ARDA World: Ten Don’t Miss Events

It can seem like a you have a lot of time; after all ARDA World 2016 runs from Sunday, May 1 to Thursday, May 5, but those who have attended before know how those very long days still don’t seem quite long enough. As you start to pencil in meetings and perhaps even some time on the beach (we are in beautiful Hollywood, Florida, after all), here are a few activities you want to add in ink.

  1. The ARDY Awards Gala
    Known tongue in cheek as the timeshare prom, the ARDY awards gala is your opportunity to see this industry’s finest dressed to the nines in tuxes and formals. Held on Wednesday night, it’s also a great show. “Join us to celebrate the accomplishments of your peers at the Awards Gala,” says Lani Kane-Hanan, chair of the ARDA Meetings Committee and executive vice president and chief inventory and growth officer at Marriott Vacations Worldwide. “This fast paced event will mix good food, friends and entertainment, with awards for the best of the best sprinkled in between.” Advance registration is required for this event.
  2. Resort Managers Meet and Greet
    When resort managers attend their first ARDA meeting, it can be daunting. That’s why ARDA added this new event specifically for them. “Often, resort managers, unless they’re with large developers, don’t have as many industry contacts,” says Catherine Lacey, ARDA’s vice president of Meetings & Conventions. “We added this event early in the convention to give them a chance to make contacts with others who share their interests and concerns.” The Meet and Greet is from 4 to 5:00 p.m. Monday afternoon, just before the Exhibit Hall Opening Reception and then the All Attendee Welcome Party sponsored by RCI. You and your new friends can bond for hours!
  3. Communications Plan for Lifecycle of an Owner Forum 
    The keynote speaker at ARDA World 2015, Jay Baer, wowed attendees. In fact, the marketing keynote speaker, consultant, and digital marketing pioneer impressed the incoming LEAPS class so much that they decided to plan a forum at this year’s convention centered around implementing his “help, not hype” philosophy. “Our goal is to help the industry be better,” says Debbie Ely, vice president, Fidelity Resales and a member of the current LEAPS class, which has organized the session. “The idea is that if we stop selling and start listening and helping, the selling will come naturally.” Baer is the New York Times best-selling author best-selling author of Youtility: Why Smart Marketing Is about Help Not Hype, and his newest book, Hug Your Haters: How to Embrace Complaints and Keep Your Customers, just came out in March and is receiving rave reviews.
    Facilitating the Tuesday, 2:00 p.m.-3:30 p.m., May 3 forum, entitled Communications Plan for Lifecycle of an Owner, will be a member of Jay Baer’s staff trained to share his message. Pre-registration is required.
  4. Education Sessions
    This year’s sessions cover the issues important to you:  technology, regulation, marketing ideas and practices, development structures, financing trends and opportunities.  One with its finger on the pulse is Mirror, Mirror…Creating an Emotional Sales Experience moderated by Margit Whitlock of Architectural Concepts Inc. “We are going to see a case study from Hilton Grand Vacations on how their sales center design has evolved over the past two years to a new approach in 2016,” she says. “In addition, Brand Tango will be comparing the sales technology of other industries such as retail to vacation ownership.”
  5. The Exhibit Hall
    Make plans to attend the Welcome Reception Monday at 5:30 p.m., and then come back often. “This is the industry’s premier marketplace,” says Kane-Hanan. “Producers, distributors, manufacturers, and suppliers will showcase what’s hot! With great food and prizes offered throughout each day, you’ll want to keep coming back to wander the rows and check out our exhibits and events.”
  6. Committee Meetings
    Committee meetings are where most of ARDA’s activities and work take shape, and most (but not all) are open to everyone. For example, the State Legislative Committee, which will meet Tuesday from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m., will be discussing timeshare-related legislation that was considered by the states and what the outlook is for future measures. Check out the schedule and drop in on a session that’s of interest to you.
  7. Lion’s Den General Session
    ARDA’s version of the Shark Tank, the Lion’s Den will feature six start-up companies in the digital travel arena, who’ll pitch their products to our judges and see who wins! The audience even gets to vote. This session is on Wednesday from 9:30 to 11:00 a.m.
  8. Party With a Cause 
    Interval International is already famous for its Party With a Cause, which has featured such notable acts as REO Speedwagon, Peter Frampton, and the Bangles. However, this year is the timeshare exchange giant’s 40th anniversary, so they’re promising a party for the ages. It’s being held Tuesday, May 3 from 9:00 p.m. ‘til ? at the LIV at the Fontainebleau Miami Beach (transportation is provided). “This year’s Party With a Cause promises to be a very special celebration and every dollar raised from ticket sales goes directly to the ARDA International Foundation,” says David Gilbert, president of Interval International. We all benefit from the timely industry research, as well as the education and leadership programs that AIF provides. We hope to see you there.” Purchase tickets in advance for $40 at arda.org or at the door for $50.
  9. The Keynote Session
    On Tuesday from 10:30 to noon, you can catch Jonathon Perelman, former vice president of BuzzFeed Motion Pictures and former Global Lead for Industry Relations at Google, who will discuss the future of digital marketing. “Jonathan Perelman is a proven expert in digital marketing with impressive experience and credentials,” says Gordon Gurnik, president of RCI, which is sponsoring the session. “With such a timely and useful topic, this session will give attendees new insight and inspiration for ways to apply digital marketing concepts into their current business strategies.”
  10. Get Started Sunday
    ARDA World 2016 kicks off with an assortment of events where you can connect old friends and meet some new ones. If you golf, the AIF Open will be held at The Club at Emerald Hills and kicks off at 7:30 a.m. Pre-registration is required; you can  get the details on this and everything else at ARDA.org/convention. The Timeshare Industry Young Professionals (defined as those up to age 35) will gather at the Rivals Sports Bar from 7:00 to 8 p.m. Members of ARDA WIN Advantage are holding a reception from 7:30 to 8:30 p.m. And everyone is invited to attend the Track Results Poker Tournament to benefit cancer survivors, and the first prize is vacation at a Karisma Resort (including airfare) valued at $4000.

As you experience ARDA World, remember this message from Kane-Hanan: “As Chair of the Meetings Committee, we welcome your feedback and suggestions. We have designed the conference around your needs, including networking opportunities, great education sessions, access to regulators and experts, thought-provoking speakers, beautiful venues, VIP spaces, a navigable trade show floor, and fabulous evening events with open bars, along with a chance to celebrate the accomplishments of your colleagues. To keep improving, we need your feedback, so please fill out the evaluation sheets!”