RCI Ventures North America and Canada 2019 Outlook

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T H E B U S I N E S S O F VAC AT I O N O U T LO O K F O R 2 0 1 9

HITTING A HIGH NOTE Jon Fredricks, president and CEO of Welk Resort Group, on conducting a successful career

THE FIFTH ELEMENT Preparing for 5G and a quantum leap in connectivity

PICTURE PERFECT The Pacific Northwest is on the rise

ALL CHANGE Innovation is the name of the game for these timeshare brands


FULL CIRCLE SUPPORT We share in each other’s growth on this path together. That’s why we surround you with support step-by-step along the journey to success.

Because you’re more than partners to us...

you’re family.

RCI does not make any representations regarding the availability of or endorse any of the products or services provided by third parties. RCI and related marks are registered trademarks and/or service marks in the United States and internationally. All rights reserved. © 2018 RCI, LLC. All rights reserved. Printed in the U.S.A. 9998 North Michigan Road, Carmel, IN 46032



Excelling in the luxury vacation exchange segment requires dedication and focus on the unique needs of its audience. The Registry Collection® program was founded with the promise of providing that experience to your owners over and over again. With more than 15 years of experience, The Registry Collection® program continues as the leader in luxury vacation exchange. The Registry Collection® program features approximately 240 properties either accessible for exchange or under development in 40 countries on six continents.* With more globally sourced exchange inventory, an enhanced VIP travel concierge service and expanded luxury cruise program, we are more committed than ever to assist you and your sales team by providing these exciting benefits for your buyers. And no one is more committed to dedicating resources specifically to that space, with the aim of fulfilling and surpassing that promise for you and your owners.

Learn more about The Registry Collection exchange and support services at TRCAffiliates.com/AboutTRC or call 866.937.5979 .

*These vacations are limited. Destinations and travel times are subject to availability and confirmed on a first come, first served basis. The Registry Collection and related marks are registered trademarks and/or service marks in the United States and internationally. All rights reserved. © 2019 RCI, LLC. All rights reserved.


Mount Rainier seen from the Puget Sound shoreline.


05 On the Web More from RCIVentures.com

06 By the Numbers A checkup on the current health of the timeshare industry

08 Industry News Briefs Reports from the field

10 Travel Trends Traveling with our four-legged friends; the global problem of overtourism



12 The Case for Innovation How three resort brands are setting the pace for vacation ownership

18 Great Performances Jon Fredricks, president and CEO of Welk Resort Group


22 Cascadia, in Three Acts

The Pacific Northwest is attracting more visitors than ever to its modern cities and beautiful countryside and coastline

ON THE COVER Jon Fredricks photographed in his Welk Resorts office. Photo: Patrick Strattner.




30 Technology & Marketing The great leap forward that 5G promises for broadband connectivity

36 Industry Solutions RCI LiveStream®

Enjoy RCI Ventures® magazine on your iPad®*


38 The Gulf Coast Getaway

when you download the RCI Ventures® magazine app for iPad® free at the iTunes® App Store.

Prestige Collection Harbourside at Marker 33

42 Turning to Texas Hill Country

* RCI Ventures magazine is an independent publication and has not been authorized, sponsored, or otherwise approved by Apple Inc. iPad and iTunes are registered trademarks of Apple Inc.

Éilan Hotel & Spa

50 Recent RCI® Affiliated Resorts 51 Events Calendar 52 A Final Thought Off-duty with RCI’s Robin Mills

Connect with RCI Ventures® magazine on social! Twitter: @RCIVentures LinkedIn: linkedin.com/company/rci-affiliates

Senior Vice President: Richard Ruff. Publisher: Brian Bruno. Content Director: Giorgio Bentrovato. Associate Publisher: Emily Neiman. Associate Manager, Online Services: Jennifer Reinhardt. Advisory Board Chair: Fiona Downing. Advisory Board: Kelly Deardorff, Amy Lipka, Eugenio Macouzet, Bob McGrath, Todd Menendez, Robert Stolt, Debbie Wunder. VP Associate Publisher, Multimedia: Joseph Messer, joem@mbooth.com, 310-613-6899 Editor in Chief: Sunshine Flint. Creative Director: Derek Eng. Creative Operations Manager: Patrick Sheehan. Copy Chief: Casey Edwards. Associate Editor: Jessen O’Brien. Assistant Editor: Hannah Doyle. Senior Photo Editor: Pamela Pasco. Designer: Katie Belloff. Chief Executive Officer: Dale Bornstein. Managing Director: Jon Paul Buchmeyer. Group Account Director: Emily Yarbrough. Account Supervisor: Peter Macari. No part of this magazine may be reproduced without written permission from RCI. RCI Ventures® magazine 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® magazine 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. For all subscription queries, please contact rciventuresna@rci.com. 9998 North Michigan Road, Carmel, IN 46032 © 2019 RCI, LLC. All Rights Reserved. Printed in U.S.A.

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Hyperpersonalization Dos and Don’ts In customer marketing, use detailed consumer data to draw in travelers while maintaining their privacy.

Ecotourism Abounds in South Africa The new World Heritage designation puts a spotlight on the Barberton Makhonjwa Mountains region.

Choose Guided Vacation Tours How partnering with tour operators can add value to your resort.

Destination to Watch: Rwanda The East African nation is experiencing a surge of development in the luxury and ecotourism sectors.

The Benefits of Local SEO Optimizing your website for your resort’s location gives locals an easy way to find your property.

Great Barrier Reef Health Update Two years since inception, how the Australian government’s efforts are mitigating coral bleaching.

Smartwatches Impact Operations Technology that improves resort efficiency and communication and eases management.

Vietnam’s Visitor Boom Why tourism to the Land of the Blue Dragon has increased by 110 percent over the past five years.

How to Reach Teen Vacation Planners What to know about the under-20 set that uses social media to help plan their next family trip.



Trends, tips, and insight into the timeshare industry—online, anytime.



The Timeshare Checkup ARDA took the pulse of vacation ownership—here’s how the industry is performing and how it will grow in 2019. The American Resort Development Association (ARDA) International Foundation’s report State of the Vacation Timeshare Industry 2018 finds that the industry is generally in good health. Timeshare got a boost last year from rental revenues, which rose to $2.3 billion. “Rental programs are growing,” says Howard Nusbaum, president and CEO of ARDA. “The sharing economy has allowed resorts to recycle more inventory through rentals.” Timeshare occupancy continued to surpass that of hotels, and construction of new units is projected to double in 2019. Nusbaum’s diagnosis? “The healthiest days of timeshare are ahead of us.” —HANNAH DOYLE

2016 vs 2017

4% 20%










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Forty-one percent of timeshare sales were to new owners. All reportedly used in-person sales vehicles, such as tours, and nearly all also used telemarketing. Here’s how the sales were made: IN-PERSON








Resorts sold 431,120 intervals in 2017, at an average price of $22,180/interval, yielding total sales of













2017 $9.6




















2,622 units planned


1,287 units planned

765 units built


Timeshare vs Hotels AVERAGE OCCUPANCY

Construction Outlook 1,398 units built




HOTELS: 65.9%








Dramatic Surge in Chinese Millennials’ Travel Spending Chinese millennials born after 1990 spent


Maui led the Hawaiian islands in timeshare occupancy.

Hawaii Timeshare Occupancy Rate Tops That of Hotels While the Kilauea volcano eruptions on the Big Island affected some tourism sectors there (and added 700 acres to the coastline), timeshare occupancy rates were 11 percent higher than hotel occupancy rates across Hawaii from April to June 2018, according to the Hawaii Tourism Authority. More than 220,000 visitors stayed at a timeshare resort for all or part of their trip, and time-

TripAdvisor Launches Social-Focused Look and Feel

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share occupancy was 91.5 percent, up from 89.9 percent the previous quarter. Of Hawaii’s five island counties, Maui County led the state with the highest timeshare occupancy rate (94 percent), followed by Oahu at 92.6 percent and Kauai at 91.5 percent. (Hotel occupancy rates for Maui and Kauai were just above 77 percent, while Oahu had the highest rate at 84.5 percent.)

Owners staying in their own units accounted for more than half of the total occupancy, while the remainder was owners staying in a unit through timeshare exchange, rentals, or marketing use. Timeshare was also tops when it came to length of stay, with timeshare visitors averaging nearly 10 days, a day longer than the average-length stay of all visitors to Hawaii.

Late last year, TripAdvisor underwent a redesign that emulates Facebook and Twitter with a “travel feed” in which users share photos, videos, and articles as well as follow friends, brands, and influencers. TripAdvisor employs social assistive tools to help users plan and book with relevant information from other users or brands. For example, if a user searches for what to do in Seattle, they might see a review of the Pink Door restaurant by a friend they follow, or a clip of TV host Samantha Brown touring Pike Place Market. Users can save posts to create custom itineraries.

more on travel from May 2017 to May 2018 than they did in the previous year, according to Expedia Group’s Hotels. com Chinese International Travel Monitor 2018. Chinese millennials were the standout growth factor—this demographic spent


of its income on travel in a 12-month period, a larger proportion than any other age group. The report also found a promising increase in overall Chinese traveler spending, which rose by


. There’s more good news on the horizon:


of Chinese travelers intend to spend more on travel in the next 12 months.

