By Kelley Ellert
What Makes a Quality Resort Management Company?
The question posed by the title of this article can be answered in one word – service.
Service is the key ingredient that binds everyone in the hospitality industry; from the front desk to management companies to boards of directors. In the hospitality industry “service” is the gold standard for making a resort stay memorable. In that same regard, a quality management company is one that provides service that exceeds the needs of a resort. However, service is much more than the friendly face that greets the customer or the warm voice that answers the phone. Quality service comprises all the items that a customer doesn’t see.
To further discuss this concept of service, I spoke with industry veterans from Capital Vacations, the management company that manages seventy-one North American resort properties.
Service Matters Most
Management companies exist as support networks, so a variety of support services are important. Within a management company, a tight-knit communication line between all departments, operations and boards of directors ensures that all needs are being exceeded.
Service means communication, understanding and delivery. It’s being able to see eye-to-eye with what the board envisions for their resort and the right management company will have the programs, personnel and expertise to deliver on those.
Providing cost savings through bulk buying to preparing timely financial packages are just a couple of the specific services that a quality management company will perform.
Service Through Opportunities
Creating opportunities for resort properties is a service that Capital Vacations specializes in and believes that it is one of the most important value-adds a management company can offer.
One of these opportunities is group benefits – for example, when Hurricane Florence ravaged multiple properties in the Capital Vacations management family, they were able to leverage the managed insurance program that Capital Vacations provides to its resorts. That opportunity alone saved the affected resorts a cumulative $1.3 million in insurance deductibles.
“The services and opportunities we provide come in the form of both saving resorts money through group benefits and also earning them additional income through sales, marketing and rentals,” said Bary. “Strong sales and marketing strategies are integral for properties to utilize their unused inventory for income.”
At Capital Vacations, this is done through multi-site vacation interval sales operations that assist legacy resorts by selling timeshare ownership in their resorts. This critical service keeps resort’s finances healthy because it keeps a constant stream of fresh owners visiting the resort property while also increasing the income of the resort. For example, at a resort Capital Vacations performed sales, collections increased over $300,000 from the new dues paying members.
All Resorts experience a natural rate of attrition and integrating a sales and marketing teams to access open intervals in the resort is a financially sound decision for all involved.
However, there are also those unsold intervals, this is where a great rental management team will create value.
Remember when marketing a resort was as easy as making sure your “vacancy” sign out front was turned on? Those days are long gone, and now rental management has grown from people driving down the road in search of glowing red signs to consumers spending hours settled in front of their computer screens hunting for the perfect accommodations.
This part of management business has morphed from something a resort can easily do themselves to a complex system that requires digital reservations systems that link a property’s complex inventory to the global reach of online booking websites and more.
A quality management company brings the resorts it works with up-to-date from a technology perspective and increases their revenue with rental management programs.
For example, in 2015 Capital Vacations welcomed a property to its management portfolio that had been trying their own, internal rental program with little to no success. Within one year of implementing the Capital Vacations systematic, online rental programs the rental revenue of the resort grew by more than $290,000 and continues to increase annually. Without a quality management company, some properties are missing out on a key revenue opportunity.
Service Through Collections & Billing
While it’s not glamorous, collections and billing are important services that are absolutely necessary for a quality management company to provide. Without collections and billing resorts risk losing their income stream and livelihood.
There are some services that are easy for resorts to take on themselves, collections and billing is not one of them. Between the regulations and required manpower, this area of resort property management is best left to those who live, breathe and understand it.
Once new owners are introduced to a resort it is important to follow up in a methodical manner on collections and billings for resort dues. Capital Vacations employs a dedicated team of professionals that solely focus on owner relations to ensure that owners enjoy their resort assets and to gently remind them of the importance of their dues.
According to Bary, they’ve found that many resorts require additional assistance in this part of their business and it is best if such is handled by experts that are trained in management of collections and billing.
Service Saves the Day
By definition service means “the action of helping or doing work for someone.” Simply put, that’s exactly what a quality management company should do – help resorts and do work FOR the resorts in which it they are partnered.
For any business, thriving means a healthy financial situation and a management company that focuses on and provides the services that lead to that are what truly makes a “quality” company.
Kelley Ellert is the Director of Marketing for Capital Vacations, one of the largest timeshare management companies in North America with 71 properties for which she oversees the marketing and communication efforts. She resides in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina where Capital Vacations corporate headquarters are located.