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the business of vacation Q4 2013


The new #1 domestic and international travel market:


Q4 2013

THE MAYOR OF HGV Kim Kreiger, senior vice president of Club and Resorts for Hilton Grand Vacations

the SECONDARY MARKET Industry practitioners share their thoughts about the state of the secondary market

DOes YOUr brand YOUTUBE? One billion visitors a month. Is your company missing out?

Compiegne bowl

For all your corporate gifting needs.

1-866-RYMAX11 |

tab l e o f c o ntents

IN Br ief

06 By the Numbers Survey says: return to growth

08 Travel Trends The human touch; Plugged in but still on vacation

08 Events Calendar Industry events around the world in depth

10 The Mayor of HGV Kim Kreiger, senior vice president of Club and Resorts for Hilton Grand Vacations

14 The Secondary Market: A Primary Focus Three industry practitioners share their thoughts about the current state—and future— of the secondary market in Dev elopment

18 $102 Billion USD in 2012 China is now the world’s number one source market for international tourism and the largest domestic travel market. Vacation ownership is poised to get its share of the ¥ innovation

24 Technology Does your brand YouTube?

27 Industry Solutions

COVER PHOTO: Masterfile; This Page: Betsy Hansen

RCI’s Inventory Analytics Advisory service

Embracing the hospitality philosophy and operational acumen of Hilton Worldwide has transformed our timeshare organization. —Kim Kreiger, senior vice president of Club and Resorts for Hilton Grand Vacations

rci Ventures 1


28 Succeeding With Purpose Anantara Vacation Club

32 Expanding the All-Inclusive Possibilities Occidental Vacation Club

36 Doing What They Know, Loving What They Do InnSeason Resorts

40 Increasing ROI Through WOM Grand Pacific Resort Management

45 RCI® Affiliated Resort News Recent RCI® affiliated resorts

52 A Final Thought Is your website mobile friendly?

on the cover: The Great Wall of China, in Badaling.

Senior Vice President: Philip S. Brojan. Publisher: Brian Bruno. Associate Publisher: Emily Sadlock. Contributing Editors: Helen Foster, Jen Hinkel. Advisory Board Chair: Fiona Downing. Advisory Board: Jeff Parker, Kris Jamtaas, Kelly Deardorff, Eugenio Macouzet, Bob McGrath, Todd Menendez, Robert Stolt, Debbie Wunder. Editor in Chief: Chuck Wentzel. Editor: Catharine Fleury. Managing Editor: Gaetano Pollice. Copy Editor: Amy Lynn Tonsits. Editorial Intern: Daniel Trimarchi. Creative Director: Roe Intrieri. Senior Art Director: Ash Oat. Design Intern: Jenna Grady. Photography Director: Danielle Lamp. Photography Editor: Pamela A. Pasco. Senior Project Manager: Andrew Gersten. Digital Imaging & Prepress Specialist: Hiroki Tada. Chief Executive Officer: Kirk Cheyfitz. Chief Creative Officer: Rob Rasmussen. Vice President, Narrative: Charles Coxe. Director, Marketing Services: Eric Martucci. For all subscription and advertising queries, please contact No part of this magazine may be reproduced without written permission from RCI. RCI Ventures® publishes opinions of many knowledgeable individuals. These opinions are not a substitute for legal, accounting or other professional advice. The views and conclusions expressed in RCI Ventures® are those of the authors and are not necessarily those of RCI nor of its parent or affiliates. The information contained in this publication has been obtained from sources the proprietors believe to be correct. However, no legal liability can be accepted for any errors. RCI Ventures is a registered trademark of RCI, LLC. ©2013 RCI, LLC. All Rights Reserved. 9998 North Michigan Road, Carmel, IN 46032

2 q4 2013

PHOTOS: Anantara Vacation Club; Grand Pacific Resorts; InnSeason; THINkSTOCK(4)

ON THIS PAGE (clockwise from top): Anantara Vacation Club Phuket Mai Khao in Thailand; Grand Pacific Resorts’ Hanalei Bay Resort in Princeville, Hawaii; InnSeason Resorts’ Mountainview Resort in Jackman, Maine; golf in Costa Rica, home to two Occidental Vacation Club resorts.

Enjoy RCI Ventures magazine on your iPad ®


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M e s s ag e f r o m r c i

Today’s Customer Focus Is Our Future Our industry’s future success has to be built on our customers’ satisfaction today

Gordon Gurnik President, RCI


ots of industries claim to be dedicated to their customers, but what makes our industry unique is that our customer relationships are not transient. Our customers are owners and members with whom we can engage frequently throughout the year to talk about something they’re already passionate about: their vacations. That gives us the advantage of time in which to build deeper, customer-focused relationships and the ongoing ability to interact with—and listen to—our customers. Unlike many other industries, we have an ongoing opportunity to gain customer insights so we can continue to provide products and a level of service that accrue to memorable vacation experiences. But some lingering perceptions about our industry among the general public (potential owners) indicate that we still have more work to do in communicating the flexibility and level of service that today’s timeshare owners enjoy. William E. Curran, CEO of InnSeason Resorts, says it most emphatically in the profile of his company: “Today timeshare is a customer-focused business; it was not 30 years ago, when developers drove the business.” I believe—and I think we all do—that increasing customer satisfaction is the single most important factor in growing our industry. Word of mouth, amplified by social media, is the best tool we have for promoting vacation ownership. You’ll notice that a customer-centric attitude is an emergent theme among many of the articles in this issue. For example, Kim Kreiger, senior vice president of Club and Resorts at Hilton Grand Vacations and the subject of this issue’s management profile, says, “At HGV we have always prioritized our focus on the customer and remain committed to the consistent quality of our Club program.” There’s plenty more evidence to support the customer­ centric focus as good for business. Luis Namnum, pres­ ident of Occidental Vacation Club, tells us about its elite Founders Club membership, which rewards members for

4 q4 2013

their loyalty with exclusive privileges and discounts on enhancements of their memberships. Discussing the recently opened Anantara Vacation Club Phuket Mai Khao resort, Harold Derrah, president, is clear about the company’s priorities: “We continue to focus on delivering an exceptional experience for our owners and guests.” And at Grand Pacific Resort Management, according to Nigel Lobo, chief operating officer, “every associate is empowered to engage with guests, and the vacations we offer, from our customers’ point of view.” At RCI, we too are dedicated to a customer-centric approach, providing services and products that enhance the experience for your owners, our subscribing members. And we’re just as dedicated to you, taking a customercentric approach with the affiliated resorts, developers and management companies we work with. To cite just one example, you’ll find more information on page 27 about how RCI is making its award-winning revenue management analytics available to help you maximize inventory yield and utilization. I believe that this continued attention toward the customers’ point of view is the most important area where we as an industry can focus our efforts. Understanding our customers, delivering what they want and empowering them to have great experiences to share with their families and friends will enable us to grow. Anticipating and adapting to evolving customer needs will ensure the future success of our industry. That’s what we are all focused on—and a point of view we should all share today and tomorrow.

Gordon Gurnik President, RCI

the s e co n da ry market: a p r i m a ry focus In this issue we have invited a panel of industry professionals who represent diverse points of view to share their opinions about the current state— and future— of the secondary market. The issues are complex, and RCI Ventures magazine is committed to providing a forum to help foster this important conversation now and in the future. See page 14.

Go Green & Win!

Apply for the 2013 RCI速 Green Award today! The impact tourism has on the environment can be substantial. RCI understands the importance of recognizing RCI affiliated resorts for innovation in energy and water conservation, waste management, community outreach and environmental management. The RCI Green Award celebrates RCI affiliated resorts in North America that actively engage in these types of sustainable practices, rewarding those resorts that are committed to incorporating green measures into all facets of daily resort operations.

Visit today for more information on how to apply.



Grand Pacific Palisades Resort

By th e n u m b e rs

in br ief

Survey Says: Return to Growth Deloitte & Touche LLP (Deloitte & Touche) conducted the 2013 edition of “Financial Performance: A Survey of Timeshare & Vacation Ownership Resort Companies” (“Financial Performance Survey”) on behalf of ARDA International Foundation, which has collected similar timeshare data since 1991. Because the industry has evolved and economic conditions are not static, the survey tool, breadth of analysis and data collected also change to reflect industry trends, new topics, regulatory changes and other factors that affect the vacation timeshare industry.

How does a more educational sales process, along with a more flexible product, help improve sales performance? av e r ag e R e S c i s s i o n Rat e 1 ( A s a p e r c e n tag e o f G r o s s Sa l e s )

What factors contribute to raising VPG? To u r s h o s t e d

Av e r ag e T r a n s ac t i o n Va l u e 2


2.01 million 2.12 million



15% 2011

$18,136 2011

14.6% 2012



JOIN THE CONVERSATION Tweet @RCIVentures with #industryinsight to learn what others think and to share your opinion.

Industry Insight A more educational sales process helps lower rescission rates because consumers know what to expect with their purchases. A more flexible product means more utility for owners, which translates to higher value and, therefore, a higher price.

Av e r ag e va lu e p e r g u e s t ( VPG ) 2011




Industry Insight It is no secret that more-qualified leads help contribute to raising the average VPG. However, it is also necessary to focus on the education of potential owners as a factor in increasing VPG. Today’s vacation ownership prospects, who are more educated than ever before, are taking it upon themselves to conduct their own research about timeshare even before reaching the sales presentation. Therefore it is necessary to build and maintain the right online presence so these prospects are truly educated about the value of vacation ownership. See graphic at top of page 7 for more insight into why your online brand matters.

