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Piers Brown reports from the SASOIC conference in Brazil

Date: 2010-06-17 16:43:26

Brazil footie picPiers Brown reports from Brazil:

I’ve just returned from a productive trip to the South American Shared Ownership Investment Conference (SASOIC) in Rio de Janeiro.

It was the first time I’d ventured into South America and the home of football – Brazil. The flight dragged a little as I struggled to get any sleep on the ‘red eye’ out of Heathrow. I was sitting by a guy returning back to Rio and we struck up some conversation. He wanted to know the industry I was in, and instead of replying straight away I thought it would be good to ask him what industry he thinks I should be involved with in Brazil – “real estate” he replied, which made me feel good. I explained some more about fractional real estate and how the Brazilian fractional market was starting to evolve. He looked puzzled whilst  smiling and nodding his head – he didn’t understand me!   

I said my goodbyes, grabbed my suitcase from the baggage hall and was very grateful to be met by my driver, kindly laid on by HVS and RCI who were co-hosts for the event. We slowly wound our way through the traffic congestion caused by road works and spot checks by the local police, the cab driver keeping me awake with a verbal ‘mini tour’ of Rio.
Arriving in the evening, he pointed out the numerous favelas which lit the hillsides in the distance making me feel somewhat humble and the beautiful illuminated churches en route. We talked about the World Cup and his favourite English football team - Arsenal, and his family (he had four children from three marriages).

After around an hour or so, he dropped me at the JW Marriott hotel on the beachfront and confirmed my pick up time. After a quick goodbye, I checked in and popped to the hotel bar to sample the local beer before returning to my room in anticipation of the next day.

I spent Sunday on the beach and beside the hotel pool, taking lunch with Sarah Rezak who was also speaking at the shared ownership conference.  We discussed the huge potential for shared ownership in Brazil and how upbeat Rio seemed, literally being able to feel the enthusiasm and motivation amongst the people. We also updated each other on how the forthcoming fractional real estate conference in Miami that we’re organizing together was shaping up.

Later that evening I hooked up with Luca Franco, President of Luxury Leisure Property International. His company specializes in consulting for developers looking to launch a fractional real estate project. We met at Fasano Boutique Hotel in Ipanema – the place where celebs like Madonna and Britney Spears usually hang out when they stay in Rio so I was told. Luca introduced me to Juan Hernandez from the Terramar real estate agency in Uruguay. Juan was attending the conference the following day and we talked about how appropriate a fractional ownership offering could be with some of the developers he represents. A superb dinner in a local steakhouse followed, accompanied by some quality Malbec wine – a good relaxing night.

After a quick breakfast the following day I went for a swim and spot of sunbathing and the SASOIC commenced in the afternoon. The conference welcome and opening remarks were made by Arturo Garcia Rosa, President HVS Argentina and Ricardo Montaudon, President, Latin America, RCI. Gerardo Riosedo, Fiesta Americana Vacation Club, hosted the shared ownership industry 101 session which was followed by a presentation by Sarah Rezak, LLPI who summarized the key findings from the Brazillian Shared Ownership Market Study she conducted.

At the end of the first day, the evening drinks reception took place on the hotel roof top next to the pool. Here I realized there was a complete mix of delegates from around the world – Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay, Puerto Rico, Mexico, Columbia, Costa Rica USA, UK and from various shared ownership industries including hotel, timeshare and fractional real estate professionals. It made for some great networking and everybody was enjoying themselves. 

After a couple of beers and a rather strong glass of caipirinha, the Brazillian cocktail made from cachaça, lime and brown sugar, we were forced to head back downstairs due to the wind and heavy rain showers – rain in Rio, I couldn’t believe it! More drinks flowed and everybody was entertained by a Brazilian quartet playing local samba music.

Everybody looked slightly worse for wear the following morning and the second day’s conference schedule included an interesting session on ‘Lessons learned by local developers’ moderated by Luis Mirabelli, VP, Business Development, South America, RCI. Two panel sessions followed on ‘Delivery of the shared ownership product’ and the ‘Importance of regulation / legislation’ as a requirement for the successful growth of shared ownership real estate in the region.

And just before lunch Juan Ignacio Rodriguez, Senior VP, Mexico and Central America, RCI presented about how RCI had embraced new media within the vacation ownership sector with the successful launch of RCI TV. Yours truly was then invited to speak about how Fractional Life has embraced new media to date and Murilo from Webjump, a social media agency in Brazil presented about the growth of this phenomena in Brazil and demonstrating with some successful case studies.

After lunch, the conference ended on a high with a panel session on marketing and sales for fractionals and luxury properties and Arturo and Luis closed the event summarizing what everybody had learnt and the huge potential for vacation ownership real estate in the region as Brazil looks forward to the World Cup and Olympics within the next 6 years.
Before returning home to the UK the following evening, I had to visit the Maracana, the largest football stadium in the world to watch the final football game before the stadium is closed for a period to make way for the start of some improvements to the ground prior to hosting the World Cup Final in 2014. It was a great game with Fluminense beating Vitoria two goals to one.

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