The Fifth Annual GNEX Timeshare Leaders Conference set an all-time record. The event, hosted by Perspective Group, drew 197 senior-level executives from 119 companies across the globe for an intimate and focused gathering, Feb. 15 – 18, at the Manchester Grand Hyatt, San Diego, Calif.
With a refreshing focus on forging new business relationships, GNEX provides unrivaled access to prospective clients and strategic partners. Dubbed “The Global Meeting of Minds,” the conference has earned a reputation for delivering open dialogue among industry leaders and carefully planned networking events in a collaborative setting that redefines the traditional conference format.
“Part of the conference’s allure is that it levels the playing field,” says Paul Mattimoe, president and CEO, Perspective Group. “Companies large and small, from any association or affiliated group, join in and shape the conversation. Delegates benefit from chance introductions that lead not only to business deals, but also to collaborations, further introductions and friendships.”
GNEX has grown each year to become one of the timeshare industry’s most anticipated events. The 2015 conference built on the momentum, presenting a first-rate lineup of more than 30 panelists to discuss core issues. There were lively presentations and open-forum panel discussions led by some of industry’s most forward-thinking professionals. True to its reputation, GNEX 2015 also delivered social events that went above and beyond delegates’ expectations. Noted speaker, author and mental toughness coach Jim Madrid served as both a panelist and the conference emcee, deftly handling all the Q&A’s, running the speed networking session, and hosting a one-of-a-kind Perspective Magazine Awards ceremony and charity auction.
Lively Panel Discussions
At the first speaker session, Nico March, senior vice president – investments, The March Group of Wells Fargo Advisors, discussed the state of the economy and the implications for the shared ownership industry. After providing an overview of how the last 12 months played out, March offered a cautiously optimistic glimpse of what is to come in 2015: With the stock market going up and consumer confidence and spending on the upswing, barring unforeseen circumstances, the U.S. is headed toward a period of economic growth and prosperity.
Later on the first day, guest speaker Mark McCullough, senior territory manager – Americas, TripAdvisor, highlighted exciting ways in which the travel mega-site is helping businesses grow. Look for new services to increase reservations, personalize travel marketing and manage brand reputation online to stay ahead of the competition. McCullough noted that Perspective Group is a TripAdvisor Official Partner for its new offering, Joint Review Collection, as the first and only vacation ownership industry partner to provide this service – a key component to online reputation management on the world’s largest travel website.
Additionally, Greg Crist, president and CEO, of the National Timeshare Owners Association (NTOA) shared insights from the soon-to-be-released Timeshare Owners Study. The study, conducted by INTUITION Brand Marketing, a division of Perspective Group, in partnership with NTOA, analyzed more than 500,000 pieces of verified online content collected throughout 2014. Findings revealed an overall rise in positive consumer sentiment toward vacation ownership. Also among the insights gleaned from the data were owners’ favorite timeshare features and the most frequently mentioned destinations.
During the compelling Blurred Lines session, panelists took a fresh look at how timeshare will evolve over the next few years through enhancement to the user experience. Some of the advice to timeshare companies: Continue to be more flexible and more mobile, and provide extraordinary destination vacation experiences. Also important, become more of a lifestyle product, enabling consumers to connect with the brand and get value from their ownership not just while they are on vacation, but also in their everyday lives. The distinguished panelists were: Howard Nusbaum, president and CEO, American Resort Development Association (ARDA); Mark Waltrip, chief operating officer, Westgate Resorts; Marcia Rowley, cofounder and chief marketing officer, International Cruise & Excursions, Inc. (ICE); and Robert Webb, partner, BakerHostetler.
In another highlight of the educational sessions, Reinforcing Stability Through Growth focused on the best routes for growth, covering everything from acquisition strategies to new-builds, strategic partnerships and diversification. Panelists agreed that under the right circumstances (land for expansion, desirable location, sound infrastructure, larger rooms, exciting amenities), refurbishments can be a good way to add value, freshen up the brand, realize increased revenue and create a renewed sense of excitement among owners and guests. Leading the discussion were industry pioneers: Jon Fredricks, president and CEO, Welk Resorts; David A. Siegel, president and chairman of the board, Westgate Resorts/Central Florida Investments; Shaun O’Neill, senior vice president, Concord; Jon Zwickel, president and CEO, Canadian Resort Development Association (CRDA) and founder and president, InnVentures; and John Farrow, president and CEO, Farrow Commercial Construction.
Networking Opportunities and Social Events
GNEX is known for its networking opportunities and exciting social events, and this year was no exception. The popular Speed Networking event, sponsored by MetaMarketplace, gave each delegate the opportunity to meet 30-plus other attendees in two-minute speed meetings. This fast-paced session took place on the first day of the conference, so attendees could engage quickly and have plenty of time for more in-depth discussions to develop new business throughout the conference.
The GNEX 2015 Dream Car Challenge, sponsored by VacationCondos.com, got the conference off to a thrilling start. Delegates had the opportunity to drive more than $1 million worth of exotic cars – the Lamborghini Gallardo, Ferrari 360 Modena, Ferrari F430 and 2015 Porsche GT3 – around two custom-designed autocross tracks. The excitement continued, as global timeshare exchange giant Dial An Exchange hosted a private party for attendees at the national award-winning FLUXX Nightclub in San Diego’s famous Gaslamp District. Finally, this year’s Wrap Party took place aboard the legendary USS Midway naval aircraft carrier, now serving as a museum in the San Diego Bay. Guests enjoyed cocktails, flight simulators and tours before gathering for dinner and the 2015 Perspective Magazine Awards ceremony, honoring the industry’s best and brightest.
Get ready for GNEX 2016, Feb. 2 – 5, at the luxurious Ritz Carlton, New Orleans, in Louisiana. The not-to-be-missed conference takes place during Mardi Gras season, so register early to secure accommodations. Early Bird Delegate Registration rates are available now at