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Training to give Wales Olympic gold in customer service

People 1st – the sector skills council for the hospitality, passenger transport, tourism and travel industries – and Sport Cardiff, Cardiff Council’s sport development project are training Olympic volunteers in leading international customer service standards.

Two hundred volunteers have been selected to be ambassadors for Wales during Olympic events hosted in the capital city, helping visitors with directions and their local knowledge. A hundred volunteers have completed the tailored version of the WorldHost Principles of Customer Service training called WorldHost Ambassadors.

WorldHost was originally developed in Canada – widely recognised as a world leader for visitor welcome – and was used to train 39,000 volunteers and tourism staff at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics. It has since been adapted for the UK market by People 1st with Visit England, and awarded the 2012 Inspire mark by LOCOG (the London Organising Committee for the Olympic Games and Paralympics), which recognises its contribution to the legacy themes of the Games.

Phil Raynsford, director of People 1st Wales says, “The volunteers went through an intense interview process to make the final cut as ‘last milers’, so called because they will be stationed all around the Millennium Stadium during Olympic events hosted in the city. We’ve been impressed by the variety and quality of volunteers, ranging from 18 to 79 years old. To ensure Cardiff’s status as a leading tourism destination the training expands volunteer’s local knowledge and refines their customer service skills so every visitor will be able to find someone knowledgeable and friendly on the day.”

Leading Cardiff businesses have prepared for the Olympic visitors and trained staff using the full WorldHost Principles of Customer Service programme, which includes specific training modules for dealing with customers with disabilities and from other cultures.

Victoria Deane, Training Consultant for New Directions was one of the trainers for the Cardiff Ambassadors; she commented “To be involved in developing customer service skills for the Welsh Olympic volunteers is fantastic. Whilst 2012 demonstrates to the world what the UK can offer, we want to extend a warm Welsh welcome to all of our visitors.”

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