In repositioning itself as the first travel-specific social site, TripAdvisor has leveraged its established user base and brand. Peer reviews are still the bedrock of the platform but are now complemented by content provided by brands, media, or destinations. About 400 contributors are participating, including Nashville Convention & Visitors Corp., National Geographic, the Travel Channel, and celebrity chef Giada De Laurentiis. The expansion also provides travel brands an opportunity to engage potential guests beyond reviews and become trusted experts on their destinations.

The five-star Crane Resort on Barbados’s beautiful southeast coast is a historic property, with the original building dating from 1887, and it’s now also the site of Hilton Grand Vacations’ first timeshare offering in the Caribbean. “We are thrilled that HGV’s

first timeshare offering in the Caribbean will be within the Crane Resort,” says Paul Doyle, owner and managing director of the property. “We are confident that our relationship with HGV will bring consistently high occupancy levels, assist in supporting full-time, year-round hospitality jobs at the Crane, and allow us to significantly accelerate our growth in Barbados.” Hilton Grand Vacations at the Crane will sell timeshare weeks to club members in one-, two-, and three-bedroom suites, with occupancy beginning in January 2019.


Hilton Grand Vacations at Barbados’s Crane Resort

The Crane Resort, on the southeast coast of Barbados.

The 15 Alice Lane Towers, in Johannesburg, which is becoming easier for foreign travelers to visit.


AMResorts Eliminates Plastic Straws

South Africa Loosens Visa Requirements The South African government announced late in 2018 that it would ease its visa requirements for tourists entering the country to boost tourism and investment. Part of a larger stimulus plan for the South African economy, the new measures simplify the visa process for visitors from China and India and waive visas for a number of Middle Eastern and African countries. (Visitors from a number of countries, including the United States, Canada, the U.K., and much of Europe, are already exempt from visa requirements for visits up to 90 days.) The South African Department of Home Affairs will also pilot test an e-visa program in New Zealand this April, after which the system will be rolled out to other countries, making the application process more efficient.

In August 2018, AMResorts announced that it will no longer use plastic straws at any of its 55 properties throughout Mexico, Jamaica, and the Dominican Republic across its seven brands: Breathless, Dreams, Now, Reflect, Secrets, Sunscape, and Zoetry. Effective immediately, drinks will be straw-free, but servers will provide a biodegradable alternative to plastic on request. “AMResorts welcomes thousands of guests annually and knows the power a seemingly simple act can have on protecting the oceans and beaches our resorts call home,” said Colette Baruth, senior vice president of marketing, sales, and distribution, in a statement. A number of destinations around the world—including Miami Beach, Fort Myers Beach, and Sanibel Island, in Florida; Seattle; Malibu, California; Ecuador’s Galápagos Islands; and Scotland—have banned plastic straws and stirrers and other single-use plastics, replacing them with paper or plant-based materials such as corn or bamboo. Companies across the travel, leisure, and restaurant industries, such as Marriott Hotels and Starbucks, are also phasing out plastic straws.



Four-Legged Guests IN BR IEF

Hotels are taking advantage of America’s love for pets. Should you? Customized dog treats, pup-oriented room service, and evening socials (“yappy hours”) are some of the goodies a human’s best friend can find when traveling, and more Americans are traveling with their dogs than ever before. According to the American Pet Products Association (APPA), out of 126 million U.S. households, about 60 million have canine companions, and 40 percent of those take their pets along when traveling for two or more nights. That’s about 24 million households looking for a place to stay with a furry friend up to several times a year, which is certainly no number for resorts to sneeze—or bark—at. And more hotels are catering to dog owners who want to travel with their pets, including the Kimpton, Ritz-Carlton, and Four Seasons brands, as well as smaller hotels, whose programs include the loan of dog beds and bowls; maps and listings of local pet-friendly and pet-pampering establishments; dog-walking services; or branded toys and accessories.

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According to APPA, the highest rate of pet ownership among the generations now belongs to millennials. This coveted consumer group, born between 1980 and 1994, constitutes 35 percent of all pet owners (compared with 32 percent of baby boomers, a close second). Because they are more inclined to “humanize” their pets by pampering them, buying them gifts, and including them in daily activities, millennials are increasingly seeking out pet-friendly accommodations. And according to a 2018 Summer Travel Survey conducted by pet-service company Rover.com, 37 percent of respondents chose not to travel rather than be separated from their dogs. That means millions of American households are potentially forgoing vacation out of loyalty to their beloved animals. So a pet program could entice people to stay with a particular resort or timeshare over others. An additional benefit of a pet program is greater resort exposure through websites such as BringFido and Petswelcome that list pet-friendly accommodations, while another is the sense of community that animals can foster by sparking interactions between guests, which has the potential to drive customer loyalty and repeat business. Keep in mind that a pet program is more than just treats. Create a dog run on your property, or, if your resort is near hiking trails or a dog-friendly beach, you can leverage those and have staff convey to owners where they can go. Simply creating a place for people to walk their dogs isn’t enough if owners think of their pet as one of the family; done right, however, a pet program can be a great way to form a relationship. According to Nick Gregory, SVP, Hotel Operations, at Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants, a property should consider a pet policy “to appeal to pet-loving travelers and to foster genuine connections that will keep those guests coming back— whether or not they have their pet in tow.” — CASEY EDWARDS


Americans spent

$73 billion

on pet-related expenditures in 2018. About

$6.5 billion

of that was spent on services, such as grooming and boarding.


of dog owners take their pets with them on trips of two or more days, more than double the 19 percent it was in 2006.


of dog owners cited “finding care when away from home” a drawback of having a pet.


of dog owners reported throwing holiday or birthday parties for their pets, up from 7 percent in 2014, a more than 50 percent increase. Source: The 2017–2018 APPA National Pet Owners Survey


Overtourism and Timeshare


Timeshare may be part of the solution for destinations facing a flood of visitors. Overtourism is an accelerating problem across the globe. According to the United Nations’ World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), in 2017, international tourist arrivals grew by 7 percent to a total of 1.32 billion, the highest rate in seven years. And international trips were up 6 percent in the first half of 2018, surpassing forecasts. But these trips are not equally distributed around the world, and certain destinations are too popular for their own good. From cities such as Venice, Italy, to natural wonders such as Zion National Park, in Utah, overtourism is having a negative impact on certain destinations’ environments and cultures while increasing pollution and straining local infrastructure. In Europe, Barcelona had 2.7 million visitors in cruise passengers alone in 2017, while Venice has been seeing up to 120,000 tourists daily in 2018, more than double the size of its population of 55,000. In the U.S., Zion National Park attendance has risen 70 percent over the past decade. The park reported 4.4 million visitors in 2017, prompting calls for it to raise entrance fees and require reservations. Alaska’s Mendenhall Glacier has faced a similar tourist boom and is building new trails and dock systems

to accommodate it. “Contemporary tourism impacts the host population and its surroundings with more force and speed than before,” says Ovidio Zapico, regional director of business development for Spain and Italy at RCI Europe. The democratization of travel by the sharing economy in both lodging and transportation has made travel more accessible and affordable to more people than ever before. Michel Julian, senior program officer of the tourism market intelligence and competitiveness department at UNWTO, cites several more factors. “An increasing number of countries are improving visa facilitation, the middle class is rising in many world regions, and [there has been] rapid growth of emerging outbound markets such as China, which has been the world’s number one outbound market since 2012.” For a complex problem such as overtourism there are no simple solutions. Many destinations have taken steep measures to limit the effects of overtourism, such as Spain’s Balearic Islands, which has doubled the tourism tax in Ibiza. Barcelona has fined homesharing sites Airbnb and HomeAway for violating new tourist-accommodation laws that

require rental owners to register with the Catalan Tourism Register. Meanwhile, political parties in Amsterdam are joining together to make laws to ban short-term rentals in busy areas, divert cruise ships from docking near the city center, and limit such tourist favorites as Segways and beer bikes. In addition, the government plans to nearly double the tourist tax. Zapico says that vacation ownership can play a vital role in easing the effects of overtourism. Timeshare provides an even stream of travelers spread throughout the year, securing a steady contribution to the economy to help the destination thrive. Most of these travelers are repeat customers, who are more likely to be traveling responsibly, shopping in and visiting nontourist hot spots. “Some proposals to solve the problem of mass tourism focus on attracting a higherquality tourist,” Zapico says. “This is where timeshare can be of great importance due to the profile of the client, who is more loyal to the destination and who spends more during their stays.” —HANNAH DOYLE C H E C K OU T R C I V E N T U R E S .C O M FOR MORE ON OV E RTOU RI S M S OLU T I ONS


To help ease overtourism, travelers can be encouraged to seek out different destinations: Instead of Venice… Bruges, Belgium This canal city in northwest Belgium is known for its cobbled streets and medieval buildings. It receives nine million visitors a year, less than half of the more than 20 million who visit Venice. Instead of Joshua Tree… Saguaro National Park, Arizona Saguaro National Park averages only 960,000 annual visitors (compared with California’s Joshua Tree’s 2.9 million) and has ample hiking and biking opportunities. Instead of Paris… Quebec City, Quebec Situated along the St. Lawrence River in the Quebec province, the Frenchspeaking city, which prizes its art and history, welcomes just over four million visitors a year, less than a quarter of Paris’s 23.6 million yearly visitors.




