Are you looking for a new job? You can submit applications and find yourself sitting in an office doing the same redundant tasks, or you can apply at Sundance Vacations and get involved in a one of a kind work environment. Sundance Vacations is an international travel company who specializes in vacation accommodations. The company is headquartered in Wilkes-Barre, PA. Last year, Sundance Vacations has been named to Pennsylvania’s Best Places to Work for 2019 by the Team Pennsylvania Foundation. Team PA, is a public-private partnership that supports Pennsylvania’s economic initiatives. On September 9th they released their annual report of the 100 companies in PA highlighting the Highest Rated companies, recognizing large, medium, and small organizations across the commonwealth. Sundance Vacations was awarded the 23rd best large company to work for in Pennsylvania! The company has also been honored twice as one of the Fastest-Growing Travel Companies in Pennsylvania by Inc. 500/5000. How does a company get recognized as a ‘Best Place to Work’? Keep reading to learn more!
Sundance vacations has 8 core values they strive to live by. Core Values are the qualities and values that help build our organization. They are the heart of Sundance Vacations and what we believe in. The eight core values are: Recognition, Fun, Professionalism, Fairness, Positive attitude, Honesty, Charity and Respect. The core values are important because it helps us as a company grow stronger and succeed.
While Sundance Vacations is a Step Ahead!
Each year, John and Tina Dowd, co-founders of Sundance Vacations, go out of their way to show employees a good time, by encouraging them to participate in a healthy wellness program, among other fun and exciting activities. They have helped their employees in many exciting ways throughout the years. So, how do wellness programs equate to having fun? These programs tend to encourage a “healthy” competition among employees, but in the long run everyone is a winner. Developing healthier lifestyles always has been a target aimed at by Sundance, according to Tina Dowd. That’s why her and John continually launch wellness programs.
This year, John and Tina decided on a ‘Mindfulness Initiative’. They hired Jennifer and her team from ‘Studio BE’ to lead us on a mindful journey. They helped us become more mindful throughout an eighteen-week period, by having video calls with lessons. Jennifer and her team taught us mindfulness techniques and practices, as well as other strategies to help us learn more about the mindfulness of the breath, body, emotions and mind.
What is mindfulness? Just like we lift weights and exercise to tone and improve our cardiovascular health, Mindfulness is an exercise for our brain! Mindfulness is a state of active, open attention on the present, just as it is. When we are mindful, we have more access to carefully observe our thoughts and feelings without judging them as good or bad, helping us to be more present and responsive in our moment to moment experiences. Mindfulness has many positive benefits, including increased resilience to stress and better regulation of emotions, improved concentration and focus, improved sleep and it protects against depression and anxiety.
Did you know that more than 18 million people meditate worldwide, including the employees of Apple, Google, HBO and now Sundance Vacations! As an added incentive, prizes were awarded weekly to random Sundance employees who participated in the mindful meetings. The prizes included, paid days off, star points, honey and tea bags and more! At the end of the four-month Mindful journey, there was one grand prize winner. Sundance Vacations Human Resources Recruiter, Paige Evans won a two-night stay for two adults to the Lodge at Woodloch, a Spa Resort, located in the Pocono Mountains! The pampered package was valued over $3,000, and included a complete spa package including; lavish accommodations, three artfully crafted gourmet meals, speakers and workshops, mind, body and soul experiences, fitness classes, cooking demonstrations, and health and fitness amenities; like pools with hydro massage waterfalls, indoor and outdoor whirlpools, steam rooms and a state of the art three thousand square foot cardio weight studio! Talk about a grand prize! Wowza!
A Step Ahead of the Rest
The “Sole Survivor” Contest where all employees were given a Fitbit by the company to try and encourage a healthy lifestyle. Fitbits log steps that the user takes in a day and each employee was trying to reach a goal of 10,000 steps a day. With a total of 346,032,294 steps taken overall, clearly the contest was a huge success. Fourteen members of the Sundance Vacations’ family were invited to Sundance Vacations Hilton Head Island Beach and Tennis Resort in South Carolina for a four-day journey. Those who went to stay at the Island Beach and Tennis Resort from November 8th through the 11th were “wined and dined” for their exceptional performance throughout the five-month period. For their efforts, the winning Sundance teams received air transportation, condo accommodations, time off with pay, meals and a full slate of fun activities. There was a welcome party, a night out at a comedy club, Segway tour,a night at a jazz club and a wine-tasting tour, among others. As you can see, it pays to be healthy and engaging in activities to improve your health. The “Sole Survivor” contest proved to be quite successful as nearly 400 Sundance employees signed up to step it up. The initiative “stepped off” in May of 2014.
