When you are here… you’re family!
This clever little tag line used by the restaurant chain, Olive Garden, should be our mantra when it comes to the subject of hospitality at our retreat centers.
Instead, in many cases we become the gatekeeper. “We have our list of rules… follow them… don’t break anything…do this… do that… fill out more forms before going on the zip line… fill out another form before you go on a trail ride.” Your guests feel prodded, poked, and feel like a distant step-child; they understand how Cinderella felt as her step-mother and sisters forced her into duty. She didn’t feel like family!
In your next staff meeting identify every rule or regulation that the camp adheres to; make a list and begin to eliminate those which impede the idea that, “when you are here… you’re family. “ You might be surprised how many there are that interfere and give your guest the feeling of being a step-child.
Here is a list of “rules” that would irritate me if I were your guest:
- Having to sign waivers for any activity that has the hint of danger.
- We set the meal times, adjust your schedule to ours.
- We lock down buildings at 11 p.m. do your group activities before then.
- You must all register for this event in the same manner; we take no phone registrations.
- Dining room is locked and will not open until 8 a.m. (no free coffee to be found anywhere in camp at 5 a.m.)
- Don’t drive on the grass.
- Please clean up your cabin and leave it better than you found it.
- If you don’t show up for the event, there are no refunds.
You get the idea. No, no, and no.
Families say yes. “Yes, we can have your campfire lit and s’more material ready at midnight.” “Yes, I can take your registration over the phone if our online registration process confuses you.” “Yep, we can open the climbing tower before breakfast.” “Not a problem, we can move all the chairs out of the chapel for you.” You get the idea… Make getting to camp easy. Make their stay at camp easy and unencumbered. Get rid of roadblocks.
I have a Staples “Easy Button” sitting on my desk. After I deal with a staff or a guest, I like to reach over and push the red button and hear the recording, “that was easy!”