What is the most frequently mentioned comment we get from campers when we receive feedback about their stay?

They say the helpful staff made their stay “special.”

Our campers know we have only 75 sites on about 65 acres and no two are identical. We try to honor all camper requests, even when it takes three times as long as it would if we had a one-size-shoe-fits-all approach. Every year in May I evaluate the true cost of that level of service.

I am frequently complimented on how well trained our front desk is, but the truth is very often they come to Lock 30 Woodlands with that “happy to help” attitude.

My job is to attract the right applicants, determine how they benefit the team and then hone what is already there. Some of this I learned at the National School for RV Campground Management, where I teach. Most of it comes from years of observing people.

Indeed it is a cliché to refer to a team when there are maybe three people bearing the load– if we are lucky to be at full staff. But if those three do not get along and hold the common belief that the Golden Rule is what we expect, then no amount of training works.

You can train an employee how to access a reservation system, but you can’t emphasize enough that when a camper is lost en route or hungry or irritated at the traffic he encountered 5 miles down the road, it makes sense to let him set up, stretch his legs and then complete his registration. Hungry, tired, rushed guests won’t hear where the dumpster is or when the pool is closed at night.

You can’t train for empathy, but you can equip arrivals with information regarding what to expect. You can respect camper needs and give them choices, but you can’t engineer a happy experience unless the front desk staff and the camper on the other side of the counter are speaking the same language.

It helps us when campers complete a reservation request so we know exactly what they need prior to arrival. If they insist on a certain site—because that is their personal preference—staff may charge them in full, especially on a busy weekend when we have others wanting the same site.

Life can get in the way of the best of plans, so cancellations happen.  But if a camper says “I want this and only this”, then decides at 7pm when they see something that might work even better, they may have to get at the end of the line. We won’t ask other guests to bear the time consequences of a camper needing intensive one-on -one attention. That’s because we, too, have limited resources.

So what do we look for when we hire for the front desk? We look for adults with a happy-to-help attitude who can exercise good judgment. We look for people who treat others (including fellow employees) the same way they would want to be treated. Employees who value what we value will last. We won’t keep an employee who doesn’t abide by these core values.

Teachers, retired health care professionals, homemakers–even hospitality industry students who are good decision makers are invited to apply. Applications are available year-round, but we need more staff in summer, when families camp.

If you want to supplement your regular income and can work weekends, drop us an email or call us. You are going to love our campers and the folks who work here. Why? Because we hire the very best.

 

Karen Brucoli Anesi