So, anyone not heard of the credit crunch yet? It's a trendy 2008 expression for a phenomenon that comes around every few decades under a different excuse. The reality is the same though, less money in our pockets and more importantly the pockets of our visitors. Indeed the direct result may be a reduction in that increasingly rare commodity, the overseas visitor. This currently financial glitz is a wide-spread little beast and tourists who once may have griped because Sterling was too strong at least had Dollars whereas now they don't!

Greasy Spoon

The moral behind this unsurprising snippet is that increasingly the few visitors we get will look for excellent value for their spending money. This in turn will tighten the profit margins all round. It's a short season, and the temptation to fight La Crunch by hyping prices will backfire. We must all look to our services, delivery, staffing and margins.

I note the NTS (Scotland) approach tells its staff that they will do mystery visits 2,3 or 4 times season. Others tell their staff to smile at the customer and sell them a membership. The reality is just that – reality. You go to the newly expanded café of a prominent garden Centre not a million miles from Edinburgh and you'll see that the staff are under huge pressure to cope with the expansion – and what suffers, customer service delivery.

So, what are the options? Well, going under is a clear one these days. Develop your own mystery visit system or get an outside professional to do it? Clearly I want you to pick me and my team to do this, but more than that I just want you to realise the dangers of doing nothing – or soon you'll be trying to convince your customer that …well, its all in the cartoon.

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