Amanda Dolan, General Manager Coronado Beach Resort Grand Pacific Resorts
Amanda Dolan began her career path with Grand Pacific Resorts in 2009 as a Front Desk Agent at the company’s Carlsbad Seapointe Resort property, where she quickly moved into the position of Front Office Supervisor and then Front Office Manager.
In 2011, she was promoted to Director of Guest Services and the following year became Assistant General Manager at Grand Pacific Palisades Resort & Hotel in Carlsbad. Her team’s “green” efforts enabled the resort to earn 4-Key status with Green Key Global and win the Platinum RCI Green Award. She was named an ARDA award finalist in 2013 in the Resort Assistant General Manager category.
By 2014 – at the age of 28 – Amanda Dolan became the youngest senior leader in the then 25-year history of Grand Pacific Resorts with her selection as General Manager of Coronado Beach Resort, one of the company’s most popular resorts.
According to Nigel Lobo, COO of Grand Pacific Resorts, “Amanda is a natural leader. Her skills as an educator and trainer have greatly influenced the career path of her associates, from line level to leadership. She shows commitment to her team members by developing and promoting shining stars and has consistently supported the advancement of women within the organization. Confident, reliable and always approaching challenges with a spark of determination and enthusiasm in her eye, Amanda is a consummate hospitality professional whose experience spans far beyond her years.”
During her seven years with Grand Pacific Resorts, Amanda has become the “Queen of Green,” serving as the Chair of the company’s Green Committee. Her vision for their Green Sustainability program has been clear, direct and effective in a short period of time. As part of this program, Grand Pacific Resorts recently launched a partnership with Clean the World and expects to recycle 21,610 pounds of toiletries, which will be redistributed around the world to prevent sanitation-related illnesses. Clean the World is a social enterprise dedicated to the mission of saving millions of lives around the world while simultaneously diverting hotel waste from landfills.
Housekeepers at all resorts managed by Grand Pacific Resorts now collect partially-used toiletries, which are sent to Clean the World for sorting, sanitizing, and repackaging. Soap is ground up and then melted down to make new bars, which are distributed with help from partner non-profits to families in more than 100 countries.
Recently earning her Associated Resort Professional (ARP) designation from ARDA, Amanda has also served as the leader of her company’s internal Guest Services Committee and Extraordinary Experiences Forums, which provide venues to improve guest experiences through the sharing of guest and resort manager feedback. She is also the lead facilitator of the Guest Satisfaction Roundtable for 20 resort managers, a forum for sharing of best practices to improve guest experiences.
Originally from Spokane, Washington, Amanda earned a degree in Business Management from Whitworth University. She moved to San Diego to follow her dreams of becoming a resort manager. She shares that she loves the timeshare industry because it enables her to develop relationships with her owners by being a part of their vacations year after year.
Hutch Farrell Director of Consumer Affairs Welk Resorts
Hutch Farrell is the Director of Consumer Affairs for Welk Resorts. His job is primarily to determine a speedy resolution to any type of concern that comes into the company from an owner, guest, renter, exchanger or prospective customer.
When he joined the company about five years ago, social media was just beginning to have an impact on businesses. While Welk Resorts receives outstanding customer service scores – like any company – it still gets its fair share of complaints from its 51,000 owners and guest base. Many of these may be hospitality related, but Hutch wisely recognized they must all receive a speedy response since social media now enables guests to provide critiques with little effort.
So Hutch Farrell created the company’s resort Resolution Center, developing systems and procedures that will deliver a complaint resolution program with analytic reporting and resolution management. He decreed that no matter where a complaint-related communication ended up within the company, it must be sent directly to him. He also created a timeline to ensure that each communication receives a response within 24 hours. Then he crafted a tracking system, which would log in every single incoming communication so he could track the timing of responses.
After creating a 19-page manual describing how the program works, he sat down with every department to educate them in its operation and share details of its implementation. His program centralized challenges and facilitated collaboration between departments to efficiently resolve issues.
