- Interview: Warren Smith, EVP, Living Water Resorts - June 29, 2020
- Interview: Don Eastvold, Owner, The Travel Department LLC - June 19, 2020
- Interview: Charlie Thompson, Resort Director, Wyndham Reef Resort - June 15, 2020
We are the lucky ones and in these challenging times we have obligations.
In times of crisis we see the best of mankind through acts of kindness. Sadly though, difficult times often manifest themselves through acts of desperation, even violence. Leaders have a responsibility to communicate a positive path towards a balanced and peaceful life that we are more accustomed to.
Assuming you are employed or dependent on the Vacation Membership Industry to earn your living means that you are all greatly impacted from the Pandemic of COVID-19. Resorts, Hotels, Restaurants, Airlines, Activities, to name a few, all shut down instantly. No one was prepared for this. Thousands of our colleagues are unemployed; tour operators are without guests; usually busy beaches are empty.
But we know that there is a rainbow at the end of this black tunnel. We know that after every world crisis humanity needs to reconnect; it’s simply the way we are created. We know that historically the tourism Industry is one of the quickest to recover as the need for people to escape their day to day routine and their need to spend quality time with their loved ones away from their daily hamster wheel takes precedence over all other obligations.
Therein lies our obligation.
1. Unemployed colleagues
In most cases, Resorts were forced to lay-off valuable front-line personnel. The reality that most countries have a shut-down policy and that no one can travel simply means that many jobs are on hold.
We have an obligation to assist those who are mostly affected. Leaders who morally support and encourage their colleagues confirm the belief that our Industry has not only survived every recent crisis, but always comes out stronger. We will continue to need highly motivated front line and management team members. Not everyone can survive for months without income. Morally and emotionally it can be devastating to not be able to support your loved ones to a standard that was often taken for granted just a few months ago. While staying true to the facts that this Pandemic is real, that it has taken many lives, that it has put the world on hold, the likes of what we have never seen in our lifetime, we know that of all industries, the Vacation Ownership business is one of the first to bounce back. Tourism came back quickly after the Black Monday in 1987; demand for Mexican vacation properties were high immediately following the 1994 economic crisis in Mexico. While the financial crisis in the US in early 2000, and the same in 2008, the boom in Tourism was the first sign of economic resurgence.
Maybe we were not prepared enough.
Nobody believed such a Pandemic would come in our lifetime although it was predicted it could happen. The world was taken by surprise earlier this year when this highly contagious virus was putting the world at risk in ways we have never seen before.
Now everyone is entitled to their own opinion. However, no one is entitled to their own facts. In the USA alone, this invisible to the human eye virus is responsible for deaths now well in the 6 figures, more than anyone could foresee, and we do not yet have a solution or an approved vaccine.
Economically the disaster is unprecedented. We no longer are talking millions, or billions but rather trillions of dollars needed as an economic stimulus to ensure survival of our nations. But how does this affect us in the Vacation Membership world?
Tourism is the worlds largest employer. In some countries, it is by far the primary source of revenues. Restaurants, gift shops, amusement parks, hotels, attractions, are all dependent on tourism to stay afloat. Very few small businesses can handle a slow month in attendance, never mind a slow year. Government leaders have established restrictions to protect its citizens but at the same time it affects everyone’s ability to earn a living; to feed their family. Leading by example is the first step. Following proper protocol established by the World Health Organization is what will change the curve of spreading the virus.
We are going to see a new normal and property personnel will need to be trained on the changes. But the bottom line is that Vacation Ownership has a distinct advantage over many others as we historically recover quickly. The Industry will need good people again to service their guests. Positions will be available in all departments.
2. Club Members
Resorts that are keeping their members current on the status gain much trust and respect from their member base. This means less uncertainty and ultimately less request for cancellations. Leaders of the Vacation Membership Industry understand why this communication is crucial for everyone’s confidence. Resort operators are at the mercy of their government before they can receive any stay over guests; that cannot be changed. However, keeping members confident that the resorts are doing everything possible to ensure the return to a safe environment when they open again needs to be communicated. This can be done through a newsletter with photographs of new safety standards. The exchange companies have been gracious in their policies, but all members are not always current so properties and Clubs that keep their members current should have an edge over their competitors.
New strategic alliances are now more than ever a part of the product design as very few Vacation Membership Sales offer a simple week exchange program. New alliances or add-ons add great value to the marketplace and as we resume business it can be a great time to re-design your offering by having the right Loyalty Program and other high value alliances; having a fresh new look at what your Membership now offers.
The Vacation Ownership / Membership Industry has had a mission to enhance people’s leisure life by offering quality vacations at a great value. We are all fortunate to be part of this giant wheel but it comes with an obligation; to stay true, transparent, factual and a believer to all our colleagues and member base that we will rebound stronger and better than ever as history has proven time and time again.
Stay safe everyone!