Feb. 22, 2023

How Mike Flaskey Sold Diamond Resorts for $1.4 BILLION (with a 4 Billion Estimated Value) to Hilton Grand Vacations

In today’s episode we welcome Mike Flaskey, Former CEO of Diamond Resorts International and Founder of Mike Flaskey Entertainment, as he gives his second public interview since leading the sale of Diamond Resorts to Hilton Grand Vacations in June 2021 for $1.4 Billion, with an estimated value of 4 Billion.

COVID profoundly affected Diamond but innovation allowed them to rebound quickly. Mike shares how they did this and how they pioneered a new way to be valuated on multiples of EBITDA.

He talks about the cutting-edge innovations that timeshare sales and marketing teams did alongside rental managers, as well as the success of Diamond's Events of a Lifetime. Mike also discusses why timeshare companies are not able to represent vacation rentals on the sales table even though the industries appear to coexist within the same ecosystem.

Find out more about Mike and how he grew Diamond Resorts through strategic acquisitions, partnerships, and organic growth in this latest episode of Alex & Annie: The Real Women of Vacation Rentals.


Mike: Drive EBITDA to increase market cap 

"If you bring Cole in and Cole Swindell does a concert, it's going to cost a thousand dollars per family to sit down and talk to me. But by the time you factor in that triple close, and you look at the EBITDA dollars that they drive to the bottom line, even though if you may have some slight margin compression, you're driving so many more dollars to the bottom line, that's how these companies are evaluated."

"They basically get a valuation on a multiple of their EBITDA. So if you can drive more of these EBITDA dollars and you put that multiple to it, you're increasing the market capitalization of your company. And so we were a first mover and we saw that."


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[00:00:00] Welcome to Alex and Annie, the Real Women of vacation rentals. With more than 35 years combined industry experience, Alex Hener and Annie Holcomb have teamed up to connect the dots between inspiration and opportunity. Seeking to find the one's story, idea, strategy, or decision that led to their guest's big aha moment.

[00:00:22] Join them as they highlight the real stories behind the people and. That have built vacation rentals into the 100 billion industry it is today. And now it's time to get real and have some fun with your hosts. Alex and Annie, welcome to Alex and Annie, the Real Women of Vacation Rentals. I'm Alex. Na Annie, and we are joined today with a very special guest.

[00:00:47] We have Mike Sk, who is currently c e o of Mike Valesky Entertainment and formerly c e o of Diamond Resorts that's sold to Hilton Grand Vacations. A little bit outside of our normal industry type of people. But Mike, we are super excited to have you here today. Well, I'm happy to be here and, uh, I look forward to spending the time with you all, and I think it's gonna be exciting.

[00:01:09] I think we've got a lot of cool stuff to talk about. Absolutely . Well, before we get started, um, there's probably some people on our side of the industry, the traditional vacation rental side, that might not know who you are or know your story. So why don't you give us a little bit of background about who you are and where you've gone and come, and all the great things that you've got going on.

[00:01:32] Well, I mean, I don't know how far you want me to go back , way back when you were a child. Actually, actually kinda, it's kinda cool and relevant. So I actually grew up on the out banks of North Carolina. Um, and, and much, you know, much like Myrtle Beach and, you know, and other coastal towns up and down the east coast.

[00:01:50] Um, you know, weekly rentals is a way of life and you know, the outer. Still has, you know, a significant number of what I call the, the mom and pop real estate shops that are still kind of in the, in the weekly rental business. So I grew up around that and you know, I saw that, but I kind of grew up working on charter boats and fishing.

[00:02:11] I, you know, I really wasn't in that industry and anyway, I was blessed to, um, Learn about timeshare and I moved up to Williamsburg, Virginia in the early nineties and I started as a salesperson selling timeshare in Williamsburg for a company called Fairfield Resorts. And I played baseball, you know, growing up in college and I worked a little bit, um, as a scout in the Montreals organization and, and basically just coached and, and through leadership, you know, quickly had the opportunity to become.

[00:02:42] A sales manager and then, um, moved on into a leadership of the resorts, like as a VP of sales. And then, you know, over time, um, I transitioned to a company called Diamond Resorts, uh, where I became the Chief Executive Officer and served in that role for, you know, a number of years. I was at Diamond for about 11 and a half years.

[00:03:04] Half of that time, uh, I was the chief marketing and sales officer, and then for about five years, I was the c e o, of which I led a sale of that company to Hilton Grand Vacations back in August of 2021. So that's a little background. Yeah, no, that's a great place to start. And I know that's a, a quick recap, but there's a lot that was in between all those years, that got to that point, and certainly a lot that's happened since then too.

