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Leisure Travel drives growing destination resort recovery, attendees at second resort management conference report

A resurgence in destination resort travel activity, driven by leisure travelers, was reported by attendees and panelists at the…

A resurgence in destination resort travel activity, driven by leisure travelers, was reported by attendees and panelists at the Second Annual Resort Management Conference, held at The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs, CO. April 14-16. The International Resort Managers Association (IRMA<.>) and the University of Denver School of Hotel, Restaurant, and Tourism Management organized and sponsored the conference.



Michael Sansbury, regional vice president and managing director of Universal Orlando Loews Hotels in Orlando, FL said that his hotels have been experiencing strong leisure travel bookings since Presidents` Day. Everything is outstanding, said Sansbury, whose current properties at Universal Studios Orlando include Portofino Bay and the Hard Rock Hotel. He will open the 1,000-room Royal Pacific Resort at Universal in June. Next year is looking very good, Sansbury said.



Leisure travelers are a less-predictable income stream than are business groups because they book later and use fewer of the resort`s services and facilities, various panelists at the conference noted. Charles S. Peck, President and CEO of Destination Hotels and Resorts, said that the leisure traveler is not who rules, it`s the corporate buyer. But Peck acknowledged that leisure travelers were responsible for absorbing 11,000 of the 16,000 room nights his company`s hotels lost in corporate group cancellations due to the events of Sept. 11th and the recession.



The challenges faced by resort management in providing high levels of service and amenities in the face of a tight economy have resulted in organizational changes and a review of business practices conference attendees noted. We initially cut 25% of our middle management. We expect to remain at 15-20% below pre-Sept. 11th levels even when fully recovered, Loew`s Sansbury said.



The need for idea exchange in the face of a new order resulted in a successful conference with increased attendance over last year, despite belt-tightening in the industry. The ability to network on management issues unique to destination resort management, both informally and through panel discussions and breakout sessions, was key to our success in attracting top resort managers, conference co-organizer Dr. Peter Rainsford, director of the University of Denver HRTM program, said.



The 180 attendees at the conference by and large represented independent destination resorts and smaller groups rather than large flag organizations, conference organizers said. Our theory in organizing both this conference and in forming IRMA was that resorts and resort managers are completely different from the rest of the hotel industry, IRMA Executive Director Tom Finan said. In good times and in tough times resort managers appreciate the opportunity to speak with colleagues who understand the complexity and special issues faced by resorts.



During the Resort Management Conference, Clay James of Grand Teton Lodge Company was named the 2001 Resort Executive of the Year. The award recognizes a resort executive who has demonstrated superior management ability, a commitment to staff training and motivation, active participation in lodging industry association activities, support of legislation beneficial to the resort industry, and community leadership. The prestigious honor is sponsored by Yesawich Pepperdine & Brown, a marketing, advertising, and public relations agency specializing in the travel and leisure industries.

Theodore Koumelis
Co-Founder & Managing Director - Travel Media Applications | Website

Theodore is the Co-Founder and Managing Editor of TravelDailyNews Media Network; his responsibilities include business development and planning for TravelDailyNews long-term opportunities.

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