I was very young the first time I attended American Resort Development Association’s spring conference. So young that I told my boss at the time I didn’t feel I had enough to share so I shouldn’t be going. He told me: you’re not going to share; you’re going to learn.
He was right. And since then, I’ve always found the ARDA conferences to be a great place to learn about industry trends, challenges and successes. This year was the first time I attended ARDA as an employee of Nordis Technologies, where I serve as VP, Client Success.
Following the pandemic restrictions, it was great to see everyone in person at this year’s spring event held in Hollywood, Florida. I had a chance to attend some sessions, including a Power Innovation Session moderated by Nordis’ Bryan TenBroek, our VP of Business Development.
Here’s what I learned.
The vacation ownership industry has its current challenges, but not having enough customers who want to vacation is not one of them. Current travel demand is through the roof, and this industry was one of the first to recover from the pandemic, in part, because timeshare vacations are a home-away-from-home experience that allows owners to control their environments and activities.
The biggest challenge now is a labor issue—finding employees, managers and even executives to keep the customers’ ownership experience at the highest of levels. At Bryan’s session on operational excellence, panelists discussed how to attract and retain top talent, from using billboards to advertise to actively recruiting at local colleges to getting hospitality alumni to go back to their schools to inspire the next generation to enter the hospitality industry. Putting people on vacation can be rewarding and fun, and it’s an exciting place to build a career.
Companies also need to continuously evaluate the customer journey to be sure they are giving customers what they want. Current customer requests include having more experiential offerings, access to tech-based tools for giving feedback and opportunities for digital payments and the ability to pay in different currencies.
As I said at the top, ARDA also is a time to share. Nordis executives met with 16 of our vacation ownership clients, where we shared feedback from our customer surveys. With all the consolidation in the industry, we found that our clients continue to bring their critical customer communication operations and channels together on one platform. They also are seeking to use more data analytics for reporting purposes. We also presented some of our new products and services including ExpressoAP, an automated solution for making B2B supplier payments through digital channels.
Finally, it’s not ARDA without networking and fun. I was able to network with industry leaders from small brands to the biggest and celebrate the good work of the winners of the ARDA awards. Our team also enjoyed attending the receptions hosted by Foley & Lardner, Arrivia, Interval International and RCI.
Our industry has always persevered during economic downturns – from 9/11, to the Great Recession of 2008-2009 to the pandemic. Attending an ARDA conference is a great opportunity to examine trends and gain insights so you stay on top of your game and stand ready for the challenges yet to come.