T H E B U S I N E S S O F VAC AT I O N Q2 2015
R E S O RT E X P E R I E N C E S TA K E C E N T E R S TAG E
DESTINATION U.S.A. International travelers are setting their sights on the States
CHANGING THE GAME Management profile: John Sutherland of Orange Lake Resorts
NEXT-GEN TECH New opportunities to upgrade the guest experience abound
Marine Chronometer Manufacture Manufacture chronometer movement with Silicium technology. Self-winding. Water-resistant to 100 m. 18 ct rose gold case. Available also on leather strap or gold bracelet.
F O R A C ATA L O G , C A L L 5 6 1 - 9 8 8 - 8 6 0 0 O R E M A I L : U S A 1 1 4 @ U LY S S E - N A R D I N . C O M W W W . U LY S S E - N A R D I N . C O M
IN BR IEF
IN DEV ELOPMENT
06 By the Numbers Adapting to a changing consumer
08 Events Calendar Industry events around the world
08 Travel Trends The timeshare effect; travelers seek out the great outdoors IN DEPTH
10 Changing the Game John Sutherland, executive vice president of sales and marketing, Orange Lake Resorts
16 Experiential Resort Entertainment Takes Center Stage
22 Destination U.S.A. International travelers are setting their sights on the States INNOVATION
26 Industry Solutions Introducing RCI® LiveStream; the RCI Custom Incentives and Benefits Platform®
28 Technology Spotlight Enhancing the guest experience
34 Small-Town Charm Massanutten Resort
38 Working Toward the Future Club Meliá
42 Connecting to Luxury Club Paradiso
46 RCI® Affiliated Resort News Recent RCI affiliated resorts and reports from the field
ON THE COVER The Master of Water performs an on-table hand-balancing act in Cirque du Soleil’s JOYÀ show at the Vidanta Riviera Maya. ON THIS PAGE Club Paradiso Suites at Jumeirah Beach, in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
52 A Final Thought Off-duty with RCI’s Jonathan Mills
30 China’s Eco Haven Crosswaters Ecolodge & Spa
Developers continue to diversify on-site offerings
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Senior Vice President: Philip S. Brojan. Publisher: Brian Bruno. Associate Publisher: Emily Sadlock. Contributing Editor: Helen Foster. Advisory Board Chair: Fiona Downing. Advisory Board: Jeff Parker, Kelly Deardorff, Eugenio Macouzet, Bob McGrath, Todd Menendez, Robert Stolt, Debbie Wunder. Associate Publisher, Multimedia: Madelyn A. Roberts, email@example.com, 646-437-0630 Advertising Sales & Traffic Coordinator: Rachel Goroff, firstname.lastname@example.org, 212-481-3452, x339 Editor in Chief: Erin M. Lindholm. Creative Director: Ash Oat. Managing Editor: Gaetano Pollice. Photo Editor: Pamela Pasco. Senior Editor: Bree Sposato. Assistant Editor: Jessen O’Brien. Copy Editor: Amy Lynn Tonsits. Senior Art Director: Anthony Coppola. Junior Visual Designer: Jenna Grady. Assistant Photo Editor: Jenna Kaplan. Contributing Editor: Dave Johnston. Associate Director of Production: Jessica Perrin. Senior Producer: Alyssa Dolman. Chief Executive Officer: Kirk Cheyfitz. Chief Creative Officer: Rob Rasmussen. Vice President, Narrative: Charles Coxe. Account Director: Mitchell Wexler. Account Supervisor: Shrivika Ramaswamy. 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 email@example.com. 9998 North Michigan Road, Carmel, IN 46032 © 2015 RCI, LLC. All Rights Reserved. Printed in U.S.A.
2 Q2 2015
COVER PHOTO: IONE ASCANIO GREEN/GROUPO VIDANTA; THIS PAGE: COURTESY OF CLUB PARADISO
TA B L E O F C O N T E N T S
M E S S AG E F R O M R C I
Powerful New Opportunities Elevating the guest experience to help boost your ROI.
PHOTO: IAN SPANIER
EMOTIONALLY, TIMESHARE OWNERS FEEL A VERY
personal investment in the product. They are not just customers; they are truly connected to the brand and want to feel that this connection is reciprocal. The good news is that in today’s technology-enabled world, there are more opportunities than ever to facilitate that connection, during the sales process and beyond. In this issue of RCI Ventures® magazine we explore some of these exciting developments. Creative, innovative, often tech-driven, ever more personalized: These solutions and services are driving results and helping our affiliates provide guests with unmatched vacation experiences. On the sales floor, technology continues to change the way you interact with, sell and engage prospects. I’ve seen touchscreens, tablets and other digital tools utilized in beautiful, forward-looking ways to help build stories about the value of timeshare. And here at RCI we continue to invest in interactive, customizable, real-time technology solutions for supporting your sales team. As we enter the age of the “always on” traveler—the guest who prefers to (or must) remain connected to some degree rather than unplug completely—on-site connectivity is an increasingly sought-after amenity. You have an incredible opportunity here to explore a host of solutions that help guests strike that balance between real-world responsibilities and vacation time, as well as personalize their stays. Speaking from experience, I find that when I’m vacationing, a few minutes in the morning spent addressing critical work emails and phone calls helps me compartmentalize work and vacation time, and then I can thoroughly enjoy the remainder of the day with my family. Of course, we as an industry must never lose sight of the fact that what it’s really about is vacation. It’s about your
owners and their guests spending quality time together, sharing special moments and enjoying their resorts’ amenities. With so many new technologies at our fingertips, it’s important to always ask “How do we use these tools to make it easier and more fun for our guests? How do we make them more engaged with our product and our brands?” That’s a key point for us all to remember: Technology is a means to an end. These solutions and services are the “how,” not the “what”; and the key here is, don’t turn the how into a what. Technology may help our guests get there more easily and prove to be a valuable on-site amenity, but vacation is always about the experience; it’s about immersion. Relaxation and family time will always be priorities. But it’s exciting to see that travel is increasingly about what you can learn, what you can get out there and experience. Consumers want to come home different people than when they left. Heeding that call, developers continue to break new ground with on-site entertainment amenities, working hard to create opportunities for owners and their guests to have wonderful experiences at their homes away from home— along with plenty of chances for great photo ops. All this is part of the “how” of giving your guests what they want—an exceptional vacation experience that creates memories for a lifetime. Provide guests with opportunities to deepen their bond with your brand and they will happily return for many years to come.
Gordon Gurnik President, RCI
RCI VENTURES 3
OWNER FEEDBACK & ENGAGEMENT
MAINTENANCE FEE BILLING
PROPERTY MANAGER BOARD OF DIRECTORS DEVELOPER
Certified Public Accountants and Business Advisors
ANNUAL BUDGET PLANNING
RCI and related marks are registered trademarks and/or service marks in the United States and internationally. All rights reserved. © 2015 RCI, LLC. All rights reserved. Printed in the U.S.A.
PROPERTY OPERATIONS & IMPROVEMENT
LEVERAGE RCI’S SCALE TO ENHANCE RESORT
OPERATIONS To learn more about how Affiliate Access brings RCI affiliates the full Cycle of Success for your resorts’ operations visit SALES & MARKETING
INVENTORY MANAGEMENT & RENTAL
BY T H E N U M B E R S
Keeping Up With the Consumer
K A G ER
N LI N E
IE S LO 69%
G IN G
A G EN C M O S
LI N ES
EN G A G EM B ust r o a C EN nd m u er G st T et o Ma E & tin m n r B er ke ga R g SA A C Lo tin ge N us y g m LE D a t e IN Pr S om lty n G t & D om e LE r Le riv ot Fe A ad ing in D ed g G G Di S ba C EN en re pe U ck ST er ct ci ER G a a O AT tio Bo l D M In ene o E I e n -T r O ki a R ri al N ng ls SE p s C Cus RV us t IC to om E m e er r S A er ss v is ice ta nc e
IN BR IEF
Social media’s rapid ascent over the past decade is nothing short of astounding: Facebook now counts upward of 1.2 billion active users, and Twitter logs more than 500 million tweets a day. Consumer usage continues to rise as increasingly sophisticated mobile devices make it easier than ever to stay connected. To keep up with the consumer, travel companies are working to adapt to this new digital reality. The State of Social Media in Travel, a recent Phocuswright report, explores current uses of, and strategies for, social across verticals in the travel industry and mobile’s rising influence. One thing is clear: Social is here to stay.
% OF COMPANIES THAT CONSIDER SOCIAL VERY IMPORTANT FOR CUSTOMER SERVICE
60 50 40
SOCIAL TOOLS TRAVEL COMPANIES ARE USING
78% of airline companies consider social very important for customer service
AIRLINES LODGING ONLINE SELLERS
20 10 0 TRAVEL INDUSTRY SOCIAL OBJECTIVES EXTREMELY IMPORTANT
FA C O EB O K O O IN O N G K YO E LO U NG G R -I FA INE N C O EB R O W O ID K FA PA GE C G T EB E T W W OO I TT EB K ER SI SO TE C LO PE IAL G -I R P N SO LU N GA IN LI S Z AT FO IO R N
69% of lodging companies consider social very important for customer service
6 Q2 2015
are rs heir e l n tt ve tra bou an o ft . a S i h . t g U sh re ostin obile the te. o M p d ra w on m , an cele o n ps ps ac tri skto nly de ill o w S. U.
EFFECTIVENESS OF SOCIAL CONTENT
ALL ON A 4.7-INCH SCREEN 100% PE
AIRLINES ONLINE SELLERS DMOS
70 60 50 SMARTPHONE
DEVICES USED TO MAKE TRIP-RELATED POSTS ON SOCIAL NETWORKS
U.S. 14% EUROPE 12%
C O N
ID EO S PO W S O T R IN LD G EV RE EN AL TS -
PO ST IN
O C ND O I M N M G EN T O TS G PR O M O & T D IO EA N LS S
O TO S R
PH G IN
ES P C ON O D M I PL N A GT IN O TS
RCI VENTURES 7
IN BR IEF
To purchase the full report, The State of Social Media in Travel, by Phocuswright, go to phocuswright.com.
T R AV E L T R E N D S
The Timeshare Effect IN BR IEF
The vacation ownership industry is positioning timeshare as the natural solution to vacation deprivation. Over the past year the U.S. Travel Association has released data under an initiative called Travel Effect showing that American workers forfeit 169 million days of paid time off every year. In the wake of this report, there has been increased
interest in persuading Americans to take their vacation days that has in turn created a new forum for talking about the benefits of timeshare. “U.S. Travel has done an awesome job. They’re a great partner of ours and of the industry,” says Peter Roth, vice president of marketing and communications for the American Resort Development Association (ARDA). “One of the big impacts of this research has been creating the positive dialogue to encourage people
E V E N T S C A L E N DA R
What’s Happening Conferences, seminars, expos, summits, workshops, exhibitions, forums, symposiums, conventions, events and meetings you should know about.
