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Resort Management

How “change” can drive the structure of a company

FreeSpirit Resort and Holiday Park Management was incorporated in late 2003 by experienced owner/operators of large holiday parks. The company aim was to sell their management and operational expertise to others; especially to the larger corporate entities wishing to expand their structures to include holiday parks. But things change! It is difficult to fight against the forces of change so why not better focus your energy towards your own advantage. Perhaps a good analogy would be to ask this question “How many dinosaurs do you see walking down the street?” The answer should be none…and why “Because they could not adapt to the changes that occurred”. So to avoid extinction, embrace the changes that continually bombard you and your business.  Some of the changes that every caravan park operator faces daily include: being business savvy, being insightful of analytics and interpreting data, honing good leadership skills, understanding technology and working through the sociology minefield required to understand employees and the changing market demands. However, one of the biggest changes that our industry faces is compliance. It seems that the Australian psyche wants to “assist” each of us to be directly responsible for our actions and have introduced and legislated so many different acts, that each of us needs the equivalent of a law degree to decipher and then apply many of the expectations. Corporate entities especially are faced with these concerns. A director of a company can now be found personally liable for the actions of an employee that he/she may not have ever met. And the single operator faces exactly the same dilemmas. Caravan Park operators are now being forced to “rewire their skills”. Capability, skill development and deployment are critical to achieving this. So how do you operate a business profitably and ensure that every aspect of compliance …Read More

Privacy Checklist

Have you ever been asked about another employee or even a guest staying at your property? The question may seem innocent at the time but it so important that you qualify the request BEFORE you hand over any information. To ensure that you do not break any law on privacy, use the following 3 step checklist: 1. Is the request for information legitimate? It may be required by a union official, health & safety representative or committee member to investigate an alleged health and safety breach. However, the worker records have to be directly relevant to a suspected contravention of health and safety legislation. To ensure that they are, you must understand what the breach is according to the official, and how the records are relevant. These documents must be essential in undertaking an investigation into the alleged breach; not something which may cast only some light on what has happened. If they are not directly relevant, the request can be refused. Assuming that the records are directly relevant, you cannot allow anyone to inspect or make copies of a document; to do so would contravene a Commonwealth or State law, such as the Privacy Act 1988. o If a stranger has walked into reception and asks which site a guest is staying on, STOP and go no further. 2. Are you familiar with the type of information that you may provide to ensure that you will not breach the Privacy Act?  o Have you provided your staff with the necessary training and knowledge? 3. Is the identity of the employee/ guest protected? o Unless you have their consent you cannot provide any information. Have you asked your guests for their permission to provide their information to any person who may enquire? Everything you need to know can be found …Read More

KPI – Key Performance Indicator

Last week at the 2015 National Caravan Industry Association of Australia’s conference in Melbourne, FreeSpirit conducted a short workshop on how training your employees can actually reduce the costs of operating your business (in the longer term). During this session, it was rewarding to see how many persons were interested in the discussion on the value of KPI’s and from this we thought it prudent to share some brief notes on this topic. What is a KPI? Put simply, these are the goals, targets or skills required for an individual staff member to achieve. Once these are set and the employees (and managers) achieve them, the OVERALL BUSINESS WILL BENEFIT. What should be used to establish/build these KPI’s? i. The aim of the company (mission statement). ii. The individual employee Job Descriptions. Some of the things to include should be:  • FINANCIAL TARGETS • LEADERSHIP • POLICY AND PROCEDURES • CUSTOMER SATISFACTION • ENVIRONMENT • TIME MANAGEMENT What factors should be considered when these KPI’s are issued. i. These KPI’S should be mutually discussed and agreed PRIOR TO COMMENCEMENT. ii. Must have TIME LIMITS ATTACHED. iii. Have to be MEASURED AND ACHIEVABLE. iv. Should allow for IMPROVEMENT of the SKILL BASE of the EMPLOYEE (and or the business). v. EACH KPI SHOULD BE WEIGHTED AGAINST ITS IMPORTANCE. vi. And most importantly, they must benefit BOTH BUSINESS AND EMPLOYEE. Could the setting of KPI’s result as a financial burden to the business? i. The business must budget for these when setting the annual budgets otherwise successful achievement of these KPI’S by your employees may have a negative impact on the allowance for employment costs in the park/ business budget. ii. WAGE/SALARY LEVELS/STRUCTURES/ BONUSES should be established with these rewards factored. How will the business benefit from KPI’s? i. If KPI’S are used …Read More

Tariff Setting – some strategies to assist!

