nov. 1, 2016
Ron Pradinuk, of Winnipeg, Manitoba, has worked in the travel industry for over 30 years and has visited nearly 60 countries. We were happy to host him this September for a special Aikens edition of his popular podcast, “That Travel Guy.”
Ron produced the entire show from Aikens––some of the interviews even took place at shorelunch stations! Ron talked with guests, guides and Julie and Pit as he devoted the show to spotlighting The Aikens Experience, for which we are grateful.
“It truly was an amazing and marvelous experience,” Ron said in the podcast, noting that his trip began on a high note with our customary, full-staff greeting at the dock. “Aikens has some of the friendliest people. There’s a real family feeling here [at Aikens] … with such a hospitality culture.”
We figured our guests would enjoy hearing familiar voices talking about familiar aspects of Aikens, so here’s a link to the full, 45-minute podcast. The podcast also shares some behind-the-scenes stories about our operation, including how we came up with the idea for free happy hour and insights into our hiring approach.
“We take great pride in the people we have here working with us. We interview quite a few people and we look for a certain personality and attitude,” Julie said in the show. “We like to sit with them and talk with them and really make them talk a lot. If we can’t picture ourselves sitting across from Big Molly’s having a beer with them, we can’t expect anyone else to.”
Ron said that many resorts he’s been to forbid their staff from having a drink with guests; he appreciates that at Aikens we actually encourage our full team to hang out with guests at Big Molly’s. He loved fishing with our team and had a blast during a jam session one night when some of our multi-talented staff members broke out their guitars and sang some tunes.
The fellowship and camaraderie was also a highlight for first-time guest John Murray, who was here during the same time as Ron. “When you fly in and everyone’s waiting for you at the dock you really get the sense that this is a special place,” John said. “You walk in and the first thing they say is, ‘Have you eaten lunch yet? Here’s a sandwich so you can get fishing right away.’”
John and his father, Kenneth, enjoyed the fishing and shorelunches, as well as the chance for quality bonding time.
“It’s a magical place,” John said in his podcast interview. “Great for father-son trips, great for friends. It’s been a ton of fun. You couldn’t ask for anything more.”
Another point Ron makes in the show is that our staff members are genuinely passionate about Aikens and have nearly as much fun here as our guests. There are a couple great interviews with guides Marco Dumontier and Ben Blankstein you can listen to in the podcast.
“The best part of the guiding experience is it changes every day,” said Ben. “And the friendships that you make. I’ve made so many great friendships with the guys and girls here. Some I call my best friends and probably will my whole life.”
A long-time friend of Ron’s, radio man Ace Burpee, joined him on his trip and also makes an appearance in the podcast.
“Every time that rod tip bent it was another 25, 26 [inch walleye]. It was ridiculous,” said Ace, who made The Century Club on his first day. “Explaining it to someone is hard, just how well we were treated by the staff, how organized they are, how positive they are. It’s the little things. Everyone seems to be on the same page.”
Ace’s kind words were not only flattering but also reinforced what we’re striving for in terms of providing first-rate customer service.
“My parents taught us you’re never guaranteed the fishing and you’re never guaranteed the weather, but we can make sure everything else is perfect,” Pit said in his podcast interview. “That’s our philosophy here.”
Check out Ron’s “That Travel Guy” podcast here, and look for his weekly travel column in the Winnipeg Free Press.