APRIL 12–16 ARDA (American Resort Development Association) World: The Global Timeshare Event Orlando, Florida, U.S.A. arda.org APRIL 13–15 IBTM Africa Cape Town, South Africa www.ibtmafrica.com APRIL 13–15 ILTM (International Luxury Travel Market) Africa Cape Town, South Africa iltm.com/africa APRIL 21–23 Cityscape Abu Dhabi Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates cityscapeabudhabi.com APRIL 27–28 CHRIS (Caribbean Hotel & Resort Investment Summit) Miami, Florida, U.S.A. chrisconference.com
8 Q2 2015
APRIL 28–30 DATE (Dominican Annual Tourism Exchange) Punta Cana, Dominican Republic drdate.net APRIL 28–30 HOLA (Hotel Opportunities Latin America) Investment Conference Miami, Florida, U.S.A. holaconference.com MAY 4–7 Arabian Travel Market Dubai, United Arab Emirates arabiantravelmarket.com MAY 5–7 AHIC (Arabian Hotel Investment Conference) Dubai, United Arab Emirates arabianconference.com MAY 9–11 INDABA Durban, South Africa indaba-southafrica.co.za
MAY 31–JUNE 2 NYU (New York University) International Hospitality Industry Investment Conference New York, New York, U.S.A. nyu.edu/hospitalityconference JUNE 1–2 ARDA (American Resort Development Association) Northeast Portsmouth, New Hampshire, U.S.A. arda.org JUNE 30 British Hospitality Association (BHA) Hospitality & Tourism Summit London, England bha.org.uk
to take their vacation days, growing the entire vacation industry. Now it’s our job to get a larger piece.” The primary reasons Americans hesitate to take PTO days are that they fear they’ll have to catch up on a large amount of work on their return and that they believe no one else can do their jobs adequately while they’re away; and conversely, that if someone can fill in for them effectively, they’re afraid they’ll appear replaceable. “We need to reshape corporate culture when it comes to taking time off by highlighting the undeniable benefits to productivity, family life and personal health that more vacationing can bring to us all, not to mention the massive economic impact,” says Phil Brojan, senior vice president of global marketing for RCI. The opportunities are tremendous. If Americans were to return to their vacation habits from before 2000, there would be a $284 billion impact across the U.S. economy, $118 billion of which would be in direct travel spending, according to the U.S. Travel Association’s research. The vacation ownership industry is working hard to demonstrate that its product is an elegant response to vacation deprivation because it allows owners to commit to taking their PTO days year after year. ARDA continues to educate travelers through its consumer-facing website, VacationBetter.org; while RCI’s senior vice president of business development and operations, Fiona Downing, appeared on the Lifetime network’s morning show The Balancing Act to spread the word about the advan tages of timeshare. “The key is that timeshare owners vacation more, and with much more regularity. It’s a simple but powerful message,” Brojan says. “The stage is set. Now it’s time for us and others to turn up the heat, make this a real conversation and make a difference that will be felt for generations to come.”
IN BR IEF
ILLUSTRATION: CHRIS GASH/THEISPOT.COM; PHOTO: ISTOCKPHOTO
Hiking the John Muir Trail, in Yosemite National Park.
Natural Opportunities Travelers increasingly seek out vacations oriented to outdoor activities, such as hiking, kayaking and snowmobiling. The outdoor-recreation market will strengthen significantly in 2015, a new report from the American Recreation Coalition, Outdoor Recreation Outlook 2015, predicts. Reasons for the forecasted surge include the National Park System’s Centennial Campaign; continued recovery from Hurricane Sandy, in 2012; the government shutdown in 2013; and the National Park Service’s commitment to 2020 Vision: Interagency Stewardship Priorities for America’s National Wilderness Preservation System, an agreement among federal land-management agencies that aims to bring more visitors to parks. Resorts that focus on outdoor activities—especially those near major national parks—are preparing for a rise in bookings. Some have already noticed a change. “We are seeing an increase in the number of guests who are interested in Yosemite, which is only three hours away from where we’re located, in Calaveras County,” says Jennifer Langdon, general manager of Mountain Retreat Resort, in Arnold, California, which is managed by Grand Pacific Resorts. “Guests appreciate that they can show up the
day they want to visit, receive a walk-up pass, enjoy the sights and return at the end of the day to our cozy, mountain-inspired lodging.” The first step in creating a positive outdoor-recreation experience for guests is making the great outdoors as accessible as possible—ideally, with help from the resort. To ensure that all staff members are up-to-date on park developments, Mountain Retreat Resort schedules annual outings and encourages associates to immerse themselves in the activities available nearby. “There’s so much to do and see in this area that owners and guests can easily suffer from information overload,” Langdon says. “We want our associates to be able to speak authoritatively about the area and make recommendations based on an owner’s interests.” Mountain Retreat Resort partners with local businesses, parks and vendors to keep up with the latest tourism trends and updates its activities accordingly. The resort is hiring more staff members to support an expanding activities department that can offer guided hikes in summer and snowshoeing tours in winter. “Resort vacations are by nature a family affair,” Langdon says. “Consider everyone when planning your activity calendar so you have something for every age and ability level.”
O N O U R R A DA R :
Snowmobile sales in the United States and Canada increased 11% in 2014 compared with 2013. Initial snowmobile sales for 2015 are up more than 10%. Source: Outdoor Recreation Outlook 2015, by the American Recreation Coalition
D I D YO U K N OW ?
The outdoorrecreation market generated $650 billion USD in spending in 2014, a number expected to grow again in 2015. Source: Outdoor Recreation Outlook 2015, by the American Recreation Coalition
RCI VENTURES 9
10 Q2 2015
Changing Game the
BY E . M . LIN DHOLM PHOTOG R APHY BY STE VE CR AF T
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RCI VENTURES 11
The story of John A. Sutherland II’s nearly 30-year timeshare career is one of tenacity, loyalty, mentorship and great leadership. As Holiday Inn Club Vacations® continues its drive toward $1 billion in sales, the executive vice president of sales and marketing of Orange Lake Resorts sits down to discuss the rapidly changing business of timeshare, the power of partnerships and meeting Kemmons Wilson.
OVER ALMOST THREE
decades, it’s safe to say, John Sutherland has seen the timeshare industry experience more than a few growth spurts. “The changes throughout my years in the business are nothing short of astounding!” the Orange Lake Resorts executive says, marveling. “We went from an industry not fully understood or even respected by many to now creating college curriculums. I used to address my sales teams by saying ‘No one grows up and says “Mom, I want to be a timeshare salesman.” ’ However, we may see that change soon.” Under the stewardship of leaders like Sutherland, the industry’s sales force is well on its way to new heights, armed with an ever more sophisticated business acumen. Yet when Sutherland graduated with a culinary degree from Johnson & Wales University, in Providence, Rhode Island, it was indeed a twist of fate that led him to the business. After college he took a job managing a large restaurant in the Boston area that was frequented by employees from a timeshare sales office nearby. Sutherland was introduced to timeshare, and his interest was piqued. “I was young when I entered this business,” he says. “It was my position with Vistana Resorts that most affected my early professional development.” At Vistana, now Starwood Vacation Ownership, Sutherland quickly rose from a sales consultant to a director. There, he led the company’s off-site East Coast 12 Q2 2015
sales office for a number of years before relocating to Central Florida to take over Vistana’s on-site sales operations. He credits these formative years with setting his career on the right trajectory. “Vistana operated more like the professional timeshare companies we see today, with professional training, human-resources support, solid benefits and employment contracts,” he says. “I believe that what I learned there helped shape how I operate my team today and is a significant reason I have been so fortunate in my career.” Also, it was here that Sutherland met Art “A.Z.” Zimand, founding owner and partner of Vistana Resort. While initially they had their differences, Zimand ultimately became an influential early mentor. As Sutherland describes it, he was on the verge of leaving Vistana, and “we were quite at odds over it at the time. He [Zimand] finally sat me down and explained that they had committed resources to providing me professional training and I had made a promise to be there. Just because defined success did not happen at the pace I expected, that was no reason to simply leave,” Sutherland says. “In the end he challenged me to live up to my end of the bargain. I decided to stay on, and I’m glad I did. “I’ve basically worked for two timeshare organizations in my almost 30 years in the business,” Sutherland continues. “One thing I’ve learned through it all is that the grass is not always greener on the other side. Every organization has periods of ups and downs. The key is to
Above: Orange Lake Resort, in Orlando, Florida, the flagship property of Holiday Inn Club Vacations. Opposite, from top: South Beach Resort, in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, is steps from the sand; the Upscale Signature Collection, shown in Las Vegas, Nevada.
In the Hot Seat John Sutherland talks Management 101. V: What is one mistake commonly made by resorts? And how can it be remedied or avoided altogether?
V: How have technology and social media “changed the game” of resort management?
RESORT PHOTOS: COURTESY OF HOLIDAY INN CLUB VACATIONS(3)
JS: In short, what can seem the most inconsequential error can become a global advertisement. All of us are ultimately held to higher standards through the spotlight of social media, as it plays such an important role in judging our brands.
use your talents to make the grass greener where you are. I’ve seen so many talented individuals constantly move from position to position when they would be better served by becoming part of the solution. Otherwise, they can easily become part of the problem. Neither the organization nor the individuals want that.” After nine fruitful years at Vistana, amid an ownership change and management restructuring, Sutherland accepted an offer to join Orange Lake Resorts as director of sales in 1995. It was a big move, one filled with a requisite amount of uncertainty about the unknown, but also excitement. As Sutherland describes it, “the opportunity to work with the man who invented the modern-day hotel [Kemmons Wilson, founder of Holiday Inn and Orange Lake Resorts] and be part of his venture into the vacation ownership industry was a dream opportunity.… My many years with Orange Lake Resorts continue to prove that my instincts were spot-on.” Sutherland’s early years at the company were prosperous ones, with sales climbing “at a record pace” between 1996 and 2003, before leveling off in 2004. He recalls meeting its legendary founder: “One of my proudest moments with Orange Lake Resorts was meeting Kemmons Wilson. After finishing a sales meeting, he said to me, ‘John, I have been selling all my life, and you, son, are talented!’ I don’t often tell that story, but there were many that I have from working with the man who created an amazing legacy in the hospitality industry.”
V: How would you define your management style? What characteristic should every business leader possess? JS: My management style is practical, understanding and results driven. My favorite saying is “Begin with the end result in mind.” And along the way, treat people fairly. All leaders should possess the ability to listen and respond to people within the framework of the objective. I believe that Holiday Inn had it right—“The best surprise is no surprise”—and my leadership style takes on that personality. The keys to success are clear expectations, proper feedback and effective measurement of results. Teamwork and ownership by your direct reports is critical to achieving results and ensuring an environment that promotes courage. I am not a big fan of a bureaucracy and prefer to sit down and discuss challenges and successes face-to-face with individuals. V: What has been the most important lesson of your career? JS: There’s an old saying that I believe to be true that goes something like this: “You see the same people on the way up as you see on the way down, so you’d better be good to them all.” Over my many years in the industry, it’s amazing [to think of] who I have worked either for or with. It’s important to remember that roles can quickly reverse within our rapidly evolving industry.
