This year’s Trustee Retreat was held in downtown Chicago in mid-June and was surprisingly well attended by industry leaders. Most of us in the timeshare industry are aware of the American Resort Development Association (ARDA)’s top tier corporate membership level: that of Trustee. I was honored to be ARDA Trustee corporate member SPI Software’s guest at the event and was escorted by Vice President of Client Services Gordon McClendon, who is an ARDA Chairman’s League member.
Companies must qualify to become a Trustee by being able to demonstrate a willingness to abide by the ARDA Code of Ethics and satisfying various other criteria. ARDA President and CEO Howard Nusbaum and his team call on Trustee members frequently for advice and to help represent the industry before influential parties. Plus, they write a big check each year that helps support ARDA’s ongoing activities. In fact, they are such a significant reason for our trade association’s health and ongoing strength, that they are feted by ARDA each summer.
The opening event of the Retreat at the Park Hyatt Chicago was a reception and excellent formal dinner, followed by entertainment by the improvisational group, Second City Comedy Troupe.
The next day, we were privileged to hear Lawrence O'Donnell, political pundit, contributing commentator on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" and former executive producer of NBC's "West Wing." O’Donnell’s eye-opening talk gave listeners a true inside view of the cable television sector of the media and U.S. politics. If you think the two operate on different planets, O’Donnell would definitely convince you that you were right!
The second speaker of the morning was Sree Sreenivasan, a digital media professor and dean of student affairs at the Columbia Journalism School; and contributing editor of DNAinfo.com, who had addressed the Providence, RI, ARDA New England meeting earlier in June.
Sreenivasan called us to remember what the prevalent attitude was toward the use of email in the office in 1996. Throughout his remarks about the current status of social media, Sreenivasan compares our thinking about it today to what we thought of email at that time. I remember one corporate executive at the time who proposed to only let certain people in his office use email at all and they would be obliged to take turns using one centrally located computer. Now how antiquated that way of thinking appears!
So when business owners and marketing professionals ask, “Why do I need social media?” I just smile. Someday soon, we will all laugh at such a question. Networking platforms like Facebook will be the preferred communication devices of the decade, if not the century.
The session was over far too quickly, as the discussion had very obviously generated a lot of interest among the listeners. During an interactive session, Nusbaum and Sreenivasan had attendees work in groups to ponder the question of how our industry can utilize social media to improve the reputation of timeshare and raise awareness among consumers about the benefits of vacation ownership.
Unquestionably, the day’s sessions were a huge success. Attendees departed with a heightened understanding of how decisions are made in the White House and Congress, on the one hand. But of more immediate application, they learned important lessons about the vital role that social media is playing in all of our lives.
written for SPI Timeshare Software by:Sharon Drechsler, RRP Owner, Drechsler Communications (B2B Timeshare Industry PR Company) Contributing Editor, Resort Trades Travel Writer, Examiner.com