Here are a couple of strategies from us to assist with revenue maximisation. Without doubt, price is one of the biggest factors guests consider when shopping for a site or cabin. Trying to set your tariffs to remain attractive and still profitable can be a challenge. For too long, caravan parks have set their tariffs months in advance and published these for the guest to insist that they are honoured. From this – problems eventuated; “Price your cabins and sites too low and you’re missing out on revenue, price your cabins and sites too high and your potential guests might walk to a competitor”.  So what can be done to maximise your daily revenue and at the same time minimise your operational costs. Firstly, stop publishing tariffs – this way you can remain flexible with your tariffs so that you can adjust them quickly when and if they need to be varied. Then try the following strategies: Anchor your tariff? The technique of Tariff Anchoring plays on people’s tendencies to rely heavily on the first price offered when making a decision. When a potential guest asks for your rates, start with the higher rooms first. It is not uncommon to raise tariffs as your property inches closer to being fully booked. On a busy weekend night, those last few cabins or sites should be worth more and anyone who has worked the front desk/ reservations at those times would have had some persons scoff at the rates and decide not to book. This will always be a challenge so try this exercise in Tariff Anchoring. Example: “Our Deluxe sites are $65 for the night, but our Standard sites are only $52.” This selling technique may help build value in the Standard site’s price by highlighting the cheaper price. Using “Useless …Read More

Recruitment 101 – How to get it Right the First Time

Having good employees is vital for your business! The right staff will help your business grow however on the flipside, the wrong choice can cause anguish and will be expensive! Choosing a new employee can be challenging so here are few tips to prepare you for the journey through the minefield of employing new team members. Take the time to develop relationships Time pressures are nothing new, especially in a caravan park/holiday resort, but a shock resignation from a staff member can leave employers and employees scratching their heads. Recruitment is not easy – so take time to develop relationships with potential candidates before you need them. Build your talent pool early so you have some good “potentials” in the pipeline before vacancies exist – whether it be friends, industry colleagues or competitors. Tell everyone that you have a job vacancy Chances are your employees are connected to hundreds of potential candidates via social media – and that they might even know someone who is ideally suited to the job. Industry experience is usually well regarded so spread the word in the hope you can find a winner. Encourage your staff to reach out to their networks, let your industry colleagues know you are on the hunt, and spread the word to as many contacts as possible. Same as your guests – post the job online and ask your guests to share with any of their friends who might be suitable for the role and looking for work. Know What You’re Looking For Rather than taking a risk, develop a clear picture of who you want to fill the job. Building a complete job description is a good starting point, but it is also essential to know the behavioural traits and qualities you want as part of your team. List …Read More

Social Media Marketing 101

DO and DON’T POINTERS for Caravan Park Operators There are so many social media sites to choose from these days! And it has become easier as well as more cost-effective for holiday parks to reach out to their customers via these channels. Social media sites such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter allow parks to connect with past, present and potential guests – whether they be local or international – via interactions, special offers and feedback. The trick to social media is to use it correctly, so take some time and learn the art of balancing social media posts – between posting infrequently or the reverse by posting several times a day and bombarding your guest feeds with posts. Here are some of our recommendations for the do’s and don’ts of social media marketing: Do’s • Make your first impression count Your profile page is the first impression that a guest has of your caravan park. The impact of your profile has to be powerful and to the point. The initial description should be precise yet innovative. • Paint an inviting picture Remember “A picture is worth a thousand words”, therefore, use great looking and inviting photos – consider the local attractions as well to encourage your guests to stay with you. • Target peer groups Social media marketing attracts and includes business of similar natures. Your presence in complementary pages can entice a lot of people to follow your page. Engage and participate in groups that are corresponding to your park’s profile like travel groups, local attractions and hospitality groups and build your network with them through posts, comments or shares. • Engage and get creative Use social media marketing as a platform to engage and interact with your guests. You can promote your special offers and discounts to entice …Read More

