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Good Communication Begins With Listening

The biggest conversation problem is we don’t listen to understand – we seem to listen to respond. Whether you’re interviewing for a new job, meeting with a prospective client or giving a presentation to your boss/colleagues – your success depends largely on your communication skills. Unfortunately, most people think of communication as talking or writing. They think primarily about getting their message across to the other person, and or responding to what the other person is trying to say. However, the key to being a great communicator is learning to listen.  Understanding what the other person is thinking will help you tailor your message to their needs and your future actions around that particular topic. This is the best way for you to succeed, become a better listener, a better employee, a better employer – even just generally a better person. Focus on the other person Remember the last time you tried to carry on a conversation with someone who was looking around the room or checking his/her watch? Frustrating right? Well imagine what it’s like for a potential employer. Let’s say Joe is interviewing with Susan the marketing manager at ABC Company. Joe is prepared. He carefully explains why he wants the job and what he can do for the company. Trouble is Susan notices that Joe frequently looks down or gazes out the window. She finds it difficult to take Joe seriously. Naturally, you’ll want to avert your gaze from time to time in order to avoid starring. Try to do this while still focusing on the other person. Practice maintaining eye contact with friends and colleagues. Soon you’ll feel comfortable in any situation. Stop thinking about you “No man would listen to you talk if he didn’t know it was his turn next.” (Quote from Ed Howe) …Read More

Google Performance Ranking

The Best Way to Check your Park Performance in Google Google change how they rank websites many, many times every year. Google sets it own parameters for these rankings and unless you are very skilled at understanding these parameters or algorithms your website could end up being ranked so low that your clientele may never “find” you. It can also be quite difficult to check your ranking because Google also factor in “localisation and personalisation”. Localisation relates to the search results specifically for your location. E.g. If you’re in Brisbane and search “zoo near caravan park”, you’ll get different results to someone in Melbourne searching the same term. Personalisation will also affect your results if: • you’re signed into your Google account, then your view history and your social connections impact your search results. • or, perhaps, you follow someone on G+, the articles they write generally rank higher when you search on such topics they have covered. Algorithm updates, localisation and personalisation are the three challenges of rank tracking. Is there a way for you to track your rankings? Google Webmaster Tools is probably the most accurate tool to check your Google ranking. Anyone who has access to their website can set it up. 1. Log into or setup Google Webmaster Tools 2. Click the website you want to review 3. On the left-side, go to “Search Traffic” > “Search Queries”. 4. Note the filters and date range at the top. Use these to refine the data you’re after. The columns that appear are: Query: The search query used to make the website appear in search results. Impressions: The number of times one of the website’s pages appeared in Google’s search results. Clicks: The number of times people clicked from search results to the website. CTR: Click-through rate equals clicks …Read More

People Management – Dealing with “Precious” People

“Precious People” – Dealing with Hypersensitivity & Defensiveness If you’re a people manager it’s likely that you have been, or will at some point, be faced with the challenge of dealing with “precious people”. The draining influence of an overly sensitive or defensive person on both time and energy can be immense. Addressing the impacts of these people matters not only to their own success and your sanity, but also to the engagement and performance of the rest of your team. As tempting as it may at times be, to simply ignore people who constantly complain or over react, the only way to overcome the issue is to tackle it head on. Shifting the headspace, attitudes and actions of people who are hypersensitive and defensive is a critical priority for any leader and one that can only be achieved through hands on coaching. Influencing Change  Begin by expecting people to demonstrate emotional intelligence. Make it matter that people are self-aware and have the ability to regulate their emotions and conduct. Show respect and regard for how people feel, but expect also that they take responsibility for how they choose to think, feel and behave; including when times are tough or not to their liking. Sensitive people need to feel heard and understood. Having empathy and listening is critical to earning their trust and in turn being in a position to influence their development. To influence anyone, you need to appreciate how he or she thinks and feels. Understanding people will better enable you to challenge the beliefs and assumptions fuelling their concerns. Be empathetic while at the same time challenging people to choose more productive thoughts and emotions. When you show deep empathy toward others, their defensive energy goes down, and positive energy replaces it. That’s when you can get …Read More

Conducting an Interview – our tips and tricks for being successful

Resumes (CVs) and Cover Letters are important. However it’s from the interview where most businesses will make a decision on who to hire. An applicant has the opportunity to shine or destroy their candidacy at the interview, and an employer has to decide after the interview who should fill the position. So for the employer, it stands to reason that the interview has to be done properly in order to make the best hire. Consider the following: • Ask Easy But Direct Questions The internet has now made it easier than ever to prepare for job interviews. Some questions eg, “Tell Me About Yourself” still have their place, but you have to make sure you’re also integrating questions they may not have prepared for in order to ensure they’re not reiterating knowledge that may have been sourced or practiced. • Establish A Formal Process To Enable Fair Evaluation Of All Candidates This is essential to allow every candidate an equal opportunity to get the job. Sometimes emotions can influence the interview process. Some candidates may excel over others when there no formal procedures to analyse applicants is in place. Not everything has to be fully objective, but there should be some type of objectivity component, like set, mandatory questions and a panel analysis strategy. Remember, statistics have shown that an applicant only reveals about 20% of their personality in an interview process. Consider having a workplace trial for a few hours or even a day – this way their full potential or limitations may be highlighted more appropriately. • Communication Try to have more than one person interviewing a candidate. Have an interview strategy (with a list of pertinent questions) in place to make sure that you’re being as productive as possible in the interview, and finding out all of …Read More