RCI VENTURES 13
JS: Teamwork and a strategic vision are crucial to success in today’s environment. All levels of the organization need to understand their key result areas and how they are aligned. One of the mistakes most commonly made by resorts is not connecting the operational teams to their sales and marketing efforts. A shared vision of success is critical and ultimately affects good service and deliverables. Guests and owners are the lifeblood of sustained growth and are the best lead source for sales and marketing activities.
One of the mistakes most commonly made by resorts is not connecting the operational teams to their sales and marketing efforts. A shared vision of success is critical and ultimately affects good service and deliverables.
The company took what Sutherland describes as a major turn in 2005, appointing Don Harrill its CEO. “He changed the thinking of the organization, bringing much more empowerment and accountability to many levels of the company,” Sutherland says. The industry was evolving quickly, and Harrill moved swiftly to reposition Orange Lake Resorts for growth. In 2006, the company first added a membership product. In 2008, the product was repositioned under the Holiday Inn Club Vacations brand and boosted by the new IHG® (InterContinental Hotels Group) marketing alliance. “The major hotel brands are the single biggest driver in the progression of our industry. The ability to maintain the timeshare ownership concept while providing hotel functionality was a game changer,” Sutherland says. “It has made vacation ownership more mainstream than ever before. And the addition of loyalty programs and tiered membership has created a new world for owners.” Appointed executive vice president of sales and marketing in 2011, Sutherland today oversees the growth of the Holiday Inn Club Vacations brand and membership product. Key initiatives under his watch include expanding global marketing and channel distribution and building on partner relationships. “IHG is the number one contributor to our recent success, and we hope to expand the relationship to an international level in years to come,” Sutherland says. “We believe there is tremendous opportunity with IHG to, in the future, be in the same conversation with the timeshare brands of Hilton and Marriott.” “In support of our goal to hit the billion-dollar mark,” he says, “I am also focused on sales-center distribution and expansion. As a team, we plan to expand our resort network and sales-distribution channels throughout the United States. Our goal is to also open at least two sales centers annually in key markets throughout the continental U.S. and Hawaii. We are focused on growing our marketing base, call-center channels and new tour sources to fuel the projected growth.” Presently, Sutherland’s team is focused on opening a call center in Central Florida, with the goal of tripling output within the next two years, and is “actively seeking to expand our relationship with a major airline carrier and rental-car partner.” “With the strength of the brand and our talented executive team, I believe that the future is bright for Orange Lake Resorts and the Holiday Inn Club Vacations brand,” Sutherland says. “I am very thankful to be a part of this amazing team.”
orangelake.com 14 Q2 2015
Master of Ceremonies If good management is about getting results, great management is about inspiring your team to rise to the next level. Not content with the usual motivating tactics, John Sutherland launched two unique programs to recognize the accomplishments of his sales and marketing departments, and to encourage them to continue to aim even higher.
PHOTOS: COURTESY OF HOLIDAY INN CLUB VACATIONS
From top: Masters Reward Trip honorees enjoy their earned annual getaway; Sutherland shares the stage with rock legends at the annual SAMMYS awards; Bret Michaels serenades sales and marketing team members at the SAMMYS.
He was also instrumental in launching a second highly successful and original initiative, the Masters Honor program. “I was looking for ways to incentivize our top sales and marketing team members,” Sutherland says. “At the same time, I wanted to create a supportive and results-driven environment that rewarded them for key attributes that contribute to individual, team and company success.” Similarly, as in the Masters Tournament in golf, exceptional achievements earn team members a spot on the Masters Reward Trip. While in destinations including Hawaii and Colorado, honorees participate in dinners, excursions, training meetings and more. And although the programs are not directly related, team members who produce outstanding work and numbers, plus demonstrate positive qualities year after year, are invited to join the Masters Club. They receive a ceremonial Masters Jacket and are invited to exclusive gatherings to honor their accomplishments. “The sales and marketing teams are the lifeblood of our company’s success,” Sutherland says. With the SAMMYS and Masters programs, Sutherland has created powerful ways to connect and motivate these essential team members as Holiday Inn Club Vacations continues to diversify and grow across the country.
RCI VENTURES 15
“I wanted to create a concept that was energetic and exciting,” Sutherland says. The result was the SAMMYS (Sales and Marketing Movers of the Year awards), a musical celebration and corporate-awards ceremony featuring a concert at Hard Rock Live® Orlando. As MC and show producer, Sutherland has introduced more than 40 top-name acts, from the Temptations to Bret Michaels, all backed by SAMMYS band Rock Unlimited. After the show the honorees attend a late-night breakfast with the band members. “The SAMMYS has been a smash hit with our team members and helps our recruiting efforts by bringing attention to our fun sales and marketing teams and the success of our brand,” Sutherland says.
EXPERIENTIAL RESORT E N T E R TA I N M E N T
TAKES CENTER STAGE Developers continue to diversify on-site offerings, creating memorable guest experiences that translate to added value for all parties involved. BY E . M . LIN DHOLM
1 6 QQ22 22001 155
Cirque du Soleil’s JOYÀ show at Vidanta Riviera Maya.
RCI VENTURES 17
Cirque du Soleil dinner theater show. A colossal four-season waterpark. High-flying zip lines. A pirate-theme adventure park. Timeshare resorts continue to diversify on-site entertainment offerings, going above and
beyond amenities guests have come to expect with the addition of customizable experiences that translate to added value for all parties involved. Without having to worry about any of the logistics that usually accompany an
off-site activity, guests get to have a unique, hassle-free experience that reflects a resort’s character and location—all while staying close to “home.”
Exploria’s day in the sun Exploria Resorts’ Buccaneer Bay Adventure Park, which opened in October at Summer Bay Orlando, the flagship property of the new Exploria Resorts brand portfolio, has been a hit with guests and owners, resort general manager Mario Plasencia says. The five-acre park features seven kid-friendly “challenges,” including a skull-topped rock-climbing wall, bumper boats, the Pirate’s Plunge zip line and the Jolly Roger bungee experience, among other attractions. “We wanted to create another on-site guest experience to bring all members of the family together while on vacation at Summer Bay Orlando,” Plasencia says. “The Adventure Park provides an alternative to Orlando’s world-class attractions and provides an on-site experience which Mom, Dad, the grandparents and the kids can all enjoy together.” While park admission is complimentary, you need a wristband to experience the feature attractions; the wristband also grants access to the resort’s 18-hole miniature golf course and the Lakeside Marina & Aqua Park. The Shipwreck Café and a gift shop round out the new offerings. Exploria Resorts is on track to complete a $14 million renovation this spring, and its owners have been “overwhelmingly positive” about the latest on-site upgrades. “The newly introduced Club Exploria vacation club product is shaping up to be one of the most benefits-packed vacation clubs ever to be offered to our owners,” Plasencia says. Next up: Exploria is opening a 10,000-square-foot activities center at Summer Bay Orlando in 2015, directly in response to requests for a community gathering space from owners who are planning vacations around milestone events, such as birthdays, anniversaries and reunions. “Club Exploria is designed around the concepts of ‘bringing the world a little closer’ and ideal family vacations. Both the Buccaneer Bay Adventure Park and the
18 Q2 2015
activities center will be key additions to the delivery of this experience,” Juan Barillas, chief operations officer of Exploria Resorts, says. The resort’s latest developments further the company’s mission and provide plenty of opportunities for family photo ops. “We always strive to work together to provide our guests with unforgettable family memories that they will cherish for life,” Plasencia says.
Find additional content for this article in the RCI Ventures® magazine app for iPad®. Download it free from the iTunes® App Store today.*
*R CI 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.
Clockwise from top left: The entrance to Exploria Resorts’ Buccaneer Bay Adventure Park, at Summer Bay Orlando; Parrot’s Landing, at Buccaneer Bay; a view of Buccaneer Bay.
Grupo Vidanta’s Cirque connection As part of a groundbreaking partnership—a first in the timeshare world—Mexico’s Grupo Vidanta in November unveiled a permanent new home for Cirque du Soleil’s latest production, JOYÀ, at Vidanta Riviera Maya. The show is Cirque du Soleil’s only current resident show outside the United States and the brand’s first foray into dinner theater. “At Vidanta we are always looking to enhance the already amazing guest experience and redefine what a vacation is,” Ivan Chavez, Grupo Vidanta’s executive vice president, says. “One of our most ambitious goals is to become a global leader in entertainment, putting our guests at the heart of the action with internationally acclaimed performances and immersive experiences right at the resorts.” JOYÀ plays up to eight times a week in the 600-seat Cirque du Soleil Theatre, an intimate venue by Cirque standards. Chavez describes the theater as an “architectural marvel” that is situated on an island in a lagoon in the Mayan jungle close to Vidanta’s Riviera Maya resorts, including Mayan Palace and Grand Luxxe. “JOYÀ gives members and guests the chance to experience Cirque du Soleil just steps from their resort hotels,” Chavez says. “It also lets them feel pride in knowing that their vacation partner will always deliver amazing experiences.” Sold out well into 2015, JOYÀ has had a wonderful response from guests and the international community, Chavez says. “JOYÀ marks the beginning of a new era for Vidanta, one in which world-class entertainment is woven into the vacation experience so guests can enjoy incredible performances directly at the resorts. It also represents the first of many collaborations between Cirque and Vidanta.” As a part of the next phase of Grupo Vidanta’s growth, the group is developing what Chavez calls an “experience park” at Vidanta Nuevo Vallarta in conjunction with Cirque du Soleil and theme-park-industry leaders that is scheduled to open in 2018. “The park will include Cirque performers who will embed themselves among park visitors and interact with them, surprising them at every step—it will be as if the visitors were entering a giant Cirque du Soleil show,” Chavez says. “We expect that the park will create an entirely new entertainment category; nothing like this has ever been attempted,” he says. “We want to create experiences that ‘inspire generations of happiness,’ and the park will certainly do that.”
Clockwise from top: Massanutten’s WaterPark; the Cirque du Soleil Theatre, at Vidanta Riviera Maya; fun in the sun at Massanutten; a scene from JOYÀ; riding the “wave” at Massanutten.