Use Facebook Contests as part of your Caravan Park’s marketing strategy

Facebook contests are good marketing strategies for businesses of any size. You’ve probably heard Facebook success stories from the big brands with large budgets. They often have elaborate landing pages, TV commercials, paid blog posts and celebrity endorsements. What about small businesses that don’t have thousands of marketing dollars to spend? Let us share this list with you to help get you started: 1. Tie your contest into current events Use a contest with a pending holiday season Eg. Easter break with a virtual Easter Egg hunt. Hide Easter eggs on your website each day, for a number of days prior to the time. The first player to find an egg and click on it wins a $20 gift card. All of the clues and hints to find the eggs should be posted on Facebook – smart way to drive people to your website.  2. Run a photo contest During the summer, run contests using your caravan park mascot (if you don’t have one create one or use your staff). Get your fans to tell you where and when the mascot will be at events, and if they snap a picture with the mascot and post it, they get a gift certificate as a thank you. Create a Facebook landing page on your fan page using the Wildfire app – Facebook guidelines say brands should run contests like this through an app. To promote one of the special features of your area or park, ask people to submit pictures of people using this area. Fans posted pictures of themselves enjoying the facility/feature. People vote on the photos, driving new exposure, and as a result, traffic continues even after the contest ended. 3. Play simple guessing games with your fans Run promotions at a fixed time each week. This gives your …Read More

15 Ways to Boost Your Guest Reviews Online

The impact of guest feedback should never be underestimated. So important is word of mouth to a business that there is an entire marketing strategy named after it – WOM Marketing. WOM marketing can make or break your business, be it a clothing store, building firm, or holiday park. When it’s accommodation, WOM marketing is doubly important. Get it right, and you’ll have little or no need for an advertising budget, with guests arriving on the back of positive feedback. One such way to acquire feedback from guests is to outright ask them for it, but many accommodation managers feel uncomfortable doing this. Should they, however? Surely if you pride yourself on offering incredible customer service, comfortable accommodation, wonderful facilities, and an overall quality product, you should have nothing to fear by asking someone to spread the word. Most customers are happy to share their experience in a few short words, and rarely would anyone ever feel offended by the asking of five minutes help to improve their next stay.

Pre Start Meetings – Why You Should

Pre-starts are an essential tool developed to help workers get focused and give all employees a chance to find out what is going on in the workplace. They are particularly useful for keeping track of the rapidly changing nature of work within a caravan park/resort. This allows workers and supervisors to: • Identify clashing timetables for scheduled work or training • Monitor and communicate potential site hazards and safety issues • Track the progress of work to be completed • Seek information about future in-house employment opportunities What exactly is a Pre-Start Meeting? Virtually all workplace jobs will require you to take part in a pre-start meeting at the start of every shift. Typically your pre-start meeting will be conducted at an agreed meeting place within your workplace. This could be outside a particular lunchroom or in your particular department’s office or meeting area. It could also be in a work area. It will probably change from time-to-time as the job evolves, especially during different seasons. The meeting should include all members of your department. The meeting will usually be led by your supervisor at the time. Pre-Start Meeting – Why is it important? Companies want to ensure their workers are kept up to date with the latest and most relevant safety, productivity and training information. The pre-start meeting plays an essential role in this. It acts not only as a forum for the planning of daily activities, but also as an avenue to provide workers with important industry and workplace information. This includes but is not limited to information about: Site Safety Issues Health and Safety are a major focus across all sectors of the hospitality industry. It is no surprise much of the morning pre-start discussion focuses on safety issues. This generally includes a reading of all reported …Read More

Be Safe, Not Sorry – Toolbox Meetings

While we already have many more in depth articles on the topic of Toolbox Meetings and Safety in the workplace, we thought this article was easy to read, understand and implement into caravan park daily working life. A Toolbox Talk is an informal group discussion that focuses on a particular safety issue. These meetings should be used daily to promote your department’s safety culture.  Toolbox talks are also intended to facilitate health and safety discussions in the work place. When? Ideally, you want to have a short toolbox safety meeting first thing in the morning. As many workplaces have staff working at different times, choose a time when the majority of your staff are rostered on to work. It can be any day and any time just as long as it’s a day where as many staff can attend as possible. Notes should be taken at the meeting and then made available to all and then those who were absent can be asked to read the notes and follow up with questions. Where? You need room for everyone to sit/stand comfortably and relax with as few distractions as possible, and where you can be easily seen and heard. If the topic is Power Tool safety, try holding the meeting close to the area where staff would use the power tools. Or perhaps the Tool Box meeting might be regarding the correct use of a washing machine, then hold the meeting in the laundry. How Long? LIMIT the safety meeting to five or ten minutes. If the discussion needs to be extended, it can be continued at the next meeting. What to Say? Say is the key word. Don’t grab a printed topic and read it. They’re meant to just be a guide not a cue card. Pick a topic relevant …Read More