RDO: Resort management in a world of diversity
The first in a series of breakout sessions marked the opening of the RDO9 Conference 2018. In line with the conference theme, ACT (Action Changes Things), José Luis Mella, Resorts Operations Director, VRI Europe, delivered an inspiring session taking delegates on a journey from historical to futuristic resort management requirements. REBECCA GORMLEY reports on Mella’s summary on the myriad of services and fixtures in resorts today to enhance guest satisfaction rates and experience.
Recalling an early childhood memory of his first holiday abroad – and “Mum’s first time on a plane,” Mella launched the session by taking delegates back to the early years of the timeshare industry, when holiday ownership was something of a status indicator for families. This was especially true when two bedroom apartments became readily available and timeshare owners were keen to upgrade from their “small” one beds to a more spacious dwelling, in order to “move-up” on the holiday property ladder.
At this time, the responsibilities of a resort management company were clear, as space and comfort were the essential requirements. Shortly thereafter, sunbeds by the pool; excellent housecleaning services; manicured gardens and poolside activities became a prerequisite, as resorts continued to evolve their offerings to meet the demand. Some took it to the next level, with the highest specs including semi-detached and detached properties in their product offering.
With the new millennium, new trends emerged, and with these came new TVs in every room and Jacuzzis in every apartment – fixtures which stood the test of time and are prevalent in today’s timeshare units.
Mella continued by explaining how experiences have also transformed the world of resort management, including flexible and self-service check-in, online live chat facilities, and importantly, personalisation. One of the ways VRI Europe has ensured its products are aligned to the changing and numerous consumer needs is by conducting consumer questionnaires.
In some cases, such questionnaires are sent three days before departure, to discover whether there is anything further that can be improved for the guest during their stay, increasing the likelihood of a satisfied customer.
Mella explained: “While apartment quality remains key, other elements, including Wi-Fi speed, rank highly on the list. Feedback from guests helps to draft the operating budgets.
“Using Club La Costa’s Paradise Club as an example, we aim for a 90 per cent guest satisfaction rate. This can be achieved with minor tweaks such as the GPS co-ordinates being slightly off, helping guests to find the resorts more easily, or the housekeeping services arriving in the morning, when most guests would prefer an afternoon room cleaning service.
“These are only small tweaks, but make a huge difference to overall guest satisfaction.”
Other methods to improve the ‘Net Promoter Score’ at a resort include offering three-pin sockets and USBs ports at resorts which have many UK inbounds.
Mella concluded the session by discussing VRI Europe’s refurbishment strategies for its resorts, a topic which was highly relevant to many of the resort developers in attendance. In recent years the industry has seen millions of euros have been invested into extensive refurbishment programmes to improve overall resort quality, and many resorts have rolling refurbishment plans to maintain high standards.
Mella said: “We have to make a sound decision based on the data we receive from our resorts. If guests are looking for enhanced technology, we try to deliver it. If they want refreshed décor, we try to deliver it.
“When planning a resort refurbishment we make sure we have buy-in from all stakeholders. We often build a specific show apartment to ‘wow’ guests when they stay at the resorts, and we educate staff on all of the fixtures and fittings to create lots of positive PR around the refurbishment.”
“Ensuring staff understand each of the fixtures and fittings is also essential when carrying out preventative maintenance, which reduces the amount of guest queries and complaints, and prevents unnecessary interruptions to their holiday experiences.”
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