Once a Quitter, Always a Quitter
“Sundance Smokeout” was a successful initiative that started on January 15, 2013, not only helped an astonishing 39% of its participants kick their smoking addiction and begin living healthier lives, but also focused on office teamwork, boosting company morale, and offered vacation and cash incentives to quitters and nonsmoking coaches that helped their colleagues quit smoking for good. The Great Sundance Smoke Out was open to all smokers and nonsmokers within the Sundance family, either as an active quitter or as a nonsmoking coach. At the onset of the campaign the smokers were able to choose 1-2 non-smoking coaches to help support them through their quit smoking process. Sundance Vacations also offered many incentives to employees and their coaches that participated in the program. Twice throughout the program active participants and their coaches were entered into a $1,000 drawing that was split 70/30 between the smoker and the non-smoking coach. Upon completion of the program on October 1, 2013, the smokers that finished the program received a week’s paid vacation or the cash equivalent of a week of vacation. Coaches that remained at the end of the program were entered into drawings for $500, $1,000, and $2,000 cash prizes.
How Sundance Vacations Gives Back!
Sundance Vacations’ employees are dedicated to giving back to their communities. Following the example of the company’s owners, John and Tina Dowd, the entire company has donated money, effort and time to a number of charities both nationally and locally. Giving to charities is a way to help yourself feel good for doing good for others. The most recent charitable donations made by Sundance were: IT’s 3rd Annual Beer-b Que and WNEP’s Joe Snedeker’s ‘Go Joe 22’. Tina and John Dowd go out of their way when it comes to giving back to the community. Below are just a select few of the organizations that Sundance has recently donated money to.
The IT department from the corporate office in Wilkes Barre, PA spoiled their fellow coworkers by preparing their 3rd Annual Beer B-Que supporting the St. Vincent de Paul soup kitchen. The crew got together on Memorial Day to brew two special craft brews. One was a dark IPA and the other was a gluten free honey Ale. They grilled burgers and hot dogs all day and served up cold salads and snacks. There was a silent auction, which a number of tech-savy prizes were awarded, including a thermo-electric cooler, three HP Office Jet all-in-one printers, a Harry and David gift basket including a Fitbit watch, a 50/50 and more! The IT department was able to raise $891.00 for the St Vincent de Paul Soup Kitchen. Tina & John then donated an additional $109.00 to round up to an even $1,000.00! The day was perfect for an outside event, the sun was shining, and the weather was perfect! Employees got to kick back and relax while playing ‘Kubb’ (Viking Chess) and cornhole with Tina and John too!
Learn More about the St.Vincent de Paul Soup Kitchen.
Sundance Vacations was recently featured on live TV at the WNEP News Station. They presented Joe Snedeker with a generous donation check to support Go Joe 22. Joe also got the charity an additional donation because he stuffed himself into a suitcase, which was then zipped closed and wheeled away on camera!
The $4,004.00 which was donated by Sundance Vacations is going to be used to remodel the twelve bathrooms at the Main Center, which is the home of eighty-eight individuals. It will also assist with the upcoming renovations and relocation of the Trinity Child Care Center, a daycare for children who are medically fragile, to a new, larger facility.
Learn more about St. Joseph’s Center.
What Sundance Vacations Offers its Employees!
On Thursday, September 5th the owners of Sundance Vacations treated their employees to a unique way to relax and enjoy the fresh air. They organized a yoga session on the back lawn of their corporate office located in Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania. They invited Ashley, her daughter Willow, her husband Brock and their family of goats from Buttinhead Farms to a special Goat Yoga session. That’s right, I said Goat Yoga!
Goat yoga is very beneficial to your body and mind. It helps lower your blood pressure and improves your cardiovascular system. You can almost instantly feel your stress levels decrease with each deep breath exhaling from your lungs. The goats also lifted your spirits; for a moment any thoughts of sadness, grief, anxiety or negative emotions vanish from your mind, all because of the goats and their tiny little costumes! Ashley was patient with us and taught us the different poses involved in yoga. I couldn’t even tell you one pose coming into the session, but she showed us in detail how to do them correctly.
