PARSIPPANY, N.J. (March 15, 2010) – Demonstrating that vacation exchange remains a bright spot in the travel industry, RCI, the global leader in vacation exchange and one of the Wyndham Worldwide family of brands (NYSE: WYN), announced that it added more than 100 new resorts, including 10 properties under development, to the world’s largest vacation exchange network.
Several of the industry’s most powerful and well-renowned brands and their properties were added to RCI’s system in 2009, including the Disney Vacation Club, Fairmont Properties in Canada and Palace Vacation Club in Malaysia.
“Developers understand the importance of working with a quality exchange company that helps them increase sales and lower marketing costs, especially in today’s economy,” said Geoff Ballotti, CEO, RCI. “RCI’s ongoing commitment to providing the most innovative marketing services and solutions has helped us attract high quality new affiliates as never before, and enabled us to continue to grow our membership base.”
After 35 years, RCI continues to be the leader and innovator in the industry, first to market with fresh, new and unique marketing and technology ideas that provide added value for affiliates and improve the member experience. Its legacy of innovation rests on making many “firsts” happen – RCI was the first to launch weeks exchange, the first to offer points exchange, and the first to implement high-end luxury exchange.
In 2008, RCI committed to spending tens of millions of dollars over a three-year period to develop and execute a series of online technology, product and service enhancements that are improving the exchange experience for its subscribing members around the world. In 2009 with the growing popularity of online video, RCI recognized a unique opportunity to use this medium as a marketing tool for its members and prospective timeshare buyers. An online video network available only on RCI.com, RCI® TV offers a broad selection of entertaining and educational content about RCI, its products and services, as well as travel and resort information. The network is designed to help owners get the most out of their RCI subscribing membership and make vacation planning more fun while also introducing new prospects to the benefits of vacation ownership.
Response to RCI TV from both members and affiliates has exceeded expectations with over 100 videos uploaded, including 80 Resort Showcases, and more high-definition video being added on a regular basis to RCI.com. Web share, or the percentage of exchange and rentals transacted online, has increased from 13 percent in the fourth quarter of 2008 to 24 percent in the fourth quarter of 2009. In the last 10 weeks alone, the non-member site has already received over 265,000 visits and the member site has received over 100,000 visits. With developers able to feature their properties, and millions of visitors able to watch RCI-affiliated resorts come to life on the Resort Showcase channel, this tool is already driving greater exchange activity and helping to increase occupancy for RCI-affiliated resorts. To promote the site and help drive increased traffic from newcomers, RCI is investing heavily in advertising and search engine optimization efforts. This includes three commercials currently airing on Resort & Residence TV, a new travel and real estate cable channel which is available to 27 million viewers.
RCI has vastly improved its marketing infrastructure, allowing RCI to showcase more resort photos of its affiliates with higher picture quality, as well as videos and floor plans. This effort supports a recent member survey where respondents ranked “more and bigger resort photos” as the number one feature desired to help them plan or choose a vacation. Like the Resort Showcase channel on RCI TV, new system capabilities help affiliates better promote their properties and drive higher occupancy.
“We are constantly working to develop new and exceptional marketing and technology ideas that benefit our affiliates and improve the member experience,” added Ballotti. “It’s what our affiliates and members have come to expect from RCI and it’s what we plan to continue to deliver.”
RCI is part of Wyndham Exchange and Rentals, the worldwide leader in vacation exchange and the European leader in vacation rentals, with exclusive access for specified periods to more than 65,000 vacation properties in approximately 100 countries. Wyndham Exchange and Rentals is comprised of vacation exchange, including RCI, the worldwide leader in vacation exchange and provider of travel services to businesses and consumers and The Registry CollectionÒ program, the world’s largest luxury exchange program; vacation rentals, including Endless Vacation RentalsÒ, Landal GreenParks®, Novasol®, and other renowned vacation rental brands, through which vacationers can rent a variety of property types, from city apartments to villas; and NorthCourse® Leisure Real Estate Solutions, a research and consultancy firm providing advisory services to the global leisure real estate industry. Wyndham Worldwide Corporation is one of the world’s largest hospitality companies with leading brands in lodging franchising, vacation ownership, vacation rentals and vacation exchange.