Brintia attended the annual American Resort Development Association (ARDA) conference that was held in Orlando, Florida on 8th – 10th April 2019 and it was a very eventful week! This conference is the largest gathering of Timeshare (otherwise known as Vacation Ownership / Fractional Ownership) companies from around the world. Florida is also home to the highest concentration of timeshare accommodation in the world.
The ARDA conference is a great opportunity to discuss the challenges that today’s travellers bring and to look to the future of where the industry is going.
Timeshare has been around for over 4 decades with many calling it the original shared economy product. If it would have been invented today, it would join the likes of Uber, Netflix, AirBnB and others that have disrupted the status quo in their industry and is just as revolutionary as these big names. It would have been designed around technology with the consumer having all the options available to them on an app, from the reservation booking to the check-in & check-out process.
However, because it was invented before the mobile technology revolution, the servicing of the product can be old fashioned, complicated and not very user friendly. Millennials would be in for a shock when they find out they probably have to talk to a call centre agent to make a booking instead of using their trusty phone! Can you imagine that – actually having to talk to someone! Great product but poorly delivered is how a millennial would probably describe it. No app? No online booking? No reviews? No thanks.
ARDA reported that in 2018, the US timeshare industry generated $9.6 billion in sales, $2.3 billion in rental revenue and had an average occupancy of 81% against 66% hotel occupancy. 2018 was the 8th consecutive year of growth and involves some of the biggest names in the hotel industry – Marriott, Wyndham, Disney, Hilton and Hyatt to name a few.
So, what is it that all these companies are looking for? During the 3-day conference, the one word that we kept hearing was “innovation” – everyone was looking for the latest innovation in technology to give them that competitive edge.
Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning & Chatbots generated a lot of interest amongst the IT, operational and management groups, with everyone recognising that this technology is going to be a major influence for customer engagement and experience. Experts warned that if you do not have an AI strategy in place or working on getting one soon, you will be left behind because AI is happening now in this sector and it does not wait around.
In 2014 less than 1% of the US population had access to a smart speaker. In 2019 that figure is expected to be 50% of every adult in the US having access to a smart speaker. Amazon and Google together have sold over 100 million devices, with amazon having a team of around 10,000 people working on Alexa. So, it looks like voice technology is here to stay and there are many exciting possibilities for the Resort & Hotel industry such as with voice controlled “Virtual Concierge” services that enhance the guest experience and increase the operational efficiency.
Another disruptive technology is the arrival of the Chatbot. These little web robots are already in use by some hotels with many others looking at developing their own version soon. It’s easy to see why – there are many areas where a chatbot can help the vacation industry, especially in areas such as reservations, marketing, customer services and even sales.
What can Brintia do for you?
Brintia was very excited to be a part of this event as we understand the importance of investing in innovation for companies and it´s something we strive for in our technology development. We have had the opportunity to develop some amazing projects:
- Toyota Gazoo Racing. We developed an interactive application for Microsoft HoloLens, allowing fans to visualize their car in a real size hologram.
- FNAC Device Assistant. We designed a virtual assistant to help this popular commerce store improve their customers digital experience and offer a more personalized user experience.
- LaLiga Assistant. This assistant was developed to be able to answer fan questions, increase fan engagement and integrate a dynamic way to collect users data.
All of these projects encompassed the innovative technology that were touched upon during the event, and will remain in the forefront of our digital transformation for the future.
Want to learn more & get in touch to see how we could help you? Check out our website here.
Written by our International Business Development Director – John Gutierrez (firstname.lastname@example.org)