May 6-10, 2018 marked the Annual ARDA (American Resort Development Association) World – The Global Timeshare event. The week was packed with activities for experienced resort professionals and newcomers alike. There are over 5,300 shared vacation ownership resorts in 121 different countries, and the industry plans to add 91 new properties in 2018 and beyond! This growth was evident at ARDA as attendees packed many of the rooms to the point of becoming “standing room only”.
Educational sessions covered a cross-section of topics ranging from legal issues and resort design to sales and marketing which I thought was especially interesting. Rhett Bolling, SVP of Sales and Marketing with Diamond Resorts delivered an excellent presentation, that provided a vast amount of information in the short 30-minute span. I found particularly intriguing the marketing paradox that surrounds this sector of vacation/housing market. In many ways, the industry is remaining true to its historical goal of onsite visits but is expanding the methodology with which resorts engage prospective buyers to include social media and other digital tools.
In keeping with that message of new ideas and products, innovation was the keyword at “The Lion’s Den” event. A few “Lions” of the timeshare industry reviewed and assessed a group of bold hospitality start-ups. As promised, it was engaging, innovative and exciting. The winner was Safely a company that provides insurance protection for the vacation rental industry. The People’s Choice winner was Beyond Pricing a dynamic tool that helps vacation rental owners establish more profitable rates.
During my flight back to Maryland, I had time to reflect upon the show. Many of my thoughts were confirmed, yet many of my preconceived notions about timeshares were also dispelled. This is a growing and abundantly diverse sector of the housing /tourism market that is intelligently adapting to the evolving face of the 21st-century buyer.
Karen Strong is a Digital Sales Strategist at Immersion Active. In her role, she is passionate about the opportunity to connect organizations with innovative digital solutions. As marketing professional with over 15 years’ experience, Karen has a diverse background in both Direct and Online Marketing. Karen is also a Certified Scum Master and as a member of NAHB and the
55+ Housing Council she is currently pursuing her CSP Certification.