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Recap: 7th Annual Resort Management Conference; 
Terri Haack Named Resort Executive of the Year
MCLEAN, VA (April 4, 2007) – A growing reliance on digital technology, consumers who “want it all and want it now,” and the future of the resort industry fueled the agenda of the 7th Annual Resort Management Conference, just held at The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs, CO.  
 
With a record attendance of 240 professionals from the resort industry at-large, the two-day conference of education, debates and lively discussions was presented by the Hospitality Sales & Marketing Association International (HSMAI) and the University of Denver’s School of Hotel, Restaurant & Tourism Management.  
 
“The information presented was the perfect balance of ideas and education, with an overall focus on the most critical issues and ideas facing the resort industry: new technologies, future trends, an evolving marketplace, and the power of the customer,” states Robert A. Gilbert, CHME, CHA, president and CEO of HSMAI.  

Following are highlights of the keynote addresses, panel discussions and breakout sessions.
 
“We are standing at the threshold of a global era,” said Michael Tchong, one of the most influential trendsetters in America and founder of Ubercool, in his keynote address on “Reaching Your Market: Trends of the Future.”
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Resort Executive of the Year- Terri Haack
Pictured (L-R): Dean Karen Newman of the Daniels College
of Business at the University of Denver; Terri Haack, vice
president and managing director, Wild Dunes Resort; and
Peter Yesawich, president and CEO of Yesawich, 
Pepperdine, Brown & Russell.

Michael Tchong presents to a packed
audience during the conference.
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“We are in the midst of social transformation, led by our growing reliance on digital technology,” stated Tchong.  “Instant gratification is now not fast enough, and time is now more valuable than money.  A huge new social dialogue is evolving and marketing is going to become entertainment driven – it’s the only way to break through the clutter.”
 
It is a digital lifestyle, said Tchong, where digital amenities are going to be key. “Internet phones will double the size of Internet use and texting is a new layer in our communication toolbox.  The laptop culture is expanding and inserting itself into real-life relationships and mobile phone lifestyle stores are opening.”
 
Discussing how some of the biggest Ubertrends – society’s “supertrends” – fuel sub-trends and how these affect the travel market, he noted:
  • Time compression: the speed of life.
  • Unwired: the thumb generation.
  • Generation xtasy: I want it all and I want it now.
  • Control freaks: controlling their media and wanting it instantly.
  • TMI (too much information) is growing like wildfire and life has become a blur.
Tchong noted that, “The singles trend, a growing market, will have a huge impact on the travel industry, and that double occupancy is a thing of the past.”  And, in keeping with the “fountain of youth” trend, med spas are a growing trend and we will see this at more resorts.
 
“To break through, one needs a new dialogue.”  Examples are lifestyle-friendly rooms at Marriott’s Springhill Suites, Hyatt’s blackberry balm hand massage, a Star Wars room at the Ramada Phuket, WiFi in every seat on Virgin Atlantic, and time-compression hotels, where rooms are available in four-hour blocks.
 
In his keynote address on “Travel Trends in Business and Leisure Travel,” Peter Yesawich, president and CEO of Yesawich, Pepperdine, Brown & Russell, stated that the business of travel is listing toward leisure, and that in the resort business, we are competing for a share of the consumers’ clock.  “Consumers are saying: you want to do business with me, you’ll do business on my terms.”  He also noted that as prices become more transparent, brand clarity becomes more important, and the incidence of utilization of the Internet to plan travel is no longer growing.
 
Yesawich presented highlights from YPB&R’s National Travel Monitor:
  • Converging forces are: the revolution of electronic research; changing social values (travel with family growing); new consumerism; demography – baby boomer aging and transfer of wealth; owning the experience.
  • Consumers will use technology differently.  More people are checking prices online before booking offline (51%).  There is growing suspicion about search, and 4 out of 10 travelers go online to read visitor critiques/reviews; 31% read journalist reviews.
  • 8 out of 10 leisure travelers are “togethering:” they’ve formed ad-hoc groups to take vacations; interest in cruising is up from 46% to 60% from 2005-2006; alternative accommodations: 14% said in 2006 they wanted to own timeshare, up from 11% in 2005; 76% want to visit a place they’ve never been to; cocooning is out.
  • Personalization is the new service strategy.  People want to customize what they buy, and 38% of users are willing to pay 20% more for customized products and services.
  • The resort business has avoided points programs, but consumers will demand it.
In an insightful general session on “Resort Operating Research and Statistics,” Mark Lomanno, president, Smith Travel Research noted: “Hotels and resorts are getting a smaller share of the pie, but it’s being camouflaged because the pie is getting bigger.  There are more choices now then there used to be when traveling and needing overnight accommodations.”
 
Presenting an overview from Smith Travel Research’s latest findings on operating statistics for resorts, Lomanno noted that the psychology of the marketplace is great.  But, he questioned how long the prosperity is going to last, citing that the last 12 months mark the first time since 2002-2003 that occupancies are declining on an annualized basis.  Demand numbers have slowed somewhat, but ADR is still very strong; 2004-2006 are the highest RevPar numbers ever – it will be hard to keep it that strong. 
 
