Archive for the ‘New material’ category

Time to look again at your Continuing Professional Development?

August 26, 2009

With businesses everywhere seeking to cut costs, fend off the redundancy option as long as possible and getting the maximum output for their ever-decreasing budgets – you may feel now is not the right time to approach your boss and ask for training. However, now is exactly the time when managment and employees alike need to reassess their approach to training and development.

One of the most important assets of a business is its employees.   Training is understood to be one of the major contributors to the key success factors of an individual or a business.  Astute employers realise the benefits of investing in the training of their staff. In challenging economic times staff training is even more crucial to your business survival and success and is a sound investment you cannot afford to miss.

And for you? Investing in yourself now means that you will be better placed to gain promotion or to find a great job when the job market is at its most competitive. You will feel more in control of your circumstances and future and whilst in employment you will be able to work more effectively.

If you are in employment but wish to learn new skills to enhance your promotional prospects or are thinking of a change of career, short courses are ideal. Carnegie College has just launched its new training directory featuring over 150 courses across 11 subject areas providing details of short training courses that can boost your Continuing Professional Development and enhance your CV.

· Well recognised accredited qualifications such as PRINCE2, MSP, M_o_R
· Bite-sized learning meaning no long term commitment and a more affordable way to build up your qualifications
· Flexible class times including evening or weekend classes or by e-learning enabling you to stay in employment whilst studying.
· Plus…..short training courses in IT, Construction and Gas, Childcare, Beauty Therapy, Health and Safety and much more.

To find out more about our wide range of training courses or to book a place:

· Call Customer Services on 0844 248 0115
· Email OR
· Come along to our Information Event on Thursday 3rd September 4-8pm.

You can also download a copy at


What is ‘World Class Service’?

August 4, 2009

At various free workshops and seminars we’ve helped run this year in St Andrews, we asked you to come up with your definitions of ‘world class service’.  Here is a graphic representation (courtesy of of what you said.  The bigger the word, the more often it was used. Wordle: 'What is World Class?'

What do you think? Are you surprised about which words came up most often? Are there any that you would add? Tell us about them by commenting below and we’ll make a new Wordle of your comments.

Making the Homecoming Work for You and your Visitors

July 27, 2009

Catherine Bowie is one of the St Andrews Skills Academy’s approved training providers (CBTS), and in this article she blogs for us about Homecoming and how to make the most of the opportunities presented. Thank you Catherine!

For the Homecoming to be a success, it is vital that we offer as much information as is possible on our area, and give visitors practical tips so that we can ensure that each of the Homecoming tourists receives a real Scottish welcome and goes home raving about what Scotland has to offer. Rarely are we given this opportunity and the spotlight of the world will be on us – are we prepared?

Firstly, consider the kind of visitors which the Homecoming will attract and their profile – ancestral visitors come to Scotland with different expectations; however it should be noted that they tend to be well informed, expect extremely detailed information and are able to talk a great deal about their family history and their discoveries!

One of the most important aspects of their research is visiting places where they have a connection and this could be as simple as a castle or a visitor attraction but they may require information on the local family history society, graveyards or facts on industrial heritage. Here is the opportunity to make a difference. Many of our visitors will be very value conscious so it’s all about offering information on things that represent added value to their visit.

Learn about cultural differences.  Here are useful links to the Visit Britain site offering insight on some of the prospective homecoming markets:




New Zealand

South Africa

Other countries

These are very useful resources, detailing tips on how to offer these visitors the kind of service they expect, and ideas for subtle nuances which can really make you stand out in your service offerings.

Secondly, Homecoming visitors will expect a warm Scottish welcome – many ancestral visitors come to Scotland to seek a connection so it is essential that we bring out warmth and build rapport immediately so that they feel at home. Many visitors do not like to be classified as tourists – they want to feel more as if they are coming home.

Many Homecoming visitors have preconceived ideas about what Scotland has to offer and they appreciate the traditional approaches in tourism & hospitality even if we don’t perceive them to be mainstream. You need to respect these wishes as these are often what create the best memories. Find out where great afternoon tea or authentic fish and chips are being served, and where ceilidhs, Highland Games, golf tournaments, Scottish theatre, local art and crafts exhibitions etc are being held; be pro-active about promoting such events.

Engage with your visitors professionally and ensure that you and your staff are positive about your area and Scotland and all that it can offer. It is easy to allow current affairs to cast a shadow on our mood, however this is not attractive to our visitors; they are seeking to connect with vibrant and dynamic people.

