Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Conquering Concierge: Concierge OJT Days 1-5

I've just been in a "Belle" mood lately
Goodness-gracious-good-lord-almighty. It's July, and I still haven't finished writing about my final training for concierge. That just shows you how much training there is!

To recap, first I began by being trained as a Front Desk Cashier (read about that here) and had about month on the Front Desk. The official ruling is that you get 10 shifts as a cashier, but with scheduling it could be more, like it was for me.  Finally I was scheduled for my 3 day concierge class back at Disney University. Now I'm going to briefly go over my 5 days of On the Job Training for Concierge.

I had 3 different trainers for my on the job training, which was actually a good thing because everyone teaches slightly differently.

Friday April 26, 2013

On the Job with Melissa (Day 1) 0815-1645

I had not met Melissa before she was my trainer, but I really respected her as a trainer. She said she'd been working at All Star for about a year.

As far as Concierge type transactions, I was really fortunate during my training. I got to do Cirque tickets, foreign currency exchange, dining reservations, and sell tickets all of my first day! Tickets and dining are very commonplace, but I have really on sold Cirque tickets a handful of times. My first day went pretty fast. After learning Front Desk Cashier you are really only expanding your Disney/Concierge knowledge, not relearning procedures. Banking in and out remains the same, you just get to use a different envelope during it.

Saturday April 27, 2013

On the Job with Melissa (Day 2) 0815-1645

Day 2 was with Melissa again. We did more of the same as yesterday. I pretty much knew what I was doing with everything, but it was still really nice to have a trainer behind me. With Front Desk usually the guests are checking in, checking out, paying their balance, or asking a question. And if it was something I could not do, like tickets, I would just send them over to Concierge. But at Concierge, you never know what your next guest is going to ask. They might want to ship a package, pick up will call tickets, reserve a specialty cruise, book Mickey's Backyard BBQ. Speaking of Mickey's Backyard BBQ...

I got to do ticket pickup for Mickey's Backyard BBQ. This is a little bit more common than Cirque tickets. Concierge can do ticket pickup for the Spirit of Aloha Dinner Show, Hoop Dee Doo, and Mickey's Backyard BBQ. You can print them out through Alacarte, which is our dining reservation system. So that was exciting to learn, especially with a trainer telling me exactly what to do!

Monday April 28, 2013

On the Job with Mike (Day 3) 0900-1730

On Day 3 Melissa was scheduled to give a transportation tour (more information on this blog post!), so Mike was my trainer. He was really nice and has worked at attractions before, specifically Space Mountain. He told me stories about his experiences, which I loved!

I got to do loads more concierge things too! I sold a lot more tickets, including Florida resident tickets, which is a little bit different to do. The system requires that you put in their Florida address for obvious reasons. I also had the opportunity to query tickets. When you query tickets, you can see everywhere the ticket was used and when, which is great, but all guests really want to know is: DO I HAVE MORE DAYS ON THIS TICKET? So when you query it's really you doing a lot of counting and deciphering between "fun visits" (used at the water parks, Disney Quest, and miniature golf) or park visits.  Ultimately a very easy task, but there's room for human error, so it always makes me a little nervous.

Wednesday May 1, 2013

On the Job with Patty (Day 4) 0815-1515

Day 4 was supposed to be with Melissa again, but she had to call in because her daughter got an ear infection. So Patty was working Concierge that day, and she is coded as a trainer, so she agreed to train me for the rest of my shift. I had Monday and Tuesday off, which was much need and even better because on Tuesday they had "down time" on the Front Desk computer system (LILO). Down time is usually scheduled on Tuesdays around 2-7am, and it is during that time the make system updates for LILO. There is also "unexpected" downtime, which as the title may suggest is not planned for.

Tuesday must have been an example of  the "unexpected" variety. What happens is we can still at least look up peoples' reservations or tickets and if there room is ready, we can cut them a key. If it looks like we'll be down for a while, we can give out contingency tickets, so guests can go to the parks for that day and come back later, when the system is up to check into their reservation and their package tickets.  Also if people are on the dining plan and we cannot check them in yet, we let them know that they can purchase things on their dining plan and keep all of their receipts and we will reimburse them later and take the appropriate points off of their dining plan.