Goat Yoga was my very first yoga session, and I’ll be honest, I was only in it for the goats. I had zero interest or desire to ever participate in any sort of yoga sessions, I just wanted to snuggle with some goats. Once I got started, I actually really enjoyed it and now, I practice it on my own at home… without the goats of course. I was pleasantly surprised at how much of a workout was involved in yoga, and the stretch my body endured was unlike any workout I have ever done. I felt amazing after the session.
We were in a large fenced in area with our yoga matts placed sporadically around. The goats had open access to everyone and just kinda did their own thing. If they wanted to jump on your back while doing a pose, they did. If they wanted to lick your cheek while you were trying to hold a steady pose, they did and sometimes I skipped an exercise simply because there was an adorable baby goat who needed some attention. While we were doing certain yoga poses such as the Downward Goat, the goats would climb under our legs and on our backs, balancing perfectly. During the group line up, the goats would walk back and forth across our backs, one goat even fainted! I never saw a fainting goat before! I couldn’t even tell you how many times I laughed throughout the hour-long session. My cheeks actually hurt from all the smiling. If you’re looking for a serious goat yoga session, this is not for you. You will laugh, you will have fun and you might even get pooped on! That is actually a lucky thing, you may get a “poop prize”.
The goat yoga session was paid for by John and Tina, but a donation was suggested. Those who participated in Goat Yoga raised $260.00 for the Eastern PA Animal Alliance in Wilkes Barre, PA!
Learn more about Eastern Pa Animal Alliance.
National travel and Tourism Week
One of the larger fun-filled events, is the celebration of ‘National Travel and Tourism Week.’ For the week-long event, employees are encouraged to “dress the part” for special days such as the beach, the mountains, the golf course and more. There are essay and photo contests on a number of topics and prizes are awarded to the winners by a panel of judges. Needless to say, fun is had by all during this week-long celebration.
Each year, John and Tina invite the Corporate office employees to a company picnic on Father’s Day! It’s held at ‘Dorney Park and Wildwater Kingdom’ in Allentown, PA. The group gets together to enjoy a nice lunch while John and Tina have a few raffles to give away including: Fire tablets, vacations, gift cards, paid days off and a grand prize of a week paid vacation to wherever the employee wanted to go! After lunch and the prize drawings, the rest of the day is spent exploring the park, riding rides and enjoying time with friends and family.
SPIFFs or, “Special Performance Incentive For Fun”, keep us as employees on the top of our game. The managers of each department are allotted a certain number of ‘Star Points’ to hand out over the quarter. The managers create fun “Spiffs” to encourage their team to perform better by pushing them to complete a specific common goal. Employees also get Star Points if we’re caught going the extra mile for the company! It’s a great way to show Recognition and to help make you feel appreciated. Sundance Vacations has an awesome website (similar to Amazon) to use our points to shop. You can save the points to earn paid days off, purchase household items, toys and just about anything you can think of! It’s a really cool way to be rewarded if you ask me! The points help keep fairness in the workplace and give equal opportunities to be recognized.
Break Time Fun
Sundance Vacations is known as a great place to work, but it’s not all work while you’re here. If you want to kick back and relax during your break, there is an X-box sitting in the main break room with a selection of games to choose from. I myself, like playing old school ‘Sonic the Hedgehog’ on ‘Sega Genesis Classics’. It gets pretty competitive when there are others joining in on the fun. There are also hanging swing chairs in the break room to sit and relax in. The Sundance Vacations corporate office building is also perfect for getting your steps in, because if you walk around the building four times, you’re at a mile! You can often see people taking in the sunshine and walking around the buildings on their break on a nice day.
Some companies out there are pretty strict when it comes to taking time off. Sundance Vacations is not one of those companies. We have a nice Paid Time Off policy. There’s no need to lie or make up some crazy story to get a much-needed day off. Sometimes, you just need to take a day or two off for your mental health, and to spend time with the family, go shopping or to just sit home and catch up on some Z’s if you’re feeling under the weather. The Sundance PTO policy is nice because they are simply Paid Time Off days. They aren’t sick days or personal days, they are all rolled into one category. We get a number of paid holidays off to enjoy with our family and after being employed for a year, you start earning an additional PTO day off each year. You can carry days off over into the next year too! As long as you work hard while you’re here and get your work done in a timely manner, you are encouraged to take time off. You earned those days after all. As an employee, you even get an awesome vacation package! That brings me to our next awesome perk of being a Sundance vacations employee.