To purchase your copy of the full report, go to To access a PDF of this issue’s By the Numbers, please visit 1 Rescission rates, 2011 and 2012, U.S., core company set. Source: Deloitte & Touche LLP based on a minimum of 13 company survey responses. 2 Average transaction value, 2011 and 2012, U.S., core company set. Source: Deloitte & Touche LLP based on 15 company survey responses. 3 Sales tours metrics by company category, 2012, U.S. Source: Deloitte & Touche LLP based on a minimum of 18 company survey responses. 4 Volume per guest by company category, 2012, U.S. Source: Deloitte & Touche LLP based on a minimum of 19 company survey responses. 5 Net originated sales distribution by sales center type: 2011 and 2012, U.S. Source: Deloitte & Touche LLP based on 22 company survey responses. 6 Quarterly net originated timeshare sales, 2011 and 2012, U.S., core company set. Source: Deloitte & Touche LLP based on 17 company survey responses.

6 q4 2013


h ot e l

0.5% 0.6%

Where are sales generated? 2011



ot h e r

Industry Insight


Most sales still take place at the resort, but potential owners who are on-site at your resort have probably already met your brand online. While other channels are not generating as many sales, they can be a critical part of your sales strategy and lead generation, so how your brand is represented in those channels matters.

4.2% 4.1% Resort

92.4% 91.8%

Industry Insight


Sales are a 12-month opportunity although slightly higher on average in Q3, which is traditionally peak vacation season. Understanding the seasonality of your sales cycle lets you staff efficiently without reducing sales productivity.

When are vacation ownership sales occurring? 6


% of sales

27.62% 25 25.50%









r c i V e n tu r e s 7

in br ief

2.9% 3.5%

T r av e l T r e n d s

More personal interactions generate greater guest satisfaction

A recent study by J.D. Power has positive implications for vacation ownership. The 2013 North America Hotel Guest Satisfaction Index Study found that guest satisfaction has reached a seven-year high and—good news for the timeshare industry—hotel staff may be to thank, at least in part. Overall satisfaction was highest among guests who interacted with four or more types of staff and significantly lower for guests who interacted with no staff members beyond check-in. Vacation ownership resorts are uniquely primed for positive memberstaff interactions. “Members have a guaranteed product and service and come back time after time, forging friendships with staff and other guests,” says Kemil Rizk, president and CEO of Royal Resorts. He would know. Royal Resorts has a 95 percent member satisfaction rate—a feat Rizk attributes entirely to the staff at his resorts.

The typical Royal Resort guest interacts with a staff member three to 10 times a day, every day, Rizk says. And every interaction counts, from the greeting of a bellman to a massage performed by a spa specialist. Beyond acting friendly, there are specific staff behaviors that can enhance the guest experience, says Rick Garlick, the global travel and hospitality practice lead at J.D. Power. “We find that the knowledge of staff—making yourself accessible as a resource—is a really key driver of satisfaction,” Garlick says. Name recognition also helps.

The J.D. Power study found that guests who were greeted by name scored higher overall satisfaction. In an age when self-service kiosks are increasingly the norm, the study serves as a powerful reminder of the value of person-to-person interaction. “I think we often make an assumption that the more people you can cut out of a process, the better off it is,” Garlick says. “But that’s not necessarily the case for the hospitality industry.” His advice: “Be really careful about not only the quality of your staff, but also their availability and visibility.”

E v e n t s C a l e n da r

n ov e m b e r 4 –7

What’s Happening

World Travel Market London, England

Conferences, seminars, expos, summits, workshops, exhibitions, forums, symposiums, conventions, events and meetings you should know about

8 q4 2013

n ov e m b e r

in br ief

The Human Touch

NOVEMBE r 5 – 8 Urban Land Institute Fall Meeting Chicago, Illinois, U.S.A.

in br ief

Plugged In But Still On Vacation

In today’s hyper-connected world, it seems that more vacationers than ever are working from the road. But a recent survey by ARDA and Leger The Research Intelligence Group found just the opposite: Of the 1,000 vacationers surveyed, a startling 75 percent said they do not do any work when they go on vacation. Just 12 percent work one to two days, and 13 percent do some work over three days. Still, this doesn’t mean that vacationers are unplugging—at least not in the traditional sense of the word. A sizable number of respondents like to travel with personal technology and use it for pleasure while traveling: 51 percent bring laptops on vacation,

and 39 percent bring tablets; but only a fraction use these devices for work (17 and 9 percent, respectively). Findings like these highlight the increasing convergence of 21st-century technology and good old-fashioned R&R. For today’s leisure travelers, “unwinding” can mean plugging in— and video chatting with loved ones back home, say, or sharing photos and videos from a trip while they’re still on it. Now is an opportune time for resorts to respond to travelers’ evolving technology needs, Howard Nusbaum, president and CEO of ARDA, believes. “It’s a memorable moment for resort operators to make sure owners have opportunities to connect,” Nusbaum says. “People want to do more than live their vacation. They also want to record it. And we need to make it easy for them to do that.”

N ov e m b e r 1 3 –1 5

December 2–5

ARDA Fall Conference Washington, DC, U.S.A.

International Luxury Travel Market Cannes, France



Leisure travelers are turning to personal technology to relax and play—and enhance their vacations. Resorts will want to make sure guests stay happy by keeping them connected

trend tracking

$102 billion USD spent by Chinese travelers on international travel in 2012, making China the number one tourism source market in the world. For more on China’s travel boom, see page 18.

United Nations World Tourism Organization’s April 2013 World Tourism Barometer

96% of vacationers prefer to travel as a couple, according to an online survey by Expedia. Expedia Pleasure Index, an online survey of 2,076 adults ages 18 and older by Harris Interactive on behalf of Expedia, March 19–21, 2013

rci V e n tures 9

in depth

10 q4 2013

in depth

The Mayor of HGV Having spent 30 years in the vacation ownership industry—including more than two decades at Hilton Grand Vacations— Kim Kreiger, senior vice president of Club and Resorts, talks about the early days of timeshare, why everyone should be an IT guy and what it takes to build a brand from the bottom up B y c at h a r i n e f l e u r y Photog r aphy by b etsy hanse n

rci Ventures 11

in depth

Thirty years ago, when Kim Kreiger

landed his first job in vacation ownership, timeshare was generating a lot of buzz. “It was a new and exciting industry in its infancy,” Kreiger recalls. “Here was a practical approach to vacationing. It was a propitious time, and I was intrigued by the pursuit of a new frontier.” Kreiger spent the first decade of his career building a foundation for the fledgling industry, beginning with Captran Resorts International as vice president of interval resort management, then with the Mariner Group of Affiliated Companies, where he ultimately served as vice president of Mariner Services Corporation. “We were involved in writing legislation and creating a framework and structure for vacation ownership. The challenges presented by balancing consumer needs with the business objectives were undoubtedly daunting, but I’ll never forget the feeling of accomplishment that came after defining strategies that set cornerstones for industry growth.” It was a formative period for Kreiger, too. “I came to learn and appreciate the ability to deal with issues in a public forum,” he says. He also learned the power of listening. “Industry expertise and experience are essential qualities,” he says, “but being able to listen and respond thoughtfully are traits that have served me equally well for decades.” But perhaps the greatest take-away for Kreiger was learning “to focus on big-picture concepts and then developing the tactical procedures and policies to support them.” And in the 1980s, one big-picture concept was rising above the rest. “We were evolving from the fixed/fixed timeshare environment and transitioning into the flexible points programs that lead today’s industry. The timeshare product was becoming more consumer-centric—becoming less about the developer and more about creating value in the vacation experience for the customer.” For Kreiger, this consumer-first mind-set would become the hallmark of a legendary career.

From IT on up Nobody knows Hilton Grand Vacations better than Kreiger. He has been with the company since its inception, in 1992, and is fondly known around the office as the Mayor of HGV. Kreiger owes much of his knowledge to HGV’s IT department, where he spent his first 12 years with the company. “Initially, I was part of the core management team that created Hilton Grand Vacations Ltd., and my focus was implementation of our technology systems,” he says. He worked his way up through the department, becoming vice president in 1998, and grew very familiar with HGV’s products along the way. “During the time I was in IT, we were literally building the Club program, and its functional operation was defined in

12 q4 2013

the technology,” Kreiger says. By the time he transitioned to Club and Resorts operations, in 2004, he knew the Club program inside and out—an advantage that continues to inform his work today. “As a result of my time in IT, I am fluent in the capabilities of the technology, I know how to navigate the system, I know how to access data—and I know just how far we can expand our club offerings within the considerable reach of our technical capabilities,” he says. “Taking conversations beyond the what-if stage to the what-is-possible realm has proven to be a very practical asset.” Today, as senior vice president of Club and Resorts, Kreiger leads all facets of Hilton Grand Vacations Club and the Hilton Club (including product development, delivery, inventory and global owner services); oversees the governance of 42 HOAs and the operation of 36 HGVmanaged resorts; and interfaces with Hilton Worldwide Hotel Operations for HGV-developed resorts. Kreiger has been especially busy with Las Vegas, a key market for HGV and the site of several recent high-profile deals. Resort Finance America appointed HGV to rebrand the former Westgate Resorts tower at Planet Hollywood; the property reopened as Elara, a Hilton Grand Vacations Club, in 2012. HGV’s rebranding responsibilities included resort operations, HOA management and sales of timeshare intervals—and the work paid off. “From owners who purchased with Hilton Grand Vacations Club, responses to the property are outstanding,” Kreiger says. “We are also receiving positive feedback from owners who purchased prior to our involvement in the project.” Six months after Elara made its official debut, HGV announced its plan to acquire 300 condo units at Trump International Hotel Las Vegas and convert them to luxury timeshare accommodations. Consumer response has been strong—sales are ahead of projections—and the units will open for occupancy by owners in January. “With this project we are appealing to a uniquely cosmopolitan demographic, offering urban design and amenities,” Kreiger says. He believes that the partnership is also strengthening the timeshare industry at large: “We see this relationship as a validation of vacation ownership. Beyond its hotel and residential business lines, the Trump Organization found our timeshare model a compelling addition to their real estate portfolio.” Building a team—and a brand Hire great people, give them the vision, and let them do what they do best. That’s Kreiger’s management strategy, and it has served HGV well. “I’ve seen rookies with great potential become leaders within our company,” he says. “And I’ve seen great people leave great brands for the opportunity to work for Hilton Grand Vacations. That tells me we are truly a team worth being a part of.”

