Q&A with Ben Orton – new GM at Forest Holidays
We talk to Ben Orton – new General Manager at Forest Holidays in Sherwood Forest. See the venue through his eyes, learn about his favourite things about the job, and much more.
You’re quite new to the role – what are your first impressions of Forest Holidays?
The company is really progressive and great to work for. We have amazing plans for expansion, but are still very much focused in the here and now and supporting each location in it’s constant development. Our team, not just here at Sherwood Forest but across the UK, are so passionate about what we do, which has made my first few months in the role really enjoyable.
It can be pretty busy as you would expect, and no two days are the same. Mondays and Fridays are our check-in days and we have the challenge of turning around 82 cabins. Our guests have rated our cabin cleanliness at a high standard, we work hard to maintain this and ensure that every guest is equally happy. My primary aim is to ensure that our guests have a great experience with us and this means ensuring that my team on location have everything they need to provide an excellent service.
What are your favourite things about the job?
It’s amazing to work in such a wonderful location, during a hard day, there’s nothing better than taking a quick walk around to de-stress.
We are surrounded by Forestry Commission land and amongst some amazing wildlife. We also have a great Support Centre, who deal with a lot of the intricacies of the business, which leaves us to deal primarily with the most important thing – our guests.
The changeover days can be pretty intense. Check-out is at 10am and check-in at 4pm, so we have to turnaround 82 cabins, as well as dealing with a full check-out and check-in at these times. It can be pretty busy, as guests naturally want to start their holiday as early as possible. These are however the most satisfying times of the week, it always feels like an achievement to get it turned around. This is when our team really pull together too, we all support each other.
How does Forest Holidays compare to managing a hotel?
The principles of guest satisfaction are pretty much universal, so it can be quite similar. The main difference that I have found is that guests always genuinely want to be here with us, and to have a great time, which is always a good starting point to their experience. It’s great to see so many excited people (both children and adults) arriving to check-in. Hotels can be quite different as we often found ourselves dealing with stressed corporate guests who would naturally rather be at home. Here at Forest Holidays we know that 96.6% of our guests say that they would stay with us again, which shows that they like us!
I think that on such a large location you just have to be willing to get stuck in wherever, particularly on a changeover. Housekeeping, the hot tub team, the Forest Retreat, all may need support and so I help wherever I am needed! I was trained well in making beds years ago though so it’s nothing new!
Our Forest Ranger is a unique role, they are the experts of the forest. Their woodland skills and knowledge brings the forest alive for our guests through the programme of activities they offer.
Best experience so far?
Working with the other General Managers from across the country and visiting their locations has been a great learning experience for me. We have 9 locations across the UK including Scotland, Cornwall, Norfolk and Yorkshire. Each has their own unique features and it’s been great to have an insight into the things our guests enjoy, so that we can constantly enhance the experience for our guests at Sherwood Forest.
Fancy a stay at the great Forest Holidays? Save 10% on a stay all year round throughout 2016 with the promotional code EXPNOTTS16. Code must be entered at the time of booking. Offer not available in conjunction with any other offer.
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