By Georgi Bohrod, RRP

The sun is bright in the Caribbean and along the Mexican Riviera. Also shining bright is Occidental Vacation Club (OVC) which continues its strong, solid expansion and updates of their eight all-inclusive clubs in the most gorgeous and in-demand locations in the world: Aruba, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, and Mexico. Driving their success is their warm hospitality culture which continues to please their members and their commitment to offer luxury services at affordable prices.

Real success measured by happy membersThe true success of a vacation club, like OVC which is credited with being one of the first all-inclusive timeshare Clubs, is measured by how popular it is with its members. It’s easy to see that OVC has the admiration of its 26,000+ members from the vibrant owner postings on Instagram and The Club’s Facebook site with 5,626 likes. The pictures, comments and questions appear to be from one big happy family. Members post vacation pictures of good times, and ask for advice about upcoming vacations such as, “What’s the best parasailing in Cozumel?” “What can I expect at the airport in Punta Cana?” “How do I become a Grand Level member?”

In addition, separate pages created and enthusiastically run by its members, OVC Elite Members Group and OVC First Club members, are used to communicate, answer questions and offer advice regarding destinations, resort insights, logistics, and more.

Social media is one way of building community, but with The Club it is an outgrowth of true one on one friendships that develop at the resort level where lavish member parties and a varied menu of activities keep members engaged and looking forward to returning to either their “home” property or one of the many other options in the group.

Owners share their views
OVC asks for and appreciates all owner comments. Says OVC President Luis Namnum, who publishes his direct email address in all member communications, “How can we expect to improve and be the best we can be, without owner feedback—that is why the comments we receive and face-to-face interactions with our members are so very important to us.”

OVC makes it their goal to answer all of their member comments if not with written response or face to face interaction, then through real action. Members keep coming back because OVC follows through on their comments and requests. During their stay members become a part of the OVC family, often knowing the staff members by name.

Always improving
Never one to rest on its laurels, OVC makes improvements to its resorts on a regular basis. A recent $1.4 million renovation of Occidental Grand Punta Cana Beach Club is an example of OVC’s pledge to keep improving. The renovation has modernized and added space for exceptional comfort in the reception and waiting areas where First Club Members are warmly welcomed by name and offered tropical beverages upon arrival. OVC has made every effort to blend the natural surroundings into the renovation, so that it’s difficult to distinguish between what’s man-made and what’s nature.

The Beach Club is a little piece of paradise, strategically situated on an expanse of soft white sand and sparkling turquoise waters. Members can relax and take in the view on a comfortable covered lounge or private cabana, while a butler delivers the beverage of their choice. If they can drag themselves away from their beach beds, they can continue relaxing in two beachside Jacuzzis®

As part of our continuing efforts to create the ultimate vacation experiences for our First Club members through exceptional features and amenities, we may be faced with the problem of our members never wanting to leave this exclusive piece of paradise,” said President Namnum.

Improvements are also underway at the Occidental Grand Xcaret adjacent to the world-famous Xcaret Park, an ecological and historical preserve that is a delight to all visitors. With a goal to continually provide a vibrant décor and more comfort for guests, OVC is completing a $260,000 separate beach area with bar for First Club and Grand Level members. In addition, 14 hotel rooms are being converted to studios with an approximate investment of $240,000. Included in that investment are the décor and furnishings of the member Buffet Area.

Always thinkingPlenty of luxury ideas abound in the creative minds at OVC.Some may remain ideas and others may be put into practice. The team at The Club is constantly challenged to suggest new and innovative additions to please members. Always thinking ahead about unique options, OVC is considering the possibilities, particularly at Grand Level, of hi-tech wrist entry bands, a sleep boutique with special pillows and other items for a perfect night’s sleep, GoPro cameras to record guest stays and experiences, and as a tribute to President Namnum’s passion for cigars, a small cigar humidor. No matter how fanciful, each suggestion from members and staff is seriously taken into consideration.

A shift to Grand Level Membership
OVC offers two levels of membership. New members often opt for First Club membership which offers many VIP services such as preferred check-in/check-out, private lounges, pools and beach clubs, and special room amenities. As members become more familiar with OVC, more of them are making the move to Grand Level membership. It may be because of all the exceptional perks and pampering members receive upon joining. Membership comes with a certain cache, more privacy and more privileges.

As Thoreau said, “Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.” Grand Level is set up to help members do just that. They enjoy preferred accommodations with ocean views, preferred check-in and check-out, concierge service, private areas—beach, pool, Jacuzzi, lounge—even private restaurants that serve top-of-the-line cocktails, wines and gourmet meals and en suite dining. Lavish amenities may include a sunset cruise on a private sailboat, golfing privileges on champion courses, luxurious spas, and specialty excursions around the area as part of the package.

Sales continue to grow
As is the timeshare industry, OVC is strong and expanding. All signs are good—the economy, employment, inflation and interest rates are in the right place for a growing company. People are traveling again. OVC is using this opportunity to invest in the improvements that will keep their resorts in the forefront of industry sales. According to Vacation Ownership World’s April survey, OVC recorded $41 million in sales in 2014.

Added skilled professionals
As additional fortification of their efforts to further progress, OVC has added a new VP of Marketing and an Advertising Manager. Both have years of experience and success in motivating consumers and buyers.

Dennis Thibault, VP of Marketing, has over 20 years of experience in development and execution of strategic marketing plans to drive new member acquisition and reactivation. His previous work at major timeshare resort companies generated more than 600,000 sales presentations, 100,000 new members, and hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue.

We are revving up our Fly/Buy programs since we know once we have folks on site, they will be sold on our generous spirit, good energy and incredible environment,” said Thibault who spent years with Monarch Grand Vacations.

The new Advertising Manager, Patricia Salazar, comes to OVC with more than 20 years of experience in advertising, marketing, communication and public relations at major international companies. Visionary and innovative, Patricia brings a fresh approach, strong leadership and strategic thinking skills to the OVC family of resorts.

Looking forward
The timeshare industry is not stagnant. Travel experiences change as consumer demands change, and we in the industry know that it’s critical to change to meet those demands. It’s not just about knowing what your current members want, but also knowing what the new generation of potential members want and then adapting to meet the needs of both. OVC understands what needs to be done and they’re doing it. It looks like all the tools are in place for a bright future indeed.

Occidental Vacation Members love their Club and use social media sites to rave!
B. Daig at Allegro Playacar, “The First Club is outstanding! Jose, Santiago, and Carlos provided great service and a sincere friendliness.” From a member at the Grand Xcaret: “The staff is really excellent, and has improved greatly over the years. As always, the staff in the Royal Club dining room is superb. But the main reason we keep coming back is because of Arisleyda Mareseille—we have faith that should anything go wrong—she would make it right and always has.” “The staff at the First Club is so wonderful and helpful. We also love the ProDive. Again…great staff of divers.” (D.Harris-Allegro Cozumel)“Friendly staff, nice sized resort and very well kept grounds, good food selection with a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables. Always a fun time at the beach, regardless of the age of children, lots of things to do. Access to SeaPro right on the beach.” (R. Parent, Occidental Grand Punta Cana)