ARDA Insights Blog                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      

Millennials Weigh in on Vacations and Timeshare

(Research, Initiatives and Trends, Developments Magazine, Guest Blogger) Permanent link

Millennials Weigh in on Vacations and Timeshare 

By Rob Kaplan-Sherman, Senior Vice President of HSR Associates
ARDA Guest Blogger
April 2, 2014 

Millennials Weigh in on Vacations and Timeshare 

It seems that whenever I speak with someone in the industry about sales, the conversation quickly gravitates toward Millennials and the tremendous opportunity they provide for the timeshare industry. 

A quick Internet search supports why this group and timeshare may fit together so well:

--Millennials take more vacations per year (approximately 4 each year) than Gen Xers (approximately 3) and Baby Boomers (slightly more than 3 annually)

--Millennials rank vacations and travel as the most important reason to save money—even more important than saving for retirement!

If vacations play an integral role in Millennials’ lives, it is clear we should want to understand their values. 

In late 2013, the AIF and HSR Associates conducted a series of focus groups with Millennials to better understand how they shop for and purchase vacations, and to identify potential opportunities for the industry.

When planning a vacation, Millennials appear to have four core requirements: unfettered access (their planning is limited only by their inspiration, research skills, and budget), completely customizable, no restrictions, and excellent value. 

From this and other observations we are able to capture some significant insights.

--Millennials seem very apprehensive about commitment, so positioning timeshare as a life-long ownership product instead of an alternative to the next vacation can make the thought of timeshare a non-starter. Deliver a great vacation and create a relationship—and thus a credible, trustworthy source on the short-list for their next vacation.

--Leverage the superiority of timeshare lodging units over traditional hotel rooms. Focus group participants consistently expressed very positive reactions toward lodging units, and specifically enjoyed having a kitchen. In the absence of price, timeshare units generated greater preference than traditional hotel rooms. When learning of the similarity of price points between hotel rooms and timeshare units, participants appeared to view timeshare much more favorably.

--Promote flexibility and choice. While some Millennials may view these characteristics in almost unrealistic terms, it may be sufficient to start a conversation with them.

Read about all of the findings from the Millennial Focus Group in the March 2014 edition of Developments magazine. 

 

Introducing the New VacationBetter.org

(Initiatives and Trends) Permanent link

Introducing the New VacationBetter.org

By Peter Roth, Vice President of Marketing and Communications
March 12, 2014 

Introducing the New VacationBetter.org

Our industry is in a very exciting place—high customer satisfaction rates, new product offerings, and a positive financial outlook. 

To reflect this, ARDA has re-energized its consumer website, VacationBetter.org, to embody this new energy and vibrancy. We created this site as a trustworthy resource for consumers to turn to for timeshare information and resources—with the main goal of reinforcing the positive experiences of owning and vacationing with timeshare.

With this goal in mind, we took several steps in revamping the new VacationBetter.org site, including:

  • Worked closely with members of the Communications Committee to help determine how to better engage the industry and provide a valuable tool for our developers and others in the industry.
  • Conducted a competitive search for an agency to help us develop a world-class website to accurately reflect the excitement, beauty, and fun of timeshare vacations.
  • Hired the same firm that helped the U.S. Travel Association create their high-impact Travel Effect website and campaign. NJI Media is an interactive design firm with significant travel and association experience.
  • Conducted primary research with a variety of ARDA members and constituents to learn how they would leverage VacationBetter.org and what they wanted to see from the site. Based on this input, we developed a strategic framework—along with a new logo, design, and content elements.

The overall tone of VacationBetter.org is consumer-friendly, reliable, trustworthy, and conversational. Through more interactive content, it provides helpful information without being sales-focused, serving as a neutral go-to source for two key audiences: would-be owners and new owners. Key highlights of the site are:

Content for Audiences New to Timeshare 

For first-timers, we provide compelling content that educates them on what timeshare is and how it works. On the homepage, they start with a “What Kind of Traveler Are You?” quiz that identifies their travel type as: Adventurer, Relaxer, Family Member, or Urban Explorer.

