11 STAFFING ISSUES
If after reading this manual you are ready to move forward and invest in an ecolodge, or improve your present facility, you should also be thinking about who manages and operates the facility. Good service and good management is just as important as a beautiful and well built ecolodge. If you do not have a lot of experience in managing a guesthouse or restau- rant, you may want to consider hiring a professional manager to look after the day-to-day operations of the ecolodge. You should hire and train staff from the local community to become friendly reliable cooks, receptionists, waiters, gardeners and housekeepers.
The staff should learn as much English as possible to communicate with guests. Set rules about working hours, meals, uniforms, salaries (including bonuses) penalties (for being late or careless), distribution of tips, overtime, sick-leave, holidays, and maternity-leave. Treating your staff well is all part of the ecolodge concept. Consider providing staff with uniforms that reflect local dress style – your guests will love this because they like to see Lao style clothing. A uniform also helps guests identify who works at the ecolodge.
It is also very important to be able to arrange guided tours to local natural and cultural tourist attractions. The option to hire a good guide that can provide accurate information about local culture, flora and fauna is one of international tourist’s main requests from ecolodge managers around the world.