P.O.V. “Beyond its hotel and residential business lines, the Trump Organization found our timeshare model a compelling addition to their real estate portfolio.”

in depth

Asked what it takes to build such a successful brand, Kreiger goes back to one of the core lessons from his early days in the timeshare industry: Owners first. “At HGV we have always prioritized our focus on the customer and remain committed to the consistent quality of our Club program. Creating and maintaining the guest experience and accommodations and delivering on expectations keeps us constantly focused on excellence. We strive to evolve, listen to our customers and, to the best of our ability, mitigate circumstances that surprise us.” It also helps to have an outstanding, and hands-on, parent company. “Embracing the hospitality philosophy and operational acumen of Hilton Worldwide has transformed our timeshare organization,” Kreiger says. “We are proud to strengthen one of the most recognized and respected brands in the world.” There’s still more building to do. The HGV brand will continue to pursue growth in urban markets, Kreiger says,

as they have been performing exceptionally well. (New York City has been one of HGV’s highest-performing destinations since HGV entered the market, in 2001.) Global expansion is also high on the agenda, especially in the Asian-Pacific region, where HGV has 40,000 Club members in Japan alone. “These markets are extremely important to us,” Kreiger says. “For us there is tremendous growth potential and expansion opportunity in the APAC region.” In a way, vacation ownership looks a lot like the frontier that lured Kreiger 30 years ago. “As I felt at the beginning of my career, I believe that this is an industry filled with possibilities and growth,” he says. “There still exists a thriving entrepreneurial spirit. And it’s still a fun place to work.” Spoken like a true pioneer.

rci Ventures 13

The Secondary Market:

in depth

A P r i m a ry F o c u s Resale fraud in the secondary market. Everyone agrees it’s a problem. Not everyone agrees on the solution(s). That’s why it’s important to have the conversation to try to identify common ground, hear different viewpoints and eventually find a course of action that most effectively protects the industry: developers, HOAs, and consumers (both buyers and sellers). It’s a big problem in a complex industry. Nobody said fixing it would be easy. RCI Ventures® magazine has reported in recent issues on fraud in the secondary market of the timeshare industry, and in our ongoing commitment to providing a forum to discuss relevant topics and trends in the secondary market, we have convened a panel of industry practitioners representing differing viewpoints. RCI Ventures magazine does not endorse a particular point of view; rather, the intent JOIN THE is to foster a robust dialogue that may help the industry CONVERSATION better address challenges and identify opportunities in the secondary market. Tweet Bert Blicher, developer of Blue Water Resort in the @RCIVentures with Bahamas and owner of Timeshares Only and Fidelity #timeshareresale Realty; Michael Burns, president and chief operating ofto learn what ficer of Vacation Listing Service; and Jason Gamel, senior others think vice president of legal services for Wyndham Vacation and to share Ownership, have agreed to share their thoughts about the your thoughts. current state—and future—of the secondary market in the vacation-ownership industry. V: What’s your assessment of the current state of the secondary market? BB: There is a dramatic increase in owners who want to sell their timeshare interests that has come about for a number

14 q4 2013

of reasons: vacation habits change over time, or financial and family issues. Our industry is more than 40 years old, and the owner base is now 4.4 million households and growing. We must assume that at some point maybe 20 to 25 percent of our owner base will have a desire to sell. Because the resale market for buyers is still in its infancy, the end result is a lot of frustrated sellers who have no way out of their timeshare ownerships. Resale vultures—the fraudulent telemarketing rescue companies—are now taking advantage of our owners’ frustration and, in the process, hurting our business’s reputation. MB: We hear more from consumers today about the resale challenges, and the industry has been discussing the issues of the secondary market more in the past five years. Now there are very negative and serious repercussions, thanks to the actions of state agencies, the FBI and other organizations. It’s generated a lot of discussion about what should be done. I believe strongly that the industry needs to take more action. While ARDA has been very active, industry leaders need to take definitive steps and participate in a constructive and meaningful way. At Vacation Listing Service, we fear there could be a significant national exposé of this problem on a show like 60 Minutes that could lead to even greater negative awareness. Preemptive action by all the industry stakeholders would prevent that from happening. JG: With more and more owners looking to the resale marketplace to sell their timeshares, we’ve seen a huge increase in enforcement efforts put in place to combat scams by the fraudulent companies that have infiltrated the secondary market. Although we’re seeing a decline in resale complaints because of the collective efforts across state and federal agencies to combat this fraud, it remains crucial that we proactively fight this problem on many levels and find viable solutions. V: What effect has the Model Timeshare Resale Act had? BB: It helped states create laws that protect our owners

in depth

rci Ventures 15

We have one developer with whom we do a lot of business, and because of their past support we have managed to see increased prices on their brand. This increases their own value and supports their own product.

from the vultures. The Florida Timeshare Resale Accountability Act is the best example and has the strongest laws to date. Although criminals can always find ways around the laws, it has put a small dent in their businesses. The honest companies, including mine, adhere to the new laws. In most cases these are practices that we’ve already had in place for years. MB: It was a meaningful effort to put a model act in place, but it deals more symptomatically, and not directly, with the fundamental problems of the secondary market. I’m not criticizing the act or its provisions, but I can’t quantify its impact on the problem, and I question how much of the act is being truly enforced. Some companies, even if they are aware of the law, are not in compliance. There are other ways to work as an industry along with ARDA to go after unscrupulous operators, and we cannot rely on governmental agencies 100 percent to solve the problem. JG: It paved the way for the industry to implement legislation to combat fraud. With the support of ARDA and its members, and the passing of key legislation in states like Florida, most recently the Florida timeshare transfer company legislation [Bill 7025], we’re seeing a positive trend: Resale complaints are on the decline not only in Florida but also nationally. A combination of passing tough legislation, working closely with state attorneys general and law enforcement, and strong owner education and awareness campaigns will allow us to mitigate the undue harm being caused to our owners. V: What are the biggest challenges in the secondary market today? BB: As much as developers have a heightened interest in the resale business, they continue to put up roadblocks to stop the honest resellers. They see us as competitors, which is not the case. Our success will only help their success. We have one developer with whom we do a lot of business, and because of their past support we have managed

16 q4 2013

to see increased prices on their brand. This increases their own value and supports their own product. Developers need to appoint someone to work with honest resellers. Many potential sellers, for example, do not clearly understand what they own or cannot prove they paid their maintenance fees, so we need to contact the developer in every single case to confirm what the seller owns and if they are current in their maintenance fees. Getting this information from developers can take months and is labor-intensive. Some developers charge a fee—as much as 30 percent of the resale price—to complete a resale. We cannot make any money with these high fees, so certain resales go unsold. MB: Our fear is that the number of owners who wish to sell will grow until there is such awareness in the marketplace that consumers who could be buying will be turned off by the backlog and assume there’s a problem with the fundamental product. The industry would then need to convince prospective consumers that this is a well-structured product with very high levels of satisfaction. This is further

ILLUSTRATIONS: Alberto Ruggieri

in depth

—Bert Blicher, developer of Blue Water Resort and owner of Timeshares Only and Fidelity Realty

Resale can’t be the only option, and developers need to ensure multiple options for those wanting to exit, by creating customized solutions for owners seeking assistance. —Jason Gamel, senior vice president of legal services for Wyndham Vacation Ownership

JG: As the world’s largest vacation-ownership company, we regularly inform our owners of the latest scam tactics being used. It is so important that we help our owners make informed decisions to protect themselves from unscrupulous companies. Fraudulent rental, resale, third-party transfer and relief companies have been tarnishing the reputation of our industry for years while engaging in misleading practices toward unsuspecting owners. Developers can help provide a solution to owners who still want to vacation with us but have experienced a lifestyle change or whose financial situation has significantly changed since the time of purchase. Resale can’t be the only option, and developers need to ensure multiple options for those wanting to exit, by creating customized solutions for owners seeking assistance. V: Where will the secondary market be in the next three to five years? BB: The secondary market has the potential to show the largest growth in the timeshare industry. How quickly it grows has a lot to do with developers’ aggressively supporting the timeshare resellers. A major area that will expand the resale business is the use of the Internet. Already I am

MB: There should be more resales made than primary sales, and that should continue until an equilibrium is found in the marketplace. Now, for example, for each new car sold there are three used cars sold. Credible, transparent marketplaces for resales must be successful in the very near future. If it doesn’t happen, then I think the industry is in for some very challenging times. It’s a pivotal time for the industry, and we must all work collectively to solve this serious issue.

in depth

compounded by a new generation which is into the sharing economy. They are questioning this product, its merits and its validity, and are not going to make buying decisions through the current sales process the industry has lived by the past 30 to 40 years. Prior to Carfax and other online car services, the choice was to trade in your car or sell it to a used-car dealer. That’s changed fundamentally. Manufacturers responded by offering pre-owned certified cars. And that’s one of our strategies for the industry: Create a pre-owned certified vacation-ownership product, and put it back in the market at a higher price with benefits and privileges that justify the price. There is a huge opportunity to create a transparent, credible and liquid marketplace for people to sell, and for new buyers to shop and get information about the product in a comprehensive way.

seeing a few major online start-ups enter the secondary marketplace. They are well capitalized and focused on finding ways to attract a younger generation to try the product. Then if you like it, you can buy it.

JG: Over the next few years we’ll begin to see the secondary market stabilize and become a more trustworthy marketplace. We are focused on helping our owners feel more comfortable selling or transferring their ownership should their personal circumstances change and they no longer wish to own with us.

