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Many years ago I spent a summer working for a holiday company on a campsite on the shores of Lake Garda in Italy. It was an amazing summer.

In the training I received before we set out, the company told us a bit about the psychology of holiday-makers. “Holidays are stressful”. They said. “People save up all year for their two weeks overseas and their heads are filled with glamorous images from films, tv and magazines. The reality is a little different, with a family that rarely spends time together, stuck in a car, possibly lost, not able to speak the language and worried about where they are going to stay for the night. If something goes wrong they often react irrationally.” At this point I was wondering whether my summer was going to be quite as relaxing as I had imagined.

The advice went on: “But if you can fix their problems, they often end up having a better experience than if they had never experienced any problems at all.” And in the many years since, I have often observed that this is true. We are more impressed by those who are able to fix problems, and by good customer service when the going gets tough, than we are by smooth sailing from the get-go.

And so it was recently. that I had booked a weekend “Winter Glamping” with my husband at Hurunui Jacks on the West Coast, near Hokitika. The plan was for a last hurrah before we become parents, and I have had my eye on one of the Canopy Camping experiences for a while. Unfortunately Maureen, the owner, contacted me a few weeks ago to say that her husband has had to have surgery and they will be in Christchurch at the time of our booking for some follow ups. Maureen was personal, sincere and apologetic: “apologies we  have to do this, goes against the grain for us as it’s awful feeling letting people down” and offered several generous options for reimbursement. The upshot is that we are now planning to go later in the year, with baby in tow, and I am looking forward to the getaway even more than I originally was, in the knowledge that we will be looked after by friendly, generous people.

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