As the timeshare industry faces its most punishing challenge to date in Covid-19, the Resort Trades magazine and Resort Trades newsletter are hosting a forum for us to share ideas for moving forward. On May 21 at 1:55 p.m. (EDT), their virtual Resort Resilience Town Hall, sponsored by the Contact Group and CustomerCount, will feature four industry leaders addressing issues facing resorts today, along with your chance to ask questions and participate. This a free event.

“We wanted to find a way to knit together the resort community in the face of COVID-19 by providing a platform that allows resort professionals to share ideas for recovery,” says Sharon Wilson, Resort Trades’ publisher. “We are thrilled that David Costenbader of the Contact Group has made this platform available to us and to our readers as it is truly leading-edge technology for hosting virtual meetings.”

Speakers during the Resort Resilience Town Hall include Ann Donahue of Raintree Resorts, Nigel Lobo of Grand Pacific Resorts, Tom Durkee of Withum, and Tom Lyons of Global Connections. Using the Contact Group’s proprietary technology, the speakers will be sharing images and slides, conducting participant polls and even accepting live questions, bringing this virtual meeting to life.

What’s on the agenda during the call? Resort Trades checked in with each of the speakers to get a preview of what you can expect.

Owner/Member Communication

Raintree Resorts International LLC has created a collection of exclusive resort properties in the United States, Mexico, and Canada designed specifically to provide fantastic vacation experiences for families and individuals. Ann Donahue, senior vice president of resort operations and inventory marketing, will focus on owner/member communications. During a recent call, Donahue shared an example of a video her team created to let members know just how much resort staff is missing their smiling faces. “We wanted them to know just how much we are all looking forward to welcoming them back,” she says. “Of course, we included scenes of the beach and other resort facilities being readied for their return.”

This is just one example of the innovative approach Raintree has been taking during this crisis. In addition, Donahue will be sharing strategies for keeping members engaged, which is critical to keeping maintenance fee payments current and generating reservations once it is again safe to travel.

Restarting Resort Operations

For more than 30 years, the professionals at Grand Pacific Resorts have taken great pride in managing their resorts and creating memorable vacations for over 70,000 families each year. Grand Pacific has been at the forefront of responding to the current challenges and preparing for the road ahead. Nigel Lobo, COO, will be discussing the needed steps to restart resort operations. “Our focus has been centered around four critical components,” he says. This includes:

  1. Our people—ensuring our associates are safe and secure,
  2. Our resorts’ financial health—cash preservation, inventory analysis and delinquency protection for long term financial stability,
  3. Our owners and board members and the myriad critical communication pieces required to keep them up-to-date, and
  4. Our resort facilities and working to secure, sanitize, protect and prepare them for a quick reopening.” He’ll be discussing the task force Grand Pacific created to examine all the components needed to prepare for a smooth re-opening and the best practices on this front that are being developed and implemented across their portfolio of managed resorts.

Sales and Member Engagement

As president and CEO of Global Connections, Tom Lyons has always pursued the latest advances in technology and services to offer to the company’s members, clients and guests. In these challenging times, Global Connections has quickly pivoted to deliver presentations via phone and webinars, concentrating on member upgrades first. As restrictions ease, his company will be making changes to reduce the number of people in sales centers at one time. Until then, they’re keeping members engaged through email blasts, photo contests and other touchpoints. “We want to keep our members active even if they aren’t traveling right now,” he explains. He’ll also discuss how Global Connections has adjusted pricing and other benefits in reaction to the new normal.

Finance, HOAs, and Government Aid

Throughout this crisis, Withum has been in constant contact with its clients and industry participants, relaying crucial information on federal legislation designed to assist companies and employees. Lena Combs, CPA, CGMA, and Tom Durkee, CPA, CGMA, are partners in the firm’s Hospitality Services Practice. They will update participants on how programs at the Small Business Administration are changing, if HOAs are eligible, and how HOAs should be preparing for the new normal. “These issues are changing and morphing every day, so it’s difficult to predict exactly what will be the most important information in just two weeks,” Combs says. Among the topics currently slated are an overview of the CARES act, the Paycheck Protection Plan, and associated issues, along with the financial issues facing resorts, HOAs and resort developers.

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Following the Town Hall, Bob Kobek, president of CustomerCount, will be surveying participants to identify ideas for future sessions or for articles in upcoming issues of Resort Trades and Resort Trades Weekly. “We really want our readers to know that they can depend on Resort Trades to assist them in finding real-world solutions to the problems they face today and every day,” Wilson says. “This Town Hall event is just one of the many ways we bring the knowledge of industry experts to your desktop.”

To register for the Virtual Town Hall, click on the link embedded in this e-newsletter or visit All registrants will receive an incoming call from the Contact Group’s platform at 1:55 p.m. (EDT) on May 21. You’ll be able to signal your desire to ask questions of the panelists and may be asked to deliver your question live during the Town Hall. Register your participation today!

Judy Kenninger heads Kenninger Communications and has been covering the resort real estate industry for the past two decades. Let her know your ideas for future topics in the Resort Trades by emailing her at

Our presenters for the Resort Resilience Town Hall include:

Lena Combs & Tom Durkee
Lena Combs & Tom Durkee

Lena Combs,  CPA,CGMA, RRP, Partner, and Tom Durkee, CPA, CGMA, Partner, Withum

Withum is a forward-thinking, technology-driven advisory and accounting firm, committed to helping clients in the hospitality industry be more profitable, efficient and productive in the modern business landscape.

Tom Lyons and Melanie Gring
Tom Lyons and Melanie Gring

Tom Lyons, President and CEO,  and Melanie J. Gring, Chief Strategic Alliances and Brand Officer, Global Connections Inc.

Global Connections Inc., based in Overland Park, Kansas, opened in 1996 as a travel club fulfillment and service provider.  Considered a leader in the travel club industry, GCI offers the members of its Global Discovery Vacations club program a wide variety of leisure benefits and vacation options at more than 700 North American resorts.  GCI is the developer and owner of resorts in California, Florida, Tennessee and Colorado as well as owning and leasing numerous resort condominium units throughout the U.S., Canada, Mexico and Caribbean.

Ann Donahue, SVP, Resort Operations and Inventory, Raintree Vacation Club 
Ann Donahue, SVP, Resort Operations and Inventory, Raintree Vacation Club

Ann Donahue, SVP, Resort Operations and Inventory, Raintree Vacation Club

Since 1997, Raintree Vacation Club, with a collection of 16 resorts in some of the most extraordinary destinations, offers members a unique blend of club, resort, and hotel-style hospitality. They offer condominium-style accommodations at select resorts in the United States, Mexico, and Canada.

Nigel Lobo, RRP, COO, Grand Pacific Resorts

Headquartered in Carlsbad, California, a coastal city home to several of our beach resorts, the Grand Pacific Resorts team creates experiences worth sharing for more than 70,000 owner families and tens of thousands of loyal guests each year. Their heartfelt service culture, paired with results-driven financial strategies to increase owner, guest, and associate satisfaction, delivers exceptional results. Grand Pacific Resorts has purposefully grown a family of charming resorts through development and management partnerships in some of the most desirable locations, including California and Hawaii.