All of these might sound confusing, as it did for me, but it was basically all that I did this day, so I became really good at "adjustments," which is how we do the reimbursing/dining plan points magic.

Thursday May 2, 2013

On the Job with Melissa (Day 5) 0815-1645

For my very last day I had Melissa again. She was very curious about my experiences with the other trainers. Whether I liked them, if they were nice to me, and what they taught me. Each day was a lot of information and transactions, and each of my trainers were an amazing resource. I really did not have anything bad to say.

For Day 5 I was basically on my own. I tried to do everything without turning to Melissa. I only asked for her guidance, when it was something I had no knowledge of, so I could learn what the correct answer was or where to go to find the right answer.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Conquering Concierge: The All Star Transportation Tour

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Let me just begin by saying that this 6 hour tour was probably the most fun I've ever had being clocked in for work for Disney. This and being paid to watch Disney movies and eat pizza (because it was product knowledge for Art of Animation. Oh yes, that really happened. Twice!)

Starting Point: All Star Music
We all met at All Star Music at 10am for our tour. There were only about 6 of us including our 2 trainers. Our trainers warned us to bring water because it was going to be a long walk. I had already run 5 miles that morning and brought my pedometer, so I could see just how far of a walk it was. Yes, I'm one of those distance runners at times...

Transportation 1: Bus from All Star Music to Hollywood Studios
We went outside All Star to wait for the Hollywood Studios bus. We were in our street clothes because for this tour they want us to be actual guests. We're experiencing what our guests go through. For better or for worse. Just waiting for the bus helped remind us how much longer time feels when you're waiting. If was maybe 15-20 minutes for our bus, but it sure felt like 40 minutes! Unfortunately All Star's bus queue is in the sun, so we were getting a little toasty too.

The bus ride itself went very quickly. We all got seats, and the air conditioning felt amazing.

Transportation 2: Boat from Hollywood Studios to the Swan and Dolphin
After the bus dropped us off in front of Studios, we continued to the only boat dock in front of the this park. This boat drops off at the Epcot resorts as well as Epcot. I always want to walk from Studios to the resorts. I just feel like I walk so much faster than the boats. I was quite analytical on this tour, so I was analysing Disney things that I normally just do, or accept (I know, I'm starting to sound like a nerd). On this tour I decided that the boats actually are faster than walking.

  • So Hopping Tip! : Save some of your energy and take the boat from Studios to Beach Club or Boardwalk, but get off at the Swan and Dolphin stop and then walk to whichever resort. It'll be faster than waiting to dock a second or third time.

I'm satisfied with that takeaway. Besides that's exactly what we did.

Transportation 3: Walk from the Swan to Epcot
At this point I needed a restroom. Lucky for me one of our trainers had done this tour while pregnant, so she knew where every bathroom is. Just like me, except for the pregnant bit, but I do know where A LOT of bathrooms are. And I talk about that knowledge far too much, like I am doing right now.

We walked into the Swan (or whichever one is to the left as you get off the boat) and oh my goodness, I was so glad that we did. It was breathtaking inside! And the first thing we saw was just a coffee shop. But it wasn't just a coffee shop. It was a really pretty coffee shop that I am going to have to visit again, so I can actually sample their coffee. Well, iced coffee.

The Swan even smelled luxurious. The bathrooms were right cross from Kimonos which is the Karaoke/sushi bar. Kimonos has been on my bucket list for a while. I'm going to have to get it crossed off this year sometime.

After our "fun" detour, we continued toward Epcot. We walked toward Yacht and Beach Club and our trainers quizzed us and spouted out useful information along the way.

First question "So this is the Boardwalk. What dining/food options do our guests have?"
Normal concierge answers "Beaches and Cream. Shulas. Cape May. ESPN Club. The Garden Grove. Flying Fish."
My answers "Big River Brewery for a beer flight! Jelly Rolls. Boardwalk/Margarita Joes! There margaritas are actually really good!"
Apparently I come across as somewhat of an alcoholic. My reputation even precedes myself. I was chatting with a Coordinator of Training that I had never met about taking my friend to Hoop. She looks at my name tag. And says "Julie? Oh Julie McLaughlin, of course."