Stay up to date with what’s going on in your area and create a file with important visitor services information. Find out about events and keep useful information such as local church times, contact details for key people, menus from local restaurants and (of course) an up-to date events listing for what’s on in your area. Find out where the local family history society is and where other documents are held. Ancestral visitors really appreciate access to a computer as so much of their research is conducted this way.
Stick to these tips and not only enhance the visitor experience look professional but also act as a great advertisement for Scotland!

RSS feeds – what they are and how to use them

July 13, 2009

RSS feeds – have you heard of them? Twitter is a glorified set of RSS feeds, but there are many other uses for these handy alerts. Watch this video, from the CommonCraft people in conjunction with Google, and give RSS feeds a try. Subscribe to the St Andrews Skills Academy blog, so that you’ll always know when we’ve posted something new.

If you also install the Google Toolbar, you can add a ‘Google Reader’ button, which will glow bright green whenever a new RSS alert comes in. How’s that for an efficiency measure?!

Do you subscribe to RSS feeds? Tell us about your experiences here.

Delivering Service Excellence – what’s it all about?

July 6, 2009

Last week I had the pleasure of observing one of the famed 100 Thousand Welcomes courses, run by one of our approved training providers, Ian Hunt.   Ian had kindly agreed to let me sit in on his day-long ‘Delivering Service Excellence’ session so that I would be able to pass on first-hand experience of the course.

The day started at 9.15 am, as attendees began to drift into the airy Champions’ Room at the Golf Practice Centre, St Andrews. Tea, coffee, shortbread and Ian all stood by ready to welcome them.  By 9.30 all the participants had assembled and Ian took the floor. From the start the day was very dynamic and participative, but also very objective focussed. After outlining the topics for the day, Ian had each attendee introduce themselves with their name and place of work, but also with the most memorable, positive service experience of which they had been a part.

With this interactive slant, the delegates soon warmed up, as they worked in different groups to complete the various tasks that Ian had set (from a quiz about St Andrews and Scotland – including ‘Why is the thistle Scotland’s national emblem?’ and ‘How many top-class golf courses are within a ten-mile drive from St Andrews?’ – to creating a poster and presentation of the key factors of service excellence).

The day was broken up into five training sessions:

Session 1 – Fife and Scottish tourism

Session 2 – Meeting and exceeding customer and guest expectations

Break – tea, coffee, and homemade scones

Session 3 – How to demonstrate a Positive Attitude

Lunch – soup and sandwiches at the Eden Clubhouse

Session 4 – Dealing with feedback (taking appropriate action and recording)

Break – more tea, coffee and shortbread

Session 5 – Improving in the future

Before lunch, participants were asked to reflect on their current work practices, rating themselves and looking for ways in which they could further strive for service excellence. Before leaving, the delegates filled out an action plan to take back into their workplaces and work on with their employers. Only if they send the completed forms back to Ian would participants receive their ‘Delivering Service Excellence’ certification.

A big thank you to all the employers who supported the St Andrews Skills Academy by sending along delegates, to Dorothy Murphy and the lovely staff at the Golf Practice Centre for accommodating us so seamlessly again, and of course to Ian for providing a fantastic training experience for attendees and observers alike!

If you would be interested in sending your staff on a 100k Welcomes course, or in attending yourself, please visit the St Andrews Skills Academy website or leave comments below.

Google Labs tests new ‘City Tours’ feature

July 6, 2009

The ever-innovative Google has launched online testing of a new application: Google City Tours. Using information from Google Maps, it creates three-day city itinieraries which group themselves by proximity to the city centre.  For examples of the new gadget working at its best, Google suggests searching cities such as London and Dublin, but it seems to generate some sort of tour for any city you type in.  Edinburgh’s, for example, looks quite feasible, if a little arbitrary.  Type in a St Andrews/East Neuk location, however, and the itinerary is fairly sparse (and includes a random Dundee design company).

I think that the tours might be generated by business information entered onto Google maps.  Tools like this are likely to take off in a big way soon, and so I’d recommend that you check the business information that Google holds for you, in order to have the best chance of featuring in this new generation of travel guidance.

I’ll keep you posted as to how the Google City Tours tool progresses, so do come back and check!


Welcoming Chinese Tourists

June 5, 2009

Australian learning and development company TravConsult have launched a non-commercial blog to help businesses (the tourism industry in particular) to better engage with the growing Chinese market.  Interactive and highly educational (if colourful and slightly unwieldy), this blog has scores of links to cultural advice, language guides, recipes, and even the Chinese weather!

Check out their blog here: TravConsult – China

Whether or not you find the TravConsult blog useful, it is worth noting that the global tourism industry is becoming very interested in local culture: not just the promotion of their own local treasures, but the understanding of their visitors’. If you are looking to expand the range of clientele your organisation attracts, perhaps it is worth considering what you can do to make them feel at home.