Barbara McMullan, HOA Administrator, Exploria Resorts

Barbara McMullan
Barbara McMullan

Resort management professionals understand that working with several homeowner associations can be a supremely challenging job. Now imagine the challenges in working with 19 separate associations at five resorts in five different location – several HOAs at one resort.

For Barbara McMullan, HOA Administrator of Exploria Resorts, her work requires constant planning and organization. “Basically, I live by the calendar,” she says. “Since all of our mailings must be completed by dates dictated by state statues, I must work far in advance of these deadlines to ensure that every mailing or electronic communication goes out without a hitch and in a timely manner and know precisely how long each mailing will take to reach its destination.”

Each association, she explains, requires mailings for annual meetings, elections, calls for resumes for potential board members, ballots, budgets, quarterly and special meeting notices, and more. Generally this involves about seven or eight communications per year per 19 associations or sending around 128 different messages each year … or one every three days! Yikes!

During the busy fall planning season, there are many mailings in various stages, requiring Barbara to constantly plan ahead. She spends a major portion of her time dealing with board meetings, agendas, updating board information on websites and ensuring that all meeting minutes are accurately recorded and distributed. She admits that one of her greatest challenges is coordinating board members’ schedules for upcoming meeting dates.

All of this work is single handedly handled with poise and precision by Barbara, who has been in her current position for over 13 years. She was previously in a similar role for over two years with Sunterra.

“For me, it is a pleasure and privilege to work with so many professional people from all walks of life and businesses. I respect the fact that they are all volunteers and take their board positions seriously. There are times when we go into meetings and people don’t initially agree on a certain situation. But it is a fantastic feeling when my team members and I can help them come to a resolution that is beneficial to the entire membership. I also enjoy establishing relationships with board members and getting to meet their families.”

Commented Pat Cox, Hospitality Controller for Exploria Resorts, “Barbara’s role as HOA administrator is extremely important for the communications between the boards, board families, the Management Company and developer. She takes her position and responsibilities very seriously and puts her heart and soul into the job. Barbara is a very special employee and an important asset that enables us to keep our department functioning cohesively.”

In 2014, the 20-year-old Summer Bay Resorts was completely rebranded as Exploria Resorts. During the recent acquisition of new resorts and associations, it was imperative that Barbara helped established strong relationships and work to continue to gain the trust of existing HOAs, many of which had previously worked with other management companies. Barbara worked diligently through frequent personal communications with the new HOA members to create a culture of transparency and communication, supporting them as they prepared for and conducted board meetings.

As a testament to their skills and professionalism, Barbara and several Exploria colleagues were selected as the top winner in ARDA’s recent awards program in the Management & Administration division, for Customer/Owner Relations Team member.

Kelly Lycett Red Wolf Lakeside Lodge Grand Pacific Resorts

Kelly Lycett
Kelly Lycett

Selecting a front desk supervisor at a small resort takes careful consideration. The person in this role must be able to wear multiple hats—training front desk associates, checking in owners, coordinating with revenue management, and looking for new ways to enhance the vacation experience.

Kelly Lycett does all this and more at Red Wolf Lakeside Lodge, a 27-unit resort in Tahoe Vista, California, with a small but tenacious team of nine associates. As a part of the Grand Pacific Resorts family, Kelly exemplifies the management company’s deep commitment to “Enriching Lives by Creating Experiences Worth Sharing.”

For more than 15 years, this dynamic supervisor has helped make Red Wolf Lakeside Lodge a welcoming home away from home for owners and guests. According to Kelly’s general manager, Erin O’Brien, “Kelly knows just about every one of the 1,000 owners by name and is extremely friendly and responsive to their needs. She often anticipates requests before they are received. Kelly’s thoroughness and encouraging attitude motivates staff to continually strive for better service.”

On one occasion, Kelly drove 45 minutes out of her way to take a sick owner home, even stopping to buy him chicken noodle soup. Another time she booked a complimentary in-room massage for an owner with terminal cancer who was enjoying his last vacation. It’s dedication like this that has earned Kelly such widespread admiration and appreciation. She has earned Associate of the Quarter six times. She is also a three-time BE EPIC Champion of the Year.