I didn't know how to respond. Is that a positive or negative thing? I've also had guests kind of pinpoint my Irish heritage and know about my drinking prowess. That little Irish girl with the freckles. Anyways I e will be embracing this heritage in the upcoming future with some more info on drinking around the world, epcot, and the entire disney world property.

Once we were past the Beach Club Resort, we entered Epcot through the International Gateway, aka the entrance with the UK to your left and the France Pavilion to your right. We walked througt the UK and Canada. We took a quick pit stop in Club Cool, which I really think EVERYONE should do every time you're in Future World. Come on, it's free!

Next stop, monorail station!

Transportation 4: Monorail from Epcot to the Ticket and Transportation Center (TTC)
Being able to have a seat and enjoy some air conditioning was definitely the highlight of riding the monorail. Plus who doesn't love some good monorail action?

Transportation 5: Walk from TTC to the Polynesian and then on to the Grand Floridian
We deboarded the monorail at the TTC and took the walking path on to the Polynesian. I never realized how easy that walking path is to use. I think I've always known that you can walk to the TTC from the Polynesian, but in my head the easiest way to reach the TTC was by the monorail, but in reality taking the resort boat to the Polynesian and then walking to the TTC is a really good option. And the Polynesian is really beautiful at night.

We walked into the Polynesian and talked about the dining options our guests often asked about. 'Ohanas is one of guests favorite, favorite restaurants. If you've been, you know why. There's also Kona Cafe (love!) and the Spirit of Aloha dinner show at Luau Cove. The directions we give guests is: bus to Magic Kingdom, resort monorail to Poly, which drops you off on the same level as the restaurants, so that is definitely good advice!

Next restaurant? Captain Cooks for Dole Whips! Captain Cooks is a quick service restaurant, where you can make your own dole whips. They also usually have premade sushi from Kona Cafe in their fridge, which I love. Usually Cast Members get a 20% discount here. This particular day we were blocked out.

We left the Grand Ceremonial house to find Luau Cove, which was on our way to the Grand Floridian. We looked at the facility and talked about the Category 1, 2, and 3 seating. Once we had all finished our dole whips we kept walking to the Grand. On our way we saw the construction for the new Disney Vacation Club Villas and the new pool area. We passed Senses the Disney Spa. Disney's Spas used to be outsourced to another company, but they've decided to take it over, so that would explain the reinvention and refurbishment happening at the spas at the Grand and Saratoga Springs.

Transportation 6: Monorail from the Grand Floridian to the Contemporary

Stop for Lunch at Contempo Cafe

Transportation 7: Boat from the Contemporary to the Ft Wilderness Campgrounds

Transportation 8: Internal Bus to Campfire Circle and Pioneer Hall

Transportation 9: Boat from Ft. Wilderness to the Magic Kingdom

Tran;)Drsportation 10: Bus from the Magic Kingdom to All Star Music

Transportation Total: 3 Buses, 3 Boats, 2 Monorails, 6 miles of walking, 3 theme parks, 6 resorts, and 1 Dole Whip!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Guarding the World: Costumes

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Unlike other roles, in which your costume is determined by where are you are working, lifeguard costumes are universal.  Whether you are on the lazy river at Typhoon Lagoon or the Hippy Dippy pool at Pop Century, you will be wearing the same thing.

Funny story, when I went through my orientation at the Contemporary, the recreation coordinator of training was not present. I don't know why she was not, and I didn't really care when they told me that because I had no idea what that role was or how they had any effect on my life on that very day. Instead the facilitator of our class and the really nice people in costuming tried to help me and my cohort when it came to picking out our costumes. They were helpful, except for some really little details...

For example I got home without a lifeguard hat. So when my roommate asked me later about what kind of hat I got, I realized that I would be making a stop back before my first day of training. It's a good thing I had to make that stop already because I shortly realized the other thing that I made it out of orientation without acquiring.

A single swimsuit.

Let us use that fun experience as a nice segue to get to the meat of this post. Because apparently I have a LOT to say about lifeguard costumes. Here we go.