20 Q2 2015
PHOTOS, OPENER: IONE ASCANIO GREEN/GRUPO VIDANTA; SECOND SPREAD: COURTESY OF EXPLORIA RESORTS(3); THIS SPREAD: MASSANUTTEN RESORT(3); RIGOBERTO MORENO/ GRUPO VIDANTA; IONE ASCANIO GREEN/GRUPO VIDANTA
Massanutten: Nature’s playground At Massanutten Resort, a four-season destination commanding 6,000 acres in Virginia’s scenic Shenandoah Valley, experiential is the operative word. Thanks to the resort’s prime location and expansive campus, “owners and guests are able to have a dynamic activity experience in a truly majestic and historically significant area,” Matthias Smith, Massanutten’s general manager, says. “Quite simply, our entertainment offerings are enhanced by our natural surroundings.” The resort offers one of the largest on-site amenities packages anywhere in the world. Popular activities include an indoor-outdoor waterpark, which is open year-round; a mega zip line and forest canopy tours, the latter a new feature at the Family Adventure park; horseback riding; mountain biking; golf; and a slew of winter snow sports. Additionally, “we are close to Civil War historic sites, several of the Commonwealth’s top wineries and countless natural attractions,” Smith says. Back on campus, the WaterPark, a $35 million playground of shoots, tube slides and fun water features, is a perennial family favorite. Visitor response has been tremendous, Smith says, noting that the WaterPark is one of only two indoor waterparks in the state and that the Pipeline attraction is one of the last triple-jet FlowRiders constructed, if not the last one. At the Pipeline, “FlowRider lessons are offered to teach people to ‘surf the indoor wave,’” Smith says. Massanutten is constantly adding to its on-site amenities and entertainment features. This spring a 13,000-squarefoot snow-sports learning complex will open. “Our process is forward looking: assessing what is happening throughout the industry while staying attuned to our customers,” Smith says. “After an idea is developed, it is vetted by the department manager and/or director. The key question we always ask is ‘Is this going to significantly enhance the overall guest experience?’”
Cirque du Soleil Heads to Mexico Each night at JOYÀ, guests at Vidanta Riviera Maya watch in awe in a darkened theater as a girl and her grandfather search the Mayan jungle for the meaning of life. This fantastical new production from Cirque du Soleil is the first of several collaborative projects with Mexican resort developer Grupo Vidanta.
As a part of the company’s commitment to its partnership with Cirque du Soleil, Vidanta is housing the performers and crew of JOYÀ in a hotel on the Vidanta Riviera Maya property that’s been reimagined as “Villa de Soleil.” JOYÀ has been so successful that Vidanta and Cirque du Soleil are teaming up again, this time to build an entertainment park at Vidanta Nuevo Vallarta. Although it’s not set to open until 2018, development is well under way. “Vidanta will be responsible for the design and operation of the park, and Cirque du Soleil will be responsible for its animation, as well as live shows and other experiences,” Chavez says. Cirque du Soleil has already begun creating original animation, live shows and immersive entertainment experiences. Other planned features are water and nature elements, as well as an outdoor evening show. Three inpark resort hotels will place guests in the center of this unique world. The park is expected to be a major draw for members, and will further establish Vidanta as a vacation and entertainment leader. The venture will create thousands of jobs in the Mexican state of Nayarit. —Jessen O’Brien
RCI VENTURES 21
“Vidanta seeks out partners who share our vision to create extraordinary experiences with a focus on creativity and inspiration. Cirque is one of the most awarded and loved entertainment brands in the world; we are honored to call them a partner,” Ivan Chavez, Grupo Vidanta’s executive vice president, says.
IN DEV ELOPMENT
T R AV E L E R P R O F I L E
International travelers are setting their sights on the States. BY E . M . LIN DHOLM
South Beach, in Miami Beach, Florida.
22 Q2 2015
Developers, take note: Top U.S. destinations continue to draw international travelers, and the latest data from the National Travel and Tourism Office, part of the Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration, paints a bullish picture also. International travelers to the United States are expected to have increased 5.9 percent, to 73.9 million, in 2014, and the outlook for the remainder of the decade is looking just as rosy. Foreign visitors to the States are expected to increase 27 percent, to 88.3 million annually, by 2019. “International travel is increasing as economies grow and consumer confidence returns,” says Susan Duncombe, RCI’s director of international affiliate accounts. Assuming some diligence, this growing base of international travelers presents a promising opportunity for timeshare developers to take their product to new markets.
The Brazilian connection In recent years Brazilians have overtaken British travelers to become Florida’s largest group of overseas visitors. In addition to the state’s family-friendly attractions and amenities, shopping is a main draw. Brazil’s volatile economy produces constant inflation; it reached 7.14 percent in January 2015, according to Bloomberg Business. Merchandise in Brazil is also heavily taxed, so Brazilians sometimes find it less costly to fly to Orlando a few times a year and stock up on goods than purchase the same ones in their own country. Business owners have taken note and hired Portuguese-speaking staff and opened Brazilian restaurants. Airlines are also responding to the trend. Seven carriers now offer flights between Brazil and Orlando International Airport, several with daily and nonstop options. Although the highest concentration is found in Florida, Brazilian tourism is thriving across the United States. The White House report Increasing Tourism to Spur Economic Growth found that more than 2 million Brazilian travelers spent $10.5 billion in this country in 2013. In an effort to make it even easier for Brazilians to enter the States, the U.S. government has increased efficiency at Brazilian consulates almost 50 percent and more than doubled their staffs since 2012. As a result visa issuances have nearly quadrupled since 2006. The report also cited Brazil as one of the five countries expected to account for 72 percent of tourism growth to the United States through 2019.
Top International Visitors to Florida in 2013 • 3.7 million from Canada • 1.8 million from Brazil • 1.5 million from the UK • 800,000 from Argentina • 600,000 from Venezuela Source: VisitFlorida.com
Overseas Visitors in 2013 •S eventy-four percent traveled to Florida for vacation/holiday. •T he average length of a stay was 11.7 nights. Source: VisitFlorida.com
Canadian Visitors in 2012 •E ighty-two percent traveled to Florida for pleasure/ recreation/holiday. •T he average stay was 20.1 nights and the median stay nine nights, longer than those of any other visitor segment. Source: Statistics Canada (statcan.gc.ca)
D I D YO U K N OW ?
Waiting periods for U.S. visas in Brazil and China have decreased from as long as 100 days to less than 5 days on average. Source: The White House May 2014 report Increasing Tourism to Spur Economic Growth: Progress on the President’s National Travel and Tourism Strategy
RCI VENTURES 23
IN DEV ELOPMENT
Florida’s international appeal Florida represents 22.5 percent of the U.S. international-visitor market, having received 7.2 million visitors in 2013, second only to New York, according to a recent National Travel and Tourism Office report. The outlook for the Sunshine State is balmy: Overseas visitors to Florida increased 10 percent year over year from 2012 to 2013, and this trajectory shows no signs of slowing. The year 2014 again set a record for tourists visiting the state—for the fourth year in a row, according to Visit Florida, the state’s tourism marketing arm. Florida resonates particularly strongly with visitors from the United Kingdom, a demand fueled by the search for temperate climes and accelerated by the strength of the British pound, which in 2014 hit a five-year high against the U.S. dollar. “Visits from the UK to the United States were up in 2013 for the first time in five years,” Duncombe says. “This resurgence in the UK travel market equals opportunity for U.S. developers and those in other markets popular with UK travelers.” British travelers have been the largest group of overseas tourists to visit Orlando, with Canada contributing the most foreign visitors to the state as a whole. However, the stakes are changing.
Florida at a Glance:
S N A P S H OT P O I N T O F V I E W :
MICHAEL BROWN Chief operating officer Hilton Grand Vacations
Currently, our largest influx is Japanese travelers to the Hawaiian Islands and Brazilians to Florida. In both markets we have trained our resort operations teams in cultural expectations, and we provide guest-services associates that speak fluently in their guests’ native languages. THOMAS JOHNSON Senior vice president of business integration Wyndham Vacation Ownership
IN DEV ELOPMENT
The United States and Canada are now presenting as excellent destinations for European timeshare buyers and becoming increasingly popular exchange options for Europeans because of the strength of the dollar. PEDRO GOMEZ Director of operations Bahia Principe Privilege Club
Our portfolio now includes eight North American locations and a growing owner base seeking greater diversity of vacation destinations, including both urban and European resort locations. European timeshare owners are also looking to buy in the United States. JUAN BARILLAS Executive vice president Exploria Resorts
We have resorts in the Dominican Republic, which is a natural market for Europeans. Cultural and language differences required our investment in dedicated marketing strategies and multilingual staff before we could offer our product to the various European nationalities. SANTIAGO MERIZALDE Business development director Lifestyle Holidays Vacation Club See “Spotlight on the Dominican Republic” on the next page.
Find additional content for this article in the RCI Ventures® magazine app for iPad®. Download it free from the iTunes® App Store today.* * 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. 24 Q2 2015
N E VA DA
H AWA I I
Catering to the Japanese traveler to Hawaii Because of its relative proximity and year-round appeal, Hawaii continues to be a top draw for Japanese travelers. Major developers, including Hilton Grand Vacations (HGV) and Wyndham Vacation Ownership, have tapped this source market. Case in point: Presently, 20 percent of HGV’s owners call Japan home. “The status of ownership with the renowned Hilton brand has tremendous appeal in Japan,” says Michael Brown, Hilton Grand Vacations’ chief operating officer. “Our spectacular resorts in Hawaii and the access to a variety of affiliated resorts and membership advantages throughout Japan and in nearby regions provide Japanese Club Members with excellent vacation opportunities.” HGV’s success is in part due to measures the company has taken to cater to this growing clientele, including staffing properties with bilingual sales and resort personnel, providing bilingual instructions for in-room appliances and other written collateral and offering a range of traditional Japanese amenities. Wyndham has taken similar measures. “It’s important that we understand what our international customers are expecting upon booking and arrival,” senior vice president of business integration Thomas Johnson says. “We continuously strive to offer exceptional customer experiences, and we tailor those services and offerings to meet the needs of our guests. Our resort operations teams and reservation center are always identifying ways to ensure that the product our customers purchase aligns with their service expectations.” At the company’s Oahu resort, additional in-room amenities, such as rice cookers and traditional Japanese teapots, round out the offerings.
PHOTOS, OPENER: SHUTTERSTOCK; THIS SPREAD: SHUTTERSTOCK(4); ISTOCKPHOTO
The international customer certainly remains a viable, targeted opportunity for membership expansion. Correspondingly, we continue to build our international brand presence.
