Beginning with the February 2016 edition, Resort Trades began a series to introduce a few of the people who make the resort industry great. These are the folks who work onsite at resorts and who actually deliver the dream!
At Resort Trades, we take our responsibility to bring helpful, interesting and relevant information to industry resort managers, operators and all the onsite team members very seriously. We are deeply aware that Resort Trades is the most important connection many have with other industry professionals and current trends affecting their livelihood. And now, we are pleased to turn the camera around, shining the spotlight on the individuals we serve. Where would we be without the dedication of these hardworking folks?
Please let us know if you are interested in meeting other resort team members. If there is enough interest, we will feature a collection of these great folks each month. Wouldn’t it be exciting to meet others in our very special business, if only virtually?
If you know of a resort manager, assistant manager or other resort team member who deserves a little applause, please send me an email with the following information:
• Your team member’s name, title and a brief description of their responsibilities
• Your name, title and the resort/company’s names and location
• A few sentences about why they deserve the spotlight. If you wish, you may include a testimonial from a Board member or owner/member.
• A high-resolution photo of the individual in a jpeg, tiff or similar format.
Send your team member’s information in the form of an article (400-to-800 words only, please), or even a bullet-point list of facts, to SharonINK@TheTrades.com.
And don’t forget: Resort Trades is always interested in hearing your suggestions for future articles. What floats your boat?
• HOA budgeting,
• Customer service,
• Handling challenging people and/or circumstances,
• Educating board members,
• Planning and budgeting,
• Marketing rentals and/or resales,
• Yield management of vacation rentals and resales.
Check all the topics above in which you are interested and send us any other ideas that come to mind. This is your journal; we hope to be of service to you in learning better ways to handle your business, face challenges, broaden your education, enhance your career and help you make better buying decisions.
Thanks so much for your continued support of Resort Trades! — Sharon Scott, RRP, Publisher
Steve Buckley, Regional Vice President, SPM Resorts overseeing both Bluebeard’s Castle Resort and Ocean Club on Smuggler’s Beach in Cape Cod. has the type of personality perfect for timeshare: welcoming, detail-oriented, gregarious and efficient. Timeshare owners have an emotional connection to their resort with years of memories, and Steve makes sure they feel like they are visiting their second home each time they vacation. When asked to name what he loves about the timeshare industry, Steve did not have a long list. He simply replied, “the owners.”
This sums up his approach to management. As General Manager, he always goes above and beyond for owners and guests, replying to each review on TripAdvisor and giving his personal contact information for guests to call if they have any questions. He has the same approach to managing his large staff. As manager to 65 employees, Steve leads by example, motivates with praise, emphasizes open communication, and believes in being proactive rather than reactive.
His leadership style has resulted in inspiring a team that goes above and beyond for owners and guests. He describes, “Wonderful team members who care about people. Team members who gather wild flowers and make a special flower arrangement for a guest special occasion. Team members who drop everything to rush in at 2 am for an alarm going off. Team members who ride in an ambulance with a guest to the hospital so they will not be alone. Team members that started in entry level positions and earned promotions to supervisory positions or upper Management positions. Team members that just want to be given a chance.” These going-the-extra-mile examples are the type of anecdotes you’ll find in the timeshare industry, and it’s the trend that keeps owners engaged with their resort.
Enhancing the value of ownership is another focus of Steve’s, and two years ago he implemented a simple program which has made a drastic impact on the owners. He explains, “We created the Express Check-In program as an exclusive benefit to owners. Most flights arrive at the same time, which means most guests arrive at the same time to check-in to their room. Owners receive an email a week prior to their vacation with a quick form to send back. We make up check-in packets for these owners with their room keys, allowing them to avoid the long lines and get their keys in less than two minutes. Owners love the program.”
Steve began his career in the timeshare industry 12 years ago as Assistant General Manager of the Ocean Club on Smuggler’s Beach and was quickly promoted to General Manager. He later was promoted as the General Manager of Blue Tree Resort and then to Bluebeard’s Castle Resort in St. Thomas. In 2015, he was promoted as Regional Vice President overseeing both Bluebeard’s Castle Resort and Ocean Club on Smuggler’s Beach in Cape Cod.
As Regional Vice President, Steve will continue to lead both properties with the care and precision upon which he has built his career, and continue to make a positive impact on the timeshare industry by creating warm and welcoming resorts for the owners, providing excellent vacation experiences for all guests, and leading teams by his dedicated example.
Heather Love, Member Services, Global Connections Inc. (GCI)
Every year GCI honors one exceptional employee with the Lyons Award for Employee of the Year, named after company president and CEO Tom Lyons. (Based in Overland Park, KS, travel club industry leader Global Connections, Inc. is the developer and owner of resorts in California, Florida, Tennessee and Colorado, and also owns and leases multiple resort condominium units throughout the U.S., Canada, Mexico and Caribbean.)
