By Marcus Leach
Today (Friday) marks six months until London hosts the 2012 Olympic Games and businesses have some work to do to make sure they are ready to welcome visitors to the UK.
In a survey by the People 1st Training Company, 73 percent of people agreed that Britain needs to improve customer service ahead of the Olympics and just 14 percent think Britain’s hospitality and how we welcome guests is the aspect that will most ensure we are a good host during the Games.
The Nation 2011 report revealed that 86 percent of businesses have taken no steps to plan for the Games. And while 90 percent of businesses say that the Games will be a good thing for the sector as a whole, preparation is key to ensuring they are a success, both for businesses and the reputation of the UK.
WorldHost, a customer service training programme developed in Canada and used successfully at the Vancouver Winter Olympics, has been adapted for use in Britain by People 1st, the sector skills council for hospitality, travel, tourism and passenger transport is set to help businesses make the most of the Games.
The training has been awarded the London 2012 Inspire Mark as recognition of the programme’s objective in supporting the legacy themes of the Games, and is being used to train companies up and down the country. It has the support of the Institute of Directors and leading businesses including McDonald’s, and Merlin Entertainments. .
Organisation of all shapes and sizes are urged to prepare and the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead is leading by example, using WorldHost to train around 500 volunteers who will be ambassadors for Dorney Lakes, a host venue for the rowing, kayak and Paralympic rowing events during London 2012.
These events are due to attract up to 30,000 spectators per day and there will be 3,500 staff and volunteers assisting the venue. The borough is also home to Windsor Castle, the oldest and largest occupied castle in the world, the picturesque 4,800 acre Windsor Great Park and LEGOLAND Windsor, which are expected to attract extra visitors around the Games.
“With the borough hosting an Olympic event, it is our responsibility to be at our best as we will be on the frontline and the face of the UK for some visitors," Julia White, visitor manager at the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead said.
"It is also hoped that those who have been trained with WorldHost will be deployed at other local Olympic events such as the torch relay, and therefore have more opportunities to put their training to good use.”
It’s not just London Borough’s that are benefiting from the training; international visitors are expected across the UK. Early last year North Tyneside Council ordered WorldHost training. They made the training open to a variety of local businesses including accommodation providers, front of house staff, tourist information centres and staff at the Port of Tyne, which welcomes ferries from Amsterdam.
“The people of the North East have a reputation for being amongst the country’s friendliest and in North Tyneside we want to retain and even improve that reputation by making sure everyone receives a great customer service experience," Jonathan Barrand, tourism development officer at North Tyneside Council commented.
"We are very proud of the rich cultural attractions and venues the region has to offer and we want to showcase them alongside our famous North East welcome.”
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