The 8th annual Resort Conference returned to the Hotel del Coronado in San Diego last month, and while the weather was sunny — of course — the news wasn't quite as bright.

Resort executives discussed ways to overcome the sluggish economy and entice travelers to visit their properties. Attendees didn't sound the alarm over the looming recession, but Peter Yesawich, the luncheon speaker, did have to overcome the literal screeching of a nearly constant (false) fire alarm going off throughout a significant portion of his 75-minute presentation.

Maybe the only one unfazed by the noise, the president and CEO of Y Partnership spoke of how the travel industry has been affected by the Internet, social media and the growth of PDAs. Yesawich also touched on a theme present throughout the conference: Americans are using less and less of their vacation time. The economy, he said, would further affect that, but the “sky wasn't falling.” People would adapt, maybe travel shorter distances and cut back on other parts of the trip, making value and differentiation all the more important for resorts. A panel on vacation compression later revealed Americans use on average 13 vacation days a year, compared to 25 by those in Japan and a whopping 42 by Italians.

Chip Conley, the president and CEO of Joie de Vivre Hospitality, said at the opening session keeping employees, customers and investors happy increases loyalty, which is critical during downtimes.

Alan Fuerstman, founder and CEO of Montage Hotels & Resorts, was honored with the resort executive of the year award.

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