Matt Bruckner is the Chief Operating Officer (COO) for NRMA Parks and Resorts, we’ve known each other for many years. My wife Casey and I secured our first park management contract through Australian Tourism Park Management (ATPM). Around the same time Matt landed a role in the ATPM accounting management team. Casey and I moved away from ATPM and explored the holiday park industry as an independent husband and wife team. Matt stayed with ATPM and was with them during the acquisition of the organisation by NRMA Parks and Resorts in 2017.
I was really keen to talk with Matt to gain a corporate perspective on the state of the industry. We have a great chat around past challenges and future opportunities. In particular we discuss accessibility, sustainability and how to communicate effectively with guests.
As I always say, negative feedback provides business owners with an opportunity to improve their offering. Matt shares a perfect example of this. Matt explains that a long-time guest of one of the parks had an unfortunate accident, that was unrelated to the park and left him disabled. Once the guest was well enough to travel again, he travelled back to his favourite holiday destination. Unfortunately, the park he had been visiting for years didn’t offer facilities that adequately catered to his new needs. Extremely disappointed, the guest left very confronting feedback for the park staff and management team.
The team responded with empathy and set about making things right. The guest’s feedback led to NRMA employing an accessibility consultant to conduct an audit across the parks. This one incident has led to major enhancements to facilities. Not only facilities used by wheelchair bound guests but also facilities used by other guests who are often overlooked when considering accessibility, which Matt explains this further in the podcast episode.
An issue on everyone’s mind is sustainability. As business owners and global citizens, we need to make sure we are doing what we can to sustain the world in which we live. NRMA Parks & Resorts takes sustainability very seriously. Among other projects outline by Matt in the podcast, one major focus for NRMA is ensuring those who wish to ‘go green’ by purchasing an electric vehicle, have reliable access to charging stations. Matt points out that the government hasn’t done much to accommodate this expanding market. He informs us that NRMA is busy installing fast charging stations to meet this need. Charging stations are readily available throughout NRMA Parks in NSW and they are now focusing on expanding the network to other states and territories. Matt shares his excitement around being involved with a company that has a social conscious and is willing to invest in a better future.
Communicating Effectively with Guests
Our chat around feedback raises the topic of effective communication. Matt has noticed that business owners are still grappling with the best way to interact and respond to guests via social media. He admits it is sometimes hard to wade through the online chatter to get the right information and make sure guests are interacted with in a positive manner.
We chat about methods to ensure guests have their point of view considered and are treated in a way we ourselves would expect to be treated. Matt provides great advice around adjusting one’s mindset and thinking ‘Am I enforcing rules, or am I trying to enhance a guests experience?’ Matt and I also discuss the need for effective communication with guests before they check in, during their stay and also once they have checked out.
Also, in this week’s podcast
In this week’s episode Matt and I also discuss:
- The series of events that led Matt to begin his career in the industry
- How Matt copes with being busy
- How previous career skills has helped Matt in his senior roles
- The benefits of corporatisation
- NRMA’s transition from a motoring organisation to holiday parks
- Strategies to attract and engage new target markets
- The importance of showing empathy when dealing with guests
- Finding the right balance of fairness in each situation
- Getting guests involved in sustainability initiatives
- How snapchat and Tumblr are the new Facebook
- Not sweating the small stuff