‘Positioning RCI India As Lifestyle Investment In Future Vacations’
We spoke to the newly appointed Managing Director of RCI India--one of the largest timeshare vacation exchange groups in the world--Sabina Chopra on how she plans to lead the strategic priorities for India market.
Tell us about your new role in RCI?
I would be working as the Managing Director for RCI India as a member of the senior leadership team. My main objective at RCI would be to lead the strategic priorities for the Indian market along with increasing the penetration within the affordable market segment in the country. As you know RCI became a driving force within the timeshare industry and has been at the forefront of the holiday ownership industry since it was founded in 1974. In India, we have affiliated resorts in over 60 unique destinations across the country. My role would primarily be to increase that number thereby popularising the concept of timeshare and get Indians to believe in timeshare and RCI in addition to growth in terms of the resort and adding more value to the members.
What are the strategic steps that you would like to introduce for the betterment of the company’s growth?
We at RCI are committed to growth in terms of increasing the market share by acquiring more and more members belonging to the target segment. We have a twofold strategy which is simple and precise. First is member growth and satisfaction thereby providing solutions to members which make their travel and experience with RCI truly world class. Second is affiliate growth by engaging with affiliates to drive the growth in timeshare market and support their business. We are also focused on increasing affiliations with different resorts across the country such as the JC Residency in Kodai and Madurai and the ‘Nest N Mist’ resort in Wayanad which recently got affiliated with RCI. These affiliations and partnerships will not only widen our presence in the country but also provide our existing and potential members with the benefit of using timeshare exchange through RCI’s network across India and the world.
How different are you going to be in terms of your competition?
Timeshare is clearly a front runner in the travel and hospitality industry where the resort base has grown over by 50% over the last six years and the estimated market exceeds 3.5 million. Since RCI’s inception in India in 1992, we have affiliated resorts in over 60 unique destinations across the country. We offer members the opportunity to own condominium-style accommodations at quality resorts, which typically offer an array of amenities in popular domestic and international destinations. We’ve found that millions of owners enjoy a timeshare’s spacious floor plan and home-like amenities when compared with traditional hospitality products like hotels. RCI vacation owners don’t have to deal with the stress of planning a vacation and booking accommodations. They know they have a place to return to each year. At the same time, through our exchange program, owners can have the flexibility to vacation at resorts all over the world. RCI thus strives to become a perfect model for the owner who relishes in experiencing new and exotic destinations while knowing the resort experience and standard of quality will be similar irrespective of the destination.
How different the experience and strategies are going to be as compared to your prior experience in Yatra?
Although both Yatra and RCI are focused on travel, Yatra’s core business is diverse to that of RCI. While Yatra provides online travel services to its visitors, RCI facilitates timeshare exchange to its customers. The role of heading RCI in India is extremely challenging one and requires a diverse strategy to that at Yatra. RCI operates on a 'members only' model thereby giving it exclusivity in the travel business and allowing for products that help improve member experience and growth. Our strategies will mostly be focused on the growth of timeshare and RCI through strategic affiliate tie-ups and increasing member base. As you know, a timeshare in India is clearly a front runner in the travel and hospitality industry where the timeshare resort base has grown by over 50 per cent over the last six years. We are positioning RCI India and timeshare as a lifestyle investment in future vacations to ensure years of memorable and enjoyable experiences.
As part of Wyndham Destination Network, what offers do you provide to the affiliates?
As part of the Wyndham destination network and approximately 3.8 million subscribing members, RCI introduces resorts to millions of potential visitors every year thereby giving affiliates’ more opportunities for the increase in tours thereby generating more sales. RCI also provides them with value in keeping members happy and engaged. We also have an unparalleled exchange experience through RCI Points and RCI Weeks to our multi-channel member communication and engagement, where we help reinforce the value of a timeshare ownership to the affiliates’ owners every day. RCI is also equipped to assist the management team with products and services designed to service better, improve efficiencies and give members an unparalleled timeshare ownership experience. RCI is committed to helping affiliates grow their business by assisting with opportunities to bring more first generation timeshare leads to their resorts and sales centres.
How have the travel trends changed over the years?
The Indian traveller has evolved and is spreading his wings wide where out of the total number of trips booked by Indian members, 34 per cent were international and 66 per cent were domestic. Indians have changed their travel patterns and exploring new cities. Indian RCI members searched for vacations nearly 1 million times where they now want culinary holidays, landmark visits by self-driving holidays and luxury hotels and homestays. Along with this, the top searched amenities for Indian travellers were the pool, hot tub and spa which all beat out WiFi and the top searched vacation types were family vacations, beaches, scuba and water sports. A lot of Indians are now looking beyond London, Paris and New York and exploring destinations like Latvia, Bahamas, Romania, Brazil, Panama and Cyprus. They have started looking at exploring destinations offering cruises, theme parks, snow-capped mountains, spa retreats, nature parks and safaris.
Anything else you would like to share?
RCI is the largest exchange network in the world, but it also has a legacy of innovation, laying claim to delivering many “firsts” in the industry. The company was the first to introduce the idea of timeshare exchange to the industry 40 years ago. Since then, RCI has shaped the industry with ideas such as the launch of the RCI Resort Recognition program, which helped set the standard for quality in vacation exchange in 1991; the creation of the first global points-based exchange program, RCI Points, in 2000; the world’s first (and now largest) luxury exchange program, The Registry Collection, in 2002; the launch of the first online video network for the industry, RCI TV®, in 2009; the unveiling of Deposit Trading Power transparency, which revolutionized vacation exchange with added flexibility and choice in 2010; and the first mobile version of an exchange website in 2012. This is what sets RCI apart from other exchange companies.
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