RDO 2014 Report – Stronger Together

Nikkie De Waal, director of operations and finance for the Resort Development Organisation (the association of resort owners) outlines highlights of the recent RDO5 conference held in London.

This year’s conference of the Resort Developers Organisation (RDO) saw representatives from the timeshare and hospitality industry gather at the Pestana Chelsea Bridge Hotel in London, for two days of presentations and panel discussions.

Brand consultant BJ Cunningham, visiting professor at Brighton University, kick-started the conference with a highly entertaining and engaging session about ‘the power of telling the truth’. A brand is not a logo, he said. It is a promise and the key is to be who you really are.

This year’s moderator Geoff Grout, a business consultant specialising in leadership, team building and peak performance, led a session on success and told delegates that success was a decision, reached by setting goals, planning and commitment.

Keys to success were providing direction, teamwork, communication and the ability to change: the difficulty was not developing new ideas but escaping old ones.

Delegates were told that good, consistent and genuine customer service would result in guest satisfaction and drive positive on-line reviews.

Jules Murray, director from Spider on the Wall Ltd., and Peter Hales, managing director of Michels and Taylor’s managed hotel division, looked at how service levels in the timeshare industry compared with those in the hotel industry.

Delegates were advised on how to create a great guest experience by training staff to truly engage with customers.

Michael Levie, founding partner of CitizenM Hotels, argued that the personalised customer service offered by some organisations is often scripted and feels fake; he encouraged delegates to ‘humanise’ their customer service and be genuine and friendly.

Dean van Leeuwen, co-founder and partner of TomorrowToday Global, presented a session titled ‘Mind the Gap.  He highlighted the necessity to understand how each generation’s value systems are developed.

He stressed how these influence attitudes and behaviours and how understanding the impact of different generations can improve customer relationships, communications, recruitment and team dynamics.

Louse Pentland, fashion and beauty internet communicator, talked about the YouTube generation and her own ‘Sprinkle of Glitter’ brand, sharing an insight into ‘bloggers’.  She explained how to engage with the different generations and her highly amusing and frank assessment demonstrated how much has changed in social media and how the current 20/30 ‘somethings’ are thinking about products.

Futurist and global influencer, Gerd Leonhard closed the conference sessions with a thought-provoking look at digital transformation and how it will shape the hospitality, travel, and timeshare industries in the next five years.

Digital is the norm, he said, and everything that can become software is being ‘digitised’. Added values become an important reason to buy; trust is the only currency that really matters.

The conference also tackled key issues affecting the industry. The risks posed by claims companies and the new regulations for credit lending in the U.K. imposed by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA),  were the focus of a breakout session.

The final panel discussion at RDO5 brought the conference theme ‘Stronger Together’ to life as representatives from RDO, TATOC and ARDA discussed how to find common ground even if they sometimes have different opinions.

“Just like an old married couple,” said TATOC executive chairman Harry Taylor.

Robin Mills, head of the RDO conference working group, said: “Feedback from those attending RDO5 has been extremely positive, and I believe that we delivered a diverse range of speakers, who gave delegates plenty to think about.”

Added Harry Taylor of TATOC: “For me the take-away from RDO5 was that the industry is rapidly changing. We are realising that we need to be in partnership and recognise the needs of consumers much more.

“We have moved forward a lot in the past few years… I guess that’s called survival!.”

The RDO6 2015 conference will take place from September 17-19 at the Don Carlos Leisure Resort & Spa in Marbella.