Following the summer holidays, the Resort Development Organisation (RDO) was ready to welcome everybody at RDO5 2014 Conference “Stronger Together”. Here are some of the event highlights of this year’s conference:-
Inspirational speakers outline the paths to a successful brand
A brand is not a logo, it is a promise, and promises must be kept. That was the message from brand consultant BJ Cunningham, who kick-started RDO5 with a thought-provoking session about “the power of telling the truth”.
A brand is about showing the authentic soul of an organisation, according to Cunningham. Delegates were told they should be very clear about what their brand represents, and stick to it. “Know what you want to do, say it clearly, and then do what you said you would do and when you said you would do it,” was his advice. He added that companies can profit from the truth and create opportunities out of problems if they are resourceful.
On another inspiring session, business consultant Jeff Grout told delegates that success is a decision, reached by setting goals, planning and commitment, just like Olympians do. Success is also down to having the ability to change, he said, and it is always important to listen in order to see how we can improve things.
The Customer is King at RDO5
The importance of engaging with customers was at the centre of several sessions at RDO5. Good, consistent and genuine customer service will result in guest satisfaction and drive positive online reviews, delegates were told.
Jules Murray from Spider on the Wall Ltd and Peter Hales from Michels and Taylor looked at how service levels in the timeshare industry compare with those in the hotel industry, and how to create a great guest experience by training staff to truly engage with customers.
Michael Levie, founding partner of CitizenM Hotels, argued that the personalised customer service offered by some organisations is often scripted and feels fake, and encouraged delegates to “humanise” their customer service, be genuine and friendly.
Dean van Leeuwen’s “Mind the Gap” session highlighted that in most cases companies have a multi-generational customer base, and it is important to understand each generation’s values and how these shape attitudes and behaviour in order to get customer service right. Baby-boomers born in the 50s are energetic and optimistic, willing to chase their dream, whilst the previous generation valued sacrifice and were more traditional and thrifty. The biggest generational gap, however, is with those born after 1968, the cynical Gen X and the digital native Gen Y, he said.
RDO5 looks at the digital transformation of the timeshare industry
Futurist Gerd Leonhard wrapped up RDO5 with a look at the exponential growth of technology and how it will shape the timeshare industry in the next five years. Digital is the norm, he said, everything that can become software is being ‘digitised’, and this digital transformation is also happening in the timeshare industry.
Companies must keep up with the rapid changes in technology and use it to their advantage in order to do things they couldn’t do before. Amongst the growing trends Leonhard highlighted, mobility is increasingly important, with 80 per cent of all internet traffic expected to be on mobile devices by 2020.
In this ‘digitisation’ of everything, he added, human values and relationships become even more important and trust is key. The future will bring more collaboration and a peer to peer economy. The new generations are interested in sharing, and this means there is huge potential for the timeshare industry yet. Timeshare can be tomorrow’s product, he said.
RDO, TATOC and ARDA stand “stronger together” at RDO5
The final panel discussion at RDO5 brought the theme of the conference, “Stronger together”, to life as representatives from RDO, TATOC and ARDA discussed how the associations can find common ground even if they have different opinions sometimes, “just like an old married couple”, as TATOC’s Executive Chairman Harry Taylor put it.
By talking to each other the associations can ensure they are alert all the time and have their act together, ready to tackle any new threats, such as activity from claims companies, or any new legislation that may have implications for the industry, like the EU Data Protection Act.
RDO’s Chief Executive, Paul Gardner Bougaard, pointed that, while it is good that the associations work together, it is also essential that they have all their members’ support to help spread the word about timeshare, and ARDA’s Chairman, Howard Nusbaum, added a plea to work together for the 2015 Global Research worldwide resort survey.
RDO5 reaches fundraising target
Once again, delegates gave generously at the fundraising auction held during the Gala Dinner, coming close to the target of 60,000 euro set by RDO. This year, the money raised will go towards a double cause: supporting the work of RDO’s chosen charity, Christel House, to help children around the world break the cycle of poverty, and the purchase of musical instruments and more music classes at the Ron Haylock Music Room at the Christel House School in South Africa.
RDO’s Communications Council Chairman and Head of the Conference Working Group, Robin Mills, was delighted with the outcome, “but it’s never too late to donate some more money for these great causes”, he added.
For more information from this year’s conference, such as the on-site brochure, presentations and photo’s, please visit the dedicated conference website www.rdoconference.org and click on the menu “Past Conference”