[00:03:30] But, um, we're, we're excited to have you on today. This is only your second podcast appearance or, uh, interview since having sold, uh, to Hilton Grand. And, you know, actually you and I first met last year at the Genex Conference in Vegas, which that was the first time I had ever been exposed at that level to.

[00:03:48] Uh, timeshare vacation clubs and that type of industry. And, um, you know, was out there to kind of talk about how vacation rentals could potentially work with, with timeshare and just had some really great conversations. And I think there's, there is a lot to be learned on, on, on our side of, of how great, um, timeshare does as far as a sales perspective.

[00:04:07] I think that's certainly the strength of the industry. But, um, te tell us a little bit about. This, it's been a, you know, the last few years within travel has been difficult for everybody. I mean, some areas rebounded very quickly, some took much longer to, but I think within your, that industry, covid really just put a firecracker underneath it.

[00:04:28] Would you agree? Oh, for sure. I mean, we actually, um, completely shut down all hundred and nine, um, of our own and vanished resource at Diamond in May of, I guess it would've been 2020 and, um, But as you said, you know, uh, we were, our, our rebound was very quick. I mean, we reopened, we started reopening in June, and by July and August we were back to 70% of 2019 occupancy levels.

[00:04:59] And, and part of the reason why that is, is that timeshare is a prepaid vacation whereby people, Own the product and they have paid their annual fee, so they tend to wanna go use it because they've invested the money in that, in that fee. And um, and that was also, you know, one of the reasons, one of the, one of the key reasons why Hilton, you know, gained an interest in, uh, in Diamond resource is, you know, we had a significant number of drive to locations where people could get in the car.

[00:05:28] And they were primarily, primarily, um, airlift. You know, they were Hawaii, Vegas. Myrtle Beach was their only drive to market, but they also New York and so in in Orlando. So really they only had like five key locations where we had a tremendous number of drive tos and those bounce back really quick. After we looking at it again, the industry came back really strong.

[00:05:53] And so what was the, was it just that things were just moving along so well that you decided. That it was time to sell, or was there a long-term strategy already in play before Covid happened that you guys were gonna. Well, that's a great question. We technically, we were owned, so, so we were a publicly traded company from 2013 to 2016, and in 2016, in September of that year, we were acquired by Apollo, uh, global, which is the largest private equity.

[00:06:23] Them and Blackstone kind of go back and. Forth. I don't know who's the largest now, but they're one of the two right largest private equity companies in the world. And when they underwrote the investment, you know, they had a strategy to exit the business. You know, typically in 36 to 48 months. It was a little longer than that, but not much.

[00:06:39] So yeah, I was actually hired as the ceo. To basically take Diamond Resorts and make it a more efficient company, um, to make it a company that a branded company, um, would desire to wanna own. We did a lot of work in the compliance space and, you know, so the bottom line was I did my job and, uh, Yeah. Yeah.

[00:07:02] Makes sense. So it, it, it went public in, or from 2013 to 2016 when Apollo bought it, was it not public anymore at that point, or, well, it was, and they took it private, so they Oh, okay. Bought us as a publicly traded company and then took the company private because they, they wanted to go kind of, Spend, you know, when, when a private equity company comes in and, and buys a company, the only controlled outcome of a sale that they have is through an I P o going back public, right?

[00:07:33] And what they wanted to do was they wanted to take us private because they felt like the company had some work, and it did that it needed. And, um, and, and so that's what they hired me to do is to come in and fix it and get it ready for an ipo. And so we were kinda running what they call a dual track. We were in the process we had filed with the, um, to, to IPO the company.

[00:07:54] And then at the same you, we had interest. People started to get word that we had filed and we were thinking about coming back out public. And sometimes when that happens, it creates leverage. Cause companies feel like they can come in and maybe get a good opportunity to buy before the IPO launch. So that's kind of.

[00:08:13] Uh, Annie, I know you're probably thinking the same thing that I am. This sounds similar to Vacasa. , yeah. Right. Yeah. And, uh, you know, they were private and they, you know, uh, brought in the new c e o to get them to go public and it's, it has not been the best path of going public and there's a lot of rumors now of them either being bought and or being just taken back to private.

[00:08:32] I'm not sure exactly what that looks like, but, um, it sounds like you had a little bit better of a time in that experience than they had. Right, for sure. Well, We were very blessed. We did a lot of cool things at Diamond and you know, we were very innovative. We had the flexibility to be able to go out and do things that a lot of the publicly traded companies would never try.

[00:08:54] And, you know, that's where we kind of came up with the whole event model and the whole experiential model, you know, which, which ultimately was the leading reason. I mean, mark Wang, who is the CEO of Hilton, ran vacations, has said publicly many, many times. Um, most recently that they're gonna do 4,000, um, of these events, uh, for their members over the course of 2 23.

