Hatton Gravely, Vice President of Development and Marketing for SPM Resorts
As the VP of Development and Marketing for SPM Resorts, Hatton Gravely serves as the point of contact for timeshare resort board members who may be considering a new management company. Located in Myrtle Beach, SC, SPM Resorts, Inc. is a full-service property management company.
Hatton understands that the search for a management company can be a daunting task and tries to provide information about best industry practices in addition to benefits from SPM’s management services.
“We recently created the Board Member Strategy Planner,” shares Hatton, “which helps timeshare board members assess the operations of their resort. Resorts might not be looking for a management company today, but might be considering a new one in the next few years. They may want to collect general information such as the advantages a management company can bring or what their management team should be doing on a daily basis. By providing this information – along with a free planner – we can help the associations determine future management needs. We also try to ensure that we are the best fit for associations seeking a new management company and prepare our presentations and proposals to fit the needs of each specific resort.”
Hatton also helps promote the sales and vacation rentals of SPM-managed resorts, ensuring that all properties have great online visibility with high-impact websites, strong social media campaigns, and positive online reviews.
Armed with a degree in Political Science and English from Randolph-Macon College in Ashland, Virginia, Hatton began her career working in a congressional office on Capitol Hill, where she helped constituents and gave US Capitol tours. “I loved the Hill, she reflects. “It was an exciting place to be right out of college.”
Subsequent jobs included planning events like golf tournaments and banquets for the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce and work with an advertising agency in Myrtle Beach. As Marketing Manger, she handled all advertising, public relations and events for The Market Common shopping center in Myrtle Beach before starting with SPM in June of 2013.
After three years with SPM, “I love seeing the huge impact SPM makes on the resorts we manage in a short period of time and knowing that I have had a positive role in the owners’ vacations. Timeshare owners really do have the ability to influence changes they want to see at their resort – and SPM is able to make those visions a reality by obtaining feedback from the owners and working with the boards to implement their requested changes.”
According to Bill Young, President and CEO of SPM Resorts, “Hatton excels at her job and is a supremely talented member of our team. While others may think of her job as a sales position, she considers herself more of a resource to inquiring board members. We value our relationships with board members and that partnership begins during the exploration stage.”
Hatton met the “love of her life” when she was 15. They were friends for ten years before dating and recently celebrated their ten-year wedding anniversary. Their two children are an enthusiastic, Kindergartner boy and a happy baby girl who love being on the beach. When not in the office, you may see our lovely lady with a camera in hand, since photography is her favorite hobby.
Chris Cain, Interval Manager, Casa Ybel Resort Hilton Grand Vacations
Chris Cain’s journey into the world of timesharing and hospitality began in 1983 when he and his bride, Betsy, visited Sanibel Island on Florida’s Gulf Coast on their honeymoon from Michigan. A friend offered Chris a maintenance position at a Sanibel timeshare resort developed by The Mariner Group, now managed by Hilton Grand Vacations (HGV). While employed up north, Chris happily accepted the position as a chance for a new start in paradise away from the cold. Betsy joined him a few months later after graduating from college and is the resort manager at another HCV-managed resort, Tortuga Beach Club, where she has been the manager since 1988.
For about ten years, Chris served in maintenance positions at Sanibel Cottages, Tortuga Beach Club and South Seas Plantation, and was then selected as Assistant Property Manager for seven HGV-managed timeshare associations at South Seas, all Mariner-developed and now HGV-managed island resorts. His next promotion was to Resort Manager for the 57-unit Shell Island Beach Club, a position he held for 11 years.
He became Interval Manager of Casa Ybel’s 74 fixed-week timeshare villas in March 2004, just a few months before Hurricane Charley, which was followed almost immediately by three other hurricanes, shutting down the resort – and most of Sanibel Island – for almost a year. In reflecting, Chris admits that replacing fallen roofs and waterlogged furnishings was not the ideal way to start a new job. Now the resort is “like new” due in part to healthy reserves backed by insurance and a small special assessment for upgrades.
ARDA named Chris one of the top maintenance managers for small resorts in 1988 and the top Resort Manager in 1997 during ARDA’s annual awards competition.
It is important to understand that Casa Ybel Resort is unlike other timeshare properties because the 23-acre beachfront site, rich with swaying palms and white sandy beaches, is a mixed-use property with 74 timeshare units managed by HGV as well as 40 wholly-owned one-bedroom condominiums, managed by Casa Hospitality Services. With just two employees, Chris oversees timeshare administration and budgeting, maintenance, housekeeping, landscaping, and capital improvements of his six buildings, representing about 2,600 fixed-week owners. He works with two Boards of Directors and leads weekly owner meetings, which provides immediate feedback on issues.