There is a huge opportunity to create a transparent, credible and liquid marketplace for people to sell, and for new buyers to shop and get information about the product in a comprehensive way. —Michael Burns, president and chief operating officer of Vacation Listing Service

A B O U T T HE PA R T I C I PA N T S Bert Blicher is the developer of Blue Water Resort, a timeshare development in the Bahamas, and owner of Timeshares Only and Fidelity Realty. He has served as chairman of ARDA and the Timeshare Foundation. Michael Burns is president and chief operating officer of Vacation Listing Service. He is a trustee member of ARDA and co-chair of the Fractional Forum at the annual ARDA conference. Jason Gamel is senior vice president of legal services for Wyndham Vacation Ownership. Before joining WVO he was vice president of state government affairs for ARDA for nine years.

rci Ventures 17

in dev elopment

China’s Hainan Island, a rising timeshare destination.

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102 Billion $


in 2012 B y C at h a r i n e F l e u r y

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China is now the world’s number one source market for international tourism and the largest domestic travel market. Vacation ownership is poised to get its share of the ¼

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It has been a milestone year for Chinese tourism. In March the government published a landmark pro-tourism strategy, the Outline for National Tourism and Leisure (2013–2020), that encourages workers to take vacation days and gives them more flexibility regarding where and when to travel. Weeks later, in his keynote speech at Boao Forum for Asia’s annual conference, China’s new president, Xi Jinping, gave a shout-out to outbound tourism—“the first time that the highest-ranking person in China connoted outbound tourism as a positive development,” according to the magazine China Outbound Market Intelligence. And then the United Nations World Tourism Organization reported the number heard ’round the world: $102 billion, the expenditure in U.S. dollars by outbound Chinese travelers in 2012. With its announcement China officially became the world’s number one source market for international tourism. But for all the press about China’s outbound travelers, there’s an equally exciting story on the home front: China is the world’s largest domestic-tourism market. Last year the Chinese took 83 million international trips and 1.6 billion domestic trips. By 2017 domestic-tourism volume will reach 3.1 billion trips and expenditure will rise to US $1.2 trillion, according to Travel and Tourism in China to 2017 by the research firm Timetric. The report cites increased wealth and leisure time and improved transportation as key drivers of the growth ahead. Among the surge of domestic travelers is a budding population of timeshare owners. Club Vac (formerly HNA Golden Vacation

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Club), an RCI affiliate and Chinese timeshare pioneer, reports that all its members are Chinese and that their numbers continue to grow. “Our owners generally have high incomes and more time for leisure, and are able and willing to purchase shared ownership products,” says William Zhao, general manager of brand and product development for HNA Hotels and Resorts Group. One of RCI’s newest Chinese affiliates, Empark Vacation Club, also serves a largely Chinese membership. “We don’t have owner data yet, as we just launched, but we expect that the majority of our members will be Chinese—more than 90 percent,” says Lan Yang, vice president of Empark Hotels and Resorts Group. International timeshare companies are attracting Chinese owners too. “Our concept is proving to be

BIG AND DIVERSE (clockwise from top) The resort enclave Sanya, on Hainan; a macaw on Hainan; the historic city of Lijiang, one of the top travel destinations in Yunnan province.

attractive to consumers in China, and we are adapting our service philosophy to cater even more to cultural expectations,” says Harold Derrah, CEO of Anantara Vacation Club, which recently acquired luxury suites on China’s island province of Hainan. “In the last quarter the number of Chinese club owners has taken the lead as the highest percentage of new club owners over other countries. Chinese club owners represent 20 percent of the total, and we expect the number to grow significantly.” Anantara will expand in China with two additional resort locations within the next 18 months, and AVC is actively searching for other suitable destinations, Derrah says. New travelers emerge For many in China, vacation is a new experience. Whereas baby boomers


i n t h e s p ot l i g h t In addition to catching on in major east coast cities, like Beijing and Shanghai, timeshare is taking off in regions across the south. Here are four to watch:



a ne w m e m ber profile “Our members are aged between 30 and 50, and most are owners of small- and medium-sized enterprises or they work for the government or big corporations. They tend to be married with one child.” —Lan Yang, vice president of Empark Hotels and Resorts Group



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drive much of the tourism in the West, most Chinese travelers are young—under 44 years old, according to China Outbound Market Intelligence—and only just now starting to travel. Fewer than 200 million urban Chinese consumers have gone on an overnight leisure trip, according to the Boston Consultancy Group’s 2011 report Taking Off: Travel and Tourism in China and Beyond—maybe 15 percent of the total population— and every year, an average 25 million people take their first-ever overnight leisure trip. These first-time overnighters tend to start with a trip close to home, the report says, and later venture to more-distant regions of the country and, eventually, elsewhere in Asia and beyond. And they “generally prefer packaged tours that offer a full schedule of sightseeing activities.” This segment views a prearranged itinerary as the best value for their money. “Unlike Western vacationers, Chinese travelers are more activity focused, and they tend to spend less time in the hotel or resort,” Empark’s Lan says. “They try to maximize their time engaging in activities such as sightseeing, tasting local food and shopping.” To that end, resort facilities and services often trump in-room facilities. “That is why our new properties will focus more on recreation, food and beverages, and entertainment facilities,” Lan says. HNA’s William Zhao adds, “There are a considerable number of Chinese tourists who enjoy group activities and would invite their family and relatives to go on a vacation together. The majority of Chinese tourists feel that traveling alone as a single family is lonely.” In addition to China’s booming market of first-time, activity-seeking vacationers, the country is starting to witness the rise of a small but growing segment of experienced


Yunnan Rich in natural scenery and ethnic diversity, Yunnan province is one of the top travel destinations in the country—and a hotbed of timeshare. “Yunnan has huge potential,” says Lan Yang, vice president of Empark Hotels and Resorts Group. G uan gxi Formerly a province, this autonomous region is famous for its dramatic scenery. Highlights include the terraced rice fields of Longsheng and the karst formations around Guilin and Yangshuo. There is one RCI® affiliated resort in Guangxi, and Gavin Cheong, director of business development for RCI Asia Pacific, projects continued growth. Hainan China’s smallest province is known for luxury beach resorts, spas and golf courses. The resort enclave Sanya “has tropical beaches hardly seen in other parts of China,” says William Zhao, general manager of brand and product development for HNA Hotels and Resorts Group. Fujian This province may see fewer visitors than others—but that’s changing. “We have a five-star hotel in Fuzhou and a hot-spring resort in Gui’an, and we’re developing another three resorts scheduled to open next year,” Lan says.

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increasingly willing to spend more on hotel accommodations and vacation products.…The shift in consumer behavior can facilitate the use of timeshare products, which typically require from the users a high degree of individual involvement.”

travelers who prefer to arrange their own transportation and accommodations and tend to seek out relaxation and entertainment over jam-packed sightseeing itineraries. “Indeed, we’ve found that the more experience a Chinese traveler has, the less organized activities matter,” the Boston Consultancy Group report says. “For all market segments today, sightseeing wins out over relaxation for domestic travelers, but by 2020 we expect relaxation to become the dominant travel goal.” This second segment, of moreveteran Chinese travelers, gets special mention in Jones Lang LaSalle Hotels’ 2012 report What Are the Opportunities for Timeshare in China? (produced with Baker & McKenzie and RCI). “As domestic Chinese are becoming more seasoned travelers,” it says, “they are

Room to grow Timeshare came to China in 1996, when Beijing’s Jiuhua Resort and Convention Centre affiliated with RCI and became the first property to join an international timeshareexchange network. Domestic timeshare-exchange companies followed: The late 1990s and early 2000s saw the emergence of networks like the Tianjin TEDA Resort Alliance Development Company (TRAC). In 2001, RCI opened an office in Beijing, and China seemed destined for growth. But the Chinese timeshare sector has developed relatively slowly, according to the Jones Lang LaSalle Hotels report. Whereas other countries have achieved maturity in two decades—witness Australia, whose vacation-ownership industry also launched in the 1990s—the Chinese market is still in its infancy. There are numerous reasons for this, from excessive travel-visa restrictions to limited financing options to a fragmented (and in many regions nonexistent) legal framework for vacation ownership. Collaboration with government authorities is critical. “We deeply feel that in order to ensure healthy development, the ­vacation ownership industry requires government support in ­creating a complete legal framework,” says Adrian Lee, managing director of Asia for RCI Asia Pacific. “RCI has been working with relevant Chinese government authorities for years to push the legislative process forward—and will continue to support and actively participate in this process.”

D id yo u k n ow ? Forty-four percent of upper- and middle-class Chinese nonowners would consider buying shared vacation ­ownership, according to the ARDA International Foundation World Wide Shared ­Vacation Ownership Report: 2012.

So Man y S uperlatives China has the largest population in the world: more than 1.3 billion people. In 2012, Chinese outbound-travel expenditure reached $102 billion—higher than any other country’s. For the past decade, China has been the fastest-growing tourism source market in the world.

OLD MEETS NEW (from top) The Great Wall of China; traditional Chinese dancers on Hainan; Hainan’s Yalong Bay. Opposite: The Shanghai skyline.

PHOTOS, OPENER: Getty images; Previous spread: istockphoto; Getty images(2); This spread: CNTO; Getty images(2); Andrew Rowat

like these are especially conducive to vacation ownership, Lee says, because they are “attractive local tourist destinations with significant seasonality in demand.” There are 41 RCI affiliated resorts in China, and Lee is confident that more will come. On the whole, he believes, the number of timeshare properties in all of China will grow at least 50 percent in the next decade. Industry stakeholders are at the ready. According to Gavin Cheong, director of business development for RCI Asia Pacific, investors are highly receptive to timeshare from an ROI perspective, while developers see it as an alternative solution to current real estate challenges. The Chinese government, he says, is “mixed.” No government departments have claimed responsibility for vacation ownership, but as the Jones Lang LaSalle Hotel report points out, timeshare “is consistent with the government’s direction to bring innovation and diversity to the tourism industry.” The potential for timeshare in China is huge, Lee believes. “To grow the China timeshare industry and market share,” he says, “we’ll need to conduct business differently, paying

attention to cultural differences and the way business is conducted here.” AVC’s Harold Derrah agrees. “Like all new markets in Asia, starting up operations in China takes a lot of due diligence, strategic planning and patience. Legal, tax, language and cultural practices all need careful consideration before making a move,” he says. “One thing I feel is extremely important in any of our sales, marketing and resort operations is to employ local talent, which brings the knowledge, language and cultural sensitivities required and, of course, job opportunities to the local community. Establishing the right strategic partnerships and creating the ‘local’ team is essential to success.” Ultimately, the success of vacation ownership in China depends on the industry’s ability to understand, and serve, the country’s rising number of travel consumers. “We see a strong demand on both the consumer and the developer side,” Zhao says. “We believe that as long as there is a willingness to pay attention to what consumers desire and meet their needs, the timeshare industry will be a great success in China.”

get t h ere w it h R C I

Adrian Lee,

managing director of Asia for RCI Asia Pacific, leads a team of experienced industry professionals working in China. If your company is interested in exploring the opportunities in this exciting emerging market, contact your RCI Account Executive.

