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Changes in Privacy Law have now taken effect

Yesterday (12 March 2014) marked the arrival of the new Australian Privacy Principles (APPs) and with it, significant change in Australia’s privacy laws which will impact businesses that collect and manage personal data. Privacy protection is about much more than complying with tightening regulations, because data is not just data, it’s information on human beings. The goal of better privacy protection shouldn’t be businesses avoiding fines or CEOs avoiding jail, it’s about doing what’s right for the customers. Fines are bad, but treating people with disrespect is worse! Are you and you your business prepared? How are you collecting data and storing it? Is your reservation system PCI compliant with the storage of credit card details? Does your reservation system securely and safely store client details Do you still take full details of a guest credit card for room charge etc purpose?  If so, are these stored securely and are these details destroyed after the guest has left your park?  Are your employees records current and filed away where they cannot be accessed by unauthorised persons?  Who are the authorised persons? There are many misconceptions about privacy and data protection laws, so it is important that your workplace is prepared for the new changes. In an age where the management of data is largely electronic, employers have a much greater opportunity to collect and retain vast amounts of information, much more than ever before. This information is useful to have on file – but what are the risks? The risks that an employer now faces are fines that range up to $1.7 million for a Company and $340,000 for individuals, so now, more than ever, employers should implement or update privacy policies and procedures to offer themselves greater protection. Employee records are not always exempt – the only records that are exempt are those that …Read More

Are You Employing Turkeys When You Need Eagles?

Sometimes all the training, team motivation and encouragement exercises simply don’t work. Do you take the time to stand back and consider carefully who you are hiring to do the job? Do you look for experience and qualifications, or do you search for the: • right personality, • the passion, • the excitement, • the genuine smile and • the attitude that wants to excel.. We have all been placed in a situation where we were short staffed and we thought “any” body is better than no body or we make do because? Perhaps we keep trying and take on that “any” body that doesn’t know how to smile, doesn’t have a personality, doesn’t have a passion for hospitality and we try to change them. How often has that worked? Or how often have we made do with existing employees because someone is better than no one? Remember your team must be likened to a chain and the team can only ever be as strong as the weakest link. Yes we have all heard it before! So stop hiring turkeys and stop keeping on employees who have turned into turkeys! Look for the right attributes in your employees and things will start to change rapidly. So simple! And never be afraid of employing an eagle- nurture them and support them- help them own the role and fly with it! How good will you look as a manager of employees? The next time you go to hire someone… look for the eagle- they may not have the required skill set but you can teach the systems and tools to get the job done – attitude is very difficult to teach! If you are looking for a front desk officer, stop focusing on whether or not they have ever worked a front desk. …Read More

A Sense of Arrival, A Sense of Departure

Every guest using your caravan park/holiday resort has to do a minimum of 2 things – they must arrive, and they will at some point – leave. These are 2 crucial opportunities to “secure” these persons as “loyal” guests. The big question for all caravan park owners/managers should be: “Are you maximising your efforts and those of your staff at both opportunities?” Do your guests enjoy a “Sense of Arrival” and do you engage with your guests with a “Sense of Departure”? Most caravan park owners and managers should understand the concept of a sense of arrival. That wonderful moment (or what’s intended to be wonderful) when a guest arrives at your doorstep. The goal of this “moment” is to literally WOW your arriving guest from the beginning – to validate their selection that choosing your caravan park/holiday resort was the best decision they have made.  We are sure, that many caravan park owners or managers who may read this post have spent hours mulling over this topic, whilst also discussing it at length with their teams. It begins with your entry statement: * The gardens surrounding the entrance, and also to reception – should be at their very best. * Your reception area – should be free from clutter and mess – and be minimalistic. * Your staff should all be dressed in uniform – designed to create a sense of professionalism from the very moment a guest arrives. * Training for front desk staff should be comprehensive.  These staff should excel at welcoming guests, creating eye contact and delivering a smile. Every caravan park owner/manager should personally walk through “the arrival” – starting with the entrance statement and your front reception – with “eyes as a guest” to ensure that everything is as it should be. A sense of …Read More

