I was at a camp conference in San Diego a few months ago at a beautiful resort. I looked at this resort before arriving and while it seemed quirky, the pictures portrayed it as a stunning place on the water and not a bad place to spend a few days.
When I got to this property, the experience didn’t live up to the website or my expectations. I checked in and was handed a map of the property with no real further explanation. It is rare that I go to any hotel (I attend 12 conferences a year and travel for fun as much as possible) and get handed a map and sent on my way. This was odd and only got odder as the day went on. First, I couldn’t find my room at all (it wasn’t my map reading skills despite what my wife says) and I wasn’t the only one. I saw several other guests walking around like zombies with luggage, maps in hand and trying to figure out the complicated numbering system of this gorgeous resort.
Then, the kicker came in an unexpected conversation. After finally finding my little bungalow, I freshened up and left the room to head back to the lobby to meet up with some of my camp conference buddies. As I began to walk (sans map), I quickly realized I was completely lost in the lush jungle and the maze of roadways of the resort. And then, as if a mirage in the desert, I saw a staff member and thought I’d been saved. That staff member’s response to my request for directions to the LOBBY of the hotel HE WORKED AT, “It’s really complicated and I am not quite sure, just keep walking and you’ll get there eventually”. Yes, the perfect answer! Thanks, buddy.
What does this mean in terms of camp? Well, think about that first time parent who shows up for a tour on Visiting Day. Think about the first time camper who shows up for the first day of camp. What are you doing to teach your staff how to lead the way without a map? While I did eventually reach the lobby, I couldn’t help but keep thinking about how this ordeal made me feel as a customer. It also became a topic of discussion at the conference as many other attendees felt let down in the same way.
As you begin to structure your Staff Training, it is worth considering spending time on the concepts of Customer Service which may seem strange in a camp setting. Your staff may ask, “Aren’t we here to swim, play GaGa and make sure the kids are having fun?” While these are certainly cores to a successful summer, how we make our families feel welcome at every step of the way may be equally as important. It is all about the details and making sure ALL staff members, from top to bottom, are equipped with the tools they need to be the map instead of just handing one out!
Until next month, you can always email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with any staff training questions!
Want to read more about customer service? Here is a book I highly recommend: Unleashing Excellence: The Complete Guide to Ultimate Customer Service by Dennis Snow.