Today, his department receives between 50 and 75 communications each month that are funneled directly to Hutch. He is passionate about doing whatever it takes to make the customer happy. While working within Owner Services, his resolution prowess led him to become involved in many sales issues. He has full permission to make decisions for the company in terms of cancelling contracts and is empowered to do what ever is required to take care of the customer.
“I love the consumer engagement and resolution portion of what I do,” adds Hutch. “Our team speaks directly with each owner or guest with an escalated concern. Most challenges can be resolved by reaching out through a phone call. Our ultimate goal is to turn any owner or guest with a complaint into a brand advocate for Welk. This is accomplished with a number of departments working together to ensure our owners’ concerns are heard and their complaints are addressed. It is a team effort, from every part of our organization.”
His personality makes him ideal for his job. No matter how upset a customer may be, Hutch adroitly controls every conversation, handling customers with ease, kindness and comfort. Within the 3,000-employee organization, Hutch is widely respected as the King of Resolution. He understands that media can play a role when a customer reads something negative that can influence his purchase decision, so having the best possible scores on social media outlets can, indeed, contribute to sales.
Hutch has been married to his college sweetheart for more than 25 years and has “three amazing kids” that range in age from 24 to 11. He enjoys vacationing with his family and coaching youth soccer, baseball and basketball.
Says Hutch, ”I have had the good fortune to live in three high-demand vacation locations: Oahu, Sonoma and San Diego. This has provided me with empathy in chatting with people about where they would like to go on vacation and their preferred activities.”
As Hutch began his quest to create the super-satisfied guest, the company experienced fewer cancellations attributable to social media than ever before. After he improved Better Business Bureau scores, prospective customers were presented a flyer that showed high corporate ratings on BBB and Trip Advisor. This also helped eliminate third party influences. With over $150 million in sales last year, clearly Hutch Farrell played a major role in influencing the company’s reputation management by increasing all of its scores. You can’t put a price tag on that, since it is priceless!
Justin Hunter VP Operations Resort Travel & Xchange
As Vice President of Operations for premier vacation exchange company Resort Travel & Xchange (RTX), Justin Hunter’s primary role consists of managing the overall operations for RTX at both their Asheville, N.C. and Orlando call center locations. His well-rounded background includes experience working in owner services, finance, and club management. He was recently elected as a member of the Canadian Resort Development Association’s (CRDA) Board of Directors for the 2016 term.
While a majority of his focus is on business development, he also oversees the communications department, which includes the company’s quarterly magazine, RTX Traveler. In his current position for about three years, he manages about 80 employees.
During his nine years in the vacation ownership industry, Justin has served on ten different boards of directors for various properties holding many different positions as well as serving on the board of directors for multiple timeshare programs.
Prior to entering the timeshare industry, he attended Marshall University where he earned bachelor’s degree in business administration. Justin and wife Jessica have been married 11 years and are the proud parents of Grady and Finley, ages 6 and 2.
Justin previously served as Director of Club Operations for Patton Hospitality Management, Club Inventory Analyst and Owner Services Floor Supervisor for Festiva Hospitality Group.
Says Justin, “I have enjoyed working in the timeshare industry for the past decade because it has been a time of change and if you have not been able to adapt you may not make it. That challenge makes every day interesting and has ensured that I will not grow complacent. Overall the best part for me is working in the travel industry where I can help create those positive memories in people’s lives.”
RTX is a vacation ownership exchange company based in Asheville, N.C. The company’s destinations are not limited to a directory of resorts with constricting agreements. The company works with a number of resorts and developers throughout the world to provide the best exchange options possible to its members. In addition to exchange services, RTX offers numerous member travel benefits, such as reservation protection, rebates, and travel discounts. RTX has approximately 80,000 members.
Collectively, the team leading RTX has more than 50 years of experience in the vacation ownership industry, and the majority of that comes directly from member services. This customer-centric foundation and knowledge of timeshare and vacation ownership has helped RTX create a program with some of the best exchange benefits and services in the industry.