Client Services are the little things that you provide that make your guests’ stay more pleasant and more convenient. A good rule of thumb is always deliver more than what the customer expects. By providing a broad range of products and services that are not in your brochure, you can over-exceed your guests’ expectations and make their vacation even more memorable.
The range of products and services that you can provide to your clients will vary on your type and size of operation. The following list shows some basic things that you can do or provide for your guests’ convenience:
Comfort and Safety
A Weather Report and Forecast
Food and Beverage Services
1. COMFORT AND SAFETY
Comfort and safety are usually “invisible” services. Think of them as an extension of your insurance policy. Your customer knows that you are insured but is not interested in the details of your policy. However, comfort and safety are primary concerns when a customer is planning a vacation.
Comfort is a product that you are providing and selling in your cabins, guest rooms, and main lodge. As the level of comfort increases in your operation, the quality of your operation also increases and, accordingly, the more money you can charge for your product.
Safety must be a major concern for an operator. Most accidents are caused by the unsafe behaviour of guests or employees. Your employees must be aware of your in-house rules (see Employment Issues section) and should have basic training in First Aid and CPR.
Additional safety precautions can include: using warning signs in areas where safety hazards may exist, and having fire extinguishers on hand in any area where there is potential for an uncontrolled fire.
As an employer and business owner you should develop a plan of action in case of an accident and make sure that your employees are familiar with this plan. Emergency phone numbers should be located near all staff phones and stocked First Aid kits should also be available. Many times you and your staff will be the first line of medical assistance so you need to know how to stabilize a guest until he or she receives proper treatment.
Record all accidents (both guest and employee accidents) in an accident log book. Date, time, description of accident and those involved should be noted. This information will be required by your insurance company if there is a claim or by the Workers Compensation Board or Ministry of Labour if something happens to an employee.
2. A WEATHER REPORT AND FORECAST
Much of your guest’s time is spent outside and many customers may not be able to get the weather report on their own, so why not provide them with a weather report and forecast? You can post the daily weather report/forecast outside on an information board or inside in your lobby area. You can post the actual web pages from environment Canada or you can use coloured chalk and a chalkboard for the creative touch! The weather is always something that people are interested in.
The following web sites will provide you with all of kinds of weather information:
Weather Web Sites:
The Weather Network
3. FOOD AND BEVERAGE SERVICES
Depending on your type of operation, food and beverage services will vary. Many operations have American Plan packages or licensed restaurants, many operations may have only Housekeeping packages. It is not within the scope of this manual to outline restaurant management. But, general liquor licensing information is always of value:
Liquor Sales and Licensing:
Application Forms and Guides:
Many operations provide various food and beverage items to their customers through a retail outlet or service. Other operators provide boxed lunches, shore lunches, or daily provisions on long canoe trips. Some operators even have vending machines on site. A nice touch for operations with cabins is to provide a gas powered barbeque and many customers enjoy the convenience of microwave ovens.
4. LAUNDRY SERVICES
Laundry services can be provided for your customers, for a fee, if you have on-site laundry facilities. An alternative is to provide coin operated washers and driers (don’t forget to have a coin operated detergent dispenser!). This works especially well when your clientele is mostly families. Not only are you providing your guests with a convenient service, coin operated laundry equipment is also a good source of additional income.
Rentals usually involve some sort of water craft, such as canoes, kayaks, pedal boats, and motor boats. Some operators also rent personal water craft (PWC), all terrain vehicles (ATVs), and even mountain bikes. Water craft rentals maybe convenient for your customers but they can be cumbersome for you to deliver.
Rental forms should be standard for any rental and may include a waiver to release you of potential liability from incompetence or negligence on the part of the renter. Do not rent equipment to minors. It is best to have your lawyer go over any rental form to make sure that you are fully protected.
With the new boating safety legislation, you must ensure that the renter completes the rental boat safety checklist and understands how to operate a motor boat. This provides the renter with “proof of operator competency” if he/she does not have a pleasure craft operator card. It is up to you to make sure that the boat meets all of the safety requirements and comes with a full tank of gas. For more information go to:
Transport Canada’s all inclusive web page.
Contains everything that you need to know about recreational boating in Ontario and Canada.
6. RETAIL AREA
A retail area can be anything from having a few T-shirts and hats hanging up for sale in your lobby to having a fully staffed boutique or store. Again, it all depends on your type of operation and your clientele.
Fishing and hunting lodges should sell such things as maps, licenses, bait and tackle, for the convenience of their customers. It is a good idea just to sell a few different types of lures, ones that work well for the fish in your area.
Souvenirs are popular with many guests, especially those from the USA and overseas. Quality T-shirts, sweatshirts, hats, towels, etc. with the name of your lodge and logo are typically best sellers. Anything Canadiana or locally made usually sells well also. The key for these items is quality. People are on vacation and don’t mind spending their money but they don’t want junk. Some operations also offer other promotional items such as travel mugs, nalgene (water) bottles, carabiners, etc., with their names printed on them. Remember, this is a form of advertising! Quality items will reflect your quality establishment and will attract a quality (usually higher paying) guest.
Some necessities and supplies can be stocked for your customers. Firewood, insect repellent, sun screen, shampoo, toothpaste, detergent, etc., may be available in your retail area. It is best to avoid food items, especially junk food, unless you want kids coming in and out all day!
Your retail area should be neat, orderly, and pleasing to the eye. Many operations get into the rustic, woodsy, Canadiana-look in their retail area. Any pleasing display will promote the sale of your retail items. Your guests want to take home those warm, Northern Ontario memories!
May be free or paid, depending on the length, speaker/trainer, supplies or technical support. Useful if the owner or staff have the technical skill to share. It could also be provided by a neighbour, cottager, local resident. Topics may be crafts, equipment operation skills or certification, flora/fauna identification (A-V), wild foods, cooking/beverage preparation or appreciation.
Boat Safety Checklists Are Proof of Competency, from The Outfitter, Winter 2009
The Outfitters’ Manual. NOTO. Circa 1985.
Lodging Operator’s Manual. BC Motels Campgrounds Resort Association. 1997.