Best Work Place Characteristics
What makes a Best Place to Work? Much like DNA, every company has its own unique culture. But some of the characteristics of the best companies are those that focus on people programs, providing employees with ongoing opportunities and professional development, helping them to learn and grow. They stand for something beyond increasing profits and participate in philanthropic efforts. They make their employees feel connected to their company’s mission by sharing the future outlook of the business.
Best companies invest in their people by addressing their core needs so they’re fueled and inspired to bring the best of themselves to work every day. These same qualities also fuel business performance, productivity and employee retention. Best work places regularly recognize associates for their positive contributions.
The most essential measure of whether a company is a great workplace is whether employees say it is. Our research has revealed there are many such companies within our industry. In this article and others to follow, Resort Trades will introduce you to some of them.
Holiday Inn Club Vacations: Focusing on Team Members and the Future
Headquarters: Orlando, FL
Resorts: 26 branded resorts in 13 states
Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Massachusetts, Missouri, Nevada, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, Wisconsin
Members & Owners: 140,000 Club members & 340,000 Owners
Sales centers: 14
Alliances: Since 2008, Intercontinental Hotel Group (Holiday Inn)
History: Kemmons Wilson founded Holiday Inn in 1952, creating one of the most recognizable hotel brands in the world. After selling the iconic Holiday Inn brand and retiring in 1979, he became intrigued with the concept of vacation ownership and in 1982 opened Orange Lake Resort next to Walt Disney World Resort.
Beginning in 2006, the company embraced a growth strategy by acquiring new resorts in key U.S. vacation destinations. In 2008, they formed a marketing alliance with Intercontinental Hotel Group (IHG), owner of Holiday Inn and world’s largest hotel loyalty program. The alliance created the Holiday Inn Club Vacations brand, which is exclusively operated by Orange Lake Resorts. In 2015, they acquired Silverleaf Resorts and its 13 properties. Today, the company’s flagship Orlando property – Orange Lake Resort – is among the largest single-site timeshare properties in the world with over 2,500 units on 1,400 acres.
Tom Nelson is President and Chief Executive Officer of Orange Lake Resorts, assuming the role in August of 2017. He is a dynamic, down-to-earth leader who believes a strong corporate culture is built on great teams that are focused on innovation and customer service. Tom has overseen the tremendous business and financial growth of the Holiday Inn Club Vacations® brand through its strategic alliance with leading global hospitality brand IHG®, as well as the 2015 acquisition of Silverleaf Resorts. Tom joined Orange Lake Resorts in 2003 as the company’s CFO and was promoted to President and Chief Operating Officer in 2013.
Tom is a Certified Public Accountant, holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration and Accounting from the School of Business at California State University, Hayward, and is a graduate of the Executive Program at Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business. He currently represents Orange Lake Resorts as a member of the ARDA Board.
A History of Innovation and Caring
Just as Kemmons Wilson built the Holiday Inn brand into the most recognizable hotel brand in the world, CEO Tom Nelson’s vision is to build the Holiday Inn Club Vacations brand into a global leader in the timeshare industry. Since 2015, the company has doubled in size and is continuing its growth plan. They recently relocated their corporate headquarters from Kissimmee, FL to Orlando, FL and built a new modern campus environment with two buildings totaling 240,000 square feet. In 2019, HICV expects to add additional destinations to its resort map and recently purchased the David Walley’s Resort located just 20 miles from Lake Tahoe, CA.
Shared Nelson, “There’s one thing I learned throughout my career: If you put the right people together and work toward a common goal, all the pieces will fall into place. It’s about trust and culture backed by a winning strategy. With our amazing team in place, I am truly excited about our future.”
As a growth company, Holiday Inn Club Vacations continues to search for the best candidates across its network of resorts and corporate offices. In 2018, they implemented a new internship program, RISE (Resort Industry Student Experience). This learning experience offers future hospitality leaders an opportunity to meet company executives and share experiences. Additionally, they recently launched a new leadership development program, Expansions, which teaches team members skills that the company is seeking in its future leaders.
Providing opportunities to learn succeed and sometimes fail is part of the company’s DNA. Here are some examples of why people LOVE to work there:
Marco Madrazo has been with Holiday Inn Club Vacations five years, designing training programs in various departments. In describing the corporate work environment, he says, “It all comes down to a key word: empowerment. They tell us we trust you. Do what you do best, have fun while you are doing it and if you don’t succeed, it’s ok. The company is entrepreneurial in spirit. They are not afraid to let us give it a shot. Their only requirement is that we learn from our failures. They don’t just say it, they walk the talk. Your own emotional health is more important to the company than any type of business goal. This company excels at diversity and inclusion of understanding cultures and ideas.”
Brian Loeffel is a Front Desk specialist at Cape Canaveral Beach resort and a certified academy trainer, with the company over four years. He adds that the company is very family oriented with a leadership that is very approachable and open to new ideas. Even though he has a physical issue that involves walking with a cane, it doesn’t interfere with his work and the company allows him to rest when needed.
Todd Johnson serves as the West Village resort manager and echoes the thoughts of his colleagues, only more so. “At all levels this company put its trust and faith into employees to execute what we call the ‘exceptionally Family-friendly vacation experience.’ I absolutely love every day. I can’t get enough of it. On a Happiness Scale of 1-10, I am off the scale in space. There is an incredibly positive interaction between staff, the company and guests. This company defines empowerment.”
To motivate other employees, Holiday Inn Club Vacations considers its team members family and offers a competitive compensation package and benefits package and heavily discounted rates for resort stays. Team members explore their full potential, with the help of the company’s tuition assistance program for full-time and part-time employees. College partnerships have been established with a variety of universities and colleges that offer discounts to team members, reducing the costs of application fees and tuition.
Through the company’s Heart Travels program, team members that volunteer in their community can earn up to 16 hours of VTO (Volunteer Time Off) for full-time employees and eight hours for part-time employees. Team leaders also support volunteer efforts by organizing team-building opportunities at charities like Give Kids the World and Christel House International. In 2017, team members and the company contributed $1.2 million in cash, goods and services to charities in its resort locations.
To learn how you can be part of this amazing company go to careers.holidayinnclub.com.
By Marge Lennon