N E W YO R K
M A S S AC H U S E T T S
P E N N SY LVA N I A
T E XA S #
F LO R I DA
Overseas Visitors to Select United States and Territories, 2012–2013: BY S TAT E / T E R R I TO RY: 1. New York 2. Florida 3. California 4. Hawaii 5. Nevada
6. Texas 7. Guam 8. Illinois 9. Massachusetts 10. Pennsylvania
*Full list has 21 states/territories
BY C I T Y: 1. New York City 2. Miami 3. Los Angeles–Long Beach 4. Orlando 5. San Francisco
6. Las Vegas 7. Honolulu 8. Washington, D.C. 9. Chicago 10. Boston
IN DEV ELOPMENT
Top Destinations for United States– Bound Travelers
Spotlight on the Dominican Republic Boosting tourism is a major priority for this Caribbean nation, which in 2012 unveiled an initiative aimed at reaching the milestone of 10 million visitors annually in 10 years. In 2012 alone, arrivals grew 7 percent, for a total surpassing 5 million visitors. Russian travelers in particular have been flocking to the Dominican Republic, thanks to daily flights from Moscow and the draw of the island’s hospitality. The Dominican ministry of tourism has an official promotion office in St. Petersburg, and a second is slated to open in Moscow. “Russians have been encouraged to visit the Dominican Republic by innovative excursions, such as kite-surfing and diving, which they can’t do at home,” Duncombe says. In 2012 the country logged 172,000 arrivals—a number that’s expected to rise 48 percent annually over the next five years. Additionally, Russia has broken into the top five source markets for the Dominican Republic. The Russian government already has one embassy office, in Punta Cana, and is said to be considering opening a second. The island’s tourism industry is starting to take notice. “To better cater to Russian tourists,” Duncombe says, “a number of tour operators in the Dominican Republic have already hired at least one Russian translator to assist with excursions. It’s this kind of thing that resort developers need to be doing.”
*Full list has 20 cities
Source: U.S. Department of Commerce, International Trade Administration, National Travel and Tourism Office
RCI VENTURES 25
IN DUSTRY SOLUTIONS
Hello, My Name Is...
Introducing RCI® LiveStream, a new virtual video platform that sends the sales floor into the cloud. In the current age of face-to-face communication technologies, when touchscreen technology is the new normal, such innovations inevitably make their way into the tool kits of timeshare sales agents. Enter RCI® LiveStream. With this new platform, agents can educate and upgrade existing owners as well as pitch to prospective owners face-toface on any Internet-enabled device, with full video and audio, wherever they are in the world. But that’s just the warm-up. RCI LiveStream is so much more than a video call. “RCI LiveStream utilizes the latest technology to bring together all the tools, the information and the content we’ve been building over the past few years to help affiliates sell timeshare,” says Fiona Downing, RCI’s senior vice president of business development and operations, “and marrying that with the secret sauce—which is really
26 Q2 2015
the timeshare sales agent and their ability to sell the ownership dream by engaging the customer and creating that emotional connection.” Agents can explain concepts simply and easily with the use of photos, videos and animations and can see the guest’s reaction to what they are seeing on-screen, just as if they were in the same room. The agent can access all the information they need with just the swipe of a finger and can decide what they want the customer to see on their screen. They can even keep notes on each interaction with a customer. The content is fully customizable by the affiliate, which can add unique company and resort information. The App Bar, which runs across the bottom of the screen, is color-coded to assist the agent in the pitch sequence as defined by their sales leadership. But RCI LiveStream isn’t just about
RCI LiveStream utilizes the latest technology to bring together all the tools, the information and the content we’ve been building over the past few years to help affiliates sell timeshare.
FIONA DOWNING Senior vice president of business development and operations RCI
closing the deal.“Our affiliated resorts can use this platform, really, for anything,” Downing says. “Whether they are in contact with the customer in person or on the telephone, they can use RCI LiveStream to become even more efficient.” In addition, RCI LiveStream can be used to educate new members, resolve problems, collect maintenance fees and much more. With RCI LiveStream, agents can be located anywhere, so they can be available around the clock. “Ultimately, we believe, this is going to give affiliates and their sales forces the opportunity to interact more with their customers,” Downing says. “They can widen their reach and maximize their resources because now customers don’t have to be sitting in front of them. This could be another game changer for the timeshare industry.”
*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.
PHOTO: COURTESY RCI
Find additional content for this article in the RCI Ventures® magazine app for iPad®. Download it free from the iTunes® App Store today.*
A FRESH NEW LOOK Everything we do is with you in mind. With that, we would like to announce the launch of our new website.
Visit RCIAffiliates.com to: Stay in-the-know on industry news, as well as compelling features from RCI Ventures® magazine. Learn about RCI 360°’s full circle supportSM of products and services to meet your resorts’ needs. Experience first-hand why RCI is the industry leader in timeshare exchange.
RCI and related marks are registered trademarks and/or service marks in the United States and internationally. © 2015 RCI, LLC. All rights reserved. Printed in the U.S.A.
IN DUSTRY SOLUTIONS
Fast and Flexible With the RCI Custom Incentives and Benefits Platform®, create a customizable web portal designed to draw in prospects and provide added benefits to your owners—all while helping boost your bottom line.
PHOTOS: COURTESY RCI
Incentives drive sales Featured benefits can be as diverse as the affiliates’ product offerings and the prospects themselves, and can range from tour premiums and first-day incentives to travel and leisure savings credits and resort benefits. Additionally, affiliates can leverage special product offerings from RCI and/or third-party vendors. The end result is a sophisticated online experience built with enhanced search features that make it easier for a prospect or owner to find the incentive that’s best for them while a personalized dashboard helps them keep track of their benefits in real time via a single display screen. Affiliates’ sales teams can activate a new account right at the sales table, granting the prospect quick access to their new privileges. The RCI Custom Incentives and Benefits Platform can help affiliates improve their closing rates and increase revenue with potentially lower operating costs.
Since its debut, affiliates and prospects alike have responded positively to the benefits of the web-based platform. “The timeshare industry generally has been looking at ways that it can create shorter-term, lighter products, especially for prospects but also as a value-added benefit for owners,” Fiona Downing, senior vice president of business development and operations at RCI, says. “This platform can fill that gap.” On the horizon While rolling out the RCI Custom Incentives and Benefits Platform, the RCI team discovered a white space in the benefit-solutions market. In some cases, Downing says, affiliates came back to RCI seeking a premade, less customized version. Building on the technology of the RCI Custom Incentives and Benefits Platform, RCI is now creating what she describes as a more standardized, off-the-shelf solution— an alternative to the customized option. “The product in development is going to be something that some of our smaller affiliates can simply tap into,” Downing says. “That gives them speed to market, because they don’t have their own development time. It works for some of our affiliates who may not have the staff or the budget to be able to create something that is unique and personal. Our goal ultimately is to meet the needs of all types of affiliates across the board.”
AT A G L A N C E RCI Custom Incentives and Benefits Platform This white-label, web-based solution is designed to be customizable so that it can meet the needs of RCI affiliates. What it includes: •A bility to showcase an affiliate’s unique travel and leisure benefits •P urchase incentives designed to help increase closing rates •A bility to utilize product offerings from RCI and/or third-party vendors Why choose it: •L ower-cost solution enhances the current product proposition •S eamless integration into your sales process •E nhanced consumer experiences build value and consumer confidence •F ast online enrollment and activation What’s next: •B uilding on the platform’s technology, RCI is developing a less customized, off-the-shelf solution that may be ideal for smaller affiliated resorts
RCI VENTURES 27
RCI continues to invest in cutting-edge technologies designed to help drive results for RCI affiliated resorts and their owners. Among the latest offerings: the RCI Custom Incentives and Benefits Platform®, a white-label solution that enables affiliates to design their own marketing and incentive programs. Affiliates can pick and choose which benefits they would like to merchandise at the point of sale and beyond to align the platform with their specific goals.
Upgrading the Guest Experience As technology advances, opportunities to impress owners abound. BY J E SSE N O ’ B RIE N
Technology is becoming more and more integrated with our lives, and guests’ standards for the technology they encounter on vacation are growing also. The good news is, so are the opportunities. Here, a look at some of the latest developments in tech that are impressing guests who have even the highest expectations.
Today guests expect fast and free Wi-Fi while on vacation, so it’s vital to invest in a first-rate system that’s reliable and easy to access throughout a resort’s grounds. Forty-five percent of hotels are working to add or boost Wi-Fi access, and 37.8 percent have increasing bandwidth as their top technology priority, according to the 2015 Lodging Technology Study, by Hospitality Technology. Once a strong Wi-Fi structure is in place, look for ways to capitalize on it. For example, AMResorts has developed its own app, Unlimited Connectivity®. After guests download the complimentary app to their smartphones or tablets, they can access Wi-Fi free and make international calls without receiving roaming charges on their cell phones. In addition, guests can create user profiles so they can contact staff directly, personalize deal preferences and book spa appointments and excursions.
Smartphones and tablets are increasingly becoming the norm and present a range of opportunities for resorts to enhance a guest’s experience. Because customers often prefer to use their own devices, consider creating apps and other software, instead of investing in a tablet for every room. In the coming year 39.5 percent of hotels will focus on customer-facing mobile solutions, according to the 2015 Lodging Technology Study. Many will look into mobile booking and app development, as U.S. travel sales via mobile platforms are forecast to have jumped 60 percent in 2014, according to the Skift report The State of Mobile Booking 2015. Mobile bookings rose 20 percent in the first half of last year alone, Criteo’s Travel Flash Report found. Applications such as the digital RCI® Directory of Affiliated Resorts and the RCI® mobile application deliver maximum convenience to RCI subscribing members, offering inspiring content and vacation-planning assistance.
Back-end technologies can seamlessly enhance guests’ experiences without having them lift a finger. That’s why 20.5 percent of hotels reported in the 2015 Lodging Technology Study that employing mobile solutions for employee-facing applications is a tech priority. Additionally, the latest customer relationship management tools make it easier than ever for resort staff to build detailed guest profiles that can track preferences, reservations, birthdays and more. Employees can utilize this information to personalize a guest’s experience every time they return. At check-in, a list of activities and amenities owners and their guests enjoyed during previous stays may help the front desk make specific recommendations. Investing in behind-the-scenes CRM solutions helps show guests that the resort cares about creating a highly individual experience.
28 Q2 2015
Don’t miss out on an opportunity because you don’t know where a guest is. Geolocation services, like those offered by RoamingAround, can create geofences around specific spaces that are triggered when a guest enters those areas. For example, a guest staying at a resort might receive information about nearby restaurants and activities. A resort might send a last-minute-booking deal to a guest just arrived in a city or a coupon for a free massage to a guest who’s approaching the resort’s spa. These types of discounts can encourage guests to spend more money at a resort while they improve the guests’ experience by providing special offers they might not otherwise receive. RoamingAround can also create an opt-in database that tracks a guest’s preferences and history to supply custom offers.
It’s also important to keep an eye on developing technologies, such as beacons. Like geo-fencing services, beacons note a consumer’s location. And though buildings typically block this type of tracking, beacons can also function indoors. In addition, while geo-fencing has a range of 200 to 1,000
Emerging opportunities meters, beacons can pinpoint a customer a few inches to 50 meters away, letting resorts make very specific offers. A beacon could be used as part of a mobile payment service or loyalty program. Or it could work in tandem with geo-fencing so a guest receives a more general offer when approaching a resort’s restaurant and a more specific one when sitting at a table or at the bar. Although beacons have yet to be adopted widely, they are on the verge of becoming a game-changing technology as ubiquitous as GPS.