Yes, ladies. They really reuse the swimsuits. Sorry boutcha.

There are two designs of the ladies swim suit. One is a little tighter than the other. I usually got the looser design, but I always wore a bra with my swimsuit. I still don't know the consensus on wearing a bra underneath or not. I saw some sports bras and saw some coworkers that never added an extra layer underneath. I wore a purple bra which could only be seen when I was not wearing my polo, and I was never told that I was out of Disney Look. Too many informations? Probably.
Besides the attractive swimsuit, you get to wear your shorts. There are actually female and male shorts. The male shorts have a liner, but some girls ripped the liners out the male shorts and then wore them. So sometimes even though I chose shorts from costuming with no liner, it would still be the male design. I did not have many issues with the shorts. I usually went a size up just to keep them extra comfy.

The shirts are polos which read Walt disney world resort. They come in short sleeve and long sleeve.  I usually picked a small or x-small. And so does everyone else! Once you've gotten the small size you like, you might want to hold onto it or it'll be a while before you see them at costuming again. I was a big fan of the long sleeve shirts. They aren't that hot, and they keep your arms protected from the sun. Some people wear them all year long because they have tattoos to cover. 
When it gets cold, bring on the winter gear! Probably my favorite parts of the costume. There are ski pants, black gloves and a beanie!

There were several jacket selections. There's a fleece. My first one was really old and used, but they have some that are fluffy and new and really fun to lounge in! So look for that one. The fleece is awesome, especially for chilly mornings and evenings. There is also a thinner jacket, that I suppose is for rain in the summer. I never used it because it was too thin to keep me warm and not good enough to keep me dry. You can get the clear rain pancho to keep dry, but I imagine you would just roast in there. The last jacket is the heavy duty winter jacket. I absolutely loved that jacket. I had to use an XL size because I could never find a smaller size. That jacket just enveloped me whole. But it was great when you were cold (especially paired with the fleece underneath---for desperate days) and it was waterproof AND had a hood. Could I have anymore good things to say about this jacket?!

A bit of advice when it comes to your winter gear... You will likely have to jump in on days when it's freezing and costuming is either too far or closed. Only wear one jacket at a time (unless it is an aforementioned desperate day), that way you can take one of and still have a dry one in your locker for later.  

Bring extra costumes. If you work somewhere where you can just walk through costuming on your break (like the contemporary) it's no issue. But it feels so good to put on a dry costume. If I could, I would just leave my costumes in my trunk. At Art of Animation it was really easy to just grab an extra jacket out of my trunk. During winter I would usually come in wearing my shorts with pants on top, a shirt, with my fleece and winter jacket on top. Once I got my stuff away in my locker, I'd usually put the winter jacket away. I would take my pants off at the second or third stand.

Last but not least, there are some accessories I haven't even touched on! During your lifeguard class you will receive your whistle and your guard pack. You will also get the privilege of wearing adorable black shoes or white sneakers of your choice. I bought crocs at a clearance outlet. If I had stayed as a lifeguard any longer, I would have bought white tennis shoes because my feet get so cold. Your very last piece of costume is your hat. I always wore the baseball hat. There is also a beanie which I mentioned as winter gear. I only wore the beanie one day and I got a horrible sunglasses tan line, since it doesn't block the sun at all. But it is warm! There is also a floppy hat or bucket hat, which is actually an awesome idea because it will give you so much shade!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Guarding the World: Live & Visual Audits

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I covered VATs in one of my last GTW posts, so today I am going to cover the 2 other types of audits you will see as a Disney Lifeguard. These audits can be just as stressful, if not more stressful than VATs. Just like VATs, audits are another "luck of the draw" kind of situations. Some locations audit regularly, while others do not.


Live Audits

My first Live Audit was a disaster (at least in my mind), but it was my first week on stand. I had never had inservice (IST) yet, and no one had really prepared me for how Disney does audits/mock situations. Ellis had prepared me for the fact that they did, other guards had prepared me for the fact that audits didn't happen very often, but neither group really got me to understand how to recognize it was happening.

