TORONTO — The Canadian Resort Development Association held its annual conference last week, from Oct. 13 to 15 at Toronto’s Radisson Admiral Hotel.
The conference, billed by the association as the only conference in Canada exclusively dedicated to shared ownership, fractional and strata segments, featured 30 speakers from across the industry, sharing insights with some 200 attendees.
“As CRDA moves towards its third decade of existence, Canadian and world tourism continues to grow and flourish, and we look forward to operating in these exciting times,” said association president and CEO, Ross Perlmutter.
Attendees were given a solid overview on a number of key areas, from a consumer snapshot, provided by Jason Allsop of Ipsos Reid, to the keynote address by Howard C. Nusbaum, president and CEO of the American Resort and Development Association (ARDA).
In his presentation, Nusbaum reminded delegates of the financial realities for the shared ownership market and of its highly desirable clientele, particularly in times of economic difficulty. “I’ve always seen timeshare as the little train that could,” he started. “We had continued growth every year from 1978 to 2007, until the credit crisis humbled all of us. But, it’s not all bad. Looking at 2008 and 2009, that’s when the industry really got smart. Velocity is no longer the benchmark of success, profitability is. As a result, total sales are down, but price per interval still went up steadily, occupancy stayed stable as did average resort size,” he said.
Because of these factors, combined with the fact that, according to Nusbaum, timeshare owners are seen as very low-risk investors, even that industry’s securitization market is bouncing back. “We have very stable customers,” he said. “[Wall]street likes our paper, because nine out of 10 of our customers are current on their mortgage. Sure, gross defaults spiked in 2008 and 2009, but we’re now down to a touch below average,” he added.
The conference also featured smaller breakout seminars on topics like the fundamentals of finance, resort management and timeshare technology. Of these breakout sessions, the topic that seemed to create the most debate was the resale forum, featuring Rob Webb of Baker Hospitality; Jason Tremblay of SellMyTimeshareNOW; Jason Clowrey from Visions of the World, UK; and Chris Thompson of Club Intrawest.
Centered on the controversial practice of reselling timeshare intervals on the secondary market, a forum rife with what the panel called outright fraud, the discussion boiled down to the notion that developers and legitimate resellers do in fact need to address the problem of resale fraud by some unscrupulous relief agencies and work together to stamp out the practice.
The day-long group of seminars ended with an “all-star” roundtable discussion session, featuring prominent industry insiders like CRDA’s Perlmutter and ARDA’s Nusbaum, who were joined by Shari Levitin of The Levitin Group; David Gilbert of Interval International; Jorge Boone of RCI and Rob Webb of Baker Hospitality.