FreeSpirit takes ownership after Darwin resort acquisition

On Monday, FreeSpirit Resorts Pty Ltd purchased the freehold of Darwin FreeSpirit Resort, no longer just managing the operations, but now having full ownership and control of the resort. The management company had already held the leasehold on the Darwin property for nearly 11 years, until the opportunity to purchase the freehold recently became available. FreeSpirit Resorts Pty Ltd Chief Operations Officer Yvonne Bristow says the acquisition is the beginning of a new era. “Our involvement with Darwin FreeSpirit Resort dates back to our company’s inception, when we began by assisting corporate entities that had invested in holiday parks or resorts and did not have the operational expertise or desire to manage them,” Ms Bristow says. “Purchasing the freehold was the most logical step to take after managing the resort for almost 11 years and this now marks the beginning of a new era for us, as well as the resort. “The acquisition will allow us to operate unconditionally and further improve all facets of the resort.” “FreeSpirit also provides operational management services, training and development and master planning consultancy services for the entire caravan industry. Darwin FreeSpirit Resort is situated on 11 hectares in Holtze – 17km from the Darwin CBD and 3km from Palmerston – and when at capacity, has the ability to accommodate up to 1,500 persons per night. The resort has 3 pools, a licensed bar and bistro, function room, jumping cushion, camp kitchens, barbeque areas and much more. There are 150 rooms available at the resort, over 300 caravan and camping sites, as well as numerous amenity blocks including laundry facilities for guests. The resort has a great mix of guests from holidaymakers travelling to Darwin, but also people looking for short or long-term accommodation including contract workers. FreeSpirit Resort & Holiday Park Management also …Read More

Smile to Make You and Your Guests Feel GOOD

Want to stand out in a crowd, be healthier, and make your guests feel welcome? … then SMILE! Smiling: • Makes Us Attractive We are attracted to people who smile. We want to engage with a smiling person and figure out what is so good. Frowns, scowls and grimaces all push people away, but a smile draws them in, so smile when greeting your guest/s. • Relieves Stress Stress can really show up in our faces. Smiling helps to prevent us from looking tired, worn down, and overwhelmed. If you looked stressed, guests will pick up on this, so smile when you are talking to them, your stress should be reduced and you’ll be better able to look after your guest/s. • Changes Our Mood The next time you are feeling down, try smiling. There’s a good chance your mood will change for the better. Smiling can trick the body into helping you change your mood and others. • Is Contagious When someone is smiling they lighten up the room, change the moods of others, and a smiling person brings happiness with them. Smile at your guests, they will smile right back. • Boosts Your Immune System   Smiling helps the immune system to work better. When you smile, immune function improves; perhaps it is because you are more relaxed. • Lowers Your Blood Pressure When you smile, there is a measurable reduction in your blood pressure. Give it a try if you have a blood pressure monitor at home. Sit for a few minutes, take a reading. Then smile for a minute and take another reading while still smiling. Is there a difference? • Releases Endorphins, Natural Pain Killers and Serotonin Studies have shown that smiling releases endorphins, natural pain killers, and serotonin. Together these three make us feel …Read More

Keeping Your Employees and Your Own Self Healthy

Perhaps you may ask, why bother? Having healthy staff members who are energetic and want to work will benefit your business enormously, so step up and lead the charge. Encourage your employees to be healthy and active, lead by example; get those “endorphins” pumping. MOVE Movement is absolutely essential for your circulatory system, immune function, posture and strength. It also helps to develop improvements in endurance, overall energy and plays an important role in your systemic health. So find an activity to embrace and include it daily as a key part of your commitment to living well; your body loves to move! It is recommended that we all exercise first thing in the morning and give yourself an energy boost for the rest of the day, however, aim for balance, check in with yourself regularly and try something different; your body will thank you for it. STAND UP  Recent research has revealed that the Western population is now spending half of every day sitting down and it now believed that increased time sitting down is linked with poor health outcomes including the chance of developing diabetes, cardiovascular disease and even the risk of early death. Sitting for extended periods of time places a force on the body that it is not built to accommodate. One of the reasons it is deemed to be bad is because it disengages the pelvic floor, which is critical in supporting the lower back and lumbar spine. There is also evidence available that suggests that exercise or physical activity will not undo the damage caused by prolonged sitting. Instead, it’s much better to stand up as often as you can. Both standing and moving involve more muscular contractions than sitting and burns around 50 more calories per hour. If your day involves long periods of …Read More

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