One of the benefits of vacation exchange is that owners get to experience new and varied destinations while knowing the experience at the resort property and in the accommodations will meet their usual travel standards. Vacation exchange members look to have a similar experience to their home resort wherever they travel. To meet these needs, RCI launched its Resort Recognition Program in 1992.
Now celebrating its 25th year, the RCI Resort Recognition Program honors affiliated resorts that provide outstanding vacation experiences. This program was the first to set industry standards, and continues to set the bar for the vacation ownership industry.
The program rates resorts based on feedback from members on accommodations, hospitality and experiences. Each year, RCI presents awards to resorts which meet or exceed the established RRP thresholds.
“The RCI Resort Recognition Program plays an important role in reinforcing our commitment to exceeding the vacation expectations of owners and RCI subscribing members,” says Gordon Gurnik, president of RCI. “For 25 years, our affiliates’ ongoing dedication to customer satisfaction and quality accommodations has raised the bar of the business. We are proud that more than 2,000 properties have earned accolades from high ratings and outstanding member feedback, which is evidence of the first-rate services and resort experiences provided by the RCI exchange network.”
Each year, resorts are re-evaluated using RCI Comment Cards to keep their status of RCI Gold Crown Resort®, RCI Silver Crown Resort® or the RCI Hospitality designation. The ratings from these same comment cards populate the Resort Reviews on the RCI.com directory when members agree to share their information with other travelers. Positive online reviews like these can be a game changer for businesses.
In fact, 93 percent of hoteliers said that online traveler reviews are important for the future of their business in a TripBarometer: 2016 Travel Trends study by TripAdvisor in 2016. The same group rated online reputation management as the biggest area of investment for accommodation owners in 2016, with 59 percent investing more than they did last year.
They are investing because travelers rely on reviews and sometimes make decisions based on them. In the same TripAdvisor study, 89 percent of U.S travelers ages 35-64 cited online reviews and posts as key factors in choosing accommodations. Thinking about how your property is reviewed is important, and RCI’s process may serve as a convenient check list for improving experiences.
To determine resort awards, RCI uses several categories from subscribing member comment cards. These categories are what tend to make for a great vacation experience for travelers and are focus points for most resort staff and developers. These can serve as important reminders of what to prioritize at your resort. The categories include:
- Housekeeping: Cleanliness is, of course, very important to travelers. It is wise to evaluate your housekeeping services and continue ongoing training programs to ensure consistency from unit to unit.
- Unit maintenance: It is imperative to keep all appliances in working order and to make strategic updates to keep units looking modern and appealing.
- Resort maintenance: Similarly, travelers look for updates to common areas, lobbies, pools and other amenities. Take a second look at carpets, hardwood floors, window treatments and check-in areas to think about what may need to be updated versus what is working well.
- Hospitality: The service provided by onsite staff can be one of the most influential factors on traveler satisfaction. Empowering staff to be able to resolve issues quickly and proactively work to make each traveler’s trip one-of-a-kind can help boost reviews significantly.
- Check-in and Checkout experience: Checking in is the first stop for most vacationers, and we all know that first impressions are important. Is there anything you can do to make the process a bit smoother, quicker and more personalized for your guests? Checking out is equally essential to a good experience, particularly the speed of the process. When leaving, guests may be in a hurry to catch a plane and making sure they can slide through check out easily and efficiently can make a surprising impact.
RCI also evaluates services, amenities and unit configuration as needed. When a resort excels in these categories, it can boost their member reviews. Think about the areas where you are meeting and exceeding traveler expectations and maintain a steady focus there, while also improving on areas of opportunity.