Working for a vacation company has its perks I’m sure, but Sundance Vacations really stepped up their game! Once an employee completes their ‘Sundance-U’ training, and have been with the company for a few months, they are given an employee vacation package. We get to travel at an extreme discount, and we get to experience first-hand what the customer experiences. We get to travel to the same places our customers do (outside of peak season). This gives us the opportunity to check into the same condos and get the same experience as those who purchased into the Sundance Vacations family.
“We share the common goal of enriching the lives of our customers and each other by helping people experience quality vacations through caring and professional service.”
Health benefits are a huge benefit provided by employees. Once you work at Sundance Vacations for ninety days, you have the opportunity to gain health benefits with ‘Highmark Blue Cross/ Blue Shield’. You also have the opportunity to include vision and dental coverage, as well as short- and long-term disability and Life Insurance. You pay into the program and Sundance Vacations does too. The cost of health care continues to rise annually. However, our health care plan has not increased in a few years. That alone is a huge benefit!
The Sundance Vacations retirement plan makes saving for retirement easy! The 401(k) plan is completely optional, and helps you save and invest in a portion of your paycheck before taxes are taken out. After a few years of employment, you may be qualified to receive full benefits from the retirement plan! Each year, our financial advisor comes in for a seminar for those who are new to the program or if you have any questions about your current plan. John and Tina really encourage us all to contribute to our 401(k) plan.
Safety Pizza Party
Who doesn’t love a good ol’ pizza party?! If we as a company go a quarter without an accident report, the corporate office gets a pizza party as a thank you for keeping it safe. We get to choose pizza with or without onions and we have tried different pizza from the surrounding area. A recent study found that throwing a pizza party actually boosts productivity by 6.7%! We get rewarded for being safe and the company gets a nice little boost in productivity. It’s a win win all around!
Best Place to Work
Sundance Vacations has been honored as a ‘Glassdoor Best Place to Work’ in the Nation for Small-Medium sizes businesses in 2019. This award is based specifically on input of employees, who provide feedback on their job and work environment to Glassdoor. Glassdoor is one of the world’s largest job and recruiting sites. Sundance has been given this honor not only because they care about their employees, but also because they meet the criteria. To be considered in the small and medium category, a company must have fewer than 1,000 employees and have received at least thirty ratings across each of the eight workplace attributes from U.S. based employees during the eligibility period. The final list is put together using Glassdoor’s; proprietary algorithm, led by its Economic Research Team, and takes into account quantity, quality and consistency of reviews.
Why would anyone want to look into ‘Glassdoor’? Well, it’s actually an awesome tool to use because current and former employees have the opportunity to anonymously share their opinions and insight about their work environment. That means you are in the driver’s seat and get to decide where you want to work, this allows you to really get to know the job you’re looking at before applying. Glassdoor is designed to get a grasp on a personal inside view of the company by having employees sharing a review. When sharing a review about the company, employees are asked to rate their satisfaction with the company overall, with their compensation and benefits, senior management, work life/ personal life balance, culture and values and more. The employees are also asked to describe the reasons why they work where they work and they can also share any downsides of working at the location.
“We hoped that creating a company where employees love to work would translate into delivering the best service for our clients. Based on the Glassdoor.com results, it looks like that has been the key to our success for over twenty-seven years,” said John Dowd, Co-Founder and Owner.
I have worked for a few different employers in the past and I can tell you that nowhere is like Sundance Vacations. I have felt like just an employee at other jobs, but here is different. As long as you show and give respect, you will get it back tenfold. I personally have worked for the company since 2014 and I do enjoy my work environment and coworkers. Not everyone can say that about where they work. Sundance Vacations tries to motivate you to do better and motivates you to get the job done. As you can see, they want you to enjoy coming to work and they want to make it fun, as long as you don’t lose sight of your professionalism while doing so. After all, you are a professional here. During the workday, it’s nice to surround yourself with those who like to maintain a positive attitude throughout the day. It really helps things stay fun and exciting.
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