Social Media and Reputation Management for Caravan Parks

Social media is everywhere – and travellers/holidaymakers are turning to review sites and social networks to research holidays, share experiences and consult information and advice from the source they trust most: other travellers. Caravan Park Operators (and many other hospitality businesses) are all facing similar challenges: What is being said about your caravan park, How to adapt to changes in technology and traveller behaviour, cut through the clatter, and use social media to drive higher awareness, guest satisfaction and revenue?  Earned media—getting people talking about and recommending your caravan park through reviews, ratings, imagery, blogs and online articles—has become an essential component of any caravan park marketing strategy. Converged media – maximise your reach; integrate paid, earned and owned content into your marketing campaigns. For example, when you launch a new cabin, facility or offering to your guests – feature it on your website and Facebook page (owned content), hold a contest to encourage people to spread the word on social networks (earned media), and amplify its reach with Promoted Posts on Facebook (paid content). Facebook  Is not just for socialising anymore – and there are two new features turning Facebook into an important marketing tool for caravan parks. • Nearby (also called Local Search) – allows users to search local businesses, ratings and reviews on their mobile device similar to Foursquare and TripAdvisor. • Graph Search – turns Facebook into a search engine for friend activities and interests. Maximise your presence on both applications by optimising your “About” page and encouraging likes, check-ins and photo-sharing. Your Caravan Park Website Make it social! Turn your website into a living, breathing thing that integrates earned media like a review feed, social icons, widgets and plugins with information about local events, dining and activities. This can benefit traffic, engagement and conversions, and …Read More

Want To Know The Secret To Sales?

Stop Selling! Forget the hard sell — it doesn’t work. Try these low-key tips, and your caravan park/resort should almost sell itself. Caravan Park owners/managers that are successful at sales know the very best way to sell something is not to sell it. Selling is not, ‘Here is our great caravan park with all of these whizz-bang features, so book it. To sell your caravan park – you need to listen to potential customers about what they want or need, and then present your caravan park as the answer. You want people to think booking to stay at your caravan park was their idea. If you try “selling” your caravan park by telling people how good you are – it will most likely fall on deaf ears.  Prove your value to potential customers and give them the reasons why they should stay with you. Listen First and Ask Questions We are born with 2 ears and 1 mouth – we should use them in that proportion. Let the customer set the stage and do all the talking at first – ask them questions on what they require and find out which option would best suit them and their needs.  Telling a customer what they need is offensive, like an ‘over the top’ sales pitch, so take the time to understand your customer – you may sometimes need to ask five or six well-constructed questions to get the feedback you require, but if you’re patient, the potential customer will divulge useful information.” Problem Solve No customer wants to engage with you unless you can help them.  By listening to your customers and getting to know what they need, then you are able to customise a solution that involves your caravan park. Rather than selling, your job really is to problem solve …Read More

Reservations – Are You and Your Staff Ready?

Over the past decade or so, there has been a shift of information available to customers about your business. In the past, most customers were limited to information from a brochure, advert or directory unless they had previously visited your holiday park. Back then, that’s why our front office reception and reservations staff, were trained to find out if the person enquiring was familiar with the business and if not, what they needed to know. However these days, with the wealth of information available online on the holiday park’s website and others such as TripAdvisor, Google Reviews, Facebook and many other channels of social media, many of our enquirers have already done extensive research prior to calling. What they don’t want to hear is a scripted list of the same features/facilities they have seen online. That’s why it’s important to find out what it is they do want to hear in order to tie up any loose ends and having the guest make a decision to book. While it’s still a good idea to determine their understanding of what your holiday park offers and their reason for travel, there’s an important new question to ask for the future of 2014 and beyond: “As I’m checking the availability of those dates you have requested, is there any questions I can answer for you about our local area, our facilities , services or what we offer?” By asking the caller (and our potential guests) this question, it will assist us in revealing the caller’s “story” and prompt them to reveal the question or reason that caused them to call instead of just booking online. The guest will then most likely let you know if they have read conflicting reviews or negative online postings and need to be reassured. Or they might let …Read More

