B magazine for Europe, Middle East & Africa