ILLUSTRATION: WARD SCHUMAKER/THEISPOT.COM
RCI VENTURES 29
C R O S S WAT E R S E C O L O D G E & S PA
China’s Eco Haven Having a strategic location and luxury accommodations and guided by principles of environmental protection, Crosswaters Ecolodge & Spa’s success is in its DNA.
B Y B R E E S P O S AT O
30 Q2 2015
Crosswaters features nine Bamboo Villas, pictured below and opposite.
Crosswaters Ecolodge & Spa GUANGZHOU
RCI VENTURES 31
CHINA’S FIRST ECOLODGE IS JUST TWO HOURS’ DRIVE
from Hong Kong but feels worlds away. Located in the country’s southern Guangdong Province, the stunning 659-acre Crosswaters Ecolodge & Spa is a study in feng shui eco-design amid the tropical forests and bamboo groves of the serene Nankun Mountain National Forest Park.
Eco-imperative with an elegant touch Crosswaters’ feng-shui-inspired architecture thoughtfully blurs the boundary between indoor and outdoor environ ments. At the lodge’s entrance, a dramatic bamboo bridge evokes ancient China. Built in traditional Hakka style, the elegant one- and two-story villas are raised, so as not to disrupt the native flora and fauna. All 152 villas are equipped with open-air baths, mud walls, sustainably harvested bamboo furniture and large picture windows designed to let in an abundance of natural light. The villas’ balconies afford views of the mountains, Crosswaters’ orchard—planted with peach, plum and tangerine trees— and lotus garden. Lush greenery throughout the property provides guests with a deep sense of privacy. Set near a stream, the on-site restaurant has French windows that look out onto a towering bamboo forest. The space can seat 100 guests and offers two private dining rooms. All ingredients come from nearby organic farms or from the forest—delicacies such as local stone pig, wild frog, young bamboo shoots and tiny river conch. Dishes are prepared either Hakka or Western style. One signature: fresh-caught fish with pickled Chinese vegetables. Perched above another stream, the nearly 540-squarefoot Tea House has two balconies so guests can enjoy native coco tea while looking over the burbling water.
32 Q2 2015
It can accommodate small meetings, cocktail parties and buffet dinners for 30 people. At the Forest Spa, massage and body treatments reflect the changing seasons and incorporate honey, nectar and alkaline-free coco tea. Therapists are trained by the specialists at Bali’s Jamu Traditional Spa, considered one of the top 10 spas in Asia. The power of options Crosswaters Ecolodge & Spa has tapped its stunning natural backdrop to design a robust activity program. Guests are given the flexibility to plan their own itineraries and to make them as intense or laid-back as they like. Activities on offer include bird-watching, stargazing, learning to make traditional Hakka rice cakes, Land Rover excursions, visits to local workshops, picking organic vegetables and going on nature hikes. Themed gardens planted with native species and showcasing Chinese poetry, among other things, dot the grounds. This year Crosswaters is also adding other amenities, such as a hot spring pool and a swimming pool set along a cliff. It all adds up to a carefully managed set of options for owners that reflects both the philosophy and the aesthetic of the property. “Crosswaters Ecolodge & Spa’s environmentally friendly amenities and activities programs fit within the larger context of the timeshare product in China,” Jonathan Mills, managing director of RCI Asia Pacific, says. “The resort is a gem in RCI’s global portfolio.”
Above: A bamboo bridge makes a stately entrance. Opposite: A view of Nankun Mountain, in Guangdong Province, China; inset: The Tea House on the grounds at Crosswaters.
PHOTOS, OPENER: SHUTTERSTOCK; COURTESY OF CROSSWATERS ECOLODGE & SPA(2); THIS SPREAD: COURTESY OF CROSSWATERS ECOLODGE & SPA(3)
Strategic positioning Open less than a decade and only recently affiliated with RCI, Crosswaters is poised to deliver a unique guest experience in the golden age of the Chinese tourism industry. Demand for exchange options in China is on the rise, and guests are looking for better leisure-travel options. Given its prime location—within a nature reserve yet accessible from two of the country’s major cities—and luxe touches, including a staff-to-guest ratio of about 2:1 and 24/7 butler service, Crosswaters is set to deliver. “Our affiliation with RCI not only provides astute customers the ease to travel globally, but also showcases the beauty of Nankunshan [the area where the resort is set] to the world,” says Song Jinsong, chairman of Crosswaters Ecolodge & Spa. The formula is working: The forward-thinking property has won awards for its architecture and been featured in National Geographic Adventure and Travel + Leisure. Expansion continues: A six-acre portion will open later this year.
Crosswaters Ecolodge & Spa has tapped its stunning natural backdrop to design a robust activity program. G R E E N H I G H L I G H TS AT C R O SSWAT E R S 1. Feng-shui-inspired buildings are constructed with environmentally friendly local materials, such as bamboo, clay and river stones. 2. Guests can visit a Hakka tribal village and participate in other ecological and socially conscious activities. 3. The restaurant uses ingredients from local organic farms and the surrounding forest. 4. A bamboo botanical garden and lotus garden are a nod to China’s rich gardening traditions and are planted with an abundance of native species. 5. Spa treatments are inspired by the region’s natural resources and change seasonally.
* 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.
RCI VENTURES 33
Small-Town Charm This Shenandoah Valley retreat woos guests via constant growth and an exceptional staff.
BY J E SSE N O â€™ B RIE N
Massanutten Resort is located in the scenic Shenandoah Valley.
3A 5 3B
4A 2A 3C
M AT T H I A S S M I T H Vice president and general manager Massanutten Resort
MAP OF M A S SA N U T T E N
1. Mountainside Villas: 175 units 2. Shenandoah Villas: 109 units; resort’s first association (A) and Killy Court (B) 3. Eagle Trace: 233 units spread across the Valley (A), the Hill (B) and Killy Court (C) 4. S ummit: 210 units divided among Summit Peak Drive (A), Summit Innsbruck & Sunrise (B), Summit Grenoble Woods (C) and Summit Hillside (D) 5. Woodstone Meadows: 507 units 6. Regal Vistas: 84 units
DRIVING THROUGH THE LUSH GREENERY OF VIRGINIA’S SHENANDOAH VALLEY,
* 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.
RCI VENTURES 35
it would be easy to mistake Massanutten Resort for a small town. Since first welcoming guests, in 1971, Massanutten has grown into a 6,000-acre fourseason resort with more than 100,000 owners, one of the largest single-site resorts in the world. In fact, Massanutten is officially a census-designated place, meaning that the permanent population of roughly 3,000 is large enough that the government takes note of it. “There is nothing else like it in the United States,” general manager Matthias Smith says. “In expanding from a small lodge to one of the mid-Atlantic’s largest and most vibrant resorts, we are proud not only of the growth of our timeshare inventory but also of the experiences we offer members.” With so much room to play with, Massanutten is able to provide a variety of amenities year-round, including horseback riding, golf and a host of snow sports, as well as several types of stay options. There are 1,200 single-family homes, 1,218 units and four hotel buildings on the property. The grounds are divided into six associated areas: Mountainside Villas, Shenandoah Villas, Eagle Trace, Summit, Woodstone Meadows and Regal Vistas. Owners can choose from the RCI Weeks® and RCI Points® programs, so they have maximum flexibility.
It takes a village Maintaining a property of this size is no small feat, especially given Massanutten’s many amenities (for more on Massanutten’s extensive on-site amenity offerings, see page 20). Even transportation within the resort requires dedicated infrastructure. Massanutten employs 170 company vehicles for housekeeping, technicians and general maintenance. Services other properties might normally outsource—such as laundry, carpet cleaning and recycling—have had to be addressed creatively. “These functions are now done in-house because our volume has exceeded what outside services could support,” Smith says. “In short, we have the demand to help many local businesses grow as well as expand internally while increasing our hiring ability. We essentially operate as a small town.” Additionally, Massanutten faces the same difficulty every four-season resort does: the weather. Roadways,
36 Q2 2015
walkways and all public areas must be maintained during thunderstorms, snowstorms and everything in between. When severe weather is forecast, the resort must alert all guests who are planning to participate in any outdoor activity. Without exceptional staff, none of this would be possible. “We have to ensure that we have highly trained, effective and happy staff members,” Smith says. Human resources works diligently to find hardworking candidates, while resort directors develop and reinforce the “Massanutten spirit” of conscientious service. “I am continually blown away by the incredible commitment displayed by our people. All are bound by a pride in the resort and a genuine desire to serve,” Smith says. “As time continues, there is a really wonderful relationship that develops between our staff, many of whom have been employees for more than 25 years, and the families who regularly return to our resort.”
Clockwise from above: Massanutten boasts activities for all seasons, including an indoor/outdoor waterpark, zip lines and snow sports. Opposite, from top: Inside a townhousestyle Summit unit; hitting the links at the Woodstone Meadows Golf Course.
Making owners the priority Massanutten’s staff pays close attention to owners’ desires and then strives to fulfill them; anything that benefits owners will ultimately benefit Massanutten as well. For example, despite being a single-site resort, Massanutten actively encourages owners to visit destinations around the world. Providing a remarkable vacation experience requires evaluating what owners want and making those dreams a reality, Smith says. “As we see the economy improve and travel budgets grow, the opp ortunity to broaden and expand their travel plans is increasingly enticing for our owners,” he says. “So we have a full-time on-site RCI representative to assist our owners and RCI exchangers.” Listening carefully to anyone who stays at Massanutten has also led to the creation of many of the amenities and services now on-site, and even off-site. Often veteran owners rec ommend these projects, while others
We take pride in our ability to offer so many types of experiences to fit a family’s preferences.
have resulted from the suggestions of first-time guests. As it has an on-site indoor/outdoor WaterPark, ski slopes, spa, zip line, golf course and more, it’s hard to imagine what else Massanutten could offer; yet the resort strives to keep up with all requests. It even offers discounted trips to local historic sites and wineries and a tour of nearby Washington, D.C., so that guests can take advantage of attractions outside the resort. Ongoing development One of the advantages of Massanutten’s 6,400 acres is that there is plenty of room on its grounds for it to continue to build out its amenities. “We take pride in our ability to offer so many types of experiences to fit a family’s preferences,” Smith says. “While the percentage of time spent at any one of our attractions varies between them, the common thread is that our owners come to be taken care of and participate in our range of offerings.”
