Management company Grand Pacific Resorts won five (5) Gold awards at 2018 ARDA World. Winners included Kelly Brady-Snyder – Inventory Revenue Management Manager, Sarah Fant – Housekeeping Manager, and Wisam Al Saffar – Maintenance Manager at MarBrisa Carlsbad Resort, and Grand Pacific Vacation Services – Call Center Team and Reputation Issues/Crisis Management. Grand Pacific Resorts was also a finalist in six (6) other categories. “We are extremely proud of our team and the recognition we received at ARDA World 2018,” said Co-President David Brown. “To win the same number of Gold awards as the largest companies in the timeshare industry and have so many associates selected as finalists amongst top-tier hospitality brands, is a testament to Grand Pacific Resorts’ commitment and dedication to enhancing the owner experience. It is thanks to our incredible team of associates that we continually build on our success year after year.”


Brand Tango, a branding, design, environmental and digital strategy agency located in South Florida, took home seven ARDY awards from ten finalist nominations at the convention.  “Brand Tango is honored to be recognized across so many channels, from brochures to sales center design to immersive websites,” says James Kluetz, president and chief creative officer. “To help the industry engage the next generation of consumers, Brand Tango has expanded our capabilities to provide multi-dimensional, highly personal guest experiences. This approach provides emotional touchpoints across the entire customer journey that surprise and delight future members. Our entire team is excited with the positive response our work has received.” Kluetz gave attendees a closer look at these tactics during one of the educational sessions, “Tomorrow’s Sales Center Today,” which he moderated.


ARDA World Education


In a panel entitled, “Rethinking Finance: Resales, International and Beyond,” a panel of four experts looked at financing for international projects as well as for non-traditional projects such as resales, travel clubs and other types of assets. The panel’s moderator Bill Ryczek, principal, Colebrook Financial Company shared his experience from a lender’s perspective in making loans to international developers. While Colebrook’s portfolio includes primarily U.S. developers, the company also serves resorts in the Caribbean and Mexico. In his introduction, Ryczek agreed with what is common knowledge in the timeshare world: It’s known that Scott Preston, managing partner, Preston Arza, is the ‘go-to’ attorney for U.S. companies dealing with resorts in Mexico, due to his command of Mexican law and U.S. regulations for relationships over the border.


Also participating on the panel was Debbie Ely, president of Vacation Club Loans. Her specialty is consumer financing for resale purchasers. She works with a number of resale advertising companies and says, interestingly, that her average contract is $11,000, a vast improvement over previous years. While many of us remember Bob Steinke from Monterey Financial Services, the newest ‘face’ from that company is that of Chris Hughes, president & CEO. Monterey has been known throughout the industry for years for their collections capability, as well as its ability to provide loans to borrowers of niche products such as jewelry, cosmetic surgery and trade schools. Hughes expressed an interest in lending to Canadian, as well as U.S. purchasers of products in the U.S., Caribbean and Mexico.


Around the Industry


Newly arrived to ARDA World’s exhibit hall this year was Custom Travel Solutions. CEO Mike Putnam explained, “Custom Travel Solutions’ core product is our travel benefits/club platform. By leveraging the company’s travel technology, booking and fulfillment capabilities, the travel benefits club platform harnesses the convenience, excitement and value of private, members-only travel and lifestyle benefits.”


Putnam says this company has been active for almost 30 years building travel businesses and technologies that enable companies and organizations around the world to drive sales and boost loyalty. “Our goal?” he says. “…to help our customers build, deploy, and operate successful travel membership programs that increase retention, loyalty, and, ultimately, revenues.” Custom Travel Solutions assists a number of travel clubs in the vacation ownership/timeshare space, including a major developer located in Cancun and the Riviera Maya.


Dennis DiTinno of Liberté Management writes, “Just an update on this new Limited Deeded Ownership program. We sent out our standard ‘You’re late’ notice to our delinquent owners with the promise to pay for their Maintenance Fees this year, or next, if they recommend someone into the five years deed program. We cleared up 11 the first week and heard from another 17 the next week.  Instead of paying a commission to a salesperson, we pay it to the owners (in the form of maintenance fees); actually it’s paid to the Association, so no one gets hit with delinquent fees, charges, foreclosure fees, and more. History has shown us that happy owners recommend new owners annually. This way they can be rewarded.”


DiTinno tells us of other benefits accruing to the Association, including getting new, paid-up-front owners, fewer delinquent owners, stabilized maintenance fees, no collection or foreclosure costs and reduction of bad debt. “Never thought the owners would become our best sales staff!” he remarks.


Resort Managers’ Corner


Bedbug Control


Rodger Williams, general manager of Applied Science Labs, a bed bug control company providing services to resorts and hotels, was recently interviewed about the legal threat of bed bug infestation. “The common thread in bed bug awards is jurors felt the hospitality business did not care,” he said. Some settlements have amounted to hundreds of thousands of dollars. One guest settled out of court for $71,000 after she had been bitten 400 times and developed a chronic skin condition. “A once-and-done treatment is not enough to solve a bed bug problem,” Williams said. He added, “It used to be all about response, but now it’s about prevention.”


Swimming Pool & Aquatic Facilities


Pentair Director of Compliance and Safety Ken Gregory announced a new product for aquatic facilities – the Pentair BioShield UV System. “We are pleased to now offer an affordable, dependable UV product that is approved for use in hotel, motel, apartment, condo or HMAC aquatic complexes and will help to safeguard pool environments,” said Gregory.


The global public health and safety organization NSF International approved the BioShield UV System to qualify for its Component Certification Specification # 18325. “The product’s advanced engineering provides clean water and air conditions that help ensure a safe and healthy swimming environment,” he added. “For example, the BioShield low-pressure UV lamp offers up to 12,000 hours of continuous operation and reduces chlorine usage by up to 50 percent while eliminating chloramines to improve the air and water quality of aquatic facilities. In addition, the unit provides instant and ongoing protection against chlorine-resistant microorganisms such as Giardia and Cryptosporidium.”


Marketing & Corporate Content


Sharon Scott Wilson, publisher of Resort Trades and content writer/CEO of SharonINK LLC, says she has recently expanded her content writing services to provide business-to-consumer applications, including Welcome Kits, web page content, blog and social media posts.


For almost 20 years, Wilson has been a frequent contributor to this publication, as well as to DEVELOPMENTS magazine, Vacation Industry Review and other B2B media. “I’ve been involved in the timeshare/vacation ownership industry since 1989,” said Wilson. “After working for several resort management companies, including VRI, and for Concord Servicing Corporation, I decided to return to my communication roots and began providing PR assistance to vendors and suppliers to the resort industry. All the while I continued to contribute a monthly column to Resort Trades, as well as taking on other writing assignments. With the consolidation of the industry, I foresee an enormous need for content that can help inform and excite consumers about vacation opportunities.”


Wilson remarks her experience in timeshare and understanding of the goals and objectives of those occupying the C-Suite, as well as her familiarity with rating agencies and their role in the ABS market, make her an excellent candidate to assist in preparing public offerings, corporate brochures and annual reports.