Adds Erin, “Kelly does everything she can to improve the owner experience while supporting our resort’s financial health.” Kelly calls every family prior to arrival to confirm their check-in and check-out dates. Any unused nights are rented online to provide additional revenue for the resort. She also works closely with the revenue management team at Grand Pacific Resorts and connects owners with Grand Pacific Vacation Services (GPVS). GPVS is the owner service team for all resorts in the Grand Pacific Resorts family, which ensures owners are receiving the most from their ownership benefits.

Kelly has also trained approximately one dozen team members, inspiring them to deliver the highest levels of customer service. She has also been invited to train front desk associates at other resorts.

This delightful and positive woman shares that the best part of her job is working with people. “It makes me happy to make other people happy,” she says. “Just to see them enjoying their vacations gives me a sense of joy and inspires me to go above and beyond to make their vacation the best it can be. Building these relationships year after year is the best part of the job.”

On her off days, Kelly enjoys spending time with her 14-year-old son, Tylor, taking the family dog to the lake, and catching the latest hit movie. She was recently engaged to her fiancé Cameron. The two are busy planning their wedding for early June 2017.

“Kelly is an all-around leader,” says Erin. “She is empathetic to guests’ needs, and has a total unselfish and giving attitude, always accompanied by a smile.”

Mary Leaks Human Resources Director VSA Resorts

Mary Leaks
Mary Leaks

There are not too many vacation ownership professionals who began their careers as a room attendant and rose through corporate ranks to become Human Resources Director for a major resort management company. Mary Leaks has done precisely this, starting over 30 years ago as a housekeeper at a Virginia Beach hotel. Within just a few years she was promoted to assistant to the director of housekeeping and later to the number two spot in the hotel’s Human Resources department.

After recognizing her genuine love for the hospitality industry, Mary joined Virginia Beach-based management company VSA Resorts in 1995 as Accounts Payable clerk. Her passion for detail and organization led to her succession of promotions from General Ledger/Bookkeeper, Staff Accountant, and Payroll/Human Resources Administrator to her current position in 2008 as Human Resources Director for VSA Resorts.

This high-energy detail diva has the monumental responsibility of managing the overall provisions of Human Resources, to include policies, and programs for the entire company and its staff of nearly one hundred employees. She is tasked with enforcing standards for recruitment, hiring, training, appraisals and termination practices and obtaining cost effective employee benefits. She also oversees the monumental task of employee engagement. Through surveys and company events and reward programs, Mary works hard to keep employees engaged. One of her favorite events is Customer Service Week. One year, Mary implemented a theme of “Around the World” and each day of the week was a favorite travel destination with treats from that place for the staff. One day was New York and the staff was treated to cheesecake and apples. An additional job requirement is implementing a corporate employee guide and new personnel policies and procedures as well as keeping staff records up-to-date by maintaining employee compensation and benefits administration and recordkeeping.

While she now has an assistant who handles most of the recruiting and interviewing for new employees, Mary works diligently to ensure that each new staff member is the perfect “fit” into their new position. This benefits not only the employee who ultimately enjoys job satisfaction but her company – resulting in peak performances from happy staff members. While housekeeping is outsourced, most VSA employees serve as front desk agents, PM Technicians, sales agents, or as professionals in the areas of marketing, hospitality, administrative and accounting.

An HR professional must remain up-to-date on a myriad of state and Federal regulations and know precisely how to implement continuously changing rules, such as new Department of Labor overtime laws and the Affordable Care Act. To ensure that her company is operating fully within the law, Mary attends seminars and training sessions to absorb changing data.

Added Lori Overholt, President VSA Resorts, “Mary is extremely loyal, ethical and a good listener as well as excellent at keeping information confidential, a must for any Human Resources department. She was instrumental in eliminating paper payroll checks, going to online time clocks and implementing company appraisal software for consistency in employee feedback. She also created the employee resource and training library and facilitated the company-wide Red Carpet Customer Service Training and has been a huge asset to our company.”

Mary is a Virginia Beach native and most enjoys family time when away from work, especially with her two grandchildren and occasional travel. “I love working in the timeshare industry because it enables us to meet so many people,” says Mary. “Although I do not come in contact with the guests on a daily basis, when ever I can assist an employee by resolving a problem and making them happy, this makes me feel that I have made a positive difference and provides great personal satisfaction.”