October 14, 2009 | Calgary, Alberta

One of the industrys most profoundly hit by the economic downturn has been real estate/recreational property. With Canadian economists recently announcing the end, if not, near end of the recession, recreational real estate industry players are now concentrating on solution-finding to revive and clean up the situation left behind in the wake of the economic downturn.   In good or bad economic times however, a familiar refrain is fully understanding and truly engaging with consumers by focusing on the user experience.
Greg Ashley with Colliers International Residential Project Marketing Services states "We are in a different time.  From design; to product; to developer, operator and buyer expectations; what were seemingly recent concepts may never be seen again.  The 'new normal' will reshape thinking as it relates to the resort industry."
James Askew with rareEarth Project Marketing also agrees that "with the passive investor and "flipper buyer" out of the marketplace, we need more than ever to design properties that meet buyers' real needs.  We need to take the approach that "investment potential" is no longer the primary reason to buy property, instead to develop properties that offer buyers intrinsic value."
Experts believe this "value" to be built through tapping into the user experience - something that was "told" to consumers but never allowed consumers to identify with on a more personal level.

"When people talk about repositioning a resort project today, you are really talking about changing the way you compete, the way you are perceived by your customer," notes Bryan Bruce of Cascada Real Estate Advisors. "A large part of it in this industry is creating unique and memorable experiences that resonate with your customer and have meaning far beyond the actual real estate. We are in a transition period- the beginning of a post-consumer era. Resort real estate development will look much different in the future."
"Marketing of lifestyle projects used to rely heavily on expensive pre-sales programs with elaborate coloured brochures, expensive sales centers, free resort stays in exchange for marketing tours, gift incentives and similar high powered sales schemes", notes Joe Miotto with NORR Architects. "Much success was achieved by many resort developers through selling the dream and the lifestyle. The assumption was that selling the lifestyle and the dream would automatically translate to real estate sales. This was a sound strategy in a strong market. Now what we are seeing is a much more simplified approach where developers are holding back. We have also seen a much more active internet marketing approach that tends to be far reaching."
Internet marketing and, more so, the use and importance of social media is an example of a medium and method that is now being looked at more closely by project developers and marketers to connect more deeply with consumers.
"Perhaps this is due to scepticism or lack of knowledge of the function of this new medium, or perhaps internal marketing teams are fearful of deterring from the "old ways," notes David Allison, Owner of Braun & Allison, "but the fact of the matter is that the old ways of marketing are dead and gone. Let's get on with the new ways. Sell the truth. Be the media. We all have to stop wishing the old days would come back. "
According to a recent article in Marketing Magazine (Companies) are no longer in control of (their) marketing messages. The customer is more than just a target. The old ways of designing and advertising products just doesn't work anymore.
Chris Fair, President of Resonance Consultancy, a boutique firm offering engagement marketing and communications services notes "in introducing people to an idea, letting them get involved with it and build on it until it's something bigger and more important - an idea of their own, is far more triumphant than overtly selling a product or place. It builds brand ambassadors that last a lifetime that will forever have a connection to an offering. This is the future of marketing and communications as we see it."
The experts quoted, along with others, will be speaking at the 2009 Canadian Resort Investment Conference on October 21 - 22 at The Westin Calgary; a forum designed to present and discuss industry trends, solutions and forecast challenges. For more information visit
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Anstice Communications
Sheenah Rogers