[00:09:17] So becoming a first mover and being able to scale that on a large scale, and we did 3000 of those in 2019. Pre Covid, um, was a primary driver in the transac. I remember when I first met you, that was one of the questions I asked. I was like, I, I read about these events that you did and it's, it's mystifying to all of us because I mean, we look at, and maybe as short term rentals, we're looking at the business in the wrong way.

[00:09:42] But, um, you know, when you do the math on those concerts, and we'll get into that in a second, that it actually does. It does pay off a ton , but from the on, from the onset to see that you're doing concerts with Luke Bryan and all these country stars and you know, that's certainly way outside of anything within our industry has ever even considered to bring on homeowners or guests or whichever side.

[00:10:03] But, um, te tell us a, a little bit about the experiences of a lifetime and, and what that was, which really is just a great guest experience. I will indeed. But I, but I will tell you interestingly, I had company reach about a week ago on the Outer Banks. Um, that is, you know, one of the companies. I, I can't, I'm not gonna disclose.

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[00:12:02] But what they were looking at, and you kind of said it in your quick, uh, quick remarks there. What they're looking at is kinda a twofold deal. They want us to come in and do like an annual event for their homeowner. Mm-hmm. Where they get their inventory from to put in their rental programs they want to stay with and not move to another, you know, potential company there.

[00:12:22] And then at the same time they, they wanna figure out, you know, how they can. You know, three or four times a year at key times where they can get their customers engaged, in particular, cause it's a drive to market and promoted a little bit of the shoulder seasons where they can bring their customers in that are actually their end users, their renters.

[00:12:44] But, but the answer specifically your question, what we do is we curate, um, events, whether it's comedy, uh, whether it's food, wine. Um, whether it's golf, uh, we, we do large scale events and we basically do it for companies that are looking to create incremental value and higher engagement with their customers and their customers can be a lot of different people depending on the business.

[00:13:11] It can be an end user. In the case of your business, the, the renter, the weekly renter, right? Mm-hmm. , or it can be, you know, the homeowner, um, that they want to stay with their company. Now, in the timeshare space at Diamond Resorts, we had about 400,000 families that owned their vacation with us. And so what we wanted, because our business was a subscription, I looked at it as a subscription business, right?

[00:13:37] Mm-hmm. , we, we have lifetime value calculations that we can tell. That the, that the timeshare owner typically was gonna stay with us eight and half years and pay their maintenance fee. And so our goal was to figure out how to turn that eight and half years into 12 years. And then how do we get more wallet share during that period of time that they are a dues paying member and they are, you know, utilizing their vacations with us.

[00:14:02] And so by coming up with these unique events, what we did was we saw on every me. We saw the lifetime value calculations go through the roof. But more importantly, we saw our close rates at the timeshare sales table on those members and guests that attended those events. Triple. So you really got a dual effect.

[00:14:25] You got the PPG or the close rate triple right, and then on top of that you got the lifetime value of the customer standing your system and spending more money with you while they're in the system. And so as a ceo, uh, to be honest, it doesn't get much better than that. So, yeah, many, many of the, you know of my competitors.

[00:14:47] They look at things in a, you know, kind of a myopic world where they're saying, well, we talked to an owner now, and to sit down with that owner, it costs us $300. But if you bring Cole in and Cole Swindell does a concert, it's gonna cost a thousand dollars per family to sit down and talk to me. But by the time you factor in that triple close, And you look at the EBITDA dollars that they drive to the bottom line, even though if you may have some slight margin compression, you're driving so many more dollars to the bottom line that that's how these companies are evaluated.

[00:15:22] They basically get evaluation on a multiple of their ebitda. So if you can drive more of these EBIDA dollars and you put that multiple to it, you're increasing the market capitalization of your company. And so we were a first mover and we saw that. And we went out and got a proof of concept and now they're all doing it, so.

[00:15:40] Right. Are they really? Okay. Yeah. , I feel like we need to do a, like a podcast palooza and, you know, bring in some of these bigger players in the vacation rental side of things to do something with mine. I mean, it's a great, it's a, it's a great concept. And I love it. We, we, we look at lifetime value of a homeowner, you know, and there's two sides of our homeowner or our marketing homeowner acquisition and guest marketing.

[00:16:03] And, you know, the homeowners are harder to get than the guests. And, and, you know, companies have started to realize that. And it needs to be, they need to have their own different strategies. But, you know, when you look at the average amount that you're gonna make over a 10 year period, you know, that's, that's when the costs start to make sense.

