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Will the Condominium Hotel and Fractional Ownership
Concept Penetrate Europe, Middle East and Africa?
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By Jose Ventura, June 2005

During the past few years a lot has been said about the cutting edge new vacation ownership models, but a “belly button” approach has been undermining the possibility of expansion of this concept into new markets.

Europe, Middle East and Africa, including the Indian Ocean offer an entire new portfolio of opportunities including some of the most desirable destinations and prestige locations. So why has it been so difficult for the new wave of hospitality real estate concept to penetrate these regions?

Several factors could be the cause, but the most probable factor is that the concept is too “American” for Europeans to accept. I believe that development profits, a return on investment, hassle free ownership and an investment in lifestyle means the same to both developers and consumers in the US as in EMEA. The importance is how you communicate this message to the developers and how you communicate future products to the consumers, providing them with the confidence to “take the leap of faith”. 

The “belly button” approach by some of the experienced US vacation ownership professionals is limiting their ability to assure that this leap of faith is taken and makes it difficult to penetration of the industry in the EMEA region. Do not misinterpret this statement. I believe that they are the more qualified professionals in this industry yet need to understand the cultural and communication barriers in order to move forward. It is time to excite developers and consumers about the future of the vacation ownership industry in Europe and the philosophy of “its working wonders in the US” should be substituted by “this is what EMEA can achieve”.

London, Paris, Berlin, Rome, Algarve, Andalusia, Tuscany, Dubai, Cape Town, Mauritius, Seychelles, Morocco,  Kenya, Victoria Falls, the Kruger National Park, Sahara Desert, the Pyramids … The whole world is on offer, not just for a “once in your lifetime” trip but for a lifetime of leisure.

  • Where will our prospects come from? 
  • Where will our sales come from? 
  • How should we budget and manage risks? 
  • What is the appropriate marketing mix for our project? 
  • How well does our product and use plan match our market? 
  • Is a ramp-up or event launch most suitable for our situation? 
  • How do we recruit the talent we need? 
Many questions will be asked, yet before strategizing we need to answer the “one billion dollar question” question: How do I penetrate these markets?

Firstly, respect the cultures and the different identities. Improving language skills and listening to the needs of the clients will ensure a positive impact.

Secondly, research the tourism movements and travel patterns of each country thoroughly. Identify what cultural and historical facts impact on the reasons why Germans are excited about the opening of new vacation opportunities in Croatia, why the English regularly visit South Africa, what drives the Scandinavians to the Indian Ocean and why the Dutch return to Portugal every year. This is more than just a search for sun, beach, golf and ski experiences. It is a search for identity, past experiences and participation in the evolution of the communities.

Finally, be yourself and be patient. We Europeans do take more time in making decisions because we do love a good discussion! Ensure you have some Europeans on your side to support your efforts and to assist you in your endeavors. The future of the new markets for the industry depends on this new approach and it is time for the EMEA region to move forward and get on board.

This is a win-win opportunity; let us open the doors to the future of Condominium Hotels and Fractional Ownership in a region that offers unparallel locations with unparallel high net worth feeding markets. It is time to look up from our “belly buttons” and have a long term vision of what we can achieve in these new untapped markets.

Jose Ventura, Managing Director of Pam Golding Leisure, joined the Pam Golding Group in May 2004 after spending several years with some of the leading global Hotels including Hyatt, Ian Schrager Hotels, Marriott, Ritz Carlton and Le Meridien. Jose a Cornell Alumnus, started as a corporate trainee with Hyatt International has worked in London, Marbella, The Middle East, The Netherlands, and Paris. Jose who is fluent in Portuguese, Spanish, French, Italian and English is an Hotelier by nature and has a great knowledge of the international hotel market and resort real estate, both from an operational and marketing point of view.

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Contact:

Franette Viljoen
leisure@pamgolding.co.za
www.pamgolding.co.za/leisure

Also See: Despite Lack of Long-Term Data, Hotel Developers Favor Hybrid Projects; The Fractional and Condominium Component Not a Proven Solution to Development Prosperity / Rick Swig / RSBA Associates / June 2005
Avoiding The Pitfalls of Condo Hotel Structuring; Steps To SEC Compliance / Peter Connolly / June 2005

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