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Perhaps the most significant barrier to timeshare has been the nature of the vacation-ownership products on offer. Until now they have not been a perfect match for most Chinese consumers, who, remember, tend to prefer those packaged, activity-packed tours over DIY trips and R & R. “As with any product, you have to understand the Chinese culture and Chinese consumers’ behavior to be successful in this market,” Lan says. “You need to design more-activitybased products and programs, and you also need to pay attention to flexibility, as Chinese guests tend to stay less than a week in a resort.” Zhao agrees. “Chinese consumers prefer holidays with a planned itinerary, and they are more likely to seek a professional guide for their holiday,” he says. “In order to better meet the demands of the Chinese market, product offerings have to integrate these kinds of professional services.” Today the most popular destinations for timeshare in China include the scenic mountainous regions of Yunnan and Guangxi, in the southwest, and the island province of Hainan, aka China’s Hawaii. Areas


Does your brand YouTube? Your customers do. The site gets more than 1 billion unique visitors a month. Is your company missing out? b y M at t M c D a n i e l

You know that YouTube is the go-to site for watching videos. But did you know that: • More than 6 billion hours of video are watched on YouTube every month? • YouTube reaches more U.S. adults aged 18 to 34 than any cable network? • There are millions of new subscribers to the YouTube channel every day?


What makes YouTube even more powerful is that it’s available on all devices: computers, tablets, phones, TV-set-top boxes (like Roku) and

gaming systems (such as Xbox). YouTube was founded in 2005, and in digital years that’s old. So you may assume that by now most com­panies have jumped on this content-driven advertising vehicle, right? Wrong. YouTube is perhaps the most underutilized of the most popular social media outlets. RCI Ventures ® magazine spoke with some industry practitioners who are

using YouTube as part of their content strategies. Here Brooke Doucha, director of communications for U.S.-based Orange Lake Resorts; Kari Homan, director of social media for U.S.-headquartered Wyndham Vacation Ownership; and Lata Subramanian, vice president of marketing for Sterling Holidays, based in India, share their insights into YouTube’s power and potential.

r e offers anothe minars, YouTub se e tar or sh sh icate and ram and other way to commun of Vine, Instag t ent an am rt st te po our owners. a im e ith ar w an ube information rm videos that fo V: Why is YouT to this medium eshare resort to the power of channel for tim is YouTube the form. YouTube BD: Not only is entertain and in ter d companies? an , er arch engine, af ding fath cond-largest se se essence the foun in nt ca et ifi rg gn ta ith our ovides si g in a global, ost reputable w oogle, but it pr G m e th nal io LS: We are livin at uc s ng and ed ld. YouTube ha sibility, brandi ence. vi di au rt so borderless wor re o re is de vi timesha oration e number one portunities for cation and expl op Va es id been ranked th ov s pr te th that crea uTube also ly and the four companies. Yo sual experience vi a platform global t n en ca by managem emories you ebsite in India developers and a lifetime of m se most popular w t It’s en o. rc de vi pe ance to showca ch 72 on e e e th ar ar ers companies pture and sh ca d Alexa. Custom e an s es or t ce th g uc experien m for relivin purchase a prod the villas, resort an ideal mediu om more likely to e. and , m ed co us t them apart fr to e se s ar ar at os de ories for ye amenities th em m to service when vi ce s en es ng ri el yi pe ic hotel ex these pr make their bu the traditional yond capturing Be rs, t ne videos help them ea ow gr g a in a , includ ube can be , according to a wide audience emories, YouT m al nt s decisions faster re it’ ; d rs an ne of exchange ate our ow harton School members, and medium to educ g study by the W ay tin m is ex ho r w those ement to ou guests as well as an ideal compl Business. rve as se n ca ered timeshare It id . ns ts or co never have ucational eff ed er om ds st their travel isting cu ia industry tren as an option in extension of ex an KH: Social med ve of ha s e es ns. ts. While w light the succ accommodatio education effor continue to high d gaging an en s in se t as en cl , nt gs co le formal meetin rich consumab living in a world re e’ W . ce en di an au 24 q4 2013

ated to overseeing and a resource dedic ram. V: W the social media prog paid opportunities r, ve we ho , There are it at eth d an e, fre t no channel banners; pr KH: Social media is on YouTube, such as r de or s; In eo . vid ion e pt for ce be on appear is, is a common misc roll video spots that r experience, it ne ow sing, formerly “proh rti ric a ve ad ide ov rch to pr and in­-­­sea an d an id t en nt co ed The costs for these pa requires user-generat n moted videos.” sig de , plore on ex ati to e cre s, inu rce and we cont investment in resou nt initiat­ives vary, me ge y na nit ma rtu ity po un op e mm its th and production. Co with our business un re su en to y, ke o als and engagement are they provide. nsive channel. This po res a er liv de we that ce investment in both building our presen requires a dedicated LS: Since we began we re e tu ub fu e uT th Yo In . ed ng we have us resources and traini t on social media, tly er-generated conten us e ag ur annel. It is only recen co ch en air to on pla as a free-t ed ot mom ca r pr fo ns idaig pa a mp ed on through engaging ca that we have embark ls. nia mo i t­ b. tes we l eo er vid throughout the socia paign for our memb o to is it , cy an inf Since this is still in its uTube, like many e costs, as we are Yo th y, on tel t na en rtu mm Fo : co BD ly free early to ge lar is , m through es iti un e efficacy of the mediu th g social media comm tin tes th wi from costs associated we hope to generate of direct costs. The ms’ the responses tea r ou r fo e os th pects. our channel include nt interested pros dio-video equipme au e, tim n tio uc od pr hat are the costs?

V: How do you m easure ROI?

The way you market your content on YouTube is key. Here are seven best practices, according to The Top 100 Global Brands: Key Lessons for Success on YouTube, an August 2013 study by Pixability, a marketing software company: 1. Make lots of video content 2. Practice good video SEO 3. Use different videos for multiple touchpoints 4. Link video to marketing initiatives 5. Ensure video has branding 6. Invest in more content, not more channels 7. Engage community via social media

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LS: As of now w e measure ROI th rough BD: Because we qu alitative measure have only minim s, such as numbe al r of financial investm views and shares ents in our YouT . We also believe ube th at channel aside fro YouTube will alw m internal overhe ays have an indire ad, ct we measure RO im pact on new-mem I in terms of the ber acquisition an number of views, shares d brand perceptio and subscribers. n–Net Promoter Scores, One example is an d th at it w ill be challenging a video we recent to establish ly uploaded to the ROI through mem channel. Latching ber acquisition. We onto the global ph are testing this th enomenon of th rough our membe e r Harlem Shake, w video testimonia e identified it as ls, but by and larg a e our trendy opportun expectations of ity we couldn’t aff the role the med ord iu m can to ignore. Within be expected to pl one hour we pulle ay in direct impa d ct on together our on-s sales are realistic ite activities team . , our videographer and a few guests who were relaxing at KH: I see this as the pool and film an evolution that ed will and edited the vi be gin with views an deo. Within 48 ho d engagement as urs of being uploaded the driving metric , the video receiv and later extend ed to nearly 3,500 view ca ll reduction, onlin s and introduced e book­ing and viewers to River con­version adde Island and the la d over time as th zye river-style pool educat­ional cont and the type of fu ent expands. n guests can expect Ideally, this will le to have at Orang ad to enhanced e Lake Resort. Invo sa tis faction and custom lving our guests er advocacy, made the experie which is the defin nce priceless. ing return. Video and YouTube insight YouTube will be s actually add a a core element of th is return on our in ap proach. The real vestment in that ROI comes in be they in help us better un g re levant and authen derstand who is tic and providin g viewing our vide va lue to the consum os, which videos er. are most popular, w here the views ar e coming from an Orlando journalis d when viewersh t Matt McDaniel ip has on a particular vi re ported on issues an deo declines. d trends in the vacation owners hip industry since 1997.

D i d yo u k n ow ?

C h e c k th e m o u t f o r yo u r s e l f :

esorts/Holiday range Lake R



Inn Club Vacat

ns /hiclubvacatio

t e strategy was no rt of our YouTub an ch e ub “The second pa uT Yo our er the launch of lized we rea realized until aft s, es sin bu a time we, as nel, during which rvice. YouTube, video-hosting se st -co low a ed need ion in which lut so e itself as a fre again, presented privately as well ated and shared videos can be cre publicly.” s ite bs existing we as embedded in

ng Strategy: we started posti twofold. When d Holiday “Our strategy is he nc lau tly en we had rec YouTube videos, d sought to visuns on Twitter an tio ca Va b Clu Inn riences we were pe ex te the resort ally communica ted itself as a YouTube presen tweeting about. d engaging platan ve ial, immersi highly experient h this. could accomplis form on which we ha Brooke Douc unications Director of comm rts so Re ke La Orange

Sterling Holiday s erlingholidays Strategy: “We are concentra ting on a 360-degree approach in terms of creating an d publishing video content. We plan to shoot video s that showcase ou r properties. We have a ser ies of video testim onials from our existing vacati on ownership memb ers talking about the myriad rat ional and emotional benefits of owning a Sterling vac ation ownership me mbership. These benefits ran ge from the econo mic to the feeling of assurance tha t their family can ho liday safely at a Sterling resort .