Content for New Owners 

Content for the “new owners” audience is framed to help reaffirm their decision during the critical rescission period, so they remain confident that their timeshare purchase was a great decision. The site includes a Timeshare Owners’ Guide with “hidden tips” for owners that tell them how to best use and enjoy their timeshare. We also have a section on understanding and using exchange programs. Finally, there will be a place for owners to share their own vacation stories or tips with other site visitors. The “What’s New” section offers visitors a reason to return, with frequent posts discussing the benefits of travel and timeshare.

How to Use VacationBetter.org 

The new site will be a terrific resource for consumers—owners and non-owners alike—and will gain traction via wide industry support. It is designed for ARDA members to use through their various communications channels—and when their owners also use it, we will be able to truly develop an “echo chamber” of support.

There are many ways that we can collectively encourage use of the site like (1) direct linking to VacationBetter.org, using our logo or “bug”; (2) provide information in the sales room and directly after the sale; (3) promote the site on social media and in owner communications; and (4) send people to the site when they book a tour or sales visit.

We encourage you to visit VacationBetter.org and to use it with your owners and future owners. It’s a credible resource that can provide third-party information to educate your prospects and make your owners smarter and more loyal vacationers. Check out the all new VacationBetter.org site today!  

 

Economic Momentum

(Initiatives and Trends, Developments Magazine, Guest Blogger) Permanent link

Economic Momentum

By Kevin Hassett, American Enterprise Institute
ARDA Guest Blogger

January 29, 2014

Economic Momentum

The last quarter of 2013 was filled with all kinds of economic uncertainty—budget gridlock, labor market challenges, international disruptions, and the Washington shutdown. But many “dashboard indicators” give me optimism about our economic future.    

There are four metrics that I watch to track a return of economic growth:

1. The deficit has been reduced enough that uncertainty is no longer a drag.

2. American wealth has gone back up to pre-crisis levels.

3. Bank balance sheets are now looking healthy and profits are back, with the disposal of bad assets. The crisis in lending also seems to be behind us.

4. Long-term unemployment will be a very serious challenge for 2014.

Looking ahead to 2014, there are a few trends you should keep your eye on. On the economic front, I think we’re going to have a relatively uninteresting policy year, due to where we are right now and how corporate tax reform has died again in Congress.

This means politics will be front and center. What I see happening this year is Republicans will go into the election talking only about the Affordable Care Act. On the flip side, Democrats have an advantage this year, as a rebounding economy always helps the party in the White House. Interesting things will happen at the crossroads between the economy and politics this year. 

As for what’s happening on the world stage and international economic factors, I see these more of a sideshow at the moment. There aren’t strong enough pockets in the world that they’re driving activity here nor are there pockets of weakness that are so awful they are upsetting our activity.

In terms of real estate, the leisure real estate market and housing in general are all experiencing significant recovery points. But I would use caution moving forward in this in terms of the future for interest rates—the risks are balanced unevenly right now so it’s best to be cautious.

For timeshare developers specifically, I’d encourage expanding operations because the economy looks good—but I’d be sure to lock in financing before interest rates rise. Odds are pointing in that direction and the risks are higher than they’ve been in a long time, so I’d act accordingly.

For much more from Kevin Hassett, please see the interview in the next Developments magazine, available digitally and in print in February.

Kevin Hassett is a senior fellow and the director of Economic Policy Studies for the American Enterprise Institute.

 

 

Vacations Make for Happier People

(Research, Initiatives and Trends) Permanent link

Vacations Make for Happier People 

By Peter Roth, Vice President of Marketing and Communications

January 15, 2014 

Vacations Make for Happier People

We often communicate to prospective owners the value of vacation ownership comes from knowing that you’ve already pre-paid for your vacation.

The guarantee of a vacation at least once a year is a commitment to vacationing better. And that the benefits of vacationing are many: lifetime memories, more spacious accommodations, no stress from planning, and more! That’s part of why timeshare occupancy (76%) continues to outpace traditional hotel stays (56.6%).

Helpful to the larger travel industry in general is that each year there is more research conducted about the benefits of vacationing—a fact that our industry has utilized for years. In fact, Expedia conducted a survey this past year that evaluated the link between personal happiness and vacations. They learned that 61% of people who vacation at least three times annually are satisfied with life—and that vacations boost job satisfaction, marriage happiness, and even intimacy.