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for Case



Three timeshare resort companies reveal how they reinvent and reimagine their guest-facing and back-office offerings to stay at the top of their game in the vacation ownership industry. BY SU NSHINE FLINT

seen a tremendous amount of change in the past decade, with rapidly evolving technology and generational shifts in prospective buyers and owners. Resorts that want to stay on top make it a priority to put energy and resources into innovation across the board, from adapting to and incorporating new technology to coming up with new and exciting experiences and dÊcor to updating and upgrading their sales centers and the training of the sales team. We invited an experienced panel of industry experts to talk about how they innovate and where, and why it has been important. Here, Ira Kristol, chief innovation officer at Welk Resort Group; Maria Ruiz-Hays, senior vice president, sales development, recruiting, and training at Wyndham Destinations; and Jorge Herrera, managing director, Unlimited Vacation Club by AMResorts, discuss the challenges and changes they have faced and what successes they’ve achieved.




Ira Kristol chief innovation officer, Welk Resort Group

Maria Ruiz-Hays senior vice president, sales development, recruiting, and training, Wyndham Destinations

V: What has your company or brand done to innovate in the vacation ownership industry over the past five years? IK : We’ve applied a focus on enhancing the on-site experience for our owners and guests. We hired a chief fun officer, who developed our awardwinning Inspired for You program, offering unique activities for all ages. From a state-of-the-art 6,000-squarefoot fitness center in San Diego with a rock-climbing wall to the infinity edge pool overlooking the Sea of Cortez in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, our resorts provide first-class signature amenities to our owners and guests. Additionally, we created Experiences by Welk, our discount- and rewardtravel website; the Experiences Collection, Welk-owned inventory added to the Welk Resorts Platinum Program; and Auditions, our shortterm-lease membership product. MR H : Wyndham Destinations and the brands that make up our company have long been at the forefront of innovation in the vacation ownership industry—from creating pointsbased ownership to our Ovation exit program, a safe and free program for qualified owners to sell or deed back their timeshare. We’ve created emotional and interactive experiences at our sales centers, and this year we updated the content with our new Wyndham Destinations branding and are using new flexible technology

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Jorge Herrera managing director, Unlimited Vacation Club by AMResorts

for the presenters so they provide a more personalized experience. Another innovation is the Personal Interval Choice Program, which provides RCI members the opportunity to enroll qualified nonWyndham timeshare weeks affiliated with RCI and make them a part of the Club Wyndham Plus program. This program helps provide RCI members with another way to experience the Club Wyndham resorts. We are also reinventing our physical and virtual spaces to deliver a customer journey that drives guest engagement. JH: AMResorts created an allinclusive loyalty-club template with

Previous spread: Welk Resort Group has introduced new experiences such as drone flight school. Below, from left: Welk Resorts’ state-of-the-art San Diego fitness center; AMResorts’ in-room tablet does everything from controlling lighting to ordering room service; Wyndham’s Austin sales center.

Unlimited Vacation Club (UVC). Where most clubs are limited to one or two resorts in the same resort destination, UVC now offers its members more than 50 resorts in 23 destinations located in six countries. Our innovation, unique in the vacation-club industry, is to offer UVC members seven distinct vacation experiences at AMResorts properties when using their membership. They can choose not just a family-friendly or adult-only vacation experience but also what type [of activities and atmosphere they’d like]. Members can choose to stay in any of seven brands: Zoëtry Wellness & Spa Resorts, Secrets Resorts & Spas, Breathless Resorts & Spas, Dreams Resorts & Spas, Now Resorts & Spas, Reflect Resorts & Spas, and Sunscape Resorts & Spas. V: What has changed the most about resort experiences, guest experiences, technology, and sales in the past 5 to 10 years? J H: In our segment, the luxury all-inclusive space, the growth in number of those seeking a true luxury

“We hired a chief fun officer, who developed our awardwinning Inspired for You program, offering unique activities for all ages.” —IRA KRISTOL, chief innovation officer, Welk Resort Group

V: How have you innovated when it comes to technology? J H: At each hotel, AMResorts offers UVC members state-of-the-art technology with its own Unlimited Connectivity app. This unique app can be downloaded to the members’ tablets, smartphones, or computers and give them Wi-Fi access throughout the hotel for the duration of their stay. In recent years, technology is increasingly focused on enhancing the guest experience. The Unlimited Connectivity app allows guests to get all the information they need for their stay, such as restaurant hours and

options, activity schedules, and even the ability to make calls via the app. At a growing number of resorts, we have in-room tablets that allow guests to get resort information, order room service, make spa appointments, and control the room temperature and lighting. Behind the scenes, AMResorts is in full swing with developing guest profiles that record guest preferences so that we can elevate their experience with personalized touches throughout their stay. MRH: In our sales centers, we’ve integrated RCI LiveStream [see page 36 for more] into our telesales team to make that connection more dynamic, which helps people connect online in a way we haven’t done before. Today we have technology on the iPads in the hands of our sales associates that allows them to share 360-degree views of the different resorts while they’re meeting with customers. Prospective owners can really get a virtual view of the resorts while they’re sitting with us. V: How have you innovated the resort experience? IK: The Inspired for You program



experience has been the biggest change. When AMResorts started, the all-inclusive model was a lowerquality experience, and AMResorts raised the bar on the level of service and product that could be delivered to guests. Over the past several years, the demand from guests looking at all-inclusive resorts for gourmet food, cutting-edge entertainment, premium cocktails, and elevated service levels has been increasing. MRH : The world of vacation ownership has shifted. [As we increasingly] balance an aging, traditional owner base with an emerging digital-savvy consumer, we [can see] our business has crossed an inflection point. We’re continuing to evolve how we approach sales. This type of owner presentation has evolved to become

more engaging and more inclusive. The owners really appreciate the opportunity to talk about their ownership and share their experiences with one another. We try to make it fun and informative so that they feel like their time is well spent and they’ve learned something. Over time, we’re going to create customerexperience centers that will help keep people in their vacation mindset while they’re visiting with us. We want to make the sales experience an extension of people’s vacations.

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“We developed the ‘CoolPool’ contest in which guests can win a stay for posting their picture from that location and tagging us on social media channels.” —JORGE HERRERA, managing director, Unlimited Vacation Club by AMResorts

it also provides a lively atmosphere for those looking for a higher level of energy on their vacation. This type of entertainment is also important for the Breathless guests, as we see that they seek vacations where they can share “bragworthy” experiences on social media. Creating spots around the property that are a natural draw for Instagram photos is something that we definitely have a focus on and that we have been successful at. And it is more than just creating a spot on-property; it also is creating a fullon social campaign through which guests can win stays. For instance, at Breathless Riviera Cancún, we have the xCelerate pool with a clear edge facing the ocean. With the resort logo on the glass, we have seen tremendous social sharing at this area, and so we developed the “CoolPool” social contest in which guests can win a stay for posting their picture from that location and tagging us on social media channels.

Above, from left: The xCelerate pool at AMResorts’ Breathless Riviera Cancún is a popular social—and social media—spot; Welk Resorts’ VR room at its San Diego property; AMResorts has mastered creating Instagrammable spots throughout its properties.

V: What has been a successful physical change? J H: The in-room tablets have been a big success. Guests have really responded to the ability to order room service and see resort activities using that tech. Another change that our Breathless resorts implemented was with fun lighting options where guests can light up their room in a variety of different colors to set the mood. Another well-received physical change is our Secrets Box. It started with our Secrets brand—though it’s not exclusive to that brand anymore—and allows for guests to get room service in privacy. The box allows room service to deliver food into a box that guests can access privately at any time. Thus, no need to worry about disturbing the guest’s evening or for them to worry about what they are wearing. For our family brands, we are looking at the composition of our guests and offering more connecting rooms that can be booked in advance. MRH: We innovated a grouppresentation environment in the sales center. The vast majority of our touring guests go through a sales presentation where they participate in a sales program in a larger group setting, and we’ve found that provides a better guest experience. Both owners and nonowners alike enjoy the grouppresentation environment, which



introduced four pillars of experiences. Inspired Studios takes guests deep into emerging technology with dedicated virtual reality rooms, iMovie®* production, spy camp, and drone flight schools. Inspired Adventures takes guests off-property for experiences such as glassblowing or kayaking. Cupcake Wars gets the whole family involved, and Craft Culture invites guests to craft-beer tastings, cultural dinner shows, and home-brewing and cooking classes. We’re passionate about delivering the most fun and unique vacation experiences in the business. Whether it’s flying drones, sleuthing through an escape room, or blowing glass on a south-of-the-border city tour, we’ve created a countless number of seasonally changing events. J H : Staying ahead of guest trends is something AMResorts was founded on and places an emphasis on today, and guests are interested in unique experiences. Across all of our properties, we innovate with our entertainment and daily activities to provide more-engaging interactive experiences to meet this expectation. At Breathless Resorts & Spas, we introduced experiences like mixology, DJ lessons, day clubs, and fashion shows. While Breathless provides the ability to have a relaxing vacation for anyone who wants that experience,