[00:16:18] You know, even at the onset, you know, a lot of companies argue about even the price to do some direct mail. Yeah. But it's like, you gotta look at this, you know, like you have to look longer term because, you know, that's, that's how you're gonna build your inventory and that builds the profitable business.

[00:16:30] And, you know, the EBITDA multiples on our side as well, but, Well, in particular, if people are looking at an exit strategy of how they're gonna mm-hmm. , you know, one day sell the business and, you know, and I, and I follow your business. I mean, Windham vacation ownership kind of jumped in and bought a couple of these, um, you know, all our companies down and one in Cape Hatteras, I think.

[00:16:51] Yeah. Can't remember where the other one was. I mean, I'm not, I, I don't know a ton about your business, but I have a surface knowledge and. And, uh, you know, so I mean, I do believe that, you know, many of these companies are probably still owned by individuals and, you know, they're gonna someday need an exit strategy and, you know, mm-hmm.

[00:17:09] They probably wrestle with, well, how much cash can I take out of the business every year versus reinvesting? Am I gonna get a return? Invest, sit out with me for about 30 minutes? You know, I think I could open their eyes to looking a little bit longer. Yeah, for sure. That makes a lot of sense. So, uh, timeshare just in general, you know, has a, a bad stigma in a lot of people's minds, I would say.

[00:17:35] And as I was thinking about this interview this morning, I was thinking, you know, we kind of deal with that. It's. Different, but Airbnb has a bad stigma to a lot of people. And in our industry, we're being very vocal about trying to differentiate the professional side that we're not the, the bad people that are renting on Airbnb or the bad hosts that are, you know, going against regulations and everything else.

[00:17:55] But, you know, I think our industry has been very vocal to stand up, to differentiate and try and change the narrative. You just, you don't see people out and really talking about some of the good things that the. Does, and some of the things that are not practiced anymore, and some of these, you know, better, more modern companies, but why do you think that?

[00:18:15] Well, there's a lot of ground in there and, um, I'll, I'll try to bite off bits and pieces of it and cover through it. But yeah, I mean, look, diamond Resorts, the reason why Apollo bought Diamond Resorts is because there was an article written on the front page of the New York Times about, um, accusing diamond of having overly aggressive sales practices.

[00:18:36] Um, it was totally untrue in, in that particular, Was because 38% of the float of the free float, meaning the outstanding shares of Diamond Resorts at the time, was uh, attributed to to, to shorts and people that were trying to drive the price down. And they had a writer at the New York Times in their pocket.

[00:18:57] But that drove the stock price down from almost 40 to 19, and that's where Apollo saw the opportunity and came in and, and paid a premium over 19 and bought the company. And that was my job, you know, really was to clean it up. And, and, and I think in fairness, the branded companies have done a really good job of, um, you know, protecting the brand, but also selling the product the right way.

[00:19:20] And, and, and we did at Diamond, but it really took on, you know, a whole different face. You know, when these third party exit companies got into the mix and they're spending so much money on advertising and you hear it all over the radio. And, you know, let's just put it out there. They're feats. Yeah.

[00:19:38] They're, they're, they're, they're serving absolutely no value to the customer. It's an elusory business. They cannot get anyone outta a, uh, timeshare contract unless they do one of two things. They reach out to the company and the company lets 'em out, or they put 'em through a foreclosure, which they could have done that themselves and ruined their credit themselves and saved the 10 or $15,000.

[00:20:00] Right. Wow. Yeah. , but, But the, the timeshare exit industry's marketing has put a new spotlight on the negative side of the timeshare. Right? Yeah. So they're back out there, you know, battling that same thing every day. But the fact is, You know, is, is that, you know, I do think there's a ton of good that, uh, that is done in timeshare.

[00:20:25] It's a great product. 97% of the people that own the product are satisfied and thrilled with it. And, you know, when you're in it, you see the good, you know, you don't just see the bad and hear about the things that, you know, that bubble up. And, you know, people write these public articles or whatever, but the bottom line is, is there's still room, you know, for that industry to get better.

[00:20:46] But anytime that you have a. Marketed and direct sold product in which said differently. Is that it? It's not a sought product. No one really wakes up and says, Hey, I wanna go buy a time ship. Right? Yeah. They, they come in cause they want, you know, two tickets to Disney and then. Two hours later, they see the value and they make an impulse decision, right?

[00:21:11] You're always gonna have issues around that type of a sale cause you got a hundred percent commissioned salesperson. And no matter how hard you work to put guardrails on or how strict your compliance program is, there's always going to be those that fall through the cracks, and that's. Yeah. Mm-hmm. , I wanted to ask, um, so I, I mentioned to you off camera, I, I had worked with the Diamond team, um, when I was at Expedia, but I handled, um, when I was on the global accounts team, they called it key accounts at the time.

