Children of parents who operate holiday parks often learn the trade by default, never actually realising the opportunities the lifestyle presents until they spend time away from the industry. No one knows this better than Dan Fraser, owner operator of North South Holiday Park in Christchurch, New Zealand. In this week’s episode we chat with Dan about his life growing up in caravan parks, opportunities gained through travel, his passion for technology and the importance of customer feedback.
Holiday Park Life
Dan’s parents took over the management of Meadow Park in Christchurch when he was four years old. Their passion for the industry grew and it wasn’t long before they purchased North South Holiday Park near Christchurch Airport. Dan has fond memories of growing up with a sense of freedom, treating the holiday park like one big playground and sharing adventures with his childhood mates. Dan explains how these memories allow him to look at situations within his own park from a different perspective. While he has the responsibility as a park owner to ensure guests are safe and the park equipment respected, he understands that for kids everything is an adventure and they need to learn boundaries and limits for themselves.
Flying the Coop
As good as growing up in caravan parks was for Dan, he couldn’t wait to leave the comfort of home and explore a self-chosen profession. Dan studied to become an accountant and soon found himself working and living in London. In the podcast he describes how travelling overseas exposed Dan to a world of opportunities, having a significant impact on the way he viewed his life. In time however, Dan realised the corporate grind with its daily suit and tie was not the life he wanted and made his way back to New Zealand to work full time in the family business.
Innovation and Technology
Dan is passionate about technology and since taking over the business from his parent, he has put into place innovative systems to enhance the operation of the park. The most recent addition to his repertoire is Newbook. Newbook is an all-in-one a universal booking system, property management and customer relationship management system that’s revolutionising the accommodation industry. Newbook comes with a multi lingual, virtual assistant NEW.B.I.E who can have meaningful conversations with guests when business owners and staff are unavailable, helping guest by making bookings and answering questions. In this episode, Dan talks about the importance of Artificial Intelligence (AI) within the industry and explains why he is confident that using AI will complement his team’s ability to communicate effectively with customers and not replace the need for personalised service.
How to Deal with Constructive Criticism
When Dan first took over the management of customer reviews and responding to feedback, he struggled to put his emotions aside. Every piece of negative feedback felt like a personal attack. Dan quickly learnt to leave a little time between reading the review and responding, taking a break to reflect on what may have caused a guest to comment the way they did. Dan found that if he took this time to discuss the review with the relevant team members and address any problems that may have caused the issue, he was able to formulate a positive reply and response calmly to the guest. In this episode of That Bad Review, Dan discusses an instance when he provided constructive criticism for the owner of an accommodation venue. Unfortunately, his feedback was not received nor dealt with professionally, which highlighted to Dan the importance of addressing every issue raised in customer feedback and responding to the review in an appropriate manner.
In addition to these central topics, in this episode Dan shares with us how the giant jandal wall at his park came to exist and what lays ahead for it’s future, as well as the hurdles associated with operating a ‘location’ holiday park as opposed to a ‘destination’ holiday park.
Listen to the full episode here.