We have formed a new division within the Welk organizational structure named Strategic Solutions. This division has many responsibilities, but at its core it is responsible for new-product development and strategic initiative planning and deployment. The team focuses on customer and owner experience at each potential touch point and interaction. J H: Social sharing is a big focus of the company’s marketing and operations partnership. We ask our operations team to “think like marketers” so that every guest becomes a brand ambassador. Every company uses influencers, as do we, but what if every guest shared something? This has the potential to be way more powerful. As a result, we encourage resorts, especially at Breathless, to think about their traditional tasks in a new way. How can we develop stunning cocktails that are so visually appealing that people share them on Instagram? What service elements can be done with flair so that guests share the video on Facebook? Lastly, we continue to test technology apps and on-property signage that encourages sharing of moments of the guest stay. Internationally, Unlimited Vacation Club’s top executives attend and participate in the primary seminars, conventions, and conferences in the ever-evolving vacation-club and hospitality industry so that we are current in the available technology, legal issues, and social media issues that affect our industry. On a corporate level, UVC has developed the U Academy for all employees, not only for training but also to create open forums for discussion of new ideas. Moreover, at each of the 35 sales centers, weekly meetings are held to foster new ideas from within. Some of the best ideas that have lent to the growth of UVC have come from the frontline members of operations, sales, and marketing. IK:


V: What has been a successful strategic change? IK : One strategic change that Welk has implemented successfully is our outdoor VIP check-in for our tiered owners at our San Diego resort. This reduces the overall traffic in the lobbies while providing the extra benefit of expedited check-in for our valuable owners. Additionally, Experiences by Welk adds more value to the Welk Resorts Platinum Program offerings. Welk owners are provided a full travel platform that offers exclusive discounted rates on hotels, car rentals, and activities. It incorporates a reward component in which the owners earn Welk Reward Credits (WRC) for every purchase and transaction

“The owner-update presentations allow owners to share their experiences, to learn from one another, and to grow in their community of owners.” —MARIA RUIZ-HAYS, SVP, sales development, recruiting, and training, Wyndham Destinations

they make on the site, and they can apply the WRC to future transactions on the site, including payments for association dues. MRH: We’ve evolved sales presentations to respond to the needs of our owners. The owner-update presentations allow owners to share their experiences with one another, to learn from one another, and to grow in their community of owners. The technology allows the presenters to evolve the presentation easily by club, by location, or by region so that owners continue to learn something valuable every time they visit, regardless of which resort they visit. V: What do you do to spark innovation and foster ideas from sales or other teams? MRH: We invest significantly in training. We have 50 trainers in the field working across the business to ensure consistency in programs and practices. All of our sales associates go through two weeks of dedicated training before they ever get in front of a customer, and then there’s an additional 90 days of onboarding with dedicated trainers to help ensure our teams are set up from the beginning to deliver a great customer experience. We’re exploring virtual reality and augmented reality to assess how we can use the technology to be impactful to the sales process.



makes it more fun and interactive. It allows guests to interact with one another and with the presenter in a more casual environment. That’s been a key ingredient to our sales success and to the satisfaction of our guests.


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Jon Fredricks, president and CEO of Welk Resort Group, muses on carrying on his grandfather’s legacy, affiliating with RCI, and delivering the best hospitality experience to his guests and owners.


AS THE GRANDSON OF LAWRENCE WELK, the renowned bandleader and entertainer, Jon Fredricks has a small place in television history, in which he, along with the other Welk grandchildren, appeared on The Lawrence Welk Show Christmas specials alongside his famous grandfather. But outside of the spotlight, he had another kind of California childhood, one during which he spent happy hours at his grandfather’s small hotel and golf course in a rural corner of San Diego County fishing for bluegills in the lake during the day and catching frogs and toads at night. That small resort and those idyllic family vacations left an impression on Fredricks, and after early stints as a paramedic and then a commercial real estate lender, he came back to the family company to open Welk Resorts’ first property in Branson, Missouri, where he was the general manager. Fredricks says his grandfather’s upbringing on a family farm in North Dakota shaped the values that are now part of the current organization. “[We have a] commitment to honesty, integrity, caring, and sacrifice and a belief in knowing the needs of our customers by being close to them and delivering real value as a result,” Fredricks says. In 1999, Fredricks became president of Welk Resort Group (WRG) and then CEO in 2014. Over that time, the company grew from the Branson resort and two timeshare resorts in San Diego and Palms Springs with 500 employees to six Welk Resorts, 16 Experiences Collection resorts, and 1,800 employees. With the expansion, Fredricks’s role changed from basic resort management to leadership of a multisite points-based timeshare club with development occurring at three or four resorts at once, as well as responsibilities for sales and marketing, resort operations, and support-division changes. “We have grown considerably in capabilities, team depth, destination markets, innovation in activities and amenities, culture, and learning and development to



This page and opening spread: Jon Fredricks, president and CEO of Welk Resort Group.

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“I am proud of the culture we have developed at Welk Resorts, the innovation in our company, and the wonderful memories we give our owners and guests.” This type of thinking appeals to Fredricks, who touts his award-winning idea of creating a chief fun officer and the Inspired for You programs, such as drone-flying school, craft-beer tasting, and Cupcake Wars. “The chief fun officer role was created to make Welk the leader in guest experiences,” Fredricks says. “We wanted to stand out in the activities space and create unique vacation experiences guests can’t find elsewhere.” WRG also introduced an employee stock-ownership plan that controls 12 percent of the company, making all eligible team members owners of the company. “It encourages employees to focus on their individual contributions to the company’s performance, since they share in the appreciation in value of the company,” Fredricks says. “Guests benefit because our team can draw a line from their actions delivering first-class experiences and service to profitability and growth.” Fredricks credits his uncle Larry Welk, who is still chairman of the board, with showing him how to view the company through the people on the team, who are delivering real value to guests and owners. But the best advice, he says, came from his father, Bob Fredricks, who taught him

to live a life consistent with his values. “When faced with situations in which we have a chance to authenticate our values but it has impact or opportunity cost, I have tried to choose our values as a company and as people,” he says. This philosophy carries over into his inclusive management style, and he works to align his teams around common missions, values, and strategic outcomes and goals. “I believe that the CEO holds the values-and-culture flag, and it’s my job to make sure that Welk has a clearly defined culture that appreciates our teams and their individual contributions while living our values and continuing to grow as leaders,” Fredricks says. This philosophy will help drive the group’s five-year plan, which includes increasing its owner base and nontraditional timeshare revenue. Fredricks has seen the industry evolve, and he is positioning Welk Resorts to capture new interest and to appeal to a new class of owners and guests. “We see a desire for flexibility in length of stay and time of week to travel, and shorter stays rather than a full week,” he says. “Focusing on rich and innovative owner experiences at the resort and the destination, as well as launching short-term products, all overcome barriers to sale.” The most successful resorts will continually reinvest in their product and keep up with trends, amenities, and services, he says. “There is a focus on supporting companies that share your personal values, and so you see an importance placed on sustainable environmental and lifestyle practices.” Meeting guests’ desires and exceeding expectations is the hallmark of a successful resort brand and the major challenge as well. “We have been fortunate to have strong funding, frequent renovations, and a high, consistent level of quality across all of our resorts,” he says. Fredricks understands the power of a great guest experience from the inside out, whether it’s at his resorts or farther afield. “The most fun I have is on family vacations with my [four] kids, wakeboarding in Lake Tahoe or just spending time together in Cabo San Lucas,” he says. Fredricks gets his heart rate up doing CrossFit-style training or playing soccer, tennis, and pickleball. He also loves to travel and loves to spend quality time with his children and extended family, and he makes it a rule to attend a religious service most weekends. “My kids, my extended family, and my faith center me and show me what’s important in life,” he says. “I am proud of the culture we have developed at Welk Resorts, the innovation in our company, and the wonderful memories we give our owners and guests.”

welkresorts.com RCI VENTURES 21


enable and create smart growth,” Fredricks says. In the past five years, he has overseen new development and acquisitions, introduced new programs and technologies, launched a data warehousing and business analytics department to provide better and more-customized management reporting, improved operating efficiency, and reduced the cost of the company’s debt. WRG now has 55,000 owners, 70 percent of whom are from California, and the rest are from the Midwest and West. The company is expanding again with a new all-season resort in Breckenridge, Colorado, that will open in late 2019, and in the next five years, Fredricks expects to develop 164 units on 21 acres on Poipu Beach, on Kauai, Hawaii. WRG also partnered with RCI to give its owners more benefits and flexibility. “We affiliated with RCI because of the strength of their exchange platform, willingness to find customer-oriented solutions, and confirm-first approach with our owners,” Fredricks says. “They are skilled at thinking outside of the box.”


