Perspective Group produced the Canadian Resort Conference (CRC) for the first year on behalf of the Canadian Resort Development Association (CRDA) on September 23rd – 24th, 2014 at the Pantages Hotel in Toronto, Canada. CRC 2014 brought together 80 senior level executives from 50 companies spanning Canada, the United States, Mexico and the Caribbean.
The conference had an extraordinary panel of industry experts who participated in a series of Q&A panel session debates discussing relevant topics which included: the state of the industry, a CRDA update, how to stay competitive, and innovative ways to deliver new members, just to name a few. Additionally, a cocktail party sponsored by RCI and a speed networking event were all a part of the CRC 2014 experience.
“With the continued success of GNEX over the years, it was only natural for Perspective Group to produce CRC 2014. I am extremely happy will the outcome of the conference. Each speaker brought something unique and insightful to the table, and industry professionals alike took full advantage of the many networking opportunities available,” stated Paul Mattimoe, president and CEO of Perspective Group. Keynote speaker Jim Madrid – CEO of Advance Corporate Technology, welcomed delegates to CRC 2014 and kicked off the first panel discussion regarding the state of the industry which was led by three speakers: Robert Craycraft – Vice President of Industry Relations at ARDA, Nick Carter – Vice President at Crelogix, and Wes Kogelman – President & CEO of BuyATimeshare.com. Speakers gave an overview of the current state of the vacation ownership industry; discussing topics which included Timeshare, Travel Clubs, and Vacation Clubs in the everchanging economies of Canada and around the world.
The CRDA update highlighted the importance of doing business not only in Canada but also in the U.S. and globally. Speakers gave delegates an update of the current issues that exist in the Canadian marketplace as well as CRDA’s latest initiatives to benefit its members. Industry professionals: Jon Zwickel – President & CEO of CRDA, Dianne Hounsome – Manager/Developer of The Cottages at Port Stanton, and Ed Romanowski – Chairman of the Board of CRDA all gave insight on these topics during an informative session. “There are some significant issues that the Canadian industry needs to have addressed especially with respect to structuring resort properties for financing by lending institutions for purchases, and ease of consumers understanding what they’re purchasing,” said Ed Romanowski. He added, “We need to make it easier for lenders to secure their mortgages and for consumers to have greater comfort with the product they’re buying. The structure and paperwork needs to be simplified.”
Staying Competitive A workshop session facilitated by Jim Madrid on “How to Stay Competitive” provoked group participation, strategic thinking, and debate as teams discussed their primary opinions on how individual companies as well as an industry as a whole, can stay competitive in an everchanging environment. This engaging, teambuilding activity encouraged fresh ideas and relationship building. “Today’s leaders must adapt to stay competitive. The global economy has changed, and yet many leaders are still locked on to old habits, attitudes and beliefs. It’s time to transform the way we lead and think,” stated Jim Madrid.
Innovative Ways to Deliver New Members
In the pursuit of growth, industry experts outlined what is needed to find, attract and secure new members while looking at how a selection of companies are assisting from different angels. Jon Blackmon – Vice President of Operations at VacationCondos.com, Martin Kandel – CEO of PriceProtect Shield, Erika Garcia – CEO of Yucatan Holidays & Vacacionante, and Michael Burns – President of Vacatia all spoke on this subject while encouraging open discussion from audience members for additional examples and suggestions.
A fun speed networking event took place on the first day of the conference which offered an opportunity to get personal one-on-one time with up to 30 attendees in two minute speed meetings. This networking activity allowed attendees to swap business cards and arrange formal meetings with key industry professionals at a fast pace in a relaxed environment. Conference attendees benefited from new introductions to prospective clients and potential business partners. A cocktail party sponsored by RCI followed immediately after speed networking where many attendees continued the conversation over drinks and appetizers.
Cornerstone Award Winner
The second annual Cornerstone Award winner was announced during a lunch session sponsored by Skyline Vacation Club on the second day of the conference. The award was presented to DAE, a worldwide vacation exchange provider, by President & CEO of CRDA, Jon Zwickel. This coveted award recognizes innovators in the vacation ownership industry and entry was open to any company, Home Owners Association, individual or vacation ownership project. A worthy recipient of the Cornerstone Award would be anyone or any company that has seized an opportunity, addressed a need, solved a problem or created a game changing value proposition that has left a lasting positive impact on the industry, the environment and society, while being an inspiration to other CRDA members – and DAE encompasses that.
“DAE is truly worthy of our Cornerstone Award. They are a company that dynamically impacts the vacation ownership industry during an era of rapid change, and delivers solutions that are integral to the evolution of our industry,” said Jon Zwickel.
Judging of this award was based on both panel and online voting. Four judges, who represent the Awards Committee, independently selected their top scoring nominee based on the narrative and collateral provided as well as their industry knowledge. Each judge’s scores represent 20% of the overall score for a nominee, with the remaining 20% coming from the online voting process, open to all industry professionals.
New Appointments to CRDA Board of Directors
CRDA welcomed 5 new members to its board of directors at a meeting held during CRC 2014. The new board members are: Fermin Cruz – Vice President of Marketing at DAE, Gord Minor – Director of Operations in Canada at Wyndham Vacation Ownership, Gregory Crist – CEO of National Timeshare Owners Association, Nigel Lobo – COO of Grand Pacific Resort Management, Wes Kogelman – President and CEO of BuyATimeshare.com.
“I am thrilled that CRDA’s scope has been broadened by the depth of experience that these industry professionals bring to our Board. The sectors they represent adds to our ability to become the relevant vibrant voice of the Canadian resort industry,” stated Jon Zwickel.
CRDA’s board of directors now comprises of 13 industry leaders that help shape the direction of the association.
That’s a Wrap
As the CRC 2014 conference came to an end, Jim Madrid wrapped up with a few closing remarks along with details for this year’s event which will be held at the Pan Pacific hotel in Vancouver, Canada on September 9th-10th. New CRDA members were also announced; adding to the association and its nearly 50 member companies that are committed to supporting the highest standards through a structured Code of Ethics which all CRDA members pledge to uphold.