The resort’s amenities – including a famed historical restaurant, swimming pools, six tennis courts, administration building – and rental programs for the wholly owned condominiums and timeshare units are managed by Casa Hospitality Services, under the guidance of General Manager “JR” Froilan Ramirez, Jr. With a staff of about 85 employees, he directs sales and marketing, reservations, property administration, front-desk operations, housekeeping, landscaping, food and beverage outlets and capital improvements. He and Chris prefer to operate as one resort and are equally motivated to provide a seamless and exceptional vacation experience for Owners and guests.
As a “Legacy” resort, built in 1979 by one of America’s first major timeshare developers, the property has been the vacation retreat for timeshare Owners for 37 years. Says Chris, “Unlike some properties, we have no maintenance fee delinquency or association-owned weeks. Typically 99% of our Owners pay their fees in a timely manner, enabling us to continue to make upgrades and maintain very healthy reserves. It is difficult to exchange into our resort because most of our Owners never want to leave. That has been true since we first opened. Now, it is not uncommon to welcome three and even four generations of timeshare family Owners. It happens every week. Grandparents are passing their Casa Ybel timeshares to their grandchildren with a different kind of legacy.”
Not too many timeshare resort managers can look back on 33 years in the industry but upon reflection, Chris admits that the biggest change has come from technology … enabling him to communicate faster and more efficiently and prepare complex budgets. “But the one thing that has not changed,” he says, “is our Owners love for their timeshare vacation at our resort. As long as we keep the property in the best possible shape and continue to provide the services they desire, I don’t think that will ever change, even after five generations of vacationing families.”
Russ Hale, Vice President of Marketing for MasterCorp
Since 2005, Russ Hale has served as Vice President of Marketing for MasterCorp, directing the branding, advertising, and communications for the company, which has long been respected as the leading provider of resort hospitality services to the timeshare industry.
In marketing and business management for 40 years, Russ was the owner of a creative agency before working with MasterCorp. “All that experience matters only if you carry a sense of renewal and discovery to your work every day,” he admits. “Two blinks and not only will the market change but the means to connect with them. In timeshare marketing, we have to be authentic, strategic, and current.”
Russ worked with MasterCorp before he worked for them. In 2001, while the economy was feeling the aftershock of 911, the leaders at MasterCorp faced the unsteady economy with a solid commitment not just to survive, but to grow. To help position for that growth, Russ’ creative services agency was approached to completely rework MasterCorp’s branding, collateral, and marketing strategy. Three and a half years later, he joined the company. “MasterCorp’s values were a good fit for me,” he recalls, “and I was enamored by the size of their dream. My job was to create a clear path to help them achieve their goals.”
He adds, “My pocket definition of marketing is ‘communicating the right message to the right people at the right time.’ But it’s much more than that. There’s a message in every touch – the way you greet a guest, treat your staff, or even stop to pick up a candy wrapper in the parking lot. Everything is marketing! But the best marketing is built into the service product.”
To improve MasterCorp’s service product and staffing, Russ first developed an internal marketing and communications initiative, including an internal newsletter in Spanish. In 2005, he proposed the introduction of a recruiting department – now considered a ‘must have’ in the industry. He spearheaded MasterCARE™, a culture of caring with high standards for how housekeepers treat guests and each other.
Russ earned a Master of Arts from Austin Peay State University, where he won multiple awards in creative writing, studied art, lettered in baseball and basketball, and starred in South Pacific. A man of deep faith and great love for family, he continues to enjoy the arts, nature, and sports.
With MasterCorp, Russ has thoroughly enjoyed the creative process and sharing the MasterCorp message with the hospitality industry. He has created award-winning ads, collateral, and websites, working closely with design partner Brandsmith Creative (brandsmithcreative.com).
“The MasterCorp team has accomplished far beyond the objectives and goals we established when I began working with the company,” Russ reflects. “Now, as MasterCorp enters a new era of service, I plan to do the same. As of June 2016, I will begin offering my creative services to the hospitality industry as a strategic partner with Brandsmith Creative.”
Now, we can look forward to enjoying even more of Russ’ work as he opens his strategic, creative talents to the rest of the timeshare industry.