Cascadia, in Three Acts VISITORS to the Pacific Northwest—which

ranges from the Canadian border south to northern California, and from the Pacific to east of the Cascade Mountains—come for the region’s triumvirate of amazing locales: a lush coastline, the varied interior of mountains and valleys, and modern metropolises. From the San Juan Islands, in Washington, to Sun Valley, Idaho, to the Oregon Trail, this beautiful part of the country is at22 2019 8 O U TLO O K

tracting more people than ever before, and the numbers of travelers are rising every year. In 2017, Oregon had 86 million visitors, a 3.9 percent increase from 2015, and of those, nearly 30 million were overnight visitors (overnight visitors have increased 2.2 percent every year since 2010). In 2018, the average monthly number of visitors to Oregon was just over two million, up 2.3 percent from 2017. Idaho received 34 million visitors in 2017,

The cities, coast, and countryside of the Pacific Northwest are seeing a surge in visitors and tourism investment, making the region a true year-round destination. BY SU NSHINE FLINT


Diablo Lake seen from the Cascade Loop, in Washington.

an increase of 3.8 percent from 2015, while Washington’s most recent data from 2015 showed it had nearly 40 million overnight stays that year. Across all three states, new hotel and resort development, new museums, culinary trails, airport expansions, and increased airlift are luring more vacationers to the area and enticing them to stay for longer periods of time. Vacation ownership is long-standing in the

region, which, while it doesn’t have the numbers of Florida, California, or Hawaii, stands out as a strong regional player. Currently, there are 76 RCI-affiliated resorts in these three states: 31 in Washington, 30 in Oregon, and 15 in Idaho. The majority of the owners at these resorts are from these same states, followed by owners from California, Arizona, and Canada, and most of the timeshares are legacy-deeded ownership. RCI VENTURES 23


Oregon Roughly the size of the United Kingdom, Oregon covers 98 thousand square miles of some of the most geologically diverse land in the United States, with high desert, volcanoes, evergreen rain forests, mountain ranges, and sea stacks along the Pacific Coast. The state has seen eight consecutive years of growth in the tourism sector, which contributes $11.8 billion to its economy. The highest number of domestic visitors come from Idaho, Washington, and Northern California, while internationally, the largest number hail from Canada, Japan, China, the U.K., and Germany. Portland International Airport has been voted best domestic airport by Travel + Leisure readers five years in a row, and passengers are up 4.8 percent from 2016 to 2017, with 19 million traveling through. New flights have been added from Iceland, London, and Frankfurt, and the airport’s PDXNext plan will enlarge the domestic terminal and add a new transportation center and on-site rental-car building. But the largest jump in air arrivals has been not to Portland but to Bend, in the middle of the state near the Deschutes National Forest and Mount Bachelor. In fact, the greatest growth in demand for lodging from 2017 to 2018 has been in central Oregon (3.8 percent) and the Willamette Valley (3.0 percent), the wine region west of the Cascades. The valley is developing grapes to rival those of Northern California and produces excellent New World pinot, as well as such warm-weather varieties as tempranillo and viognier. Beer lovers are covered too, with 275 breweries in 80 towns and cities across Oregon. Statewide, lodging demand and revenue have grown year on year, with demand up 2.4 percent and revenue up 5.1 percent in 2018. Stays are getting longer; the highest average is now between three and four nights, versus between two and three. The coast is consistently a part of this growth: Between 2000 and 2015, yearly local lodging tax grew 50 percent, and spending increased to $1.8 billion. By far the largest number of Oregon timeshare owners reside there, with more than 2,200 owners living in-state. “The majority of our owners are from Oregon,” says Mike Lewis, resort manager at Schooner Landing, which is an easy walk from the town of Newport’s beach, the Oregon Coast Aquarium, and the Bayfront Marina. Many owners along the coast own at more than one resort. “They resort hop down the coast and spend a night or two here and at other resorts,” Lewis says. Schooner Landing accepts partial exchanges, ideal for those doing the coast route. Because local buyers make up so much of the market, resorts seek out owners in smaller markets. “We work with the local chamber to bring in tourists to rent the extra inventory and hopefully become potential buyers,” Lewis says. “We also advertise in a local coastal magazine.” 24 201 9 O U TLO O K

Fishing pier on Yaquina Bay, Newport, Oregon.




Seattle’s Space Needle and Mount Rainier, Washington.

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Washington State is home to some of the world’s largest and most successful companies, such as Amazon, Microsoft, and Starbucks. It has also seen a consistent rise in tourism, especially to Seattle and the coast. In fact, tourism is the fourth-largest industry in the state, providing more than 177,000 jobs, and visitor spending across Washington was $20.7 billion in 2015, a 5.4 percent increase from 2014, and travel-generated tax revenue was $1.8 billion. For the past eight years, Seattle has seen a rise in visitors, and in 2017, it received 40 million, up 2.6 percent from 2016. Sea-Tac International Airport had 46.9 million passengers in 2017, an increase of 2.6 percent from 2016, and received new airlift from London, Cologne, Paris, and Mexico City. Meanwhile, the Spokane International Airport has experienced faster growth than projected and will begin a $130 million expansion project this year. Internationally, Canada and the U.K. are the state’s biggest markets, and Washington is putting tourism dollars into attracting Australians and Germans. Beyond Seattle, Olympia National Park, the San Juan Islands, and Mount Rainier are some of Washington’s most popular spots, but the Columbia Valley wine country, which covers 11 million acres, including the Walla Walla Valley, is attracting foodies and wine lovers, and road-trippers are drawn to the hidden beaches along the northwest coast. The state’s many Native American cultures are celebrated from the Kitsap Peninsula to the town of Toppenish, with museums, heritage sites, and totems. While vacation-home spending, which includes short-term rentals, with hotel and motel spending, was up 3.5 percent in 2017, many of the timeshare properties in Washington are sold-out legacy resorts, such as the Windjammer resort in Ocean Shores. The vast majority of RCI’s subscribing members in the state come from Washington itself (2,452). “We are hoping to get into the rental of weeks to help owners and guests have additional choices,” says Charlie Donahoe, resort manager at Windjammer.


This landlocked state may not have a coastline, but it does contain vast tracts of pristine wilderness, such as the 2.3 million acres of the River of No Return Wilderness Area, which is the largest contiguous area of protected land in the country. Idaho is also home to the western edge of Yellowstone National Park and resort areas such as Sun Valley. The top three domestic sources for out-ofstate visitors are from Washington, Utah, and California, and recently launched direct flights to Boise from Dallas and Houston mean a new market in Texas and Phoenix is emerging. Internationally, the U.K. and Germany provide the most visitors, followed by the Benelux nations. Many of the state’s travelers flock to summer activities such as hiking and kayaking and winter fun from skiing to

snowshoeing, but Boise’s culinary and craft-brewing scene is on the rise, and the Boise State Museum reopened last October after a major expansion and renovation. Between 2015 and 2017, the state saw a 3.8 percent increase in visitors to just over 34 million, 13.7 million of which were overnight stays that generated $1.9 billion. Revenue from lodging made up the largest percentage of that at $704 million. The past two years have seen an increase in hotel development in Boise and Ketchum as well as renovations in Sun Valley, and the average length of stay in Idaho is currently 3.3 nights. Nearly a third of all overnight trips were by Idahoans traveling within their state, and of the more than 3,200 RCI subscribing members who reside in Idaho, 630 own timeshares in their own state.

RESORT REPORT STONERIDGE RESORT, Blanchard, ID Q&A with Cindy Thomas, general manager Have you made or do you plan any updates or renovations to the resort? The recent addition of elevators makes the entire three-story condominium project accessible without using stairs and was requested by our timeshare owners and approved by them via a special assessment in 2015. The improvement cost just over $2 million and also included additional common space of a new lobby, media room,

covered deck, Marketplace, and four new suites. All of the buildings got new siding, windows, roofs, and sliding glass doors. We recently purchased a mini bowling alley for the rec center. What about the resort’s location makes it special for owners and visitors? Stoneridge is centrally located about an hour from Spokane, Washington; Sandpoint, Idaho; and Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, which has great shopping in small boutiques downtown and the longest floating boardwalk in the world. The region is an outdoor recreation

paradise, with major lakes Pend Oreille, Coeur d’Alene, and Priest Lake within an hour’s drive and major ski areas such as Mount Spokane, Schweitzer, 49 Degrees North, and Silver Mountain about an hour and a half away. Stoneridge is just over 100 miles south of the Canadian border so it’s great for traveling up to Canada or vacationing from Canada. How do the owners break down by geography? The majority of our owners are from Washington, Idaho, Montana, Canada, and California. What types of travelers stay at Stoneridge Resort? Many are emptynest retirees, but Stoneridge also hosts many families with young children, multigenerational groups, and couples of all ages. Where do you expect to see more growth in the next few years? Stoneridge has witnessed a huge growth in its timeshare rental occupancy. This past year we have witnessed a 22.6 percent increase in nightly rentals over the same period the year before. We are upgrading our reservations software to allow for direct bookings also, which should increase business even more.

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Lake Cascade, Idaho. Opposite: Stoneridge Resort, in Blanchard, Idaho.



T E C H N O LO G Y & M A R K E T I N G

The World of 5G Mobile broadband connectivity is getting ready to take another great leap forward. BY J ESSE N O ’ B RIE N I L L U S T R AT I O N S B Y P E P E S E R R A

30 201 9 O U TLO O K


THE FIRST GENERATION of wireless technology—1G—

helped make cellphones possible. Those cellphones turned into smartphones as we moved to 2G, 3G, and 4G. Now we’re at the beginning of the 5G era and can expect yet another major shift in the technologies that shape our lives. Today we can only glimpse what is possible with 5G. It’s expected to bring about innovations that we haven’t even thought of yet in the same way that streaming a movie or arranging for a car to pick you up with a few finger taps would have been hard to imagine in the days of flip phones. Streaming apps and ride-sharing apps became possible with 4G, which enabled mobile devices to handle much more complex tasks quickly and efficiently when not connected to Wi-Fi.

