Those delegates to RDO 3 who were in Nigel Risner’s closing session of the Conference will know what I mean – clever and amusing as the “Three Men” sketch was, every time I think of that Impala hitting the tree and the two lions looking at each other in surprise, I can’t help but smile, so I believe the Impala has it, but let me know what you think.
This first paragraph will be completely unintelligible to any RDO member or anyone in the industry who was unfortunate enough not to attend RDO 3. They have my sympathy, when it comes to writing about it I find it hard to know where to start!
I will wind` back to a piece I did in “Perspective” earlier in the year, when I recounted how I had walked across Chelsea Bridge on a beautifully crisp January morning heading for the RDO3 planning meeting at the hotel and watching cormorants dive for fish in the Thames. Wind forward to last Sunday afternoon, as I drove across that self-same bridge in torrential rain and a howling gale on my way to meet with the outgoing and incoming Chairmen of RDO, Richard McIntosh and Calvin Lucock respectively. I have to admit to wondering then that God may after all have bought some timeshare but been sold it badly, we were in the worst meteorological depression for late September experienced in the UK for 30 years – such timing!
My fears were to be unfounded, from the excellent buffet put on for us by Pestana on the first night, through all the sessions to the closing dinner, it was a roller coaster of an experience and if I fail to mention anyone or anything- my apologies, as it is hard to be objective when there is so much to write about – I kid you not.
Roy Shepperd did a great job as Conference Moderator and his opening session was fascinating when he managed to elicit such interesting information as the fact that Phil Watson was drummer in “The Herd” (made No3 in the Charts in the 70’s) knows David Bowie, and was taught at school by Peter Frampton’s father (please, if you are so young that you don’t know who Peter Frampton is, ask Gregg Anderson of the Registry Collection, he does a great impersonation!). Also did you know that Mary Anne Pulė could get you a meeting with Angela Merkel – German Chancellor? Bet you didn’t and if you weren’t there and you need to contact AM please get in touch with Mary Anne! Carlos Vogeler in his role as Americas Director for UNWTO gave us some interesting food for thought on world tourism trends, whilst Prof Dimitrios Buhalis managed to top the session on social media that he gave last year (I liked the skydiver booking the hotel as he dropped through the air to the actual hotel!). A team of travel experts, including Richard (“you look like a policeman” per Roy) Carrick, gave us a fascinating tour of our competitors and where the travel industry is going in Europe. The first day’s sessions closed with a great presentation from RCI’s Geoff Ballotti which contained some brilliant visual gags and a strong message that the industry both sides of the Atlantic had to work closely together to defeat the fraudsters who do so much damage to the industry.
On Day 2 Sallie Burnett led Conference through the latest loyalty trends and initiatives, whilst Craig Nash took us back to the start of timeshare and charted its development in Europe and the States (loved the early Star Trek exerts and the Mk 2 Ford` Cortina he hired on his honeymoon!). We had the opportunity to hear DRI’s Stephen Cloobeck on his philosophy of business life (he and Roy Shepperd did a great double act on the Q&As) . We were I think all charmed by Doinisio Pestana’s story of the growth of the group and if I were Peter Booth, I would make sure I had a video of the presentation when it came to salary review time! We also had a rare treat, the 2 CEO’s of the Exchange Companies, Stephen Cloobeck, Roy Pieres and Peter Booth, all answering questions from the Conference floor.
And then we had Nigel Risner’s presentation – I have touched on that but would only say further that I can’t remember the last time I had laughed so much in a motivational session! He very generously auctioned a half day session for Cristel House at the Dinner and the staff of, I assume IFG and FNTC are in for a rare treat on the Isle of Man, thanks to the generosity of Declan Kenny (treat and the Isle of Man are not words that naturally go together – I know I have spent many happy times there!).
I am not sure what some of our American guests thought of the singing waiters at the Gala Dinner (some quaint English custom?), but the sight of Frank Chapman sweeping the female opera singer around the floor in an elegant waltz was something I think we will all cherish!
Goodness knows how we will better this next year!
A footnote – in my last Blog on Sandy Grey, a number of members asked if they could have a copy of the information we put out after he had been condemned in costs at the High Court in London. We have made this available on the RDO site and it can be found by logging in to the members only section of the website and clicking on ‘available downloads’.