With those statistics in mind, here’s to hoping 2014 is the year of the vacation! Do your vacations make you happier? Let us know in the comments. 

 

American Vacation Statistics Are Depressing

(Research, Initiatives and Trends) Permanent link

American Vacation Statistics Are Depressing 

By Peter Roth, Vice President of Marketing and Communications

January 9, 2014 

American Vacation Statistics Are Depressing 

An annual study by Expedia® about vacation habits revealed that Americans earn among the fewest vacation days (14) in the world each year and also leave among the most (4) unused days on the table. On average, about 10 out of every 14 days are left—more than 500 million days each year!  

While we know our owners love and continue to use their timeshare product, there is still a mindset that vacations are a luxury, not a necessity. How do we change this? By encouraging our own employees to utilize their vacation days so that they return refreshed, relaxed, and ready to work.

We can also make strides by sharing the benefits that vacations provide through owner stories, pictures, and videos that show the positive effects of vacationing. In the coming months, ARDA’s newly refreshed consumer website, VacationBetter.org, will be posting fresh owner content, promoting third party data, and publicizing the positive attributes of timeshare vacations. We will need the help of the entire industry to expand the reach of the website and become a valuable resource to owners and developers alike.

In the meantime, you can read about resolving to take a timeshare vacation in the New Year. And share your vacation habits in the comments!

 

Taking Vacation Time Boosts Productivity

(Research, Initiatives and Trends) Permanent link

Taking Vacation Time Boosts Productivity 

By Peter Roth, Vice President of Marketing and Communications

December 16, 2013

Taking Vacation Time Boosts Productivity

New research by the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM) shows that employees who take vacation time enjoy greater productivity, increased job satisfaction, and higher organizational morale than those who do not.  

However, the “Vacation’s Impact on the Workplace” survey also shows a disconnect between the positive attitudes surrounding vacation and Americans’ actual behavior—61 percent of organizations report that their employees leave three or more days on the table each year...not much of a surprise!

ARDA partnered with the U.S. Travel Association (and its innovative campaign, the Travel Effect) to announce this important research. This is the kind of data that is important to share with our industry, timeshare owners, and prospective owners. There are so many reasons to take regular vacation—and now we see that productivity at work is yet another.

And clearly, owning a timeshare makes people more likely to take their vacation since it’s pre-paid—just one huge benefit to owning a timeshare that the industry should continue to tout.

What are your thoughts on boosting productivity in the workplace by taking time to vacation? Let us know in the comments! 

 

ARDA Fall Conference 2013: Why You Need to Be in D.C. on November 13

(Meetings and Events, Initiatives and Trends, Legislation) Permanent link

ARDA Fall Conference 2013: Why You Need to Be in D.C. on November 13 

By Catherine Lacey, Vice President of Meetings and Conventions

November 7, 2013 

ARDA Fall Conference 2013

The shutdown is over and D.C. is back! There is no better place to kick-off the next year of ARDA’s success than right here in our nation’s capital for Fall Conference.  

The most valuable networking events, meetings, and expert panels in the industry will all be in one place for ARDA’s Fall Conference 2013—Wednesday, November 13, through Friday, November 15th.

What trip to D.C. would be complete without insight from the city’s top policy experts? This year, ARDA proudly features two exciting keynote speakers from right here inside the beltway. Get your toughest questions answered by tax policy professional Kevin Hassett, an economist who will share useful advice from his years of work as an economic advisor to prominent politicians.

And be sure to stick around until day three to hear from experienced political analyst and journalist Charlie Cook. Cook has written for some of your favorite sources for the latest in politics and is known for his applauded political newsletter, The Cook Report. Attendees of Fall Conference boast a peek inside Washington that non-locals usually miss.

Plus, be among the first to get an exclusive sneak preview of the new and improved ARDA consumer site, VacationBetter.org. Benefit from previewing what your customers will see when they search for reliable, comprehensive information on the industry and product.

If you’ve attended Fall Conference before, you know how important it is to be a part of the inner circle that crafts ARDA’s plan for the year. If this is your first year attending, you won’t want to miss the countless networking opportunities and insider tips that Fall Conference offers. We look forward to seeing you and your fellow timeshare professionals in the District on November 13!