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At this year’s “The Upside Of Downtime” forum hosted by Project: TimeOff, the audience heard from many great speakers on the value of taking time off. One of the most intriguing was Samantha Brown, who has hosted several different Travel Channel programs including Girl Meets Hawaii and Passport to Europe – and is considered to be a “professional traveler”.

Over the course of the last 13 years, she has traveled to more than 220 cities in 49 countries and 30 American states.  Her philosophy is that if you are going to take time off from work…you should travel!  It benefits everyone: the person taking the vacation, their family and friends, and even their work.

In order to achieve an ‘authentic’ vacation, she offers the following tips:

  • Don’t spend all of your time in the past – Don’t just spend time visiting historic sites or museums, but also experience the culture as it is today.
  • Go for a walk – Spend two hours on a certain day to leave the touristy area and just explore the culture. Walk down streets because they look nice to you or go sit in a local coffee shop. Whatever it is, just go for a walk and explore.
  • The best is never in the must sees, always in the mundane – Do not spend all your time going to ‘top-ten’ areas, but instead lose yourself in the culture.
  • Create a ritual – If you are in a location for multiple days, create a ritual to slow down time and relax, saving time for your other experiences.
  • Talk to locals – They hold the key to what is truly ‘must-see’.

Great tips from a savvy world traveler—and with timeshare resorts all over the world, there are endless cultures you can experience!

By Cait DeBaun, Project: Time Off

On October 5th, a diverse and influential group of thought leaders in business and human resources gathered in Washington, D.C. to think about one important question: since American workers aren’t taking their time off, what can we do to reverse that trend?

We’re so glad they asked.

Over the course of this year’s Upside of Downtime Forum, experts like David Dye, Dan Schawbel, Samantha Brown, Juliet Funt, and Guy Kawasaki — in concert with Project: Time Off experts — provided a variety of answers to that broad and important question.

Here’s a taste of five of the biggest concepts that you can start putting into motion at your office today — most of them might be easier to do than you think.

  1. Create a magnetic culture.

In an age when talent recruitment and retention often makes the difference in whether a business succeeds or fails, an engaging culture is imperative. (Not to mention the incredibly high cost of turnover.) But while that can feel like a big issue for one individual to solve — especially if your workplace has several divisions or is geographically spread — it’s important to remember that most employees see their boss as the top influencer in their life. A better culture can be as simple as keeping in mind the three P’s Deloitte’s David Dye believes truly drive employees: pride, purpose, and passion. If you can offer those three things — whether it’s by incorporating an innovative vacation policy or just in everyday interaction — workers will be happier, engaged, and more productive.

  1. Be predictable and flexible.

Our most recent research on the subject shows that over half of Americans don’t take all their time off every year. That’s not the case at Deloitte, where 81 percent of the firm’s nearly 245,000 employees use all their paid time off every year. How? It’s the result of a reinvention of an approach to performance management and new policies that provide local leaders the autonomy to find the right solution for their people.

What that really means is that it’s about communication. Deloitte managers ask three key questions of their direct reports: What inspires you? What’s getting in your way? How can I help? It may seem simple, but even asking these questions can help you better understand employee needs and desires — whether that’s about taking time off or anything else.

  1. Encourage people to take ownership.

Instilling self-engagement in employees is both cost-effective and offers significant return on investment. By fostering a positive culture and communicating — and, in action, empowering them to make decisions like taking time off when they need it — you will encourage them to not only want to stay at the job, but excel as self-sufficient operators. “Say to people, I trust you, I trust your judgement,” Guy Kawasaki explained. “I empower you to take action.” This is especially important for Millennial employees — the future of any organization’s management force. One way Dan Schawbel suggests companies do this is by through flexible work options—that include vacation. Flexibility inherently shows your employees you trust them.

  1. Seek authenticity.

Sam Brown knows a thing or two about experiences. But as someone who travels and talks about travel for a living, even she is not immune to burnout. Her answer? Finding authenticity in her life by not looking at the past, creating rituals — like taking regular vacations to recharge — and doing things not because you have to, but because you think it will lead to something great.

