Spring is a busy time for Delaware North parks and resorts as many locations have seasonal operations which requires a considerable amount of planning and work to open in time for the summer months. Believe it or not planning starts well before the opening date!  Those properties located in national parks and state parks work closely with the client who approves opening dates months ahead of time.

The following summary serves merely as a highlight to opening seasonal facilities:

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Lake General Store In Yellowstone

The facilities department must first access the buildings by clearing snow from the parking lots and sidewalks so that is accessible; removing shutters; turning on power, testing HVAC systems and ensuring that equipment is functional; turning on water, fixing leaks, flushing the system, and taking samples which are sent for testing to ensure that drinking water standards are met; and confirming that life safety systems such as fire suppression and alarms are in working order so that the space is cleared for occupancy.  In the meantime, remodel and and renovation projects are implemented to improve facilities while they are accessible.

Retail/grocery and lodging departments partner with literally hundreds of vendors at each location to prepare orders (many of which are placed late in the previous year) and secure product.  The warehouse staff receives product and operating supplies which are then distributed to each site. Keep in mind that all food or perishable items were removed from the operation prior to closing to eliminate any potential food source for resident wildlife which could become pests, thus upon opening each of these items must be received and stocked.

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Yellowstone Set Up Team at Old Faithful

The visual merchandiser and the set-up team are responsible for cleaning, placing fixtures and furniture, unpacking product, preparing back stock rooms, maintaining inventory, and recycling (primarily packaging material).  In the midst of what seems to be chaos, the Visual Merchandiser orchestrates this process so that retail and grocery product is merchandised and signed so that it is aesthetically appealing and fits the unique location.

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Yellowstone’s Set up Team in Action at Tower General Store

Human Resources works diligently revising job descriptions; updating the organizational chart, reviewing performance evaluations of those who may be re-applying; interviewing, and hiring qualified associates for management and front line positions.  In addition, human resources coordinates employee housing assignments (dormitories and RV sites), prepares employee handbooks and training programs.

Information Technology (IT) redistributes computers and monitors, which were removed at the end of the previous season due to the lack of power and heat, then connects, configures, and tests operating systems since all point of sale and communication is dependent upon technology.

The risk/safety department reviews emergency preparedness and response procedures and ensures that equipment and supplies are replenished and available.

The environmental manager prepares goals and plans to reduce environmental impact while demonstrating continual improvement.  Waste management programs are established to divert recyclables and organic waste from the landfill; water and energy conservation programs are implemented, information communicated so that staff understand their responsibility to support the program.

Even though each location and opening is unique there are some inherent similarities when it comes to challenges, these are just a few:

  • Mother Nature’s changing weather conditions bring about severe storms
  • Unplanned power outages
  • Finding staff willing to live in a remote location seasonally
  • Product arrives late
  • Facility projects take longer than expected
  • Equipment and fixtures fail

While some of the facilities in parks and resorts are open year round, they too have an element of seasonality and are required to ramp up the operation and prepare for the summer season.

Despite many challenges these operations are miraculously opened on time.   Thank you to all in the field who contribute and work so hard to make it happen!

Stay turned this fall for another story that describes closing seasonal facilities.

Published: May 31, 2015