Other statistics and observations:
  • An overwhelming majority of lodging demand is inelastic – they are going to come.
  • For destination resorts, there are only two kinds of consumers – wealthy individuals or people traveling on someone else’s money.
  • While baby boomers are getting older, it may not be a boom for the industry because many are buying second homes, timeshares, etc.
  • In 2007, occupancy is forecast to be 62.9%; ADR up 6.5% and RevPar up 5.8%.
 A panel of experts reacted to Yesawich and Lomanno’s addresses, which was moderated by Paul Laesecke, senior lecturer, School of Hotel, Restaurant & Tourism Management, Daniels College of Business, University of Denver.
 
Steve Bartolin, president & CEO, The Broadmoor, said: “Without the group business, we’re out of business.  Competitive forces are real.  We need to take advantage of our strengths – infrastructure and expanded retail.  Unique shopping is a driver, and unique dining is a big factor in buying.”
 
Charles S. Peck, president & CEO, Destination Hotels & Resorts, said: “Brand clarity is very important, and product quality and personalization are crucial to staying competitive.   Groups are being defined as smaller and smaller; and men on golf outings and spa and golf for women are very profitable.”
 
Bob Foster of Lost Valley Ranch added that “controlling cost has been our focus, as well as how to get brand awareness.”
 
Yesawich noted, “Multigenerational travel is growing substantially, with one-third of active leisure travelers now grandparents, and 40% of them taking vacations with children or grandchildren.”
 
BREAKOUT SESSIONS
 
Trends in Electronic Marketing, Including Search Engine Marketing and More
 
Frank Fredericks, vice president, sales & marketing, Wild Dunes Resort, moderated a panel that provided insight into new developments in electronic marketing and distribution.
 
“Online is replacing offline, and branding and strategy are often missing from electronic marketing,” stated Karen Nasuti, president, Nasuti and Hinkle Creative Thinking, adding: “Put branding and strategy first, and implement plans with tailored objectives for electronic marketing. Keep them few and tangible, such as online direct sales.”
 
Steven V. Seghers, MHS, president, HyperDisk Marketing, said that to leverage beyond the existing plateau, he recommends: “fusion marketing – develop an integrated marketing plan; implement an e-marketing plan focused on branding and revenue generation; leverage top-performing portals to drive revenue fusion marketing, use a plan that leverages both traditional and digital marketing to drive sales.”
 
How to Survive and Capitalize on Short-Term, Weather-Driven Challenges and Opportunities

In a session moderated by Tjibbe Lambers, marketing & promotions manager, Hershey Resorts, panelist Mark Glickman, resort director of marketing, Mauna Lani Resort, suggested getting the word out timely and consistently about conditions at your property and in the area to consumers and industry partners.
 
“You need one voice for planning and execution of recovery,” stated John McCarthy, president, Sanibel Harbour Resort & Spa.
 
Tricia Hayes, director of marketing, The Sagamore, said to convince skiers there is snow at the mountains, hold press trips, engage in RSS feeds and web weather buttons.  She noted a “peace of mind snowstorm guarantee” to come a day earlier or use the reservations later.  “We need to bring humanity back to travel and feel we are partnering with our guests.”

CRM at Its Best

Exploring the new techniques in CRM, including the basics of psychographic profiling, Tom Littleton, president, LMG Data Mining, moderated a panel about how marketing can help create relationships, and how those relationships can attract the right client and build your business. 
 
Discussing how to build a data foundation, David Ralls, vice president, AIR Marketing, said you need to know your customers, and building your database of potential customers that fit that profile is the holy grail.  “Do a data audit, segment content and audience – don’t settle for spray and pray marketing; centralize database information to know the value of customers and deliver messages in a way people want to receive it.”
 
Madigan Pratt, managing director, Madigan Pratt & Associates, Inc., focused on relevance as it relates to both the messaging and the medium.  He said that “loyalty equals profitability,” and notes that the “entertainment value in communications is being lost.”
 
Bob Gilbert, executive vice president, Intrasight, Inc., offering: “The data we all sit on is immense; getting to it is the challenge.  We need a balanced, integrated marketing approach.”
 
Changing Dynamics of the Group Market in the Resort Industry

A panel moderated by John Washko, vice president of sales and marketing, The Broadmoor, discussed where the future of the group market is headed, with panelists Peter Shelly, executive vice president, HelmsBriscoe; Lorraine Sileo, vice president, information services, PhoCusWright, Inc.; and Emily Malatesta, vice president, Business Development, TIG Global, LLC.  
 
The panelists discussed how to market towards the “new group market” – groups that are smaller than 10 rooms.  They said you need to find a way to tag these smaller groups during the reservation process, and then cater to their needs, such as chef tables and private dining rooms.  They don’t want to be put into conference rooms, and don’t want regular menus.  There are concerns about doing room blocks for these small groups when you don't have signed contracts, and you need to explore options on how to create a contract for the “normal traveler” with language that will not scare them off.

