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Leveraging Your Strengths in a Competitive Market.

5 Questions with Mark Waltrip, COO of Westgate Resorts.

Westgate Resorts Offers Autonomy to Attract & Retain.

 Webber Kerr’s President Adam Lloyd sits down with Westgate Resorts’ COO, Mark Waltrip, to discuss how Westgate has been successful at attracting and retaining key players in an increasingly competitive talent market.

Westgate Resorts is a privately held timeshare rental and hospitality services organization serving as one of the largest resort developers in the world. 

AL: Mark, what is your biggest talent related concern going into 2014? 
MW: Finding the marketing talent necessary to grow our business. As an example, we specifically need leaders that are well versed in destination marketing and OPC marketing. The OPC marketing position requires experienced retail area and division managers that are well versed in hiring, training, merchandising and promotions of retail locations in high traffic malls. Experience with kiosk type retail locations a plus.
AL: Your industry has been active recently. How do you keep your current employees engaged and hire fresh talent in a highly competitive hospitality market, with the likes of Marriott, in your backyard? 
MW: We have the longest tenure of anyone in our competitive set among the major hospitality brands. We attribute this to our hands on leadership approach and wide range of team member benefits, most notably our Westgate Foundation. The Westgate Foundation not only serves as a platform for team building through our Westgate Care Force, but also funds our David’s Dollars Foundation that provides emergency financial assistance to our team members.
: How do you differentiate Westgate from the competition and how has job autonomy played a role?
MW: We are far more entrepreneurial and willing to give a greater range of opportunities to our team members. We don't have a cookie cutter approach to team member development, and we reward performance and encourage risk taking.
AL: With risk and success comes the spotlight. Westgate gets its fair share of publicity, has this effected your hiring or retention strategy?
MW: Not that we can measure. Our On Line Reputation is generally higher than anyone in our competitive set, and we rarely receive push back from potential team members.
Ok, a little off-topic here. What’s your favorite Holiday tradition? 

MW: Our “Diversity Tree”. We put up trees in our break rooms and encourage our team members to bring in an ornament that reflects their culture or heritage.