Partly because of its size, Massanutten’s development is ongoing. Recently, the resort finished renovating one of its 50-room hotels, and the modernizing of the other three by spring 2016 is under way. In addition, a 13,000-square-foot state-of-the-art Snow Sports Learning Center is scheduled to open this spring. The complex will be another venue for Massanutten’s many year-round offerings and will greatly improve the experience of those learning to ski. Over the summer Massanutten’s Family Adventure Park will also see construction, with the creation of new obstacles and the expansion of the rock wall area. The guest experience remains unimpeded. For instance, despite the construction of the ski school, Massan utten has been able to carry on hosting special events in the ski area and provide its normal snow sports. “As we grow in size, and our owners grow their families and interest, we are pleased to be able to offer new features, activities and opportunities for our owners to connect as families,” Smith says. “We are honored to play an active part in so many of our owners’ lives, many of whom bring children, grandchildren and even great-grandchildren to Massanutten year after year.”
1971 Webb Corporation begins developing the mountain.
1973 The first amenities are completed, including ski slopes and the pool.
1978 Construction of the first timeshare units, Mountainside Villas, begins.
1998 Woodstone Meadows Golf Course opens.
PHOTOS, OPENER: SHUTTERSTOCK; COURTESY OF MASSANUTTEN RESORT; THIS SPREAD: COURTESY OF MASSANUTTEN RESORT(5)
MATTHIAS SMITH, vice president and general manager, Massanutten Resort
MASSANUTTEN THROUGH THE YEARS
2001 The $35 million indoor/outdoor WaterPark opens, among the largest of its kind in the area.
2012 Owner total surpasses 100,000.
massresort.com RCI VENTURES 37
Playa de Amadores, on the southern coast of Gran Canaria, in Spainâ€™s Canary Islands.
Working Toward the Future The multinational company continues to sow the seeds for success. B Y D AV E J O H N S T O N
FOR CLUB MELIÁ, GROWTH AND FINDING INNOVATIVE
Urban Collections, which are composed of 34 hotels and resorts in the Meliá Hotels International brand portfolio. “They are complementary collections designed so our members are able to enjoy their membership in the hotels and resorts in the most desirable places in the world,” Charco says, “whether an exotic destination or an interesting cultural destination with urban ambience.” Club Meliá members can also convert their membership into MeliáRewards points and use them as an extension of the MHI loyalty program for stays in more than 300 Meliá Hotels International properties around the world. While the company has earned praise from members for access and flexibility, Club Meliá properties have also won recognition within the travel industry, including Paradisus Playa del Carmen La Esmeralda’s receiving a TripAdvisor Travelers’ Choice® award in 2013 and Gran Meliá Palacio de Isora’s being named Best Hotel in Spain. In addition, all Club Meliá properties have earned RCI Gold Crown Resort® Award recognition. Building blocks for growth With continued success comes more potential for growth, thanks in part to Meliá Hotels International’s global expansion. In 2014 the Meliá Nassau Beach was added in the Bahamas, and future properties include the Meliá Jamaica Braco, in Ocho Rios; the ME Miami; and the Meliá Costa Hollywood, in Hollywood, Florida.
D I D YO U K N OW ?
Meliá Hotels International, Club Meliá’s parent company, is a global powerhouse.
8 brands 350 hotels 35 countries 4 continents
RCI VENTURES 39
ways to support that growth have been fundamental since the beginning. Club Meliá, one of eight global brands operated by hospitality power player Meliá Hotels International, launched in 2004 with three properties in Mexico. Within two years the company added operations in the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico and Panama and began planning for a resort in Spain. Currently, there are 14 properties in Club Meliá’s Home Resort Collection in 11 destinations throughout Mexico, the Caribbean and Spain—and that number is expected to grow in the coming years. Each of Club Meliá’s properties offers spacious, fully equipped studios or villas paired with a wide range of entertainment and dining options, as well as leisure activities for the entire family. “A Club Meliá vacation is an unforgettable experience that stays in the minds of our members forever, making them feel at home away from home from the moment they book their vacation,” Victor Hugo Charco, corporate vice president of operations and strategic projects, says. VIP check-ins and lounges set the tone the minute members arrive. “Our Vacation Concierge staff is ready and willing to offer assistance with a smile for anything our customers may need, from coordinating one-day excursions to booking a romantic dinner in one of our signature restaurants.” Club Meliá members also have access to the Resort and
V I C TO R H U G O C H A R CO Corporate vice president, operations and strategic projects, Club Meliá
TURKS & CAICOS CUBA DOMINICAN REPUBLIC
C LU B M E L I Á’ S H O M E RESORT COLLECTION
1. Meliá Vacation Club Puerto Vallarta 2. Paradisus Cancún
PU ERTO RICO
3. Paradisus Playa del Carmen La Esmeralda 4. Meliá Vacation Club Cozumel 5. Meliá Panamá Canal 6. Paradisus Punta Cana 7. Paradisus Palma Real 8. The Reserve at Paradisus Palma Real 9. Meliá Caribe Tropical 10. Gran Meliá Puerto Rico
11. Gran Meliá Palacio de Isora BELIZE
12. Meliá Tamarindos
13. Meliá Salinas EL S A LVA D O R
5 C O S TA RICA
N I C A R AG UA
G U AT E M A L A
14. Meliá Marbella Banús
PA N A M A
“These new MHI additions to its hotel portfolio are very attractive opportunities for Club Meliá to develop a profitable business model that fits the interests of all parties involved,” Charco says. “We are also analyzing more projects collectively with our expansion team in the Americas.” Club Meliá has also sought innovative ways to bolster its growth, including establishing a magazine for members and new technology for supporting sales and marketing processes, controlling operations and helping fulfill members’ expectations. “We implemented a compelling sales presentation platform and a timeshare software product suite, and we refined and streamlined processes with the external partners who were serving our members, creating a solid foundation for our business growth,” Charco says.
The RCI connection Club Meliá has three international resorts affiliated with RCI’s The Registry Collection® program. Each of the Meliá resorts offers members five-star accommodations, impeccable surroundings and unique vacation experiences. “The Registry Collection program gives members who have access to the program the added alternative of vacationing in premier facilities that are giving them an exchange component that helps maximize their benefits,” Charco says. “They can also enjoy other discounts and services, like the Travel Concierge Service, which caters to every travel need whenever the member is ready to plan their vacation.” Charco considers RCI a key growth partner for Club Meliá and MHI because it brings guests to the company’s hotels year-round, some
40 Q2 2015
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Opposite, clockwise from top left: The welcome lounge at Paradisus Playa del Carmen La Esmeralda; Playa de Papagayo, on Lanzarote, in the Canary Islands; the restaurant terrace at Grand Meliá Palacio de lsora; the pool at Paradisus Cancún; a swim-up suite at Paradisus Palma Real; sailing in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic.
of whom may purchase membership. “This also complements the Club Meliá membership by providing a wide range of quality holiday experiences at approximately 4,500 affiliated resorts in more than 100 countries where Meliá Hotels International does not have a presence, providing our club an alternative brand exposure,” Charco says. “This adds value to our membership through RCI’s membership lifestyle benefits, such as RCI® Travel services and the RCI Platinum® membership tier.” Eyes on the future To help manage Club Meliá’s growth, executive vice president Onofre Servera moved from MHI’s corporate office, in Spain, to Club Meliá’s Miami head office two years ago. “Onofre Servera has provided a strategic vision of expansion to Club Meliá because of his thorough
S PA I N
knowledge of the hospitality industry as well as his vast experience in various executive roles within MHI,” Charco says. “Under his charge we have developed our new product, Destinations by Club Meliá.” An offering parallel to the company’s core product, Destinations by Club Meliá is a shorter-length product (five to 10 years) that can be used in standard room accommodations among 12 all-inclusive and/or full-board Destinations Resorts in the MHI portfolio. “It provides our members with special rates and important discounts when making reservations, as well as access to the Meliá Hotels Loyalty Program, MeliáRewards, which has the most desirable benefits of recognition and special treatment. The program also provides members with an affiliation with the RCI Platinum membership tier,” Charco says. Alongside the Destinations product, Club Meliá is
updating its core product. “We are modifying our core product to offer an attractive model to hotels under management contracts, aligning our expansion and growth strategy to that of MHI,” Charco says. “Reorganizing our current club structure will provide Club Meliá the strength to enter into other markets where we currently do not have operations. “Our goal is to open, between 2015 and 2017, 20 new sales offices in different countries. We are also developing an alternative business model based on fee for service, in order to capitalize on our resources and talent as well as our expertise. We actively seek to provide opportunities to independent developers or owners interested in our successful business model.”
PHOTOS, OPENER: ISTOCKPHOTO; COURTESY OF CLUB MELIÁ ; THIS SPREAD: ISTOCKPHOTO(2); COURTESY OF CLUB MELIÁ ( 4 )
Snorkeling in the Phi Phi Islands, in Phuket, Thailand.
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C L U B PA R A D I S O
Connecting to Luxury Pairing tech tools and first-rate hospitality, Club Paradiso strives to make members’ desires come true. B Y D AV E J O H N S T O N
WITH RESIDENCES IN SUCH EXOTIC AND FAR-FLUNG LOCALES
“The club has really detailed info, which enables it to deliver bespoke service on a grand scale,” Cushway says. “What makes Club Paradiso special is that while it has thousands of members, it is able to deal with every member as though they were the only one.” Tech-savvy member engagement Technology plays an important part in Club Paradiso’s meeting of its members’ needs. “When people join, we give them a tablet loaded with travel goodies, from the SilverpointGo app, which is full of information on a range of worldwide locations, to the sorts of apps you see on mainstream tablets, such as language translation and foreign exchange rates,” Cushway says. The app also has a communication widget that enables it to connect to members and pass along special offers and updates. Club Paradiso’s management believes that continuous communication with members is vital to ongoing engagement with them. “Club Paradiso wants to speak to members not only when it comes to service-fee time,” executive Jared Licina says. “We want to engage with members all year round and deliver the best value for money we can,” he says. “If we can affect people’s whole lives and not just their vacations, then we are happy. We are constantly working on improving service and the way we communicate, and modern technology certainly helps us do that.”
as Dubai, Thailand and Tuscany, and counting a fleet of Sunseeker sports cruisers among its offerings, Club Paradiso might well have “unashamed luxury” as its unofficial motto. According to Mark Cushway, chief executive officer of Silverpoint, which distributes the Club Paradiso product, Club Paradiso debuted in 2004 in Dubai in “response to a demand for increased quality in both accommodation and service standards.” From the beginning, he says, “Club Paradiso focused its core values on a small group of boutique developments with an emphasis on an unrivaled level of personalized customer service.” To offer exceptional service meant hiring the right people—including the right concierge. “The recruiting of the club concierge [was] an important part of what would set the service standard,” Cushway says. To that end Club Paradiso hired Nancy Claphouwers, a multilingual hospitality professional who specializes in making members’ experiences at Dorrabay residences, in Dubai, extraordinary. “Nancy has been amazing since day one,” says original Club Paradiso member Stan Buffrey. “We have been members of the club since 2004, and not only is she there for us whenever we need her, but she anticipates what we want and helps us plan our dream holidays every year.” Additionally, in-depth member profiles help the company understand the likes and dislikes of every guest.