The Correct Way to Apologise on TripAdvisor

Thanks to TripAdvisor, reviews are now easily access to more than 300 million people worldwide, so guest reviews of your holiday park/resort are now more readily available than ever. This easy access to a wealth of opinions on your property isn’t always a good thing, especially since it’s reported that as many as 4 out of 5 people will change their minds about making a booking after stumbling across negative reviews. While unfortunately, you can’t reverse a guest’s negative experience and stop these unfavourable reviews from appearing, you can apologise after the fact to demonstrate your commitment to customer service. And according to TripAdvisor, up to 34% of reviewers decide to delete their original negative comments after receiving a response from the property. So what’s the correct way to apologise on TripAdvisor? Here are some tips we recommend… BE SINCERE If your apology isn’t genuine, it’s almost best to not apologise at all. Negative responses to your property and staff are bound to cause anger/frustration, especially if the comments are untrue. So, before you write your reply, take a deep breath, and then approach the problem in an empathetic and professional manner. ACCENTUATE THE POSITIVES TripAdvisor stats show that more than 75% of ‘bad’ reviews contain at least one positive comment, so be sure to pick these more favourable remarks out to highlight in your response. See below for an example of a guest review and the manager’s response: “Our first impressions of this holiday park were good – the front desk staff were very friendly and the check-in process was quick and smooth. However, when we got to our room, we found the room had not been fully cleaned – not a great start to our stay.” Thank you for your review. We are pleased to read you enjoyed …Read More

2 FreeSpirit team members join CRVA standing committees

FreeSpirit is delighted to announce that 2 of their team have been chosen to represent on 2 new standing committees that the CRVA have created – the Future Leaders Committee and Policy & Regulation Committee. The CRVA is the national body for the Caravanning and Camping Industry. Yvonne Bristow, Chief Operations Officer for FreeSpirit has been chosen for the Policy & Regulation Committee, whilst Emma Bolton, Front Office Manager at Darwin FreeSpirit Resort has been chosen for the Future Leaders Committee (the Future Leaders had an age criteria of under 35 years). Click here to link through to CRVA’s announcement.

Trip Advisor – 2013 Certificate of Excellence Winners

We are thrilled to announce that 3 of our holiday parks have received “TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence” awards for 2013. These parks are: Darwin FreeSpirit Resort – DARWIN NT Hidden Valley Tourist Park – DARWIN NT Blue Dolphin Holiday Resort – YAMBA NSW The accolades, which honour hospitality excellence, are given only to establishments that consistently achieve outstanding traveller reviews on TripAdvisor. Approximately 10% of accommodations listed on TripAdvisor receive these prestigious awards. To qualify for the Certificate of Excellence, businesses must maintain an overall rating of four or higher, out of a possible five, as reviewed by travellers on TripAdvisor. Additional criteria include the volume of reviews received within the last 12 months. Our sincerest THANK YOU to everyone who took the time to share feedback on their stay!

Holiday park rankings highlight the best in the business!

FreeSpirit Resort and Holiday Park Management is celebrating several wins for this year’s 2012 Holidays with Kids Top 10 Holiday Parks awards, for the properties they manage. Holiday parks are ranked annually based on votes made by readers of the Holidays with Kids Magazine and the top 10 parks for each state are announced. FreeSpirit Chief Operations Officer Yvonne Bristow says seven of the eight holiday parks they manage were placed in the top ten in their state for 2012. “We are overwhelmed with this year’s results recognising seven FreeSpirit-managed parks as top in the industry statewide,” Ms Bristow says. “Our hard work towards providing the best family holiday destinations has paid off and it’s a good feeling to be ranked No.1 in three different states. NRMA Treasure Island Holiday Park was ranked No.1 in Queensland, NRMA Ocean Beach Holiday Park came first for New South Wales and Darwin FreeSpirit Resort got the top ranking for the Northern Territory. Four more FreeSpirit-managed parks found their place in the top ten rankings, including Blue Dolphin Holiday Resort, NRMA Darlington Beach Holiday Park and NRMA Merimbula Beach Holiday Park in New South Wales and Fraser Lodge Holiday Park in Queensland. Ms Bristow says the overwhelming success in the Holidays with Kids awards reaffirms their position as leaders in the industry, with dedication to satisfy the needs of Australian families. “Across all of our parks we place a strong emphasis on family fun and entertainment for all ages to enjoy while they stay, and these awards praise our efforts,” Ms Bristow says. Each holiday park provides action-packed kids activity and entertainment programs to add even more value to any holiday and create the ultimate family experience. “FreeSpirit management and all of the staff across our parks are truly humbled with the positive feedback from the …Read More

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