This is part one of two posts of my reflection on my Club Med experience. I have been holidaying at Club Med resorts in Southeast Asia for a few years now. For these two posts, I will be writing about what I learnt in my most recent trip to Club Med Bintan.
It Takes A Special Breed Of People To Work In Club Med
If you are an introvert, reconsider working in Club Med.
It’s not that you can’t work there. The work of a GO (or Gentils Organisateurs, as the Club Med staff are called) requires them to be outward facing most of the time. Depending on which area you are working in, you will need to face the guests (also called GM, for Gentils Membres) for the most part of the day.
For those who are unfamiliar with Club Med, this all-inclusive resort caters a range of experiences for all ages. You can travel alone, as a couple, in families, or as a business group. Club Med Bintan provides business amenities for large groups to hold their meetings and functions, if they wish.
There are different areas GO will work in. Some are assigned to the bars, some will take care of the children in the Petite Club, Mini Club and Teens Club. There are also the Sports GO, those who take care of the various sports activities organised throughout the day. And there are GO who plan and choreograph the daily night performances, as well as GO who take photographs, man the Club Med boutique and other facilities.
So depending where the GO is, they could face the GM for a large part of the day. The bars for example, open from 9 am till late in the night. The sports GO have to man their respective stations as early as 8 am, and even after manning the stations, will join in the night performances almost daily. The GO who look after the children work for almost 12 hours daily as well.
That is not all. GO are expected to help the GM feel at home throughout the day. One expectation they have to uphold is to hold conversations with the GM during meal times (save for breakfast). GO have to find vacant seats and hold conversations with the GM during meal times. They also have to provide guidance and advice to GM on the things they can do within the resort, and outside the resort if the GM are interested.
What these means is that unless you are very outgoing and person-oriented, you may feel drained at the end of each day. You got to find a way to recharge and energise yourself on the go.
Memorable GO Folks
I met a few GO during my most recent trip, and am amazed by their energy and drive. Take for example, Kevin, a South African who was recruited to teach yoga specifically in Bintan. He was hired and sent to Singapore to learn yoga for a few months before starting in Bintan. Kevin is very confident of his craft. During lunch, he kept encouraging me to try out his yoga sessions, and said I could check out TripAdvisor for the very good reviews he received.
Or Calvin, a Filipino who has just arrived to Club Med Bintan for about a week. His current role is as a photographer. He attended a crash course on photography and was then assigned this job. His real work will begin later, as he is supposed to propose 10 dance performances for the management to shortlist for the night shows. Calvin will choreograph and teach fellow GO the moves.
Or Vale, an Italian. She is a very outgoing lady who has worked in different Club Med villages in Europe for about 5 years. Vale has requested to come to Asia, as she wants to experience a different culture, and wants to pick up spoken English. Vale is fluent in Italian and French, and said that picking up spoken English is her way of brushing up whatever English she learnt back in Italy. For a lady to travel all the way to another foreign country to adapt to a debt culture and to learn English, that takes some courage.
Club Med is able to remain popular for a few reasons. Besides the all-inclusive nature of the stay and the programmes, the idyllic settings, I think the topmost reason is the people it hires. I will not say for sure that the GO have a common set of traits, but definitely they must be hungry to learn, and eager to work with people of all ages. A service-oriented mindset is key.
One common request I keep hearing from the GO is that if we are very happy with their services, we should provide excellent feedback to their email survey when it comes to our mailboxes a few days after our stay. I was also told that if we are happy with the services of any GO, we should highlight in the survey as well, as this will go a long way towards their career progression.
How does Club Med remain competitive in the tourism and hospitality sector where you have a range of competitors wooing for the same dollar? Besides the people, Club Med is constantly on the move for progress. I will write more in my next post.
Have you ever been to Club Med before? How has your experience been? While not all TripAdvisor reviews are positive, the majority of reviews have pinpointed their people as key in making their stay memorable. Do you agree?