Archive for the ‘Training provider guest blogs’ category

Customer Service – Can you meet the Challenge?

October 27, 2009

Customer Service in Tourism – Can you meet the Challenge?

The Scottish Government’s Framework for Change for Tourism states:

‘We need to exceed our customers’ expectations so that they have a great time in Scotland and want to come back – and recommend us to their friends. In order to do that, we need to know who our customers are and what they’ll want from us. We’re in a fast-changing and competitive consumer marketplace, though, and consumer expectations are continually changing.

‘We therefore need to stay ahead of the game, keep on top of market trends and new developments and be quick to respond with development and enhancement of our own products and services. Only then can we ensure we’re always ready to exceed our customers’ expectations, however they may change, and so build our reputation as a must-visit, must-return destination.’

Tourism providers are encouraged to collect feedback from customers to identify their client base, what they do well and where they could improve.  Feedback should be analysed and improvements made on a continuous basis to meet ever-changing customer needs.

Do you collect feedback and focus on continuous improvement?

It is particularly important that tourism and hospitality providers continually develop their people.  A tantalising, tasty menu, an ambient atmosphere and up-to-date decor might draw in the customers, but if the customer service does not match your customers’ expectations, they will be dissatisfied.

The people of your organisation and their skills do affect your bottom line.  It is vital that you improve and maintain the morale of your staff.  Here are a few tips on how to do this:

  • Carry out an internal staff survey to understand their key concerns and their barriers to delivering great service. The principle applies that if your staff are not satisfied, then your customers will not be satisfied.
  • Ensure staff involvement and participation in identifying and improving service quality. Increase the employee involvement in identifying problems and solutions and your staff are more likely to experience a sense of ownership of your service and quality problems. They will also perceive that management considers them to be important partners in providing services, empowering them to address and solve problems.

Involving service staff as partners in building a strong service culture makes it more likely that your employees will care about delivering good service to your customers.

  • Create a continuous feedback loop for your frontline staff. Don’t just give feedback when something negative has happened. Your staff need to know when they are doing well. Don’t leave them to guess.
  • Don’t try to shoehorn your staff in to a ‘one-size-fits-all’ operating model. Staff are motivated in different ways. Some will want recognition; others just want or need the money. Some strive for career advancement, others are seeking self esteem. Try to understand these drives and manage accordingly, or productivity and quality may suffer.

It is a team effort to improve products, services, skills and knowledge. Through a focus on continuous improvement, your business will grow and prosper by providing a competitive and exceptional visitor experience.

For your FREE workbook on Supporting Customer Service Improvements contact Michelle Fenwick by email and the workbook will be emailed back to you, alternatively call Michelle on 01383 842254 or 07795256193.

Protocol Skills also deliver qualifications in Customer Service; check out our courses by following the link.


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

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!