Philip S. Brojan Senior vice president global marketing, RCI

While YouTube is by far the largest videosharing website, it isn’t the only platform for online video. RCI Ventures® magazine sat down with Phil Brojan, senior vice president of global marketing for RCI, to discuss three fast-emerging channels with markedly different approaches to creating and sharing video content. “According to a recent report by Google, nearly two thirds of trav­elers watch online video in all phases of travel planning,” Brojan says. “These three channels have some of the fastest growing audiences and have rapidly become part of the video content landscape along with YouTube.”


“Over the past yea r we used YouTube to showcase the enjoyment of ou r members and gu ests who participated in our Ho liday Beats contest at our resorts. We embed the vid eos on product lan ding pages and in email commu nication sent to pro spects. In the near future we pla n to extensively use and promote our video content across our social me dia presence, especially on Faceb ook, Twitter, Pinter est and blogs.”

Lata Subramania n Vice president of ma rketing Sterling Holidays


Make Video Content Work for You

What it is: Instagram gained popularity as a photo-sharing app in which users upload photos, choose from several filters and effects and then share them with their followers. In June, Instagram’s parent company, Facebook, expanded the social network’s repertoire from photos to video— a move widely viewed as keeping up with Vine (see below). It allows up to 15 seconds of video and offers 13 of its popular filters. Who’s watching: Instagram has more than 150 million active users monthly. After the launch of video, Instagram shares on Twitter surged 37 percent on average, according to reports.*


n Ownership Wyndham Vacatio rldmark • clubwyndham

Strategy: ners’ is to enhance our ow “Our primary objective to enable the us ws allo e Tub You s. vacation experience tent. This is ring of rich resort con consumption and sha d activilate learn about resort-re the ideal medium to grams. pro and s, efit nership ben ties and features, ow t incorporate tha ls nne cha d nde We have created bra Kari Homan dia Director of social me Ownership Wyndham Vacation

that a showcase the impact owner testimonials to . Moving ngs bri ns atio in great loc lifetime of vacations erience to exp and t ten con and forward, we will exp efforts our owner-education YouTube to support and owner t ten con ed rat ene and integrate user-g feedback.”

What it is: The social media success story of 2013. Launched by Twitter in January, this free app allows users to create and share their own looping six-second videos. Who’s watching: Vine has 40 million users and counting, as of publication; and according to some reports, five vines are tweeted every second. 


 What it is: This video platform positions itself as a carefully curated alternative to YouTube that is geared to filmmakers. What it lacks in YouTube’s massive footprint it makes up for in a polished design and zeroadvertising policy. 

 Who’s watching: Vimeo has 20 million registered users and reaches a global audience of more than 100 million a month. Basic membership is free, but paid members get privileges, like advanced viewer statistics. * Visualizing Vine, July 2013, BuzzFork

26 q4 2013


Well-Managed Inventory Improves Revenue Unlock the value of resort inventory—filling more rooms more of the time—with RCI’s Inventory Analytics Advisory service

PHOTO: Ian spanier; illustration: Marie Mainguy

Preliminary research The process begins with the team gathering information about the client. With this solid foundation, RCI is able to learn about the resort’s resource management practices. In-depth analysis Next the RCI team performs a full-scale on-site diagnostic on the organization’s inventory practices, including discovery sessions and observation. This allows the team to gain a thorough understanding of

the resort’s inventory management, reporting, inventory distribution points, pricing decision points and related systems. Opportunities To help identify the resort’s potential for increasing its occupancy rates, the team evaluates the findings from the diagnostic and outlines opportunities in reporting, forecasting, pricing, yield management and optimization. Predicting behavior Reviewing the resort owners’ travel patterns can help enable RCI to better under­­stand the dynamics of the resort’s supply and demand. The team can then identify areas for opportunity and outline steps for turning these opportunities into strengths.

D i d yo u k n ow ? Proven revenue management techniques can increase revenue. This means that, for some timeshare brands, incremental revenue can reach millions of dollars.

investment in developing best-inclass revenue management tools, processes and resources over the past decade, and we are proud of the rep­utation we have earned as industry leaders,” says Gordon Gurnik, president of RCI. “We can support our affiliated resorts with our in-depth knowledge of revenue management analytics, which is available to them through a low-cost advisory service that helps them maximize the value of their inventory and can help positively affect their revenues.” For more information, contact your RCI Account team at or 1.866.913.2370.


Managing resort inventory to maximize usage, revenue and profit is a complex process that demands an under­ standing of how to deliver the right product to the right consumer at the right time—and for the right price. Studies have shown that when proven revenue management techniques are implemented, revenue can increase. For some timeshare brands, this can translate to millions of dollars in incremental revenue. And with RCI’s Inventory Analytics Advisory service, affiliated resorts now have access to RCI’s award-winning and cuttingedge revenue management and analytic tools to help maximize their inventory. RCI’s team—80 professionals with an average of 10 years’ exper­ience in the timeshare industry or revenue management—takes a consultative approach to finding the right comb­ ination of services that addresses each resort’s individual needs. They are equipped with a comprehensive and integrated suite of solutions for reporting, optimizing, pricing and controlling inventory, as follows:

Best practices The result is a comprehensive report presented by the RCI team to resort stakeholders. The service comes full circle with training for the resort’s staff in revenue management best practices that have been tailored to that specific resort.

RCI’s industry-leading revenue management of more than 4,000 affiliated resorts that have 2 million intervals of inventory has received accolades: RCI won the INFORMS revenue manage­ment award in 2011. Other recipients of this prestigious award include Hewlett-Packard and Marriott International. “RCI has made a tremendous

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a n a n ta r a vac at i o n c l u b

Succeeding With Purpose


Anantara Vacation Club’s first purpose-built resort is another milestone in the young company’s growing presence in the industry

28 q4 2013

The lobby of Anantara Vacation Club Phuket Mai Khao, which opened its doors in June.

In Little more than two years,

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Anantara Vacation Club has rapidly expanded in the Asian Pacific market; ownership sales continue to exceed expectations. In June 2013 the company opened its first purpose-built resort, the Signature Club Resort— Anantara Vacation Club Phuket Mai Khao. The new resort “will make a real statement to the market about the quality and flexibility of our product offering,” says Harold Derrah, Anantara Vacation Club’s CEO. Thailand has become one of the most popular destinations for vacationers from Europe, Australia and China. “Phuket was the obvious choice of destination for our first signature property, which offers the ultimate guest experience for our owners,” Derrah says. Anantara Vacation Club Phuket Mai Khao is designed for family vacations while still offering the same luxury-brand standards that owners and guests have come to expect from Anantara. The resort currently comprises 70 one-, two- and three-bedroom apartment suites and 30 spacious oneand two-bedroom pool villas. Sixty of the one- and two-bedroom apartment suites, located in the resort’s six-story complex, offer a choice of a king-sized bed or two twin beds, plus the option of accommodating two additional guests on a pullout sofa in the living room. Eight two-bedroom apartment suites feature a private plunge pool with a sundeck. Two three-bedroom royal suites offer an exceptional vacation experience that encompasses 3,700 square feet of luxury space, including a large private swimming pool and tropical outdoor amenities. All suites are equipped with a kitchen, a large refrigerator, a cooktop and utensils as well as a washer and dryer.

Anantara Vacation Club Phuket Mai Khao’s 30 pool villas have direct access to a private pool.


Har o l d Derra h CEO Anantara Vacation Club

30 q4 2013

Each of the pool villas has direct access to a private pool that is surrounded by a sundeck with loungers; a garden rain shower; a daybed in the sala; and indoor and outdoor dining furniture. Two-bedroom villas also include a children’s wading section at one end of the pool to accommodate families on vacation. “Anantara Vacation Club Phuket Mai Khao resort, like all Anantara resorts and hotels, draws inspiration from the indigenous surroundings,” Derrah says. “The resort is designed to reflect Thailand’s colorful and fascinating culture, and guests will be dazzled by the sumptuous details and exotic ambiance that will make staying at the Signature Club Resort— Phuket Mai Khao an unforgettable experience.” The swimming pool is the focal point of the resort. Guests can enjoy a cocktail at the swim-up bar, revel in the Jacuzzi or relax in the sun along the sandy beach that lines the pool. Additional resort amenities include a 24-hour fitness center overlooking the pool; an Anantara Spa; group yoga, meditation and stretching classes; and access to a beach club on Mai Khao

Beach. Guests may borrow bicycles to explore the local area at their own pace. For the more adventurous, the Andaman Sea offers opportunities for surfing and boating. Families with children will appreciate the wading pool, playground and Jakka Kids Club. “Dining will be another highlight for owners and guests at this resort,” Derrah says. “There is something for everyone, with local and international favorites, but there are also unique offerings that allow guests to customize their dining choices to create truly unique vacation experiences.” In addition to having access to three restaurants and bars including the swim-up pool bar, Ripples, diners who prefer to eat in without cooking can take out prepared food and wine from the resort’s Continental deli. “Anantara’s signature Dining by Design service allows guests and owners to indulge in a meal prepared by a private chef at a location of their choice,” Derrah says. “And the resort also offers Thai cooking classes so guests can re-create some of the vacation magic in their own kitchens when they return home.” Anantara Vacation Club Phuket

We continue to focus on delivering an exceptional vacation experience for our owners and guests.

Mai Khao resort has already been recognized as a best shared ownership development by the South East Asia Property and Thailand Property Awards. “We are honored by these awards,” Derrah says, “but we continue to focus on delivering an exceptional vacation experience for our owners and guests.” The second phase of the resort’s opening is on schedule for late 2014. Phase two includes an additional 56 pool villas and apartment suites plus more public areas and facilities. When completed, the two developments will merge to create one resort that has 156 pool villas and apartment suites. Over the next five years, the club will build 10 more purpose-built properties for Anantara Vacation Club—either stand-alone developments or in combination with Anantara Hotels, Resorts & Spas as it expands. “Anantara Vacation Club is still in its formative years,” Derrah says. “This is just the beginning.”