  1. Even for a moment, replace exertion with thoughtfulness.

Not every vacation requires months of planning. But while Americans are often brilliant at process improvement, we’re lagging behind when it comes to thinking improvement.

In fact, as Juliet Funt notes, the first step to taking longer pauses, like vacation, is finding the “whitespace” that lies beneath the constant barrage of emails and meetings that are modern work.

“When talented people don’t have time to think, business inevitably suffers,” Funt explained. “It’s like we’re eating all day and never swallowing.”

We’re all working to solve the world’s biggest challenges. But we owe it to ourselves and our employees to address a challenge that’s in our hands — taking moments that are both recuperative and constructive, even if it’s truly just a moment. After all, tapping into the upside of downtime starts with just that: downtime.

Are you ready to take the lead?

If you missed the Forum, don’t worry, you can watch the recorded livestream here.

Has this election season left you feeling down? Depressed? Anxious? Well you’re not alone.  In fact, the American Psychological Association found that more than half of U.S. adults, regardless of party, felt very or somewhat stressed by the election —which puts it in line with other major life stressors, such as the economy, money or work.

It has gotten so bad that Steven Stosny, a therapist in suburban Washington D.C., has even characterized what he’s seeing in his patients as “Election Stress Disorder.

One great way to help you feel better during this stressful time is to step back, take a deep breath and PLAN YOUR NEXT VACATION!

Simply beginning to plan a vacation can take your mind off of the stressors bringing you down.  Instead of focusing on the negatives surrounding this election, use your day to whisk yourself away to a better place. There is a world of options out there just waiting to be explored!

We know that taking vacations are proven to be good for a person’s health. There have been numerous studies that show vacations lower stress levels and decrease depression.   Take some time to plan one and knowing that you have a vacation to look forward to can help you overcome Election Stress Disorder.

And just think – it’s almost over!

snowy-moutain-resort_vb
A recent popular trend has become share or peer-to-peer vacations – like Airbnb, VRBO and HomeAway – where vacationers rent rooms or houses directly from homeowners.  For most families a vacation is a once-a-year event, where everything needs to go right to fully enjoy the relaxation a vacation provides.  Yet, people are still going on vacations that don’t fully meet their needs, even through these peer-to-peer services.

While this type of vacation can work for some people, a recent survey of over 1,000 vacationers conducted for the American Resort Development Association (ARDA) by research group Leger revealed many drawbacks.  Respondents said they least liked the fact that there was no housekeeping (47%), no concierge/front desk (23%), and that it was not a part of a resort (17%).

Now while this survey showed the things vacationers who use peer-to-peer services did not like, it also showed some of the things that they found very beneficial to their vacation enjoyment.  Two of the main things respondents cited were the fact that their rented unit had a kitchen and that there were multiple rooms.

So, what offers these in-demand amenities without the downside of the drawbacks found in peer-to-peer rentals?  Timeshare!

According to a recent article in Hotel Management Magazine, “A quick glance at the media hype surrounding Airbnb, HomeAway and other sharing economy hotel alternatives would lead many to believe that these companies are the founders of a new concept that is revolutionizing the industry. But, in fact, another facet of the hotel industry­—timeshare—considers itself the ‘original’ sharing economy, and has the facts to make a compelling case.”

Timeshare accommodations offer a large living space that includes a kitchen for when you want to cook your own meals as well as multiple rooms that give you both space to be together as a family or privacy to be alone.  And, most timeshares also offer housekeeping, a concierge/front desk and a resort style property.  Ultimately, timeshares offer the size and space that peer-to-peer services offer while also providing the key amenities that have almost become expected during a vacation. The last thing you should be thinking on vacation is vacuuming!

By Catherine Reynolds, Associate Manager of External Communications, RCI

the-registry-collection-affiliated-palafitos-overwater-bungalows

Today’s traveler is looking to take something new away from their vacation, and that is often taking the form of newly obtained knowledge. They want to see or do something they never thought possible. In fact, there’s a growing case for experiential travel as the new norm. TripAdvisor’s TripBarometer: 2016 Travel Trends study reported that 25 percent of millennials choose their vacation destination because they are able to do an activity that was not possible elsewhere.