Similarly, 5G will jump-start transformative technologies, some of which will power the hospitality industry of the future. It will impact timeshare resorts even before owners step foot in them and throughout a guest’s stay by helping make virtual or enhanced reality tours, smart in-room systems, and gestural interfaces both possible and practical. What is 5G? Devices receive wireless internet in two main ways: through Wi-Fi or a mobile broadband network. A Wi-Fi connection depends on a wireless router to create hot spots of internet, which devices can then connect to.



Although it’s still early days for 5G, some researchers are already turning their attention to 6G. The University of Oulu, in Finland, has begun funding an eight-year research program to start conceptualizing the next next generation of mobile broadband.


Mobile broadband networks—such as 5G—are created by cellular towers and don’t require a wireless router. (5G should not be confused with 5 GHz, a Wi-Fi connection that transmits data on a 5 GHz frequency band.) The main difference between 4G and 5G is that 5G will be a full order of magnitude faster than 4G. Qualcomm, an American telecommunications company, says 5G will provide upwards of 20 gigabits of data per second, compared with the one or two gigabits of data per second available now. Users will be able to download large files— such as a full movie—in two or three seconds. “Increasing speeds for mobile devices are lowering the last few barriers preventing people from untethering from their computers,” says Mike Curro, vice president of global e-commerce and digital marketing for RCI Exchanges. “This has profound implications for all industries, particularly retail, media, and travel. As it relates to timeshare, it will empower salespeople to leverage the entire property to be their sales floor.” Why does 5G matter? For now, users will continue to switch between Wi-Fi and mobile broadband. But 5G will be important for travelers, who often rely on mobile broadband to pull up Google Maps, Yelp, and TripAdvisor while on the go. True, travelers may prefer stopping at cafés to use Wi-Fi, especially to avoid roaming charges when abroad. But overall, users are spending less time on Wi-Fi in favor of mobile broadband. That’s partly because unlimited data plans have become more common—and sometimes now include Mexico and Canada, relieving concerns about roaming fees.

By 2035, 5G will generate 22 million jobs and $12.3 trillion worth of goods and services— and its contribution to real global GDP growth will be equal to India’s. The four major U.S. carriers—AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, and T-Mobile—have all seen the time that users spend on Wi-Fi fall, according to data published in April 2018 by OpenSignal, which specializes in wireless-coverage mapping. That’s no surprise when you think about how much more convenient it is to connect to mobile broadband when on the go; after all, the map you pulled up in a café won’t automatically update after a wrong turn. 5G won’t be universally available right away, so resorts that want to stay ahead of the curve should keep upto-date on its progress. Patrick Dunphy, CIO of trade

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association Hotel Technology Next Generation, cautions: “Most devices that come out in the next two years using 5G aren’t going to get near [the full] amount of bandwidth.” Qualcomm predicts that by 2035, 5G will create 22 million jobs and $12.3 trillion worth of goods and services— and that its contribution to real global GDP growth will be equal to India’s (the world’s seventh-largest economy). The plan is to begin 5G’s commercial rollout in 2019, with 5G smartphones appearing in the first half of the year. What will 5G do? When 5G arrives, it will become a platform to reshape and enhance a lot of what we do online now. Although we can envision the trajectory of some of these changes, many are too far off to make out. More speed and more power mean that more things are possible, and some of those future innovations are not yet conceivable. “You can think of 5G not just as what 4G and 3G provided us with—what we call mobile broadband. It will do that, but it will also expand to new industries and new use cases, to new business models,” says Danny Tseng, staff manager of technical marketing at Qualcomm. “We call it a unified connectivity fabric: a technology that connects virtually everything around, that’s efficient and scalable.” In other words, 5G isn’t just faster internet. It will spur on innovation and act as a foundation for turning technologies that are just beginning to be developed—such as enhanced reality systems—into a normal part of our lives, because 5G devices will be better able to handle them. “When people think of 5G, they think of how fast it is. They think about what capacity it’s going to bring,” Tseng says. “But I think there’s a lot more to that: It’s going to shift the entire paradigm of mobile.” 5G will equip mobile devices to handle more data more quickly. “Faster bandwidth is going to be instrumental in moving hospitality services away from the front desk and will give resorts new models to serve their guests,” Curro says. “It is particularly valuable for large resorts and properties. Guests will benefit from having access to services that in the past were difficult to provide with lower bandwidth speeds.”


5G will reduce latency— the round-trip time it takes for a device and a server to talk—to one millisecond and increase reliability. These improvements open the door to new precision commandand-control services in the robotics and automotive industries, among others. For example, you can’t have any lag time if you’re performing remote surgery with a robotic arm; 5G will also allow autonomous cars to communicate directly with one another, to avoid accidents.


Faster internet connection and reduced latency will prove a catalyst for IoT, or the embedding of interconnectivity into everyday objects. Resorts are already beginning to experiment with smart lights and temperature controls, as well as voiceactivated devices and enhanced reality systems, which can be mixed with IoT. If a guest tells the lights to turn on over 5G, they might switch on in half a second or less, instead of taking five or seven seconds. “5G is going to make for a very streamlined guest experience, which I think is where a lot of hotel companies would like to go in the long run,” Dunphy says.


5 TIPS FOR 5G Hospitality-technology specialist Patrick Dunphy shares advice for resorts. 1. Look for the tipping point: There will be pressure to support both Wi-Fi and cellular networks, partly because of the increased bandwidth 5G offers and partly because 5G is run by national companies that specialize in mobile broadband, such as AT&T or Verizon.

2. Don’t get rid of Wi-Fi: Resorts may want to invest in a heterogeneous environment in which both Wi-Fi and mobile broadband networks coexist. There will be a demand for both, especially at resorts that host guests for longer periods of time and have larger public spaces.

3. Take your time: A lot of resorts will take a waitand-see approach before making a decision about infrastructure investment. That’s fine—even resorts eager to get the ball rolling will likely have to wait until the equipment is widely available.

4. Do your research: For more innovative or risktolerant brands that choose to invest in 5G sooner, it will be essential to learn the deployment characteristics and find the right partner that can make sure an internal 5G network is planned appropriately, or potentially even run by a third party.

5. Have a plan: A 5G system is a significant investment, so it pays to have an agreement with mobilenetwork operators up front about how to establish a broader connection to the public network that provides outside connectivity.



What’s next? Resorts that want to one day offer high-speed connectivity to their owners—much less incorporate IoT, enhanced reality systems, hyperpersonalization, and other technologies that are on the verge of becoming mainstream into their offerings—will find 5G essential. As Curro puts it: “5G will continue to revolutionize the ability of staff members or resorts to provide hospitality services wherever and whenever a guest needs them.” When it comes to resorts of the future, 5G gets us closer to staying in a Jetsons-like experience. “5G technology reduces the costs involved to the point that resorts can be a lot more experimental,” Curro says. “The room of the future really depends on bright and creative people having the opportunity to experiment with different models of service. Whether it’s voice control, embedded touch screens, or something else, the most important factor is the ability of resorts to manage the connectivity easily and with less cost.” What the next decade will bring, and just how far the hospitality industry will push 5G (or vice versa), is unknown at this early stage, although the possibilities are tantalizing. What is clear: 5G will provide a foundation to build tomorrow’s high-tech resorts.


SUCCESS The RCI Affiliate Access® program helps connect you to solutions from best-in-class industry providers, to assist you along every step of your resort’s life cycle.

Let’s take the journey together. We’ve saved you a seat! Learn more at RCIAffiliates.com/AffiliateAccess RCI and related marks are registered trademarks and/or service marks in the United States and internationally. All rights reserved. © 2018 RCI, LLC. All rights reserved. Printed in U.S.A.








Cunningham Asset Recovery Services, LLC




Breaking Down Barriers Since its launch, RCI LiveStream has been a flexible, customizable solution for training, customer service, and marketing, bringing to the virtual space the tools and media that are available in real life in the sales center. Representatives are supported behind the scenes with such features as intelligent pitch prompts, which they can use to cue scripted responses to various topics during the course of conversation, and timers to help keep them on track. And with live video and audio telepresence, resort representatives can better establish a rapport with prospects. “Face-to-face contact online with the customer—it’s a new, dynamic way to present yourselves to your owners,” says Courtney DiSanto, RCI’s product manager for LiveStream. With RCI LiveStream, representatives can also: • Invite more than one guest to a LiveStream session • Bring in more than one sales agent at a time to provide additional information • Add multiple “Point Packages” or “Product Options” to offer different tiers of ownership to guests while a streaming session is in progress • Share notes and figures instantly with potential owners on an interactive notepad • Add a contract for signature and incorporate the same worksheets used at the sales table • Take advantage of improved reporting functionality

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Because clients’ needs vary, properties can select a package that fits their needs, with pricing beginning as low as four cents a minute, and adapt it easily to their individual offerings. “The great news is that customers can customize their site with the images, floor plans, or other content that they currently use for in-person sales—all at no incremental cost,” DiSanto says. But the system’s value extends beyond the boost it can give to sales. “In the beginning, RCI positioned LiveStream for vacation ownership sales. We quickly realized the benefits in owner services and marketing and across all resort business functions,” DiSanto says. “RCI also uses LiveStream to train affiliates on our various systems and processes.” And the system continues to get better: Updates are continually released, and LiveStream can now be accessed in Mac, Windows, and mobile environments and on all commonly used internet browsers. This ease for sales staff and the customer, removing the obstacles of time and distance, is ultimately what makes the platform so powerful. “Although LiveStream is a technology solution, it’s much more about making a personal and meaningful connection with customers,” DiSanto says. “LiveStream allows our affiliates to strengthen connections with their current owners, as well as engage new owners early and help them get the most out of their vacation ownership.”


about RCI LiveStream, please contact your Account Executive.