Anantara Hotels, Resorts & Spas properties across Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam, China, the Maldives and the United Arab Emirates support local initiatives that give back to the community and support the environment. Anantara has brought all these good deeds together in the 365 Days of Good Deeds sustainability program, in which at least one good deed will take place every day. Here are three programs that are helping the elephant population in Thailand:

Anantara Elephant Camp The on-site Elephant Camp at Anantara Golden Triangle Elephant Camp & Resort has a traditional mahout (caregiver) and an elephant village that is completely self-supporting. Guests can visit, feed and bathe the 30 elephants and participate in mahout-training programs. The camp’s elephants have been rescued from Thailand’s brutal city streets, where they walk through crowded tourist areas and on busy roads all night long and are forced to rest during the day in small urban green spaces, often without shade or water. King’s Cup Elephant Polo Tournament The tournament, introduced in 2001, just celebrated its 12th anniversary in August this year, and to date has raised $750,000. Proceeds go to projects that better the lives of Thailand’s elephant population. The King’s Cup is designed to allow young elephants to be taken off the streets for the two weeks of the tournament and be transferred to their natural forest

environment, where they get the best food possible as well as the only proper veterinary check and vitamins they receive all year. The Thai Elephant Therapy Project (TETP) Money raised from last year’s King’s Cup Elephant Polo Tournament has helped fund TETP, a pioneering technique using domestic elephants in autistic children’s therapy sessions in the northern Thai town of Lampang. The free program runs through the end of the year. Created in conjunction with Chiang Mai University and the Thai Elephant Conservation Centre, TETP was designed to help autistic children develop their social and emotional skills by using elephants as occupational therapists’ working partners. The project’s elephants were rescued from the streets of Thailand and have gone through training to ensure that they are healthy and prepared to participate. The elephants are accompanied by their expert mahout handlers along with human therapists and researchers.

rci Ventures 31


Photos: CoURTESY OF Anantara Vacation CluB

—Harold Derrah, CEO of Anantara Vacation Club

Remembering to Do Good Every Day


o c c i d e n ta l vac at i o n c l u b

Expanding the All-Inclusive Possibilities 32 q4 2013

Lu i s N a mn u m President Occidental Vacation Club

The Royal Hideaway Playacar, on the shores of Playa del Carmen, Mexico.

Aruba, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Mexico and Paris and near historic sites in Mexico. “Our growth plan includes incorporating more locations and properties while also creating a list of revitalizing and exciting experiential trips and events that take members to a whole new level of vacation enjoyment,” Namnum says and cites such examples as wine tours, elite golf trips, cruises, cooking classes and safaris. “We are holding focus groups and crowd sourcing through social media to build a bucket list to meet our members’ vacation dreams.” To further differentiate its product and appeal to a wider audience, the Club has created two top ownership tiers, First Club and Grand Level. First Club membership offers firstclass attention and luxury lodgings. The Grand Level offers elite service and suites in the very best locations at each resort, with spectacular ocean views.“The Grand Level membership was designed to satisfy the demand by members who desire a more indulgent vacation experience,” Namnum says. “It is reminiscent of a boutique hotel, offering elite service, gourmet meals, exquisite rooms and exclusive activities.”

rci Ventures 33


While its guests are relaxing, Occidental Vacation Club is busy adding value to its members’ vacation ownership by enhancing its all-inclusive experiences

Occidental Vacation Club has earned rave reviews and awards for its 11 resorts in prime beachfront locations in Aruba, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic and Mexico— 10 of which were recognized with the RCI Gold Crown Resort® designation—by offering members exceptional value with a focus on allinclusive vacations. The resort group strives every day to keep its more than 23,000 members returning for more, and to keep those accolades coming, according to president Luis Namnum. “It’s our never-ending pampering; warm, hospitable teams; and superior service in an atmosphere of casual luxury that bring owners and guests back to be revitalized year after year,” he says. Occidental Hotels & Resorts, the Club’s parent company, began operating in 1982, managing hotels in Spain, Portugal, the D ­ ominican Republic and Puerto Rico. It started adding hotels in 1984, and has steadily expanded its presence in Europe, North Africa, Mexico and the ­Caribbean. In 1993 nine properties— in Mexico, Aruba, the Dominican Republic and Costa Rica—began selling timeshare intervals, and the Club now has 23 affiliated resorts, in

Our growth plan includes creating a list of revitalizing and exciting experiential trips and events that take members to a whole new level of vacation enjoyment. —LUIS NAMNUM, president of Occidental Vacation Club


As part of its strategy of providing yet more varied vacations, Occidental Vacation Club has launched its Yacht Club membership, available in Mexico, Aruba and the Dominican Republic. Offered as an add-on to First Club and Grand Level, the elegant Yacht Club membership caters to special requests, from a chilled bottle of champagne to ocean-fresh shrimp or local octopus à la Cézanne. Occidental Vacation Club also has an elite Founders Club membership. “These 6,500 members have trusted us to take care of their vacations for more than a decade,” Namnum says. “They keep coming back to enjoy the special easygoing hospitality we’re known for, and they help the Club grow by telling their friends and family about us.” Occidental Vacation Club reciprocates this loyalty with exclusive privileges and

34 q4 2013

discounts for enhancing membership. During this 10th anniversary year, for example, Founders Club members will receive gifts on arrival, discounts on the all-inclusive rate, a free category or unit upgrade, an extra owner’s week (free of maintenance fees) and a 25 percent discount on a membership upgrade. This carefully directed experience for Occidental Vacation Club owners and guests continues online through the Club’s robust social media channels. The company actively engages in conversations with owners and guests and has used Facebook and Twitter to launch products and initiatives. The Club operates a “Share the Joy” blog that provides information about the company as well as general travel tips. It also uses Instagram and Pinterest to share vacation and destination photos and to conduct contests. “We have seen

this interaction build enthusiasm among current and potential members and guests,” Namnum says. “In fact, we used the blog to promote an extremely well-received owner referral program. The buzz generated a substantial number of leads and encouraged existing members to upgrade their memberships.” Its relationship with RCI is just another way Occidental Vacation Club enhances vacations for its members. “We are proud to be affiliated with RCI and glad to welcome the thousands of members who exchange their time to visit our resorts in paradise,” Namnum says. Moreover, he says, the RCI Gold Crown Resort® designation recognizes “the hard work of a team of hospitality professionals who are dedicated to making sure every guest has a truly magical vacation experience.” Enhancing the vacation experience

will always be a top priority for Occidental Vacation Club. “We are developing a niche to provide unique experiences to our members so we are not just a wonderful vacation in the Caribbean,” Namnum says. “It’s not just the sticks and bricks—it’s the dedicated staff ready to bring a guest an emergency piña colada or fine Dominican cigar.” The Club will continue to provide exceptional locations and luxurious accommodations and is dedicated to offering unique and memorable experiences, but for Occidental Vacation Club it begins and ends with service. “All the rest is meaningless without a smile,” Namnum says.

rci Ventures 35


Photos: Occidental Hotels & Resorts(5); Chris M. Rogers

ALL-INCLUSIVE INDULGENCES The marina at Renaissance Mall in Oranjestad, Aruba. Opposite (from top): First Club accommodations at Occidental Grand Nuevo Vallarta; an oceanfront Jacuzzi at Occidental Grand Aruba; a master bedroom at Occidental Grand Cozumel.


Cape Cod, Massachusetts, home to three InnSeason Resorts properties.

36 q4 2013

I n n S e a s o n R e s o r ts

Doing What They Know, Loving What They Do Owning the Northeast vacation experience at InnSeason Resorts by Da n i e l Tr i m a r c h i

Adaptability. Resilience. Stability.

Adaptability Ducharme and Curran have seen significant changes during the more than 30 years they have been in the industry. In particular, consumers’ demands have evolved, creating challenges as well as opportunities. Their formula for success: Fill a gap in the market, provide excellent quality and offer destinations that are highly in demand. “Today timeshare is a

W i l l i a m e . c u rr a n CEO InnSeason Resorts


That’s the spirit of the people who live and work in the Northeast region of the United States. You’ll find those characteristics in Dennis Ducharme and William E. “Billy” Curran, pres­ident and chief executive officer, respectively, of InnSeason Resorts, whose headquarters are in West Yarmouth, Massachusetts. InnSeason Resorts—familyoriented vacation resorts located along the Atlantic Ocean from Cape Cod to Maine and throughout the mountains of Maine and New Hampshire—have transformed their concentrated geographic presence into a branded vacation experience, combining breathtaking natural beauty with seasonal activities to make fun and memorable vacations for owners and guests. “It’s what we know and what we love,” Curran says. “The Northeast experience is our experience; it’s unique to us.” In fact, “The Northeast Experience” is InnSeason Resorts’ trademarked tagline.

As a business strategy, InnSeason Resorts’ focus on New England fills a void. “There are not a lot of branded New England hotels, and we don’t have chain hotels on the coast of Cape Cod, along the Main Streets of Maine or among the ski resorts of New Hampshire,” says Curran, who founded InnSeason Resorts with Ducharme in 2003 by merging his marketing company with Ducharme’s development company. Having identified a need for quality properties in New England, the partners set out to deliver first-class vacation experiences in the Northeast.