Of this same group, 43 percent even reported that they would be willing to spend more on trips that allowed them to visit somewhere on their wish list. While we often hear this said of millennials, it’s not just for the young and single travelers. Globally, 69 percent of all travelers plan to try something new in 2016 according to TripAdvisor, showing that travelers of all ages are looking for new and novel experiences. Experiential travelers are looking for four main things in a vacation: First Hand Experiences, One-of-a-kind Properties, Fully Immersive Vacations and Experiences of the Future. But where can Experiential Travelers experience all four of these amenities? At timeshares across the world, of course!

First-Hand Experiences

Grupo Vidanta recently announced the opening of new Cirque du Soleil® themed properties that perfectly provide these types of experiences. Opening in 2018 in Nuevo Vallarta, Mexico, the properties will be intertwined
with a Cirque du Soleil® theme park, where travelers will be able to move beyond spectatorship to become characters within the park’s interactive stage and experience Cirque as never before. An on-site Cirque school takes the experience to new heights and in doing so, travelers will
get a taste of what it is like to actually be
a part of a Cirque du Soleil performance,
an experience that they aren’t able to have anywhere else.

One-of-a-kind Properties

Vacation ownership developers are also creating properties that give travelers a chance to experience accommodations like never before. Karisma Hotels & Resorts capitalized on an opportunity
to create Latin America’s only overwater bungalows with its soon-to-open Palafitos-Overwater Bungalows property in Mexico. It comprises 30 elegant suites with spectacular views, glass bottom floors and private infinity pools, as well as beautiful and well-appointed accommodations where guests and members will enjoy awe-inspiring sunrises and sunsets. An experience not offered in many locations.

Fully Immersive Vacations

Family vacations have always been in the wheelhouse of benefits for the vacation ownership industry with the additional space and amenities provided at most properties. Karisma Hotels & Resorts’ new Nickelodeon Hotel & Resort Punta Cana property sets a precedent. This upscale resort mixes luxurious amenities with fun-for-the-whole-family experiences centered around Nickelodeon characters. But it’s not all just for kids! Adults can also experience a family vacation without sacrificing luxury and relaxation. The white sand beaches, tropical beverages, and Karisma’s Gourmet Inclusive Experience help ensure that the grown-ups have the vacation they want, too.

Experiences of the Future

As the appetite for experiential travel continues to grow across all population segments, the timeshare industry is perfectly positioned to offer these types of vacations!

air eco impact
It’s not only the vacationers that love timeshare—the local cities and towns where timeshare resorts are located love it as well! That’s because it boosts their local economy in so many ways.

For example, timeshare represents:
• $79.5 billion in consumer and business spending
• 511,782 full- and part-time jobs
• $28.1 billion in salaries and wages
• $10.2 billion in tax revenue

Spending by timeshare owners and guests during timeshare stays was estimated at $10 billion in 2015—with approximately $3.4 billion spent onsite at resorts, and $6.6 billion spent offsite in the communities where the timeshare resorts are located.

For more details, check out our infographic and to learn more about vacationing with timeshare, go to www.VacationBetter.org.

But “GVS” affects every worker, not just Millennials – does it affect you?

What is GVS?
Guilty Vacation Syndrome, or GVS, now affects a growing percentage of the American population. GVS is the nagging urge to cancel or delay vacation, due to guilt. With vacation-shaming growing in offices across the world, there has been a surge in diagnoses of GVS. Many feel that despite wanting a vacation, they shouldn’t take one.

In fact, findings from the 2016 Alamo Family Vacation Survey show 59 percent of Millennials reported feeling a sense of shame for taking or planning a vacation, while 41 percent those 35 or older felt those same symptoms of GVS. Nearly half (47 percent) of all workers surveyed said they felt a sense of shame or guilt at their workplace for taking time off to go on a vacation. What’s more, two-fifths (42 percent) of those think their co-workers are seriously shaming them – not just joking. And nearly half (47 percent) said they’ve felt the need to justify to their employer why they’re using their vacation days. Of those who reported having unused paid vacation days, two-fifths (40 percent) said they left five or more vacation days unused in 2015! A full week of work left on the table simply because workers do not want to deal with the guilt associated with taking a vacation.

