The good and not so good

Welcome to 2014 dear readers. I trust Christmas was good to you and if you run a holiday building I hope all your guests rebooked for next year.

It’s certainly a wonderful time of year to catch up with family and friends and reflect on just what a great country we live in. In our case we congregated as usual with our family in Toowoomba, caught up with friends and visited a few motel clients. By Boxing Day I was ready to run so my previously wayward son Nic and I hit the road. The managing director and I have been very impressed with our son’s progress and as he’s finished his apprenticeship a treat was in order. I hit yet another mid-life crisis last year and bought a Holden Maloo ute. The young bloke has his open license (at last) and can legally drive the beast. So far so good.

In the cross hairs was New Year’s Eve in Sydney and the Street Machine Summer Nationals in Canberra. An old finance broker, a son on his third driver’s license and a V8 ute on a two-week road trip. What could possibly go wrong ?
We ran via Brisbane and down the coast to our first night in a caravan park at Coffs Harbour. I tend to travel heavy and being able to park next to a cabin and unload is quite appealing after a day on the road, particularly for a one night stay. Unfortunately the cabin had not been closed up after the cleaners went through and there’d been a pretty severe thunderstorm just before we checked in.

The end result was no power and a couple of inches of water on the floor. Back to the office, collected a few old towels and cleaned the water up. At no stage did the staff offer to assist or even to apologise for the situation. We got the power back on, hung the towels out to dry and cracked a cold beer. The cabin was basic but comfortable and the park was clearly popular although it was Christmas. We checked out the next day after returning the towels. Still not a word of acknowledgement in terms of the dramas from the previous day. If the park had been mine I would have ensured that the problem was acknowledged and I would have knocked $20 of the tariff as a goodwill gesture. I’d also have made sure my staff were suitably empowered to do the same thing. Only a little thing but all part of effectively managing the customer experience. The park won’t always be full and a little bit of goodwill goes a long way.

A short drive down the coast and we checked into the Big4 caravan park at Nambucca Heads. This is a really pretty park right on the beach. The cabins have been configured in a very thoughtful way and the amenities are first class. Sadly the fridge was struggling in the heat and created a cold beer emergency. I asked the manager what he thought and in five minutes he had delivered enough ice to our unit to cool down drinks for everyone. He also reset the fridge and had things under control in no time. Given that the park was full this was great service delivered by a true professional. Ten minutes out of his day and $10 worth of ice and he has an advocate for life. I’m sure you have all done similar things and if you haven’t I suggest finding a reason to make sure your guests remember you for all the right reasons.

The drive to Wisemans Ferry on the Hawkesbury River should have been straight forward. However, like the pilot who ignores his instruments and crashes I knew better than the sat nav. We ended up in the outer suburbs of Sydney before retracing our steps and arriving at our lodgings. I’ve always wanted to have a look at this area and we weren’t disappointed. The motel was a bit tired but had great facilities and enjoyed 500m of absolute river front. The area has some incredible convict history, wonderful views and some of best water ski conditions I have ever seen.

The accommodation is operated by a large national brand who have clearly trained their staff well and in a manner which makes guests feel very comfortable. I think it’s so important that all staff in accommodation businesses understand that the guest is paying the bills. I’m not a fan of any need by staff to grovel but to simply be friendly and helpful. Sometimes when I say hello to cleaning staff or grounds people I get the feeling that they are not used to guests being chatty so maybe more guests need to make the effort to be friendly as well.

We set off from Wisemans a couple of days before New Years with the next destination the Radisson Hotel just off Circular Quay. Watching your son’s reaction to his first look at the Harbour Bridge and Opera House while driving across that famous harbor is really something but more of that next month.

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