In Ellis Audit world, if you don't say you are doing something, you didn't do it. So if you don't say, "I'm clearing the area," you're not. If you don't point and assign someone to call 911, 911 does not get called. Learn this fact very quickly. You can ask "Did 911 get called?" as many times as you like. No one will answer you during an audit. Just call 911 again. It won't hurt if it has already been called.

Most importantly not calling 911 will be an automatic fail.

I wasn't prepared for that (just for the first live audit), but I'm sure you will be. In inservice you'll do situations, and the way you do them in inservice is exactly how you'll do it in a live audit. Also your (better) coordinators will remind things, like "Ellis looks for this, this one time in an Ellis audit, and don't forget to do this in a real situations." No offense to the Contemporary, but I felt that my inservice trainings at Pop/Art and even All Star were much more informative. After those ISTs I really felt like a rockstar about my lifeguard skills. I'm not sure why that was. I think maybe because a lot of the guards at Contemporary had been Disney lifeguards longer, so they weren't that concerned? The guards at All Star and Pop/Art are a lot younger and most are CPs, so those Coordinators have to be really good at teaching.

Moral of the story? Don't knock Value Resorts. They know their stuff backwards and forwards.

I had 3 In house Live Audits total. In house just means that they are done by Disney, ie. as a practice for an Ellis live audit. I had a spinal at the Contemporary, an unconscious GID (Guest in Distress) at Pop Century, and a choking baby at Art. Besides the overall confusion of the first audit, I did very well on my live audits. As stressful as the anticipation of an audit is, they really helped my confidence in my guard skills because it shows that you will be able to perform under pressure. (However, the anxiety of anticipation of Ellis audits did contribute to me wanting to get out of lifeguarding sooner)

There was an Ellis audit one day when I was working at Art. I was at Nemo 1 guarding, when the girl at Nemo 2 yelled over "Ellis is here!" That is not something a lifeguard EVER wants to hear. Especially at Nemo. Nemo is typically the pool they would Ellis audit at. I wasn't too concerned though because my bump was supposed to come relatively soon. Then I'd be able to escape to the break room, free from concerns over Ellis audits. I also didn't see any managers on the pool deck. The audit actually ended up being at Mermaid, which was a HUGE surprise. We both heard "3 whistle mermaid" over the radio and were really excited/confused.

One of the girls in the audit said that they could see one of our managers looking at the pool from one of the buildings, so she knew something was up. Both guards did a really good job! Let's just say that was a very exciting day to be at work. Ellis films their live audits, so a few days later the guards/coordinators in the audit got to watch their audit. Personally I think that part sounds a whole lot more unpleasant than the actual audit.

If you've actually been Ellis audited leave me a comment. I'd love to hear about the experience!

Visual Audit

Visual Audits are pretty straight forward.  Someone watches you on stand for like 10 minutes. They audit you on changing your position every 5 minutes, your attentiveness, your scan in/out, if you're talking on stand, costume, if you say "I've got your water," etc. I was visual audited quite frequently at Pop and Art, and only once at the Contemporary. There's really not much to say about visual audits. You'll usual know after you've been audited because someone will come to one of the guards and ask for the names of the guards on the different stands.

The biggest concern in visual audits is that you don't get caught having an extended conversation with the other guard on your pool or even with guests. This is not as easy as it sounds. I was audited a lot in winter at Pop. One of those pools is just you and another guard. Sometimes there is NO ONE in your water. Also what you think is a short and sweet conversation with a guest ends up being like 10 minutes. Also lifeguards are in a weird role. Yes, we need to be ever vigilant, but we also need to be friendly and helpful to guests. At the Contemporary we had a guest service tip of the week. They wanted us to go out of our way to be friendly, yet still watching our water and getting every VAT. It's a very contradictory role.

I only had one friend who was talked to after a visual audit. The auditor said it didn't look like she was looking where she was pointing when she scanned into her water. One of the managers talked to her about, but basically said not to worry about. They thought she did fine! Also at the Contemporary not all of us actually said "I've got your water" when we scanned in/out, but I guess we still passed.

Let me know if you have any questions! Don't forget to check out any of my posts with the Guarding the World tag, to learn more about the Lifeguard Role. If this is your first time here, check out my About Me page for a brief timeline about my CP experience.