Can Seasonal Employees Deliver Great Customer Service?

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Your staff is perhaps the most important key to delivering great customer service to travelers.  Year-round properties have the opportunity to be diligent and discerning with their hiring options, but seasonal resorts that only operate for a few months at a time may not have that luxury.

Steve Digioia, a 25+ year veteran of the hospitality industry, was recently asked to teach a customer service training class for the new hires of a ski resort.  This seasonal resort had just completed their job fair and had their newest set of fresh-faced recruits all ready for work; they just needed to know how to deal with their customers.

Here is a brief overview of the group he was working with:

  • Job Fair Attendees – 200
  • Employees Hired – 180
  • Positions Hired – ski lift operator, equipment rental associate, retail store clerk, cashier, waiter, cook, housekeeper, etc.
  • Age Range – 16-21 years old
  • Salary – $7.25 per hour, minimum wage, for all new hires
  • Perks of the job – Free ski pass for the season

These individuals already had a week of position-specific training and were now meeting with Digioia to discuss the company culture, guest relations, expectations of service and more.  Most of these new hires were beginning their first job and had little if any customer service experience.

How was Digioia supposed to teach customer service when many of these skills are greatly influenced by life experience and experience gained through years of interactions with friends, family, co-workers and strangers we meet every day?

Why These New Hires Wanted to Work

What was the motivation for these employees to apply for jobs at the resort?  Were they looking to start working at a young age in hopes of developing a career path within the resort?  Probably not.  What about the opportunity to serve pizza, chicken fingers and fries to the masses?  Is $7.25 per hour for an eight-hour workday 3,000 feet up a mountain your idea of a dream job opportunity?

More than likely none of the reasons listed above were the primary reason for applying, but a free season ski pass was probably at the top of most lists.

If the ski pass is the only reason these individuals are concerned with their job, is it reasonable to expect that they will provide the customer experience in the manner that their management and owners expect?  Perhaps a few would excel, but Digioia believed that most would not.

Seasonal businesses across the country use the model for hiring that this particular resort did, accepting nearly anyone who walks through the door into their ranks.  The customers of any business are not concerned with the challenges you may face in hiring seasonal staff.   They expect quality service, and deserve it.

Consider the following example for just a moment.  Your iPad stops working and you take it into a local dealer.  Would you expect poor service from the sales rep?  What if there was a delay in receiving a replacement tablet?  If this happened on multiple occasions, would you consider changing to a different brand the next time you purchased one of these devices?  Most people would.

What You Should Take From This

Your hiring process should be about finding the most qualified individual to fill a role at your property, not offering the best perks to attract the most applicants.  Consider what the expectations of your customer are, and train your employees appropriately to ensure they are delivering the best possible experience.  Even if they are only temporary personnel, they are still representing your property to what is hopefully a large number of guests.

To read more about Digioia’s insights on this topic, click here.

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