Dick Lidbom’s travel roots run deep. He’s been involved in the Festiva family since the beginning, converting his Peppertree points to Festiva Adventure Club points 10 years ago. He has served seven years on the FAC board of directors, and he also serves on the Amtrak Customer Advisory Committee, which serves to observe customer service issues within the company.
A former businessman with IBM, he was born in Walla Walla, Washington, but grew up in San Diego, California. A Vietnam veteran, Lidbom is an active follower of the stock market, and trades as a hobby. Travel also ties in nicely with his love of cooking; he collects recipes on the road including collards from New Orleans, flounder from the North Carolina coast, and clam chowder from New England. His favorite food remains traditional southern cooking. He’s currently retired and living in Winston-Salem, N.C., with his wife, Brenda, who he has been married to for 47 years.
We talked with Lidbom to ask him some insider questions about serving on the FAC board, his opinion on getting the most out of FAC membership, and where he sees the future of the company.
“The viability of the company comes with balancing the product with the bottom line,” said Lidbom, revealing his business acumen. His history with Festiva begins in 2005 when he met Don Clayton, founder and former President and CEO of Festiva, who invited him to chair a committee of Peppertree members whose goal was to increase communications between members and club management. That chair position led to his position on the FAC board, where he’s served ever since. The board has an annual member meeting once per year in Festiva’s hometown of Asheville, N.C.
Lidbom admits this year’s meeting was interesting due to the 2017 sale of Blue Ridge Village, a sale he was personally unhappy with, but one that was necessary to further improvements on other properties.
“It was disappointing for me and the members, and that was expressed. But overall, the meeting had increased attendance and far less acrimony than years past,” he said. “I attribute that to more openness and frequency of the communications throughout the year.”
Serving on the board, Lidbom said there are four things that he tries to keep in mind:
- Properly representing the views and wishes of the membership when it comes to matters which affect benefits, timeshare availability and communications.
- Involving himself in educating the FAC members in the value of the RTX program, which is included in membership.
- Balancing increased benefits to the members while keeping an eye on the bottom line of the club to ensure continued viability.
- Assisting members in learning to maximize their points.
Maximizing points is key to getting the most out of membership, said Lidbom. He’s an owner of a relatively modest 13,000 points, yet squeezes five to six weeks of accommodations out of them yearly.
“Flexibility in your plans and short lead times are important. People need to realize that factors like cancellations and inventory fluctuations can free up availability as the travel date draws closer,” he said. “People don’t realize that this value comes free with your membership, you just have to take advantage of it.”
Lidbom lauds the growth of the club thanks to the strong FAC leadership of Caroline Smith and Robert Mattei with Patton Hospitality Management, and Corina Violette and Justin Hunter with Resort Travel and Xchange.
“These young, personable and customer-oriented folks make for a great management team,” he said.
For the future of FAC, Lidbom said he’d like to see more Midwest and West coast locations, as well as continued investment in certain properties through the Elevating the Journey campaign to increase desirability.
As for he and his wife’s favorite destinations through FAC, they enjoy Saint Augustine, Florida, St. Maarten, New Orleans, Louisiana, Charleston, South Carolina, and Atlantic Beach, North Carolina. They’ve also visited Vancouver, Canada, Vail, Colorado, and Williamsburg, Virginia, through RTX, and enjoyed a heavily discounted cruise from New England to Canada.
“I love the Festiva organization, and I look forward to seeing the continued growth of the operation,” he said.