[00:21:42] I did what they deemed non-traditional lodging. So I handled all the vacation rentals. And the timeshare and kind of the things that fell into the not hotel space. Mm-hmm. . So a lot of conversations with organizations like Wyndham and Westgate and, and got to travel around to a lot of the organiza or, you know, resorts and, and see 'em.

[00:21:59] And what, what always struck me is that, um, people would say, well, you know, the hotel companies are not in the vacation rental space. And to me, if you had timeshare, you're in vacation rentals, it's just like another. Path of vacation rentals. And I, I'm curious as to your take on it, cuz I always looked at it as very, it's a, it's a similar inventory, it's used for vacations.

[00:22:21] You know, it may have 10 owners versus one owner for a unit. It, you know, it, so it, it, it feels and looks the same, but so many people like to put it in a different category. And I think, again, there's more similarities than there are differences. So I'd love your take. Yeah, let's just be clear. It's exactly the same.

[00:22:38] Um, , thank you. Thank you Alex. And I agree . You know, I mean, I can tell you at Diamond Resorts it was a hundred million plus business. Um, you know, Jason, Jason Toasty was in my view, the best in the business for the timeshare companies. And you know, what really happens is that, you know, whether the developer builds it or whether they get it back.

[00:23:01] A family ages out and passes away and they take it back, you know, through their internal, um, means to allow people to exit. They have all this inventory sitting there that they're on the hook for the maintenance fee. Right? Right. They have to pay homeowners association the maintenance fee, so as they go rent this out, you know, they unload some of that liability that they have, that they owe the ho.

[00:23:25] And so it's something that's very important because in all of the, um, homeowners or so well, and most all of the h HOA management contracts, which is also a big part of the timeshare company's business, uh, there are what they call inventory recovery agreements, which basically say, We'll take your inventory back so that you, Thea, don't have the liability as people age out or they turn their inventory over, or they quit paying their maintenance fees because they don't have a sales and marketing arm.

[00:23:54] Right? Right. Inventory, you know, builds up and builds up and you gotta do something. What happens is, is that the, the developers love that inventory cause it's a low cost inventory cause it costs 'em very little to acquire it. So the only real risk they have is owing the maintenance fee. So they have to have a robust limb alarm to be able to go out and rent it to offset those maintenance fees.

[00:24:17] And then to take it one step further, um, Where it gets a little blurry is that timeshare companies are not allowed to represent rental on the sales table because. The real estate division that governs them. They actually, um, you know, see that as a violation potentially of an s e c violation, right? So they don't, you, you can't pitch rental on the timeshare sales table.

[00:24:44] So it's kind the same, got these big. Businesses going on in the background, renting inventory like crazy, right? Yeah. But yet taboo. And we're gonna fire the salesman on the sales table for saying, Hey, you should buy this and rent it out as an investment. Right? Yeahinteresting. So that's where it kind of bifurcated.

[00:25:04] That's interesting. It gets, yeah, it gets a little interesting. But let there not be any confusion. Every developer has a massive. Rental management arm. Yeah. Yeah. See, I mean, all, all these years Yeah. We, we've been right all along. It was similar. Yeah. It, it's, it's an interesting thing and I, you know, I live in Panama City Beach and Alex in Myrtle Beach, and so, you know, our markets are very similar and we have timeshare come in and out and, and it's, it is, it is interesting to have watched, um, where the position of a market went in terms of what their.

[00:25:37] Their, uh, thought of what timeshare was versus where it is now. And I think, you know what, what organizations like Diamond and Hilton, some of these larger brands have done is, is lend some credibility to the industry that did have kind of a, I don't know, smarmy is not the right word, but it did have this like, dark, uh, you know Yeah.

[00:25:55] Like just side that people, and I think again, Thankfully social media didn't exist back 15, 20 years ago when I think people really had, um, different opinions of it because there wasn't just like vacation rental suppers from, there wasn't a professionalization of the industry to really be on the up and up and be upfront and following rules and regulations of, of doing good business.

[00:26:17] Yeah. Yeah, for sure, for sure. No, I mean, it all makes, all, makes total sense. But yeah, you all, you ladies were right. . . Yeah. Talk that up for us, Alex. It's a little bit different. Yeah. And it's, it's interesting though. I mean, even talking to, you know, some of my friends here that are in the industry, I mean, Technology, uh, is, is different within, uh, um, timeshare.

[00:26:38] I think there's, you know, it's older tech for the most part. Um, when we were at the GX conference last year, got to talk to a couple of the software companies and channel managers that represent that side. And, you know, at that time the company I was with was trying to figure out if there was a way for us to help, you know, get that inventory since they are rental management also onto different channels like VRBO and Airbnb.

