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New Directions starts “Olympic Build-Up”

With the Millennium Stadium set to stage the very first event of the London 2012 Olympics – Women’s Football – Cardiff has started polishing up its hospitality act, with hotel staff the first to be trained in an Olympics-developed customer service programme.

To mark the landmark event Lesley Griffiths AM, Deputy Minister for Science, Innovation and Skills, presented special lapel pins to staff of The Royal Hotel Cardiff, the first hotel in the Welsh Capital to undergo ‘WorldHost’ training. The programme is regulated by People’s 1st, the Government’s sector council for hospitality, leisure, travel and tourism. A locally-based consortium of New Directions Training in partnership with Christie Wells Associates were awarded the contract to deliver the training, and will be expanding the programme to other public-facing organisations including hotels, shops and taxi companies.

Speaking at the hotel, located close to the Millennium Stadium which will also host 11 of the men’s Olympic football matches, Lesley Griffiths AM said: “The London 2012 Olympics are clearly providing further impetus for Wales to further improve its visitor offer. It is excellent to see the public and private sector coming together in partnership to boost customer service skills levels in the hospitality and leisure industry, which is a vital component of our tourism economy. I commend the Royal Hotel staff on becoming the first to qualify in the WorldHost programme.”

People’s 1st adopted WorldHost following its successful implementation at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics, where it was used to train 39,000 volunteers and tourism staff. It aims to license 400 trainers around the UK to train 200,000 hospitality and tourism personnel ahead of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Phil Raynsford, Strategic Programmes Director of People’s 1st said: “We have recognised that the UK needs to raise its game in customer service standards to take advantage of the estimated £2bn to be generated from visitors to the Olympics and WorldHost is a key part of that drive. The UK is ranked 14th in the international customer service rankings and we need to convince businesses to take on fresh new customer training ideas. Our research has shown that sixty-eight percent of businesses in the UK which implemented customer service training said generating repeat business was a key benefit while 18 percent said they saw increased sales.”

Jon Swingler, Manager of The Royal Hotel said: “Cardiff is well practiced in hosting international sporting events, and our hotel being so close to the Millennium Stadium, is no exception. But there is always room for improvement to boost the capital’s tourist reputation; we welcome the opportunity to adopt and champion the very latest in Olympic-oriented customer service standards.”

WorldHost training covers four customer service training components. These encompass the principles of customer service, an ‘ambassadors’ workshop, service for customers with disabilities and service across cultures.

Victoria Deane of New Directions Training and Kevin Christie of Christie Wells Associates are delivering the WorldHost programme in Cardiff.

On behalf of their partnership, Kevin Christie and Victoria Deane said: “It is important for hospitality businesses to take on board innovations in customer service training which were well proven as recently as the Vancouver Winter Olympics last year. Staff at the Royal clearly found WorldHost a refreshing and motivating adjunct to in-house training and to help their businesses and the economy we would to see many more organisations follow their lead.”

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