D ENN I S D U C H A R M E President InnSeason Resorts

rci Ventures 37


customer-focused business; it was not 30 years ago, when developers drove the business,” Curran says. That shift has allowed the partners to succeed by cultivating a service culture at InnSeason Resorts. This includes offering products that deliver what today’s owners want: flexibility, shorter stays and variety. Many of today’s owners and guests are also looking for more activities and adventure, so InnSeason Resorts offers experiences that are steeped in local culture and shaped by the unique New England landscape. “We can build the finest resort, but if there is nothing to do, they won’t come,” Ducharme says. “Thirty years ago people drove up, went to their rooms and stayed, but today they throw their bags in the room and 10 minutes later are looking for things to do.” Inn­ Season Resorts has built its reputation for catering to experience seekers by relying on local experts—its employees. “Our employees live down the street,” Ducharme says. “They know the area, the trail to the hidden waterfall, the spots where the moose hide.”

38 q4 2013

Resilience When the economic crisis hit in 2008, Ducharme was converting the site of an old paper and logging mill in Lincoln, New Hampshire, into InnSeason’s RiverWalk Resort. “RiverWalk is a diamond in the rough,” Ducharme says. “It is a unique project, a revitalization of the town.” The property includes 25 acres in the center of Lincoln, at the base of Loon Mountain and along the Pemigewasset River. “The resort’s location is a magical combination of Main Street, U.S.A., located at the base of a ski mountain along a river,” he says. The economic slowdown “was

a gift to RiverWalk,” according to Ducharme, because it allowed InnSeason Resorts more time to plan properly and integrate all the features that will make RiverWalk a worldclass resort. Half the ownership units at RiverWalk are expected to be sold even before ground is broken in spring 2014. Ducharme attributes this to the amenities RiverWalk will feature, including a theater, a convention center, a spa and a ski lift from Loon Mountain directly to the resort. This luxury experience is a drive of only two and a half hours from Boston, and such accessibility enables a robust market for owners and guests.

EXPERIENCES FOR EVERY SEASON (this page, top and at left) InnSeason Resorts Pollard Brook is New Hampshire’s only five-star condominum resort, located near Loon Mountain in Lincoln. Opposite (from top): Overlooking Falmouth Harbor at HarborWalk in Falmouth, Massachusetts; a rendering of RiverWalk Resort, scheduled to open in fall 2015 in Lincoln; one of five spacious log cabins at Mountainview Resort in Jackman, Maine.




Innseason Resorts: 1 . M o u n ta i n V i e w 2 . P oll a r d B r oo k a n d R i v e r Wa l k 3 . Th e Fa ll s at O g u n q u i t 4 . H a r bo r Wa l k , C a p ta i n ’ s Q ua r t e r s and Surfside


Stability The strategy for InnSeason Resorts is simple: Focus on what—and who— you know. “You won’t find hotel brand resorts on New England beaches or mountains, and that’s where New Englanders like to vacation,” Curran says. “We can focus on marketing to New Englanders, giving them what they want and where they want it.” Another benefit of InnSeason Resorts’

New England focus is convenient accessibility. “Owners and guests don’t have to get on planes; 90 percent of them can drive to our resorts,” he says. InnSeason Resorts is also focused on enhancing service for owners and guests. To that end Curran sees RCI as a valuable ally. “RCI has helped me reduce costs while improving the service we can provide,” he says. “Our owners and resort managers consider that a definite plus.” What does the future for InnSeason Resorts look like? “We will not slow down,” Curran says. “We will grow our club and enhance our brand through partnerships and affiliations with resorts in other parts of the country.” But the Northeast experience will still be the core mission of InnSeason Resorts—the differentiator that makes the InnSeason Resorts vacation experience unique. “Ninety percent of our focus will continue to be in the Northeast,” Curran says. “Our development will be right where we live— where we know what works.”

InnSeason RiverWalk Resort’s location is a magical combination of Main Street, U.S.A., located at the base of a ski mountain along a river. —DENNIS DUCHARME, president of InnSeason Resorts



RiverWalk, which is scheduled to open in fall 2015, is just one of three projects in development. InnSeason is working with BlueGreen Realty to build 62 units at South Mountain Resort in Lincoln and is adding 30 units at HarborWalk in Falmouth, Massachusetts. “The financial crunch made us take a hard look at business plans, and the result is stronger strategy, as we have begun to work together, relying more on industry leaders, such as ARDA, and partners, like BlueGreen Realty,” Curran says. “We have all regrouped and are focused on the customers, providing the products and services they want now.”


G r a n d pac i f i c r e s o r t M a n ag e m e n t

Increasing ROI Through WOM When owners and guests talk about Grand Pacific Resorts, other resorts and HOAs listen by Da n i e l Tr i m a r c h i

40 q4 2013

N i g e l lo b o Chief operating officer Grand Pacific Resort Management

Resort Management brings two decades of experience in best practices and operational excellence to company-developed as well as independent resorts. Currently serving more than 60,000 owner families at 19 resorts in the United States and Canada, Grand Pacific Resort Management has developed a signature owner-engagement strategy that has proved to help resorts reduce delinquencies, deliver excellent rental results and generate successful resale solutions. RCI Ventures ® magazine recently spoke with Nigel Lobo, chief operating officer, about these engagement strategies, about

striving to be an industry leader and about the company’s teams of highly motivated associates who provide memorable vacations by surpassing owners’ expectations. V: What is the advantage of a resort’s using Grand Pacific Resort Management? NL: The most compelling reason is our service culture. All resorts we serve foster an attitude geared to creating memorable vacation experiences for owners and guests. We focus on “capturing the hearts” of our owners, which turns them into loyal, raving fans, which leads to lower

rci Ventu res 41



formed in 1993, Grand Pacific

We focus on ‘capturing the hearts’ of our owners, which turns them into loyal, raving fans, which leads to lower delinquencies and a healthy HOA. —nigel lobo, chief operating officer of Grand Pacific Resort Management

delinquencies and a healthy HOA. Initially, we managed only the resorts we developed and built. But our owners would visit other resorts and brag about their home resort management company. We now manage a number of resorts that were not part of our initial core. V: What’s the secret of the success of your service culture? NL: If we told, it wouldn’t be secret anymore! Suffice it to say, a key ingredient is our associates and how we develop and treat them. Our associate retention rate is more than 90 percent, and several of our associates have been part of our team for almost two decades.


V: How does the focus on a service culture influence your corporate mission? NL: Actually, it’s the other way around. The Grand Pacific core mission is “Enriching lives through extraordinary experiences.” This drives our service culture. Every associate is encouraged and empowered to engage with guests, to get to know them, to walk a mile in their shoes and to see the world, and the vacations we offer, from our customers’ point of view. V: How does this affect the bottom line? NL: Our focus is, and always will be, on the bottom line of the HOAs we manage. We are extremely cautious about keeping costs down, and we pride ourselves on delivering exceptional service and consistently

enhancing the vacation experience. Owners and guests will never feel that we are cutting corners or pinching pennies. V: What are some of your strategies for maximizing use and occupancy? NL: We are focused on getting our owners on vacation, and we do that by meaningfully engaging with them and communicating with them about their vacation plans. This allows us the opportunity to capture their usage intent as well as maximize the resort occupancy by renting out the units that are projected to be available. We have an exceptional inventory management team that focuses our analytics and implements appropriate strategies. In addition, the ability of owners to add a Bonus Time night or book a special getaway weekend has great appeal for them and also helps keep the HOAs we manage healthy. V: Are there unifying elements in the experience among all the resorts you manage? NL: Each resort we manage has its own identity, and we bring out the uniqueness of each resort we manage based on its history and location, and by fulfilling the vision of the HOA and owners. The thread of commonality across all the resorts we manage is the warm and caring service culture on which we pride ourselves. There are also special touches in place across all our managed resorts. We focus on the “moments of magic” created by consistently delivering the absolute best service: We live our service culture every day in every resort.

V: Tell us about your commitment to green initiatives. NL: Going green is not just the right thing to do. In the long run it is fiscally responsible and it adds to the overall stay experience. Our terrific in-house Going Green Squad is composed of representatives from each resort. We are always looking at new and innovative products and strategies to take the resorts we manage to new levels of ecoresponsibility. We have innovation labs at a few of our resorts where we test out new products, solicit feedback and implement usage as appropriate. These efforts result in cost savings that improve the bottom line, reduce environmental impact and satisfy owners’ and guests’ expect­ations for environmentally conscious hospitality practices. V: You also invest in education programs for owners. NL: Our Owner Services Team is a group of individuals dedicated to helping our owners understand

and maximize the usage of their vacation ownership. Serving more than 60,000 owner families at our resorts, they provide new-owner education and reservation assistance, answer sales-related questions, handle HOA collections and provide HOA support and assistance. Some of the other value-added services are on-site Vacation Ownership 101 classes, webinars, new-owner packages, new-owner calls and educational e-blasts.

V: What does your affiliation with RCI mean for your business objectives?

V: You attribute most of your new management contracts to referrals?

V: What’s next for GPRM?

NL: Our reputation is going viral primarily because it is organic. Our owners appreciate our efforts, and they then tell others about their satisfaction. We also have exchange guests who experience our resorts and wish their home resorts were managed as well as ours. They carry the message back to their HOAs. We are proud that we are doing the right thing and it is paying off.

NL: RCI is about the best partner we could ask for, and our affiliation with them is for the long term. In fact, the Carlsbad Inn was once honored as the 1,000th resort to affiliate with RCI, many years ago. Our long history ensures that RCI knows what we need and supports our marketing, customer service and new-business development every step of the way.

NL: We are excited to share our expertise with resorts in need of assistance. Most companies discuss growth plans tied to revenue and net operating income projections. At Grand Pacific we focus on growth brought about by our very own owner referrals. A Grand Pacific owner passionately referring us to assist a resort in need of professional management services is the greatest kudos we can ever receive.

rci Ventures 43


Photos: Justin Bartels(4); Darrin Edwards

GRAND LANDS Hanalei Bay Resort in Princeville, Hawaii. Opposite (from top): Hilton Grand Vacations Club at MarBrisa in Carlsbad, California; Carlsbad Inn Beach Resort; an interior and the outdoor pool at Grand Pacific Palisades Resort, also in Carlsbad.

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RCI Ventures North America and Canada Q4 2013  
RCI Ventures North America and Canada Q4 2013