Training and skills development: a focal point for the timeshare industry

While training is a key issue in any sector, timeshare faces unique challenges that   make training particularly important. The rapid growth of the industry over the past five decades, evolving and complex business models and the challenge of tourism’s relatively high staff turnover makes training an essential part of the success of the industry. VOASA members shared their thoughts on the importance of training and development of people working in timeshare.


Dream Hotels & Resorts offer financial assistance to students via their ‘Tourism & You’ programme. The programme is designed to encourage unprivileged and disabled students to build their careers in the hospitality sector. Each dedicated bursary is open to staff and their children, former guests, vacation ownership members and applicants based in communities surrounding their 21 properties.

“This initiative forms part of our greater efforts to further stimulate the regrowth of travel and tourism as inbound travellers return. It’s still a sector where skills remain scarce, which is why we’re on a mission to change that and ultimately ensure a brighter future,” said Andre De La Porte, Chief Executive People Officer at Dream Hotels & Resorts.

Webinar-based training

Southern Sun Resorts offer extensive training and development programmes for all levels of duties. Prior to COVID, 90% of staff training was done in the classroom,  although webinars were introduced many years back specifically for the purpose of including all business units in the management programmes. As of September 2020, the company introduced one-hour themed webinars on a weekly basis for its 5 300 employees. For the year ended March 2022,  training for 19 300 employees was recorded, which was mostly webinar-based or on-the-job training.

“Since the start of COVID, we have pretty much done away with ‘in person’ training. We have a comprehensive training schedule across the entire group and there is a webinar-based training session held each day, covering all aspects of hospitality. Registers are kept of all training sessions for CATHSETA and B-BBEE audits,”  said Peter Pienaar, Southern Sun Resorts General Manager – Business Development.

Ignite skills development programme

First Group has over 30 years’ experience in property development, holiday club management and rentals. The company also manages a portfolio of over 50 resort locations and employs more than 2 500 people. Through their Ignite skills development programme, First Group offers tourism career opportunities for both entry level and experienced candidates who are either looking to step into the industry or for those looking to broaden their existing skills.

“We understand that developing people is the key to growing long-term, successful businesses. As a result, we have undergone a massive project of establishing Ignite – our own in-house training programme for sales agents and potential leaders. The programme aims to strengthen hard as well as soft skills, both of which are necessary to develop well-rounded individuals who will, in turn, build and grow the business,” said Shaun Lamont First Group Managing Director.

Leadership development programme

The Beekman Group manages 30 resorts and employs over 700 staff. In 2021, the company introduced a comprehensive Leadership Development programme to help new members of the management team gain a better understanding of the importance of a holistic leadership approach. The leadership component is structured into three phases, being ‘Leading Organisations’, ‘Leading Others’ and ‘Leading Self’.

“As evolving leaders, it is part of our job to keep sharpening our pencils so that we can continue inspiring people to be the best versions of themselves,”  said Hannelie Millar, Beekman Group Training & Development Manager.