M A R K C U S H WAY Chief executive officer Silverpoint
RCI VENTURES 43
Ultra-luxe getaways Every resort in the Club Paradiso portfolio has features that make it unique, whether it’s a farmhouse apartment in a beautiful Tuscan setting, a spectacular tower next to the Dubai marina or a Sunseeker sports cruiser. “This variety means that members can bank on the quality and service but be surprised every year by distinct differences,” Cushway says. One of the club’s most luxurious offerings is The Platinum Exper ience, a small fleet of two-bedroom Sunseeker sports cruisers in Tenerife, Spain, that Cushway calls a great example of the club’s “unashamed luxury” that is popular with members. “With captains and onboard butlers, these boats offer a unique opportunity to enjoy a millionaire lifestyle,” he says. “For those clients looking for waterfront accommodation with great sea views, it clearly does not get better than this. With boats in Tenerife and boats on their way to Malta and Dubai, this little network gives an extra twist to what is already a superb system.” A recent addition to Club Paradiso resorts is Kentisbury Grange, in southwest England. This countryhouse hotel, offering stunning views
44 Q2 2015
over a national park where wild horses roam, is the epitome of British charm. Of course, along with rustic grandeur the resort features everything the modern traveler desires. “Club Paradiso members love Kentisbury Grange,” says Peter Farquhar, the property’s general manager. “We do our best to pamper them from the start.” Another popular feature of the location is a restaurant co-branded with top British celebrity chef Michael Caines, who also helms the kitchen at Gidleigh Park, which holds two Michelin stars. Cuisine is a high point of a stay at Kentisbury Grange, Farquhar says. “The food is a major feature here. We know it’s fine dining, so guests don’t eat with us every day; but there are other wonderful places to eat, including typical English pubs offering real home cooking. All in all, a visit to Devon is a foodie treat.” In growth mode Recently, Club Paradiso affiliated with The Registry Collection® program. “This added an important dimension to the club and introduced some stunning locations and properties to the members,” sales manager Peter Wallbridge says. “There has
Below: Club Paradiso’s Platinum Experience features a fleet of Sunseeker sports cruisers. Opposite, from top: the harbor at Valletta, Malta, at sunset; Kentisbury Grange, a country-house hotel in England; The Paramount, in Tenerife, Spain.
been solid growth in sales to new members, and in existing members’ adding time, now that these new locations are available.” Additionally, member-profile information has helped shape the way Club Paradiso has expanded. “Within the club-member profile there is a travel wish list, and the club has expanded its portfolio of resorts in line with members’ wishes,” Cushway says. “This means that demand for all the resorts is high and satisfaction likewise.” Club Paradiso is looking optim istically to the future, developing its own new locations but also talking to other top-quality clubs to see what locations and services can be added. “We would expect to see a handful of exciting options for members brought online in the next 18 months that we know will be on the ‘dream list’ of those many members who have been using Club Paradiso for more than a decade,” Cushway says. “It’s wonderful to know that the club is not sitting on its laurels but pushing to bring in new and exciting experiences.”
C L U B PA R A D I S O O F F E R I N G S Resorts: • Angler’s Reef—Florida Keys • The Paramount—Tenerife, Spain • San Filippo—Tuscany, Italy • Dorrabay—Dubai, United Arab Emirates • Kentisbury Grange—Devon, England • Golden Sands—Malta • Luna Villas—Phuket, Thailand At Sea: • The Platinum Experience
• Location—Find out about each resort and experience • Accommodation—Information and booking-inquiry system • Going out—The dish on local restaurants • What to do—Information about excursions and activities • Good to know—Tips and advice for getting around locally • Maps • Social-media overlay—“Check in” with a number of location-based social-networking sites • Dream destinations—Ideas for exotic holidays • Rest of the world—Online travel search with international information • Extras include real-time weather reports, a currency converter and a translator app (available for iOS and Android*)
*Android is a trademark of Google Inc.
PHOTOS, OPENER: SHUTTERSTOCK; COURTESY OF CLUB PARADISO; THIS SPREAD: COURTESY OF CLUB PARADISO(3); ISTOCKPHOTO
T H E S I LV E R P O I N TG O T R AV E L A P P I N C L U D E S A N U M B E R O F F E AT U R E S :
R C I ® A F F I L I AT E D R E S O R T N E W S
Secrets St. James Montego Bay resort, in Jamaica, is one of the 14 AMResorts Collection properties to receive the Five Star Diamond Award.
Promoting Vacation Ownership in China RCI has signed a memorandum of understanding with the exclusive operator of Chinadaily.com’s real estate residential channel, Beijing Lan Hai Cultural Media Co. Ltd., that formalizes their dedication to jointly cultivating shared ownership in China. In 2013, 3.26 billion Chinese domestic travelers spent $428 billion USD, making China one of the largest domestic-travel markets in the world. Thanks to the country’s increasing affluence, longer holidays and relaxed visa procedures, those numbers are expected to grow. The memorandum lists three objectives: to engage local government, promote the industry in China and educate the Chinese public about timeshare.
46 Q2 2015
Hilton Grand Vacations Announces New Hilton Head Island Resort Hilton Grand Vacations and timeshare real estate development firm Strand Capital Group are joining forces to create a resort on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. The latest project of HGV and Strand Capital’s five-year partnership, the resort will consist of four buildings on a coveted South Forest Beach property and is set to open in early summer 2016. Sales for ownership interests in the resort’s 125 twobedroom units begin in April.
Unlimited Vacation Club by AMResorts Earns International Five Star Diamond Award The American Academy of Hospitality Sciences has bestowed the Five Star Diamond Award on 14 Unlimited Vacation Club resorts. This award honors standouts in the field of luxury hospitality. Properties are judged on service, guest satisfaction, accommodations, facilities and professionalism. “Recognition like the AAHS Five Star Diamond Award,” president of AMResorts Gonzalo del Peon says, “validates our commitment to delivering a true luxury experience that far exceeds guests’ expectations across our six brands.”
Do you have news to share? Email it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Recent RCI® Affiliated Resorts* RCI Weeks® program Aldeia do Mar Itacaré, Brazil Apartur las Leñas Malargüe, Argentina Bombinhas Summer Beach Hotel & Spa Bombinhas, Brazil Breeze Private Residences Club Carrillo, Guanacaste, Costa Rica Contempo—Bella Piazza Davenport, Florida Contempo—Highlands Reserve Davenport, Florida Contempo—Orange Tree Davenport, Florida Contempo—Providence Golf & Country Club Davenport, Florida Contempo—Southern Dunes Davenport, Florida El Dorado Maroma Playa del Carmen, Mexico
Island Seas Resort Freeport, Grand Bahama, Bahamas
Resort Do Lago Caldas Novas, Goiás, Brazil Silver Palace & Spa Hotel Gümüşyaka, Turkey
J’s Kobayashi Golf & Resort Miyazaki-ken, Japan
Tauá Grande Hotel e Termas Araxá Araxá, Minas Gerais, Brazil
J’s Nichinan Resort Miyazaki-ken, Japan
Tauá Hotel Atibaia Atibaia, São Paulo, Brazil
Lodges at Canmore Canmore, Alberta, Canada
Tauá Resort Caeté Caeté, Minas Gerais, Brazil
Park Royal Argentina Buenos Aires, Argentina
United-21 Lake City Resort Udaipur Udaipur, Rajasthan, India
Parque Aquatico Termal Lago de Itaipu Itaipulândia, Brazil
United-21 Mysore Mysore, Karnataka, India
Pousada Magic City Suzano, São Paulo, Brazil
United-21 Resort Kaziranga Kaziranga, Assam, India
Red Park Thermas Resort Rondonópolis, Mato Grosso, Brazil
United-21 Royal Resort Todgarh Todgarh, Rajasthan, India
RCI Points® program The Fountains of St. Augustine St. Augustine, Florida
From top: Tauá Hotel Atibaia, in Brazil; Breeze Private Residences Club, in Costa Rica.
Venetian Ridge Villas Spa Resort Providenciales, Turks and Caicos Islands
The Registry Collection® program
PHOTOS: SECRETS ST. JAMES MONTEGO BAY; TAUÁ HOTEL ATIBAIA; BREEZE PRIVATE RESIDENCES CLUB; SHUTTERSTOCK; ISTOCKPHOTO
Hayitli Merada Termal Izmir, Turkey
One on Marlin Providenciales, Turks and Caicos Islands Saint Peter’s Bay Saint Peter, Barbados The Rangers Reserve Ramnagar, Uttarakhand, India
*Due to space limitations and other considerations, this list might not include all resorts that have recently affiliated with RCI.
RC I V ENT U R E S 47
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A FINAL THOUGHT
RCI Off-Duty It’s not all business at RCI. In a new series, RCI Ventures® magazine checks in with key team members to talk vacations, sports teams, historical heroes and more. First up, Jonathan Mills, the recently appointed managing director of the Asia Pacific region. Before joining RCI in Singapore, in January, Mills worked in Bangkok, Thailand, as head of operations for Holiday Inn Express and InterContinental Hotels Group Shared Services. As managing director at RCI, Mills is in charge of executing strategic priorities and motivating business growth across the Asia Pacific market. Here are a few fun facts about this 25-year industry veteran.
What is your greatest passion or hobby outside the office? JM: My greatest passion is my family, but in addition I am a huge Leicester City Football Club fan. However, they are currently sitting bottom of the English Premier League, so it’s a tough time to support them. If you could replay one moment, big or small, in your life, what would it be? JM: The birth of any of my three children would be a great moment to relive for me, but maybe not for my wife. Next would be the many football tournaments over the past 20 years when England was knocked out of the World Cup or UEFA European Championship by Germany during penalties: I would tip off the England goalkeeper as to which way to dive to save the penalty so as not to get knocked out!
52 Q2 2015
What’s the best, or strangest, meal you’ve tasted during your travels? JM: Monkey brain and goose feet are the strangest. The best has to be fishand-chips whenever I go back home to England; of course, they’re even better if eaten out of newspaper with lots of salt and vinegar. What goals would you like to accomplish in your lifetime? JM: To influence the next generation of talent in Asia in our industry and assist them in achieving their goals. I’d also like to play golf at a reasonable standard. Who is your hero? JM: Winston Churchill. If you could meet any historical figure, who would you choose and why? JM: Lee Kuan Yew, the first prime minister of Singapore [who governed for three decades]. I appreciate his incredible vision and ability to deliver that vision. What is one activity that brings your family together? JM: After pocket-money time, it’s family meals and holidays.
PHOTO: TOPTANA PHOTOGRAPHER
Where did you go on your most memorable vacation? JM: I have been very lucky over the years to experience some great holidays and destinations. Recent vacations to Vietnam and Cambodia have been extremely memorable for the incredible beaches, culture, history and food.
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