[00:27:00] And I think there, there's definitely interest there and I, I'm surprised. I guess more people on our end don't pursue that, you know, as, as more of a Well, Airbnb, Airbnb reached out to me directly at Diamond at one point. They wanted to take a stake in the company because they saw it as a tremendous inventory generation.

[00:27:19] Oh yeah, absolutely. Yeah. You know, you know, for them and it, and it is, we never. We never got a deal done, you know, with them. But, um, but we, we did have extensive talks and, and, and you know, when you talk about technology in your world, and, you know, I'll give you an example of how technology helped us and how yeah.

[00:27:36] The same marketing arm of timeshare really partnered with the rental management arm to do some cool cutting edge so that no one else was doing in the industry. What we, we created. The opportunity, there was a company called Demure, which was a kind of an Airbnb except they curated really high end vacation homes in destination locations, and they had about 300 of them, and they came to us.

[00:28:05] And I saw an opportunity because we're always looking for ways to get people to upgrade and buy more points. And we're always looking to have a reason why people want to go out and and own more points, right? Cause they use them and spend them. So we partnered with them. And we wrapped our skin around their platform and we called it, instead of demure to the, to the diamond customer, we called it the diamond luxury selection.

[00:28:31] And so if they were at the golden platinum level, they could take their points and we created points, charts that behind the scenes we tied back with technology to what the cost of the rental was each week, right? Mm-hmm. . And we came up with how many points of would cost to go skiing, ski out in as. Um, a home on a cliff overlooking the ocean in Hawaii, and it is today one of the biggest programs Diamond slash Hilton has.

[00:28:56] The members absolutely love it, and it's kinda technology and, and, and very simply, I mean, if you break it down, you know, to the lowest common denominator, They have to go rent the inventory that mm-hmm. time sharing inventory. Right. That they give us back. Cause they're choosing to use their points to go stay in one of these homes.

[00:29:16] They turn that cash into what they're going to pay. Demure for the weekly rental, right? Mm-hmm. . But it's all opaque to the customer and it's all seen. And behind the scenes. So that was a cool way that we kind of partnered with our, um, you know, our rental division and created something that really made our numbers, our close rates, and our PPGs go up on the table through creating these benefits that the consumers really wanted, that they didn't have.

[00:29:44] Right. Yeah, no, that's su super interesting. It makes a lot of sense. Um, talk a little bit about the vacation clubs and the difference with that model versus the traditional timeshare. I didn't really know that they existed until I went to that GenX conference, but there was quite a few of those out there and it, it's, it's a lower entry I know, or cost per to enter.

[00:30:04] But yeah, I, I'm not an expert, you know, on the, on the tribal clubs. I do, I do think there are some good ones out there and that do business the right way and that, you know, that are legitimate. But there are also a lot of them out there in that space that, um, are, you know, kind of on the edge and, and quite frankly, You know, do unethical things because they don't have to register and they don't have to go through the same levels that we do as a timeshare company on a state by state basis.

[00:30:36] They kind of all fall under this seller of travel exemption, right? Mm-hmm. , and, and many of them, um, they pitch against timeshare because they say there's no annual maintenance fee. But really what they're doing is, is they're using inventory from these exchange companies like RCI or II that they inside in 90 days have not had any utilization on.

[00:31:01] So they sell 'em to these tribal clubs for a very cheap rate because it's gonna be burned inventory, right? Mm-hmm. . And so there's typically a lot of unhappy people in that space cause they can't get what they want to get cause they really, while they're not paying a maintenance fee. That's true. They're just depending upon this burned inventory in order to get where they wanna go.

[00:31:22] So the fulfillment side of it, you know, at some places can be a little sketchy. But again, I wanna be clear, I'm not an expert in that Yeah. Burden that there's some good ones out there. Sure. But, but those were just some of the experiences I had through my time, you know, at time sheet. Yeah. Yeah, I think it's like a vacation rentals.

[00:31:39] There's, there's, there's people that always pop up and always talk about, you know, like the whack-a-mole. There's gonna be people that are gonna pop up all over the place that are gonna be, have bad intentions and they're not gonna be good stewards of, of what the business as a whole typically is. So, mm-hmm.

[00:31:54] um, certainly, certainly understandable. I wanted to go back to, I guess, going to you putting the company up for sale. And again, Alex alluded to, you know, Vacasa went public and, and that's not been, that's not been the best for them. Um, I, I've been a, a, a staunch, I'll say, silent supporter in that I feel like them being successful is good for the industry and to have something that large not have, um, have success at a, at a high level.

