ARDA World 2013 has just wrapped for another year, and yet again the event attracted thousands of shared ownership specialists from over 35 countries for five days packed with informative sessions and plenty of networking opportunities.
Over 3,000 delegates attended, many of whom also managed to squeeze in some time out on the fairways at the 12th annual RCI/AIF Open Golf Tournament held at the Westin Diplomat’s, 18-hole golf course, featuring eight acres of lakes and fairways.
RCI sponsored the Golf Tournament which raises funds to support the ARDA International Foundation (AIF)’s work related to research and educational programs that advance the timeshare and leisure industries.
For those who missed the event, there’s a daily report in RCI Ventures magazine www.RCIVentures.com rounding up the highlights. One of the stars of the event’s exhibit floor during the entire week was RCI’s 50 x 90 foot, state-of-the-art booth, offering visitors an intriguing interactive RCI experience. Content was showcased at booth’s touch points, on a luminous 24 x 12 foot main-stage screen, on one of many 50-inch, high-definition televisions, and within kiosks or on RCI’s clever custom-built iPad tables.
In fact, technology was a top theme at ARDA World. RCI’s top clients and prospective future affiliates got a chance to see the company’s complete portfolio “in action”, including the latest RCI iPad app for affiliates, and also unveiled at the conference was the innovative and brand new RCI Affiliate Access program.
For the final day, RCI Ventures magazine sat down with Howard C. Nusbaum, RRP, president and CEO of the American Resort Development Association, to chat about this year’s event – and look ahead to what’s in store for 2014.
Howard, what has stood out for you at this year’s conference?
There was a real focus on generational shift – whether it was the leadership program in LEAPS, the launch of the well-attended young professionals reception, or the keynote address on the way digital natives view the world versus digital immigrants and how their brains are wired differently and how they’re going to buy things differently. Even the Sales and Marketing Forum’s discussion of co-creation – all of these things point to a focus on generational change.
The other thing that stood out for me is that there was a pent-up demand to get off of our two-decade long cycle of exclusively going to Orlando and Vegas. And not because attendees don’t love going to Orlando or Vegas – I think people are going to be very excited to go back to the Venetian next year and back to the Marriott World Center in Orlando the following year.
But this year has shown me that we need to, a couple times a decade, pull a wild card. Being in a different city at different venue created an energy – and I’ve never heard so much positive feedback. And I imagine for someone who’ been attending 10, 20 or 30 years, it was good to be somewhere else.
So next year, back to the Venetian.
Back to the Venetian. But we’re going to continue to shake it up, because change is good.
We’re going to do a very robust membership survey this year. The industry’s changed, along with the types of members we have. Looking at our membership 20 years ago, we had developers, HOAs and non-developer vendor members. Today, I’m not sure the term developer is sufficiently inclusive. We have hospitality companies, we have aggregators of travel products that include timeshare, we have vendors who fall all along the spectrum of product offerings, we have lenders … to put them all in just a few categories is probably a mistake. And we want to ask these members not only what they think about the conference, but also what they value and where they think they fit in.
So the changes will be member-driven rather than staff- or leadership driven. It will be change from the ground up.
Did you personally enjoy this year’s meeting?
I compare it to buying a boat: People always say the two days boat owners love most are they day they buy their boat and the day they sell it. My two favorite days of the year are the day the conference starts and the day the conference ends.
The American Resort Development Association (ARDA) World Convention & Exposition will be back in 2014…