Learning To Share


CRDA conference puts a spotlight on the resilient fractional ownership market

The Canadian Resort Development Association (CRDA) held its annual conference in early fall at Toronto’s Radisson Admiral Hotel.

The conference, billed by the association as the only one 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, nd we look forward to operating in these exciting times,” said association president and CEO, Ross Perlmutter.

Attendees were given a solid overview in 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 of the shared ownership market and 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 went up steadily, occupancy remained 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 such as the fundamentals of finance, resort management and timeshare technology. Of these breakout sessions, the topic that created 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 need to address the problem of resale fraud by 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 such as 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 RobWebb of Baker Hospitality.

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