[00:32:22] Not something that looks good for the industry. Again, I don't know how it'll all play out, but I, I want them to succeed, you know, good, good, bad, or indifferent to the, the business at hand. I want them to succeed. So from your standpoint, going public, like what did that, what did that mean? Or going public selling to Hilton, what did that mean?

[00:32:39] Um, you know, for Diamond and, and moving into the next level. Well, it was a great thing. I mean, um, you know, and to your, to your point in your lead in, you know, look, a rising tide floats all boats, right? Right. We're pulling everybody to do good just like you are. And I, I don't, I haven't followed the, uh, the i p o of the cases, so I, I don't really have the ability to comment on that, but, but.

[00:33:01] Specific to your question, you know, it was tremendous. Um, first off, let's start with the owners. I mean, the diamond owners now have a mega brand in Hilton, um, you know, behind them. And, you know, I couldn't feel any better about laying my head on the every night knowing that I sold the company to a great company in Hilton, that he.

[00:33:21] Take care of the end user, right? Then you got, you know, the, uh, the, the employees, right? I mean, we had over, like I said, 11,600 employees at, at one point at Diamond, and many of them made the transition over, some didn't. I mean, anytime you have an acquisition like that, They're looking for cost synergies and, but usually that's the executive level people, you know, like myself and our senior team.

[00:33:47] But the fact is, you know, is that thousands of diamond team members, you know, have now moved over to H C V and they have a great, great job. They, um, they're with a great company and they really have a, a super culture. They look out for their people and, um, and, and so that's great. And, and, and then, and then lastly, you know, for the shareholders, It was tremendous.

[00:34:09] I mean, uh, you know, we were very blessed, um, to create a win-win scenario. And a win-win scenario means that, you know, the shareholders were happy with the price that we were able to sell the company. Um, H C V was happy with the price that, you know, that they paid for the company. And, uh, you know, to this day, you know, Mark Lang and I remain great friends.

[00:34:31] Um, you know, I had lunch with him, uh, just a few weeks ago before the Hilton Grand Vacations tournament. A champion. I said, I guess the greatest compliment of all is you call me and want to go to launch a year and a half after you bought Yeah. . Yeah. That, that's definitely a good compli for sure. That's true.

[00:34:46] He's not calling you to, he's not calling you to cu you out for something, right? Yeah. Yeah. And so, so are you doing the, the experiences of a lifetime for them, or did they build their own program? No, no. I, I, I do serve as a consultant for them specific to. The Hilton Grand Vacations Tournament of Champions, which is their Okay.

[00:35:05] Um, golf tournament. That is the L PGAs, uh, winners only event where they have 50 celebrities. That was a tournament that I started at Diamond Resorts with many of my friends in music and entertainment sports. And, and so, um, while our team at Diamond. Moved over that runs the day-to-day. I do not run the day-to day.

[00:35:25] They have a very, very good team that does that. But I'm there for 'em if they need help, you know, getting a celebrity or if they wanna keep somebody coming back or helping 'em with a key, you know, sponsorship. Um, and, and look, I mean, I'm very thankful that they allow me to come back and, you know, as the founder of the tournament play in it every year.

[00:35:44] And, you know, I just, um, you know, I think it's really cool and, and it's something that. You know, I am, I look forward to, you know, it's like my, yeah, it's clear, clearly something that you're passionate about. It's been fun watching over the last year and just seeing those, the tournaments and stuff, action.

[00:35:59] While I was dealing with all the things you deal with as a CEO of a large company, , that was like the fun thing that we, right. That's, you go, you go, uh, hit some golf balls and relieve some stress, right? Yeah, yeah. Literally . So what, Mike, what's next? I mean, I know your, your non-compete is a. Fairly soon going to expire.

[00:36:20] And, but you've also got this budding entertainment company, so what do you see as, as the future of what you're gonna do? Yeah, that's a good question. I mean, look, I've been blessed to have several, um, opportunities presented to me already. Um, none of which I, I felt like was, you know, the right time for me to jump back in.

[00:36:40] Um, you know, it's, it's coming up on a year and a half. Um, really coming up on two years this summer and, uh, you know, I'm, I'm ready to get back in the game. I'm, I'm a leader of women and men and that's what I do. And it really doesn't have to be timeshare. It could be anything. I'll figure out the offense, whatever the, you know, X's and O's are.

[00:36:58] It's always about having the right people that can do the job and building the right culture that they wanna wake up and come to work in every day. And that's how I've kind of, you know, I guess you'd say, you know, managed my career and, uh, So I, you know, the, the, the non-compete in the timeshare space, you know, is gonna end here in, in, you know, the end of the year.

