Some thoughts from Abroad………
In the last couple of weeks, I have been reviewing the RDO Budget for 2014 along with Nikkie Yeaman, before we present it to our esteemed Treasurer. In the course of this I have been meeting with Klaus Juhl who represents RDO in Germany and of course Maria Rodriguez who looks after our Spanish members and represents RDO in Spain.
When I go to Berlin, I am always slightly surprised at how small an airport Berlin Tegel is for the airport of the capital of an economy as important as Germany. There is in fact another airport serving Berlin – Schoenfeld which is the old East Berlin airport whereas Tegel, which is on the north west side of the City, was built in 1948 for the Berlin Airlift, hence the size and a reminder of Berlin’s recent history. A new airport, the Brandenburg is under construction at the moment next to Schoenfeld. Klaus’s office is close to Freidrichstrasse Station where they have kept the old East-West crossing point as a museum to commemorate life behind the Berlin Wall and I intend to call in and take a look when I am next there and can spare the time. My memories of Berlin go back to the early 1980’s when as a stagier in the Legal Service of the EU Commission, Lynette and I went on a trip to Berlin in January 1981 when it was still East and West Berlin. I remember crossing “Checkpoint Charlie” in the freezing cold and in snow, late at night on returning from a daytrip to the East –it still sticks in my mind as a somewhat surreal if slightly scary experience!
Enough of these thoughts. I was there to meet up with Klaus and Susanne Trier and Kurt Scholl from Hapimag, to discuss the plans for 2014. Clearly there is much to be done in Germany as I have said before, the reputation of timeshare has suffered badly over the years and if thought possible, has more legacy media problems than the UK. There are about 190,000 owners living in Germany, a not inconsiderable number and about 50% of those are Hapimag members. The balancing act for us in 2014 is looking at ways of getting cost-effective positive messages out about timeshare to the German consumer, whilst recognizing that at present it is not a hugely active sales market.
We also met up with the head of the Federal Association of the German Tourism Industry (BTW)[i], which is the Leisure Industry trade body in Germany, BTW will be working with us on the review of the 2nd Directive in 2014, as they, not RDO, will be the ones asked to give their views and we need to channel our submissions through them.
I am writing this after my second trip – this time to Madrid (how I love these 4am starts – the only one getting excited at this in our household is our retriever, who thinks I might feed him before I go, giving him the chance to con a second breakfast out of the next one up at a more respectable hour!). A useful review of the year’s events in Spain, with special emphasis on the Costa del Sol seminar and of course the hosting of RDO4 in Gran Canaria – all positive. We are hoping to repeat the success of the Costa del Sol seminar event next year in Tenerife and plans are being laid now (subject to Board approval in November of course). It is good to see that the arrangements are well in hand here also to make submissions to the Spanish Government and the team is in place. An additional bonus is being in the warm in Madrid, away from the fog left behind in London today.
The delegate comments on RDO4 are now in I believe and we will be looking at these at the next Communications Council meeting. I understand people are interested in looking further at engaging with the next generation of younger buyers as we discussed this year in Gran Canaria – we need to give this further thought.
[i] The Federal Association of the German Tourism Industry (BTW) represents the interests of the tourism industry in Germany. Its members include more than 40 large companies and major associations from all sectors of the tourism industry.
The BTW aims to improve the general conditions and locational factors of tourism in Germany at both national and European level.