RCI LiveStream® is a dynamic sales, marketing, and service platform that allows affiliates to bring the sales center to potential and current owners anywhere—even thousands of miles away—and anytime.


Tours Mean Business.

Leverage our tactics and become the Grandmaster of online prospects. With engaging tools like RCI TVÂŽ and our digital magazine, we bridge the gap with groundbreaking technology. Let us captivate in a way like no other to deliver qualified prospects to your door.


P R E S T I G E C O L L E C T I O N H A R B O U R S I D E AT M A R K E R 3 3

The Gulf Coast Getaway Prestige Collection Harbourside at Marker 33 uses its prime location, lightning-quick responsiveness to guests, and an innovative trial-ownership model to thrive in Indian Rocks Beach. 3 8 201 9 O U TLO O K

Multigenerational gatherings Their members are empty nesters who desire to have extended family together in a warm, inviting setting near the beach and water park. The proximity to amusement parks and family activities makes the resort an easy choice for multigenerational groups. Within the two-building high-rise complex, condos have more than 1,000 square feet, each

Opposite and above: Prestige Collection Harbourside offers plenty of kid-friendly adventure, including a lazy river, at the Splash Harbour Water Park, right on the property.

with a separate living space, a breakfast nook, a fully appointed kitchen, and a balcony. On the property, a large-scale water park with two slides, a lazy river, and a spacious sun deck heightens the appeal for waterloving baby boomers and families. The convenience of the on-site activities and seafood-focused restaurant and bar makes the property appealing for groups and also perfect for couple stays. Wine-and-cheese sunset socials, sunrise yoga, crafts, massages, and afternoon tea are just a few of the choices on offer. The Prestige Collection is the newest property in the Indian Rocks area. One key selling point to the property is its location between the waters of the Gulf of Mexico and the Intercoastal Waterway. In Indian Rocks Beach, the soft white-sand beach of the same name is the major attraction. Between its location near the ocean and the 27 beach-access points along Indian Rocks Beach’s



WHEN ARCADIA RESORTS opened its newest property, Prestige Collection Harbourside at Marker 33, on Florida’s Gulf Coast, in 2017, it created an innovative membership model that allows members to get the access of ownership without as much commitment. Prestige Collection by Arcadia Resorts offers customers something new in the domestic vacation ownership space. The resort, located in Indian Rocks Beach, Florida, 27 miles west of Tampa, allows members to get the experience of vacation ownership for a limited number of nights— from 21 up to 140—to use within

a given period of time. Members can use up to 84 nights a year, or use none in a given year without penalties (subject to certain restrictions). It’s not unlike leasing a timeshare rather than owning. Members can also exchange their nights to any of the resorts in RCI’s worldwide network through RCI’s vacation ownership program. This flexible program, along with Prestige Collection Harbourside’s multigenerational appeal and plans for growth, is setting the resort apart.


The resort uses content on its website to provide information and a richer experience to visitors. It also helps attract prospects: The blog is designed to drive search on Google and Bing, and consistently improving content helps search traffic. Gulf Boulevard, Prestige Collection Harbourside at Marker 33 has no shortage of water access, and boat rentals are available right across the street. Clearwater Beach, with its famous pirate ship, is less than 10 miles away, and Busch Gardens is 35 miles. The team is always ready to offer discounts and coupons to local venues and attractions such as Busch Gardens. Prestige Collection Harbourside at Marker 33 also provides deals such as restaurant and drink tickets and water-park passes. Talking the talk In addition to offering amenities and activities galore, management

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Above: Cruzan Rum Shack, the open-air bar at Splash Harbor Water Park. Opposite: Condos have more than 1,000 square feet, with plenty of room for families.

keeps members happy by listening carefully to their needs and responding promptly. Guests use social media to ask questions or gain more insights on the property. The resort therefore has instituted growing presences on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube to connect with travelers and build on their dialogue with guests on TripAdvisor. The staff makes it a priority to quickly and personally answer any inquiries or comments. On TripAdvisor, Prestige Collection Harbourside at Marker 33 responds to reviews promptly, positive and negative. The resort also uses content on its website to provide information and a richer experience

to visitors. That in turn helps attract prospects: The blog is designed to drive search on Google and Bing, and consistently improving content helps search traffic. The focus on communication with guests has yielded results: The average stay at Prestige Collection Harbourside at Marker 33 averages five nights, with some guests staying up to a month. Looking ahead Arcadia Resorts is planning new resort and inventory acquisitions over the next two years, with an upgrade coming to fruition at Prestige Collection Harbourside at Marker 33 as soon as this year. Arcadia Resorts has an aggressive upfit plan in the works for 2019 for the top floor of the Indian Rocks property in anticipation of inviting highertier guests. The upgrade will also be available to Arcadia members. In addition to appealing to luxury travelers, Prestige Collec-


Clearwater Tampa Prestige Collection Harbourside at Marker 33



Great Content, Better Search Results in rental revenue in its first year— with a well-appointed property and water park and a new plan to appeal to luxury travelers, it seems that for Prestige Collection Harbourside at Marker 33, the blue sky above Indian Rocks Beach is the limit. —HANNAH DOYLE


Prestige Collection Harbourside at Marker 33 supplements its website with blog posts that assist travelers when planning and booking their vacation (indianrockscondos. com/blog). Posting frequently also provides incentives for owners to return to the site and view the resort as an authority on what to see and do around the area. Topics include the best water sports for kids in Clearwater, where to find boat charters, and a guide to local wineries. For Prestige Collection Harbourside at Marker 33, the blog complements its overall marketing strategy and provides content it can repurpose in other channels, such as newsletters and social posts. That way, travelers can discover the blog via social or vice versa. In addition, a site full of useful content ranks higher in search engines than ones without.




tion Harbourside at Marker 33 is aiming to enhance every area of the customer experience next year with improvements for on-site activities, linen upgrades, more-streamlined check-in processes, and even better guest-member communications. As it embarks on its second year of business on an exceptional revenue streak—it surpassed $2.6 million


Turning to Texas Hill Country


Friendship and family are at the heart of Bluegreen Vacations® and its latest acquisition, Éilan Hotel & Spa.

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comes from a Caddo Nation word, tejas, meaning “friendly” or “allies.” So it’s only fitting that a vacation ownership club such as Bluegreen Vacations, which has been making friends for more than 50 years, finally enters the Lone Star State. In April 2018, the $34.4 million acquisition of the Éilan Hotel & Spa, near San Antonio, made this expansion possible. “Éilan is a beautiful new addition to the Bluegreen col-


Below: Éilan Hotel & Spa’s terrace.

lection and portfolio,” says David L. Pontius, executive vice president and chief operating officer of Bluegreen Resorts. “The acquisition is part of our westward-expansion strategy and our first in the great state of Texas.”

Making friends Éilan joins Bluegreen’s strong and diverse network of properties and will be accessible to its vast pool of owners. Today, Bluegreen can count approximately 215,000 owners and 69 Club and Club Associate Resorts in its portfolio. Club Resorts— including Éilan—are developed or managed (or both) by a Bluegreen company; Club Associate Resorts are separately owned and operated, but Bluegreen owners have access to them. Bluegreen owners also come from all across the country. “A fun fact is that no more than 10 percent of our owners live in any one state,” Pontius says. Bluegreen has Club Resorts in 18 states, plus Aruba, and Club Associate Resorts in 10 states, as well as in the Bahamas. The heaviest concentration of Bluegreen owners is based in the eastern half of the United States (Florida, the Carolinas, the Midwest) and Texas—one more reason why Éilan was a savvy pick for a hospitality company that specializes in drive-to vacations. “We’re the leading operator of drive-to resorts in the U.S., and nearly 10 percent of all Bluegreen owners live within a fourhour drive of Éilan,” Pontius says. Because owners are often driving, they usually stay about three or four nights at a resort. With such a vast pool of owners, it’s key that Bluegreen Vacations know them well so that its resorts can appeal to each and every one. “Our owners are very experientially oriented; they enjoy exploring different vacation destinations, from the attractions and entertainment to dining, shopping, and recreational



Hill Country star Éilan is in Texas Hill Country, about 16 miles from San Antonio’s Alamo and its famed River Walk, a scenic park on the banks of the San Antonio River that’s lined with shops and restaurants, and near other attractions such as the DoSeum—an interactive museum designed for children—and the 56-acre San Antonio Zoo. A little farther out, guests can explore Texas wine country, one of the fastestgrowing wine regions in the United States, or even visit Austin, less than two hours’ drive away. For the kids, Six Flags® Fiesta Texas theme park is about a mile from Éilan, while the adults can play a few rounds at the nearby 36-hole La Cantera Golf Club. On-site, Éilan is fully equipped to both entertain and pamper owners. The Tuscan-style property, with its inviting central spa, Italian-inspired grounds, and gleaming limestone lobby, meets the vacation club’s high standards and commitment to creating a world-class stay for its owners and guests. The resort is set within a 120-acre mixed-use development that offers its own shopping, dining, and entertainment districts. Within the resort, guests can practice their swing at its virtual golf center or while away the day in one of the private cabanas by Éilan’s outdoor pool. There’s also a pool just for kids and a playground. A 12,000-square-foot fitness center, complete with a steam room, provides no end of ways for guests to work up a sweat; afterward, they can rejuvenate at the Éilan Spa, which has an extensive menu of services and 10 specially designed treatment rooms. The 165-guest-room boutique hotel can accommodate a variety of guests thanks to its 35 different floor

plans, which include one-bedroom designer suites, junior-style suites, family suites, and one presidential suite. “Éilan is a magnificent, highquality property that provides our valued owners and guests with yet another exciting vacation destination to experience,” Pontius says.

