Booking a holiday was proving tricky, with the Government only allowing UK holidays in self catered, self contained accommodation, the choices were slim. I was flexible on location and length of stay during my 9 day window and was looking at Air BnB and holiday cottage websites from Northumberland to Tenby but most options were already booked- then it struck me, a caravan or a lodge holiday with my client, Parkdean Resorts! Whilst I have known the brand professionally, I have never been a customer, and like plenty of people around the world, Covid-19 has changed my consumer habits, temporarily at least.
We have worked with the incredibly passionate and tireless team at Parkdean Resorts for the past two years and like many holiday companies, they have faced unprecedented challenges during the Covid-19 pandemic. However, keen to build an amazing customer and colleague experience, we have worked with them throughout and the results are showing. This was an opportunity for me to check out how all of the work we have been doing with the teams is reaching the front of house. Many brands have values that are simply stuck up on a wall and ignored whereas at Parkdean Resorts, whilst they may be at the start of their new journey, it is evident that their colleagues are putting their values into action.
Pulling into the wooded lakeside resort of White Cross Bay on Windermere in the Lake District, we had a an incredibly easy, quick and contactless check in experience where we didn’t even have to leave the car. We were greeted by a friendly team member, handed a map and headed off to find our lodge. A few minutes later, we found the lodge and the green sticker on the door indicated it was all clean and safe to enter. What a wonderful surprise!
The digital experience pre-arrival had been easy and clear enough. The website had been user-friendly and the booking process was simple but much like a hotel room selection, because you select a type of lodge, not a specific lodge, I was nicely surprised when I first walked in to find a spacious, clean, modern and airy accommodation. I instantly and unexpectedly felt relaxed that my energetic toddler could run around and make all the noise and stomping he wanted without disturbing other guests- a little moment for me to relax and realise that this is an example of what the brand is all about: fun, family and freedom.
Whilst we were largely happy with our accommodation, the lodge had some room for improvement. A broken chair and kitchen pedal bin could indicate a number of things: that the maintenance and housekeeping teams are under time pressure when checking lodges pre-opening and between uses, that there isn’t a comprehensive inventory list for the colleagues to use but most crucially, to a customer it could signal that the brand doesn’t care whether things are broken. In this case, these things didn’t negatively impact our holiday but they could have done for another customer and their family.
Bags thrown in and straight to the adventure playgrounds so said toddler could release some of his energy after the car ride and we could get a much needed coffee. Still outdoor service only, we were directed to the tables outside where a Parkdean colleague came and sat down with us, mask on and socially distanced across the table of course, pointed out the table number and how to download and order from the app. This was unexpected and a nice touch, one of the thousands of small gestures that deliver a brand for a customer. We felt welcomed and reassured and really felt this chap wanted to ensure we knew what we were doing and that we’d have a great time! Drinks came swiftly enough and we could enjoy and relax.
Remembering the customer segmentation we had conducted, I was interested to discover the segment that I belonged to on this holiday- Action packed families. The park was great for us in that we had quality and the convenience of self catered accommodation and a wide range of activities to explore. We really relished this amazing lakeside location after far too many lockdowns to count. We were feeling energetic and adventurous and keen to get out and explore both the park and the surrounding areas- I have never seen Grasmere so quiet by the way!
Again, checkout is covid-19 compliant and thoughtful for the guests. We could leave the key in the lodge, text a number to say we had vacated and hit the road without any hassle.
Much like the helpful chap in the Boathouse bar and restaurant, we found colleagues around the park to be really living and breathing the Parkdean Resorts brand values. One small but positive example was check out day where guests are kindly asked to strip the bedlinen and place in a clear bag provided. We duly did this but couldn’t find said bags, I spied out of the window two team members distributing the clean linen so I sprang out onto the terrace and asked what to do. Without hesitation and with a smile, the chap demonstrated he cared when he dived into the back of the van and threw me some new bags. I could have easily been ignored, or he could have said he’d get it later but never turn up. Again, this seemingly small gesture is part of delivering a brand and really counts in the overall customer experience. These are the passionate people, from maintenance to receptionists to the lifeguards, who all have a part to play in creating amazing memories for guests at their resorts.
The front of house employees should be considered key workers in any brand, as they are directly delivering the brand for the guests. I will happily attest that after a long hard year and a half of lockdowns and furloughs, I am glad that Covid-19 made me a Parkdean Resorts customer where I might not have gone before, and it was the brilliant people who truly helped us create amazing memories at their Parkdean Resort.
Customer Experience Review