The hospitality industry is brimming with career options for job seekers. Until recently, though, potential employees tended to think of hospitality mainly as jobs in more traditional fields - restaurants, hotels and tourism. But one niche, the timeshare industry, is finally coming out of the shadows and attracting notice as a destination career for job seekers.
"For someone looking for work in the hospitality industry, there's a niche called timeshare that's pretty compelling," says Howard Nusbaum, president and CEO of the American Resort Development Association (ARDA). "The baby boomers are turning 60, they're more affluent, and they don't want to sit on a porch. They're interested in wanderlust, so the timeshare industry and those who work in it are in a very sweet spot right now. If I'm someone who wants a hospitality industry career, this is the place to be."
That's certainly what Richard Parks, general manager of Liki Tiki Village, Orlando, an Island One resort, discovered when he "crossed over" to the timeshare industry. He had worked for 25 years in various aspects of the hospitality industry, starting in his father's mini-airport business and leading to executive HR positions with Disney World and the Disney Institute. He became attracted to the timeshare industry way of doing business.
"I got my resume in front of the HR person at Island One. I wanted to work in an industry that was customer focused, but not as stressful and not as heads-in-beds focused," he says. What appeals to him about the timeshare industry is its strong customer focus, working with savvy travellers who are looking for a "vacation experience" versus a simple hotel stay.
Chris Gourdie, general manager of Parkway International Resort, Orlando, has seen both sides. This veteran of the hotel industry worked with Courtyard at Marriott 12 years before joining Marriott Vacation Ownership eight years ago and remaining in the timeshare industry.
"The biggest thing I can say to anybody is, in operations for timeshare there's not nearly the pressure you experience in a full-service hotel. In timeshare, you take care of the owners, properties and employees. In a hotel, you have all that on top of investors for whom you have to make certain profit margins, and there's immense pressure to make those profit margins on a daily, weekly, monthly basis."
It helps that the timeshare industry seems to have outgrown an earlier image problem. Richard Parks echoes a common view: "I didn't have a high impression of the industry; timeshare had a bad reputation. When people hear timeshare, they cringe because they've all been through the 90-minute time pressure sales pitch." But concerted efforts by the industry have cleaned up the image and professionalized timeshare operations.
The timeshare industry thrives on a special breed of customer service employee. You don't have to come from a hospitality background, but you should possess certain qualities:
The rewards are well worth the effort to develop the spirit of hospitality. In addition to increasingly attractive packages (compensation, benefits, bonuses), there is a diversity of jobs -- from front line service to finance and management - and the opportunity to nurture your career in an industry that's enjoying explosive growth.