“Éilan is a magnificent, high-quality property that provides our valued owners and guests with yet another exciting vacation destination to experience.” INSIGHT

—DAVID L. PONTIUS, executive vice president and chief operating officer, Bluegreen Resorts

activities,” Pontius says. “They are also a very diverse group, as our product appeals to a range of ages, from retired grandparents to newlywed millennials and everyone in between.” Creating opportunities Providing plenty of experiences and options to choose from is one of the ways Bluegreen caters to its diverse group of owners. Here, finding the

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right partners has been key. The vacation club’s long-standing affiliation with RCI has introduced its owners to more than 4,300 resorts in nearly 110 countries and in turn resulted in its offerings becoming available to the vast network of 3.8 million RCI® subscribing members. Now Éilan owners will have those same opportunities to stay in resorts around the world with RCI.

Éilan has also become a part of the Ascend Hotel Collection®, the portfolio of upscale properties shared by hospitality company Choice Hotels® and Bluegreen Vacations. “We have access to Choice Hotels’ state-ofthe-art reservation system and its award-winning loyalty program,” Pontius says. “Also, Choice Privileges® members will now be able to enjoy stays at the resort as well.” In addition, Bluegreen encourages Bass Pro Shops® customers to stay at its properties, including Éilan. The vacation club has a nearly 20-yearold strategic partnership with Bass Pro Shops based on a mutual commitment to creating vacation experi-

ences for lovers of the great outdoors. Pontius anticipates that new guests will discover Éilan through its promotion at a Bass Shops Outdoor World retail complex located about a mile away from the resort. Joining the family As the latest member of the Bluegreen family, Éilan will enjoy a soft renovation to polish its offerings. Pontius calls this a “sprucing up” phase, and Bluegreen is investing nearly $7 million in unit enhancements, upgrades to the resort’s indoor and outdoor pools, and improvements to its nearly 13,000 square feet of meeting and

conference rooms. New food and beverage concepts are also in the works, as is a 13,000-square-foot sales center so that prospective owners can learn more about Bluegreen and all it has to offer. Bluegreen was thrilled to discover that a number of the resort’s employees had stayed on for the transition. “We are happy to say that many of the core staff members who have been with Éilan since the very beginning are still there and are now a part of the Bluegreen family,” Pontius says. “We take great pride in our associates and have always known that they are the key to our success in the hospitality industry.” This loyalty echoes that of Bluegreen’s owners, many of whose families have vacationed with the club since its founding, in 1966. “Our Vacation Club program has been around for decades. As such, our owners have grown along with us. Couples who joined years ago brought their children as they grew their families and now bring along their grandchildren, too,” Pontius says. “Our resort accommodations are ideal for multigenerational travel.” These travelers will now fit right in at Éilan, which they can use as a luxe and restful home base for exploring San Antonio’s many family-friendly attractions. “We have been overwhelmed by the positive reaction from both our Vacation Club owners and our associates,” Pontius says.

Éilan Hotel & Spa’s manifold offerings, elegant design, and friendly service have earned it a 4.5 rating on TripAdvisor and a slew of compliments. Below, two of Éilan’s some 930 TripAdvisor reviews.

Above: La Antorcha de la Amistad (“The Torch of Friendship”), a 65-foot sculpture in downtown San Antonio. Below: The Éilan Hotel & Spa’s lobby. Opposite: The outdoor pool.

“The hotel is beautiful. Rooms are spacious with lots of amenities. Be sure to review your amenity book; it includes a wine tasting, pastries, gelato, and more. All of the staff were very accommodating and quite friendly. The pool is very nice as well. Could have stayed longer!” —WINIFRED C.

“Always a relaxing getaway. You won’t find a better place to stay in San Antonio or the surrounding area than Éilan. The property is great, and what makes it that way are the people. We are always so impressed with the level of hospitality and the friendliness of the staff.” —JOHN T.



Rave Reviews


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Visit Us Online For More Information. WARNING 1: These products can expose you to chemicals known by the State of California to cause cancer and reproductive harm. For more information go to www.P65Warnings.ca.gov. *Rebate chart applies to all standard orders (no special orders or renovations). **The program is based on individual orders and cannot be combined with multiple orders. Pricing subject to change without notice. Sign in to hdsupplysolutions.com or utilize the patent-pending Easy Order™ App to access property-specific pricing. Registration may be required. Regular pricing and discounts based on list price at time of publication. Tax, freight, installation, special orders, renovation orders, and select products are excluded. © 2018 HDS IP Holding, LLC. All Rights Reserved. For our terms and conditions, visit hdsupplysolutions.com/terms. All products and services are manufactured and/or provided solely by HD Supply Facilities Maintenance and not by Wyndham Worldwide Corporation (WWC), its parent and/or affiliates. Neither WWC nor its parent or affiliates are responsible for the accuracy or completeness of any statements made in this flyer, the content of this flyer (including the text, representations, and illustrations) or any material on HD Supply’s website to which the flyer provides a link or a reference. Please refer to the applicable brand specifications for your property prior to purchasing products.



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Recent RCI® Affiliated Resorts*

Tisara Villas, in Habaraduwa, Sri Lanka.

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Emotions by Hodelpa Playa Dorada Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic FLC Group Various locations in Vietnam Hard Rock Hotel & Resort Fortaleza Fortaleza, Ceará, Brazil Hotel Fazenda Poços de Caldas Poços de Caldas, Minas Gerais, Brazil Indoluxe Hotel Jogjakarta Yogyakarta, Indonesia Ke Nani Kai Club Molokai, Hawaii, USA Laguna Thermal Resort and Spa Balikesir, Turkey

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It’s not all business at RCI. In this series, RCI Ventures® magazine checks in with key team members to talk vacations, hobbies, heroes, and more. This time we caught up with Robin Mills, RCI’s new U.K.-based vice president of business development, Europe, Middle East, and Africa.

As a sometime expat, what advice do you have for travelers? Live local. Eat local. Go to restaurants locals are going to. Go on exploratory drives and walks that you know local people are doing, and they will always lead to hidden gems. What destinations are on your must-see list? Your must-return-to list? If my wife were here and I didn’t answer the second part first with “New York City,” I’d be in trouble. One trip we’ve wanted to do for ages is go down to New Zealand, and another that we always talk about is driving across America in an RV. We’re not caravan people, but it has always strangely appealed. We could tie it to our must-return-to city and end the trip in New York. Outside the office, you play a little golf. What’s your dream course—and your handicap? Having just come from the Wyndham Championships and watched the pros, I think I should just throw my clubs in the bin! One dream course has got to be Augusta National Golf Club, in Georgia. It is just stunning, and I look forward every April to the Masters. I have an overseas

52 201 9 O U TLO O K

membership to the County Sligo Golf Club, in Rosses Point, Ireland. It can be very windy, but that’s another phenomenal course. I call mine a “floating” handicap: If I’ve played a couple of times in a month, I can play to 18. If I’ve gone six months without playing, I’m lucky to make 22. We also hear you enjoy flying drones. A friend of mine kept saying, “You should get into these.” I put it off, but then one day I plunged in, and I love it. Any chance I get, the drone goes up. I’m starting to get more creative with video, finding old brokendown farm buildings and flying through them. Obviously, while trying not to crash! What is one personal goal you’d like to achieve in your lifetime? Hopefully, we’re partway there: to give our two children, who are 28 and 26, the best upbringing we could and see them finding the right partners, having their own children, being successful, and above all, having a healthy and happy life. Are there any charitable causes you support? We’ve supported a variety, but without a doubt, Christel House—which runs schools in impoverished parts of the world— is the one we’re most involved in, and long before I came to RCI. We were fortunate enough to have visited its school in South Africa. No one can appreciate how much Christel DeHaan has done until they see one of the schools and see the conditions the students live in, and how amazing it is that they can still make education a priority.


RCI Off-Duty

Tell us about your most recent vacation. Where did you go, and what did you do? We’ve lived in the Algarve, and we’ve got an affinity for Portugal: the food, the lifestyle, the weather, the people. We did part coast, part city, because my wife persuaded me to go to the Rock in Rio festival in Lisbon to see the Killers. We love Lisbon. It’s a very relaxed city to walk around and enjoy.

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