Out of more than 200 eligible candidates, company executives narrow the field down to a group of eight deserving employees, to eventually select the winner, who receives a crystal engraved trophy and a generous cash bonus. Tom Lyons admits this selection process isn’t easy. “Our entire team makes me proud. It is a difficult choice selecting only one for this award,” he explains. “Each person contributes special skills and talents to our organization and we all pull together toward the common goal of providing affordable annual vacations.”
This year, GCI chose Heather Love, who works in the travel fulfillment center in Clearwater, Florida, as the well-deserving recipient of the Lyons award for Employee of the Year. As she interacts with travel club members throughout the day, Heather spends as much time as needed to ensure their individual traveling needs are met. In addition, she’s in charge of organizing all employee events and activities for the Florida office. “Heather is an important player on our team,” said Kelli Brazier, GCI’s Director of Fulfillment. “She is thoroughly connected to members and other employees, making everybody’s day better with a fantastic attitude and ability to get things done.”
Charlie Stewart, Property Manager, White Oak Lodge and Resort. Gatlinburg, Tennessee
Heather Love isn’t the only GCI employee deserving recognition and praise. Another star employee is Charlie Stewart, Property Manager, White Oak Lodge and Resort. Often described as every resort manager’s dream, Charlie is in charge of the grounds-keeping, housekeeping, maintenance, guest services, and check-in at the 17-acre resort in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. The property features 12 condominiums, 28 uniquely designed and furnished log cabins, picnic and playground areas, a clubhouse, tennis courts, as well as a saltwater pool with five waterfalls and gradual access to make it easy for children and disabled folks to get in and out. Charlie has been with the property 16 years and has seen it expand since Global Connections purchased it in 2006.
Daily activities run smoothly under the watchful eye of Charlie, who directs a staff of seven. The hardest part of his job is making sure that the fully appointed cabins are ready for occupancy when new guests arrive, which is no small task with an 85% occupancy rate. Year after year, the resort has consistently been named one of the Top Ten in the area by TripAdvisor. Because Charlie lives on the property, he has learned to appreciate and enjoy every aspect of it, as well as the beautiful surrounding sights, and the change of seasons. With an innate desire to please people and make them happy, he is in a unique position to share his personal tips with all guests as he makes himself available 24/7. Charlie’s greatest job satisfaction comes from seeing owners and guests enjoying themselves on their vacation. He takes enormous pride in his work and understands that his actions have a tremendous impact on the guests’ impression of the property, the staff and the company.
Global Connections, Inc. is extremely proud of employees like Heather Love and Charlie Stewart, who have dedicated their careers to paying it forward to the people surrounding them. With these shining examples of employee dedication, GCI hopes it can continue to sow the seeds of respect, appreciation and compassion that are so needed in this fast-paced, ever-changing world.
Will Potter, Regional Vice President of Operations, SPM Resorts depth of understanding of timeshare resort operations is evident if you ever see him clearly communicate about projects, patiently train his staff, or offer his opinion on programs. His considered and careful approach to managing resorts is matched by his solid knowledge base and calm demeanor when tackling major projects, which is derived from his experience at every level of resort operations.
Will began his career in the timeshare industry as a customer services representative at Schooner II Beach and Racquet Club in 2005 and has been an Assistant General Manager, General Manager, and Transition Coordinator with SPM Resorts.
In each of these roles, Will has handled the required juggling of responsibilities with professional ease and notes, “I love that my days are not monotonous. No day is the same and working with unique properties, team members, and board members allows me to learn new things every day.”
SPM Resorts, Inc. works with boards to create property improvement plans in order to keep the resort well-maintained and updated for owners’ vacation experiences. Staying on top of cost-saving trends, the latest technology, and functional furniture, Will managed ongoing construction projects as General Manager of Royal Dunes – which is a good thing, as his region currently has four significant interior refurbishment projects taking place this year! He points out the major elements of success for a renovation project includes taking apples to apples bids from vendors, clear communication with the project manager, board, and General Manager, and planning for the unknown. He explains, “In major renovations you never know what you may find on the other side of the wall, in the ceiling, or behind the siding during the demo process. This means budgeting for a contingency which covers unexpected expenses.”
When hired as the management company for a timeshare resort, SPM Resorts, Inc. always approaches the transition of the property and employees with transparency and care. The Transition Coordinator plays a vital role in the process, and stays on-site for the first 90 days to help train employees, answer questions, and support the on-site staff. As Transition Coordinator, Will assisted transitioning Atlantic Terrace Condominiums, Sea Scape Beach and Golf Villas and the Highlands at Sugar.
As Regional Vice President of Operations, Will oversees resort operations at several resorts in Virginia, South Carolina and North Carolina. When asked about his leadership philosophy, Will responded, “My philosophy is to be open to all ideas and that it takes a bottom up approach for our resorts to be successful. Each member of the team is critical to our success and that starts with our front line employees, housekeepers, and maintenance technicians. This all comes from what I have learned working with SPM through their company philosophy of Sincere and genuine customer service, providing our team an ideal work environment, and managing the resorts in a highly ethical and transparent manner. This summarizes the way I conduct myself and the expectations of my team.”