After assuming the role of president/CEO of the American Resort Development Association (ARDA) last May, Jason Gamel has plans to leverage his more than 20 years of experience in the timeshare industry in the new position. Gamel was previously SVP of legal, Wyndham Destinations, and prior to that, the VP of government affairs at ARDA. Returning to his current home, Hotel Business caught up with the CEO, who has goals for 2020 and beyond.
What do you like best about your new role? First, I love working in the timeshare industry. I have spent more than 20 years in this industry and find it both fascinating and challenging. Second, I simply enjoy working with the ARDA staff and its members. It’s an amazing group of hardworking and smart professionals, and they make it a pleasure to come to work every day.
What’s the most challenging part of the position so far? I am fortunate to work for an association that had years of success and was set up for future change. The challenge is to be strategic in our decision-making and to prioritize what is important for the benefit of our members and the association as a whole.
How has your work at Wyndham Destinations prepared you for this role? Working at Wyndham taught me about the business side of the timeshare industry. It added to my previous seven years of being a hospitality/timeshare attorney and nine years of time with ARDA to give me a well-rounded view of the industry.
What are some of your goals with ARDA? What do you hope to improve? My major goal is to continue to evolve ARDA to meet the needs of its members. This will be done through first listening to the needs of members and making changes to the meetings format, educational offerings and membership benefits accordingly.
What are some challenges the industry—and timeshare specifically—is facing in 2020? How do you plan on overcoming those at ARDA? One of the challenges we face in the industry is working with our members to promote the positive aspect of timeshare ownership. There are millions of happy owners in the United States, and we are determined to have their stories told.
How is ARDA handling Airbnb and Vrbo? What do you expect from these services moving forward? Rental platforms such as Airbnb and Vrbo can very well be complementary to the timeshare product our members offer. First, those platforms can be a way for our members to monetize unsold inventory. Second, we also recognize that owners may vacation for several weeks a year and while we would like them to utilize timeshare resorts for all of their vacation needs, it makes sense that travelers might use those platforms in addition to their timeshare ownership.
How has ARDA evolved in the past few years? The timeshare industry has seen its fair share of consolidation among its members over the past several years and that has had a significant effect on ARDA’s operations. ARDA has had to evolve in a number of ways, including how it communicates with its members, the concepts behind our annual trade show and how we deliver legislative services.
Is there anything else the industry should know about you or ARDA? I am extremely honored and excited about continuing to serve this amazing industry, and I do believe our best years are still in front of us. HB
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HSMAI Marketing Strategy Conference
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