Wyndham Vacation Clubs President & Managing Director, International Operations, Barry Robinson.

Very early on, we made the difficult decision to shut down our entire resort portfolio across the Asia Pacific region, along with our corporate offices. We optimised our teams for each site based on the size of the resort, led by the General Managers. This was the right move to keep everybody safe.

Hygiene was ramped up to the highest levels. We also took the opportunity of the enforced quiet time to look at efficiencies, make enhancements to our product offering and accelerate maintenance and refurbishments. Throughout the crisis, transparency has been – and remains – a key element in communication with our customers. Our senior leadership team regularly updates club owners and guests via live Zoom addresses, social channels and email communications in line with state and federal health officials’ recommendations.

Club Wyndham Airlie Beach Whitsundays was the latest addition to the group prior to the pandemic.

In the early stages of the pandemic, we also launched a COVID-19 hub featuring all the latest information, accessible from the front page of the club website. Besides handling tens of thousands of cancellations efficiently and issuing our guests and Vacation Club owners with vouchers so they would not miss out on their holidays, we also focused on ways to continue to engage with our customers. One of these initiatives was the creation of Club Wyndham TV, which we are currently expanding into our mixed-use Ramada by Wyndham and Wyndham resorts.

At first, Club Wyndham TV was designed to provide our 71,000 Vacation Club members with entertainment and care while they were unable to travel. We delivered free, at-home fitness and yoga classes as well as resources on nutrition and mindfulness to help them through those challenging weeks. We also provided light entertainment like hosted travel trivia nights on Zoom, along with fun family activities such as Lego and cooking competitions.

Innovations including a tie-up with Apollo Motorhomes allows owners to rent and return a motorhome at 11 different depots.

This was initially placed on our Lifestyle by Wyndham website, an e-commerce platform which provides discounts on every day and holiday purchases, set up exclusively for our club owners. The enduring pandemic has been a challenging time for our staff, and we have attempted to go above and beyond in supporting them through our employee assistance program, and wherever possible by providing meals and care packages to our team members in Fiji.

We have also been trying to keep as many staff as engaged as possible through accelerated maintenance, refurbishment works and deep cleans. In 2021, I’m excited about the potential of increased domestic tourism, provided we can continue to keep this pandemic under control, but I am concerned about our CBD properties, because without events and corporate activities, they will suffer. We’ve got a good opportunity to yield better in holiday resort destinations, but there are some destinations that are more geared to international markets that may not fare so well.

Wyndham offered free gold membership to frontline and all support personnel.

This year, we are excited to continue to impact the growth of regional markets with the success of our mixed-use model. An example of this is Club Wyndham Mt Hotham. In the past, this property was only ever open for the ski season. After we opened it as a mixed-use property, with both vacation club and resort inventory, the resort has enjoyed year-round occupancy. Even after enduring COVID-19, we only had to close our doors when we officially shut due to the aforementioned lockdowns.

This hybrid resort model, which has both hotel and vacation ownership inventory, sees both business arms plus the local region benefit from year-round visitor spending. This year, I hope to see the widespread roll-out of a successful vaccine so that international borders can open once more. Until then, our stringent hygiene practices, communication protocols and a host of new activities on offer have assisted in putting our guests at ease, so they can enjoy themselves and relax while holidaying at our resorts.