Human Resource Challenges in the Resort Industry

Highlights of the session, moderated by Andria L. Ryan, partner, Fisher & Phillips, LLP, and with panelists Cindy Clark, director of human resources, The Broadmoor, and Tonda Tan, director of human resources, Amelia Island Plantation, include:

  • Hiring and retaining employees: at-will employment, use a good application, be sure all questions are legal, and do not accept resumes in lieu of application.
  • Recruitment strategies: local, national and international; the local department of labor,
  • employee referral, retiree market, trade schools, the web.  
  • Immigration roadblocks: heightened threat of enforcement; temporary visas.
  • Performance reviews: give some constructive criticism; set timetable for improvement; be honest; avoid discrimination.  
Other sessions included:
 
Serving the Next Generation Guest, which looked at technology amenities and services required and expected by Gen X and Gen Y guests and was moderated by Daniel Connolly, Ph.D., assistant professor, School of Hotel, Restaurant & Tourism Management, Daniels College of Business, University of Denver, with panelists Mike Pusateri, principal, Vantage Strategy Consulting and Michael Schubaack, CHTP, vice president of information technology, Pinehurst, LLC.
 
Generating Ancillary Revenue: Creative Techniques for Expanding Resort Revenue Streams presented highlights of the comprehensive HSMAI Resort Best Practices study on Generating Ancillary Revenue released in December 2006.  The session was moderated by Heidi Storm Samore, co-author of the HSMAI report with Cindy Estis Green and senior consultant, The Estis Group, with panelists Jack Case, marketing manager, Kiawah Island Golf Resort; John Bradway, director of innovation management, The Breakers; and Lee Bowden, managing director, The Sagamore.
 
A session on New Technology Condo/Hotels and Fractional Ownership was moderated by Paul Laesecke, senior lecturer, School of Hotel, Restaurant & Tourism Management, Daniels College of Business, University of Denver, and included panelists Peter Dann, executive vice president/director of operations, East West Resorts, and Tom Donovan, general manager, Ritz-Carlton Bachelor Gulch.
 
Resort Executive of the Year

As part of this year’s program, the Resort Executive of the Year award, sponsored by the University of Denver and Yesawich, Pepperdine, Brown & Russell, was given to Terri Haack, vice president and managing director, Wild Dunes Resort.  “I’m deeply honored and humbled… I love this industry so much and I thank all of the people who have helped me along the way,” stated Haack
 
Pictured (L-R): Dean Karen Newman of the Daniels College of Business at the University of Denver; Terri Haack, vice president and managing director, Wild Dunes Resort; and Peter Yesawich, president and CEO of Yesawich, Pepperdine, Brown & Russell.
 
Sponsors of the conference are gold supporters American Express and ResortsandLodges.com, and silver sponsors Agilysys, AIR Marketing, Getty Images, Incite Response, Intrasight, Panzano & Partners, Passkey, Real Magnet, SoftBrands and TIG Global.
 
Exhibitors included: Agilysys, AIR Marketing, Blizzard Internet Marketing, Cendyne, Cypress Dana Communications, Five-Star Audio Visual, JTECH Communications, HSMAI, Incite Response, PAR Springer-Miller Systems, Passkey, ResortsandLodges.com, ResortSuite, Softbrands, The University of Denver, TIG Global and Travelscream.com
 
HRTM
Established in 1946, the School of Hotel, Restaurant and Tourism Management (HRTM), part of the Daniels College of Business at the University of Denver, prepares both graduate and undergraduate students for senior management positions in the fast-changing and competitive hospitality industry. As one of the most prominent hotel programs in the nation, the HRTM program enjoys a superb reputation for innovative educational programs. The student-oriented faculty members are internationally recognized for their contributions to teaching, research and publications in various hospitality fields.  For more information on the HRTM program, contact Barbara L. Pemble at (303) 871-4473or bpemble@du.edu or visit www.resortconference.com.

HSMAI
HSMAI is an organization of sales and marketing professionals representing all segments of the hospitality industry. With a strong focus on education, HSMAI has become the industry champion in identifying and communicating trends in the hospitality industry, and bringing together customers and members at annual events, including HSMAI's Affordable Meetings(r). Founded in 1927, HSMAI is an individual membership organization comprising more than  7,000 members worldwide, with 39 chapters in the Americas Region.

Contact:

HSMAI
8201 Greensboro Drive, Suite 300
McLean, VA 22102
phone (703) 610-9024
www.hsmai.org
www.resortconference.com

 

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Also See: Recap: 6th Annual Resort Management Conference; Chris von Imhoff, CEO, Alyeska Resort, Named Resort Executive of the Year / April 2006
Terri Haack, Managing Director at The Wild Dunes Resort, the Driving Force Behind Resort's Financial Turn Around / November 2003

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