We, at Resort Trades, are niche media people who have been heavily invested in the resort timeshare industry for 30-plus years. In our opinion, C.A.R.E. conferences have long been an undervalued resource for networking and learning about the current state of our industry. When you attend a C.A.R.E. conference, not only will you not be lost in a crowd, but you will be heard.
It’s a laid-back, fun, and easy-going long weekend. By contrast, ARDA World, which occurred a month before, was almost frenetic with activity as high-level decision makers met together and swapped ideas. The feeling you get at an ARDA convention is that you are surrounded principally by ‘C-suite’ professionals, whereas C.A.R.E.’s 68th conference in Indianapolis included individuals from every different organizational level. Whereas ARDA World tended to give attendees a wide-angle lens view of the vacation ownership industry, the C.A.R.E. meeting allowed you into the trenches. Both views are of value: If ARDA World can be compared to fine wine and caviar; we might liken C.A.R.E. to burgers and wings. Either event left you feeling plump and full, according to your appetite.
C.A.R.E. (CARE-online.org) stands for Cooperative Association of Resort Exchangers. The trade association was established in 1985 by representatives of timeshare resorts who found that by exchanging vacation inventory among themselves, they were better able to satisfy their owners with increased vacation opportunities. The term “cooperative” still applies. The tenor of the meeting harkens back to the ARDA conventions of the ‘90s before the public companies and their lawyers began running the show.
The organization’s Board of Directors, headed up by President Linda Mayhugh and of Gunn Marketing Group, Inc., has long been an energetic (and energizing to others) group including Secretary Deborah Sansom, ICS Management, Inc.; Treasurer Jeff Ingram, ARC Resorts, LLC; VP Sarah Ferguson, VacationCondos.com; VP Tina Hill, Hilton Head Accommodations; VP Corina Violette, RTX-Resort Travel & Xchanges; VP Amanda Wainwright, Southern Journeys, LLC; and VP Brandy West, RSI Vacations. Also serving as associate advisory board members are Gregory G. Crist, AVO-Association of Vacation Owners, and Paul Mattimoe, Perspective Group.
These days, member companies are principally involved in C.A.R.E. in order to utilize inventory and generate revenue through wholesale rentals, they’re also continuing to offer expanded exchange and fulfillment options. And then, there are the associate members including Resort Trades.
Attendees at this year’s conference included a wide variety of interests; almost a cross section of the vacation accommodation industry. They included representatives from major developers, management companies, and travel clubs. But we also found many others who are involved in a myriad of interests to be in attendance.
The conference included a keynote speaker on Sunday and Monday. The first of these, “The 5 Best Decisions the Beatles Ever Made…and Why You Should Make Them, Too!” was presented by motivational speaker and author Bill Stainton. Stainton compared various smart decisions the Fab Four made to wise practices in leadership, such as cutting the breakaway album, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, instead of continuing to tour like other iconic bands, to leaders daring to take risks. An enormously engaging and entertaining speaker, Stainton reminded us of the last line of the last song ever recorded collectively by all four Beatles: “And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make.”
President of Indianapolis based-Mobius Vendor Partners (MVP) and CustomerCount Robert A. Kobek, RRP, put together a panel of experts to discuss, “Compliance in the Year of Class Action Litigators.” Speakers included Bob Thompson, VP of Catalyst Technology Group USA, based in Knoxville, Tennessee, who discussed how the European Union is enforcing the General Data Protection Regulation. Under the General Data Protection Regulation and forthcoming ePrivacy Regulation, website owners are legally obliged to ensure that a legal basis for processing personal data is established with all European visitors.
Another panelist, Mitch Roth, Esq., a partner at Roth Jackson Gibbons Condlin, PLC, spoke on the efforts by the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) to regulate telemarketing calls, auto-dialed calls, prerecorded calls, text messages, and unsolicited faxes.
We understood, later, that Bob had personally gone to the expense of flying one of the panelists in from Virginia the evening before. His generosity was rewarded by a well-deserved round of applause. With Bob’s assistance, Resort Trades is planning to launch a series of articles to examine these and other regulations to help professionals protect their businesses from exposure.
A second keynote speaker, Andy Masters, MA, CSP, delivered a presentation, “Kiss Your Customer: 77 Reasons Why Sales & Services Are Just Like Dating & Relationships.” Among his many suggestions was an idea that is always applauded, but rarely undertaken – building customer by sending handwritten notes. Another good takeaway from his list was about overcoming objections by saying, “I see how you feel. Others have felt that until they found….”
C.A.R.E. gave our Resort Trades team an excellent opportunity to get feedback from our readers. We asked what topics they’d like The Trades to cover. With less than 10 minutes, we still managed to get some solid suggestions:
- Exit Companies
- Best Practices in Management, Sales, and Marketing
- Customer Education
- Success Stories
Here are some others we’ve come across recently:
- Resort Services
- Club Operations
- Reputation Management
- OTAs, Vacation Home Providers
- Customer Surveys
- Online Reviews
- Inventory Pricing
One topic we’ve recently introduced is receiving rave reviews – our Best Place to Work series. If your company does employee benefits, corporate culture, and educational opportunities well; then we’d like to know it. We’d welcome your suggestions for a Best Place to Work candidate company and please send us any other ideas for editorial topics that would be of interest to you to: Sharon@TheTrades.com.
During the conference, Greg Crist announced the organization he manages, AVO, and C.A.R.E. have recently launched the Global Secondary Market Coalition. It will be an ambitious initiative to bring in line the best practices in the secondary market. Originally formed in 1997 as the National Timeshare Owners Association, the Association of Vacation Owners (AVO) is a social purpose organization, dedicated to educating vacation owners and advocating on behalf of its owner/members.
The 68th c.a.r.e. Conference will take place in Philadelphia….details to come!