[00:37:20] Um, and I'm sure there'll be plenty of opportunities there, but look, I mean, at the end of the day, there's only about five to seven timeshare companies that exist out there. And, uh, the industry has continued to consolidate. So I'm open to, you know, to lots of things. But, you know, one of the things that I did, And I've had a ton of fun with is I created MF Entertainment, Mike Flakey Entertainment, um, you know, and that's what I've been doing to keep myself busy.

[00:37:47] And in 2022, you know, we, as I've already said, help out a little bit with the, the HIL ran Vacation, terminate Champions. But I went on the board of a company called, uh, used to be called Club Corp. It's now invited and they're the largest golf course, um, owner, private golf course owner in the country.

[00:38:05] They've got two 60 or. And. They asked me to do a tournament for them. So I, um, I partnered with the PGA Tour of Champions, which is the 50 and older tour, and we bring 40 celebrities. We do that in Dallas, and that's the week of April 17th through the 23rd this year, coming up soon. So I, I, I run that and I really do that from cradle to grave.

[00:38:28] Um, I have full responsibility for, you know, for that. And my team, you know, works with invited and we execute that. And, uh, and then I've been able to book a lot of music shows. I've built a lot of relationships during my time at Diamond, directly with the artists. Cause they worked with us so many years.

[00:38:45] You know, um, Lee, Bryce Cole Swindell, um, you know, Jan Kramer, Carly Pierce, Dan and Shed, um, the list just goes on and on. Sister Hazel Scott, staff from Creed and, and we, um, Lauren, Elena. And so through these partnerships, You know, we get calls all the time to book shows, and I think we did about 30, um, music shows and, uh, one of, in fact, the largest, um, incredible company down in Mexico called the Donta.

[00:39:17] Um, we have, uh, in 2022, we booked 20 shows for them. And, and here they are a hotel company and what they want to do is they want to give something back cause they recognize that the end user wants more than just the sticks and bricks of the accommodations. They've got five star stuff, it's incredible.

[00:39:40] And they're like, look, we want to invest and we wanna drive shoulder season where it's a little soft. Maybe we can drive incremental occupancy through using, you know, music. And it's worked out really, really well for 'em. And we've already booked, uh, five shows for them that we have coming up over the next couple months this year.

[00:39:59] So, so it's that kinda stuff, you know, just referrals, but, but at some point. You know, somebody's gonna have to take over, you know, MF Entertainment and uh, you know, and they're gonna likely come in and, and, and run that business. And I'll, you know, probably have to go back and, and lead a large company. I'm in my prime, you know, right now, and, you know, I've got, you know, 15 great years, hopefully if I stay healthy, you know, you know, so I'm, uh, I'm hopeful to find the right opportunity to come in and lead a business and, and create shareholder.

[00:40:31] That's so cool. We're so excited to see what ends up happening. And I'm sure there's plenty of people that are a little bit nervous that you're coming back . Yeah. But that's awesome though. I think you brought obviously a lot of value to the industry and, and just, I mean, elevating the guest experience, the owner experience is, is something that just didn't exist before you started doing these concerts.

[00:40:50] So in events. So, um, hopefully that's something that we can maybe start infusing within our side of the industry too. And I just, I think there's a lot to be learned from, from what, from what you've done. We appreciate you very much being here today. Yeah, it's my pleasure and I appreciate you ladies.

[00:41:06] You're good at what you do. This is a cool, cool thing you got here. I've been listening to some of them, you know, coming in and, uh, and you do a great job and it's great for your industry. They're lucky to have you on. Oh, thank you. That that's very, very kind . It started out as auto kind of a whim and it's taken a life of its own, but it's a lot of fun cuz we get to meet really fascinating people like yourself and yeah.

[00:41:26] Hopefully we can have you back when you're ready to announce your next big step. Yeah. Oh, that's right. Yeah. But until then, what's the best way if somebody wants to reach out to you and get in touch with you or MFN Entertainment? Um, well, we have a, have a great website, MF Entertainment. Go see what, check out, um, and can email me directly, Mike MF Entertainment

[00:41:50] from folks. Really interested in your industry and, and really interested in, you know, how we can talk with some of the folks in your space. As I said, they've started reaching out, out on the outer banks, and I do believe there's a real opportunity there. I think that if we sat out and talked about it, we could map it out and we could show the owner how to create some real value.

[00:42:13] Absolutely. Yeah, absolutely. No, I think that's great. Great idea. And we'll, we'll have some side conversations on that , but thank you again, . Thank you again so much. Uh, if anybody wants to contact Annie and I, you can go to Alex and annie podcast.com. And until next time, thank you for tuning in everybody.

[00:42:31] Thank you all.