Recent research from Project: Time Off shows that an astounding fifty-five percent of Americans didn’t use all of their time off in 2015 and sixty-five percent say that their company discourages, sends mixed messages, or says nothing about taking personal time off.

Are You at Risk?
It’s clear that everyone is at risk for contracting GVS. Americans are already more likely than any of our counterparts around the world to leave vacation time on the table and may go years without ever taking that break to rejuvenate and reenergize.

Symptoms
The symptoms often go undetected or are mistaken for other, less serious ailments.
Symptoms include:
• Misplaced emotions
• Indecisiveness
• Sadness

Treatment and Care
There are many success stories out there, so there is definitely hope! People are learning to embrace vacation—with no second-guessing, stress or guilt.

Proven remedies for GVS include:
• Realize that vacations are a necessity and not a luxury;
• Commit to an annual vacation—a recipe for stronger ties with families and friends, less stress and better health;
• Learn from those that have never suffered from this malady; timeshare owners have continued to make vacations a priority.

It’s proven that one to two weeks away from the daily routine leads to better job performance and productivity—perhaps helping to make your job even more secure when you return to it.

vb snap shot

Vacationers are loving their timeshares!   The U.S. timeshare industry enjoyed a sixth straight year of steady growth in 2015, according to the State of the Vacation Timeshare Industry: United States Study 2016 Edition, conducted by Ernst & Young for the ARDA International Foundation. Here are a few of the highlights from the research:

When comparing 2015 to 2014:

  • Sales volume increased by nine percent, to $8.6 billion, the second largest increase since the recession and a 9% increase over last year.
  • There are 1,547 timeshare resorts in the United States, representing about 200,720 units.
  • The average sales price was $22,240.
  • Occupancy increased two percent, up to almost 80 percent, compared to a 661 percent hotel occupancy rate.

There were some other interesting facts to note as well:

  • 70% all timeshare units are two bedrooms or more. An average one-bedroom unit is 700 square feet; an average two-bedroom unit is 1,180 square feet and an average three-bedroom unit is 1,660 square feet—compared to the average hotel room size of 350 square feet.
  • Beach resorts are the most common type of resort.
  • Theme park resorts have the highest occupancy.
  • Florida has the most resorts—24% of the national total.
  • Nevada has the largest average resort size—230 units on average.
  • Hawaii has the highest occupancy rate for a region, at 86.7%.

For more details, check out our infographic and to learn more about vacationing with timeshare, go to www.VacationBetter.org.

Research proves that Americans who take time to plan how they will use their vacation time in the year ahead are happier than those who do not.  Simply having something to look forward to—like a vacation—improves your happiness. But nearly half of American households fail to take the simple step of planning their time off, a step that can be made much easier by having a timeshare.

Here are some simple steps to make sure that you don’t make the mistake of not using all of your vacation time:

First, confirm your paid time off benefits.  Don’t take someone else’s word for it, confirm what you have available by asking your manager or HR director.  After this is accomplished, the next important step is to review your calendar for the year to see when you could actually take a vacation.

Now, the fun part: this is where your dreams and goals come in. What are you going to cross off your bucket list this year? Where have you been wanting to travel? What are you dying to try? You don’t necessarily need to know what you’ll do with every vacation day—just plan the days off now. Getting it on the calendar is what matters most.

Finally, it is time to talk with your boss and colleagues about your plans to take time off.  But don’t be anxious: nearly all senior business leaders believe vacation time benefits their employees – and the company.

It’s time to stop feeling guilty about trying to take a vacation each year and remember there are many health and wellness benefits that come along with an annual vacation.  You work hard all year, you deserve to have some well-earned, time off.  With a timeshare you are ensuring that you take a vacation each year since it is already prepaid!