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Gateway to India - RCI's Shared Ownership Conference in Mumbai
Date: 2012-02-10 09:31:30
Piers Brown reports from RCI's Shared Ownership Conference in Mumbai.
I knew I was going to enjoy the trip to the Shared Ownership conference in Mumbai, India, when booking my economy flights I was offered a premium economy seat for the return journey at a cheaper rate - strange but true!
After catching the overnight flight from London I was met by my hotel driver who navigated the roads to the JW Marriott hotel where I was staying. The streets were packed with cars, motorcycles, tuk-tuks and lots and lots of people, and I was delighted to be invited by RCI and The Registry Collection to participate in their first Shared Ownership Conference for India's vacation and fractional real estate market.
On arrival, I was immediately struck by the security in place; there were fully armed guards at the hotel gates, sniffer dogs and full-body security scanners - it made me wary but somewhat reassured if that makes sense. After being shown to my room I caught up with my emails and had a spot of dinner before retiring early to bed to sleep off the jetlag.
Not surprisingly I woke very early the following day and ate breakfast in a quiet restaurant whilst taking in the spectacular sunrise above Juha Beach looking out towards the ocean. Whilst finishing my Indian breakfast, I had a friendly tap on the shoulder - it was Gregg Anderson, SVP, The Registry Collection. After a quick catch up, we discussed our respective work plans for the day. Taking into account the time difference from our native homelands, we decided to put them on hold for a day of sightseeing.
We left the hotel and paid a visit to a local church, before returning to the hotel and meeting our driver who also acted as our tour guide for the day. He drove us through South Mumbai visiting the Indian Laundry, Mani Bhaven Ghandi Museum - Ghandi's residence when he was staying in Mumbai, the Taj and Gateway to India monument. After a quick visit to the Jamal Trading Company store, near the Taj to buy my wife an Indian pashmina and stopping for a beer in the Leopold Café, a large and popular restaurant and bar on Colaba Causeway in the Fort area, we then returned to the hotel for a well-deserved rest.
Mid-evening we took a short walk outside the hotel to a recommended seafood restaurant - Mahesh, on the Juhu Tara Road. We waited to be seated and were shown to a table on the rooftop outside. The menu was vast and there must have been a choice of around 200 dishes - it seemed only right to choose a balti washed down with a Kingfisher beer - perfect, and a great way to end my first full day in Mumbai.
The following day, Radhika Shastry, managing director, RCI India welcomed delegates to the launch of RCI India's first Shared Ownership Conference, which proved an essential forum for hoteliers, resort owners, real estate developers, investors and hospitality consultants looking to understand and explore the vacation and fractional ownership sector's many benefits.
Geoff Ballotti, RCI, CEO, then picked the pace up, setting the tone for the day with an uplifting presentation entitled 'Sow, Nurture, Grow' which outlined the prospects and huge potential for vacation ownership throughout the region.
Akshay Kulkarni, executive director - South Asia for Cushman & Wakefield Hospitality gave an insight into timeshare in India by focusing on what is driving the market currently; those areas that are already achieving sales and the new destinations tipped for further growth. Sean Lowe, Managing Director, RCI - EMEA was next to offer an overview of the shared ownership marketplace including the various timeshare, fractional and private residence club formats, followed by Gordon Gurnik who presented on the innovations that RCI are delivering into the vacation ownership marketplace to drive growth and help delegates businesses prosper.
The first panel discussion featured George Dutton, CFO, Anantara Vacation Club; Param Kannampilly, chairman, Concept Hospitality; P. N. Mohan, chairman, Grand Nirvana Resorts and Ramesh Ramanathan, MD, Sterling Holiday Resorts - all leaders from within the Indian vacation ownership marketplace who discussed the challenges and opportunities in the market today.
John Spence, chairman and owner of Karma Royal Group then presented a humorous talk on his life story and how, after selling his flat in the United Kingdom in the late 80's, he's grown Karma to grow the company to a $100 USD million turnover company with no debt. John talked about his current projects and his recent venture into fractional property sales.
Following a lavish Indian lunch, Gregg Anderson, global vice president, The Registry Collection, gave a comprehensive overview of luxury vacation exchange and how it relates to the condo hotel and fractional real estate markets. This theme was explored further in the luxury fractional development and consumer panel that followed, chaired by Amit Dhutta, managing director, Luxury Hues Group, featuring Gregg; Khushi Khanna, consumer insights consultant; Piers Brown, founder, Fractional Life, and G.V.Balasubramanya, partner, Fox Mandal & Associates. Shari Levitin, president, Levitin Group, then followed with an enthusiastic presentation on 'Selling to today's consumer', followed by a panel discussion on the 'Strategies and solutions for successful sales and marketing'.
Rajiv Sawhney, managing director, Mahindra Holidays and Resorts, was next on stage to talk about how his company successfully inspires loyalty within its customer base. This was followed by Howard Nusbaum, president of ARDA who drew on his vast knowledge and experience from the US market to talk through the critical success factors to drive the vacation ownership industry forward. Cocktails and dinner followed a conference summary by Radhika Shastry to close a very successful and enjoyable conference.
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