Not a day is the same

Not a day is the same

06/08/2023 - 15:54

An work placement story Rianne Jongeleen is telling. About skills, doing what you like, and the challenges of working in the overnight tourism industry.

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‘I’m staying in a guesthouse outside Cadzand together with two other employees of Roompot. We try to carpool as much as possible, exchange experiences, and talk about what we’re going to do  that day. No day is the same; that’s what I like about working in the overnight tourism industry.’

A work placement at Roompot
Rianne Jongeleen studies Tourism Management at BUas and is doing her work placement at Roompot, a recreational company with holiday parks throughout Europe. ‘I previously worked at a holiday park, so I already knew that this suits me fine,’ tells Rianne. ‘During my mbo studies I did a work placement at Landal GreenParks in Vaals. I worked in the front office team and I liked it so very much that I decided to delve further into this sector. My idea was to specialise in overnight tourism during my hbo studies, but that turned out differently.’

Dynamic environment
The professional bachelor’s programme of Tourism Management of BUas is a broad economic degree programme preparing students for an executive position in the travel and recreational industry. ‘I’m very happy with that broad approach now,’ Rianne admits, ‘you learn something about very many things and that is extremely useful in the dynamic environment I’m working in. Everything falls into place; things of which I thought during my studies: what am I supposed to do with this!?’ – she’s smiling – ‘they suddenly appear to be very valuable here. I now understand, for example, how to convert data into information you can use.’

Keep challenging yourself
Rianne is a Management Trainee and is supervised by the General Manager at the park in Cadzand. ‘He also says that it’s good to know something about very many different things,’ says Rianne, ‘to broaden your scope and keep challenging yourself. He also facilitates that by giving me challenging tasks, a bit out of my comfort zone. We’re currently engaged in renovating the terrace and I am the link between our company, the contractor and external businesses. I’d never thought I would be doing that, but it's very instructive and you learn to move along.’

Putting out feelers
Being able to switch quickly and flip-thinking is what you do need at such a holiday park. ‘That’s the fun part,’ says Rianne, ‘don’t put me behind a desk from 9 to 5. I help out wherever help is needed, at the reception, in organising events. In this way, you get into contact with guests and that’s important; otherwise you don’t know what they want and how they experience things. In short, you must put out some feelers and have social skills. All skills which BUas pays a great deal of attention to. In this sector, it all revolves around personal attention and social interaction. That should suit you.’

Surprising outcome
During her work placement Rianne is conducting research into what could be improved in communication at the holiday park. ‘My aim is to give our guests a better picture of all the facilities there are and the activities we organise, so they’ll make more use of them,’ Rianne explains. ‘I haven’t finished my research yet, but I already have one surprising outcome. People indicate that they miss the guest information folder that was previously present in the accommodation. We now work with one leaflet and an app. Useful, but apparently not for everyone. That’s what you should take into account.’

Personal touch
‘So now I’m looking for other opportunities. The app is definitely here to stay, but I’m going to look at how we could encourage its use. In that respect, I’m very happy with what I learned in the E-lab of the study programme.’ So in addition to social skills, your digital skills are important. ‘That’s right, says Rianne, ‘but without losing sight of the personal touch. I’m now thinking of a renewed version of Parknieuws. People want to have something tangible, for example a newspaper in which in addition to practical information they can also find personal stories, news, and facts.’

Green Key
‘The other side is,’ Rianne concludes, ‘that a poster or newspaper is not sustainable and that doesn’t quite fit the sustainability policy of Roompot. A number of our holiday parks already have the Green Key certification and our aim of course is that all parks will be awarded this quality mark as soon as possible. For instance, we use energy and water economically, clean in an environmental-friendly way, and recycle. If I’m going to do something with a poster or newspaper at all, I’d prefer realising that with recycled paper.

What else would you like to tell us, now you’re being provided a platform... ‘Not a platform for me!’ laughs Rianne, ‘I don’t like to stand in front of a large group. No, 1-on-1 is fine with me; I love to help people. The wonderful thing about working at a park like this – with all these different people – is that they’re coming here to have a holiday. That I can contribute to this experience, that’s what makes me very happy!’

Interview by Maaike Dukker- 't Hart