I am spending more time on Project management these days, along with fundraising for some clients keen to move their business’s forward.

I noticed with interest an advert for one of four Admission Managers that are required for Edinburgh Castle. The Castle is arguably what visitors think of first when they think of Scotland, and this icon attracts over 1.2 million visitors a year. The Castle has new Visitor Reception facilities opening in 2008, and whilst the advert says the post-holder must ensure that a World Class Service is offered to its visitors the emphasis in the advert is "heavily focused on delivering very demanding sales targets through a new and innovative pricing strategy".

I know the world is driven by profit, but if you get the Customer Service Delivery right in the first place the profits will follow. Making sure you squeeze the last Dollar and Yen from your visitor really isn't the answer. Treat them right, and fairly. Have the Front-line troops trained, capture your visitor's loyalty and don't put such a squeeze on your Managers that they have no other concept in their minds other than profit.

... and web based reviews are the way forward

It has been suggested, and I have to say I agree with the suggestion, that the traditional Star rating system is on its way out. The system works on a set of criteria set by whichever Body an attraction or Hotel pays into. These criteria are matched against the attraction's or hotel's provision during a mystery visit and a Star rating allocated. It is not easy to sometimes match the criteria set as they may relate to provisions you cannot match like a certain number of toilets per thousand visitors. If you cannot provide more for whatever reason then you will never achieve more than (say) 3 Stars no matter how wonderful the experience. Increasingly visitors are turning to the web to record reviews of their visits. These will be far more personal accounts and readers of such reviews will be more inclined to take them seriously. It is suggested that 58% of those looking for hotel accommodation now look on line for reviews when deciding where to stay. Of course, one needs to be wary of who actually puts these reviews up, but the future lies here and cannot be denied.

Its June, Wimbledon, showers and the longest day are all around the corner. Then the burst of summer activity followed by the analysis of how the season went. It really is that quick! Figures for February show the visitor numbers down by a little under 4%, with the "split" figure for the South East of Scotland even higher. If this trend holds for the months since February and on into the summer you visitor attractions may find yourself down a significant amount -“ which we know all too well translates to income, and questions about next year.

It was interesting to listen to Shirley Bailey-Woods on ;Working Lunch" today (Friday May 18th.) Shirley was being interviewed because the BSI (British Standards Institute) recognises that the UK suffers from poor Custom Services delivery.

The BSI survey shows some alarming figures:

  • 8 out of 10 customers are unhappy with the way they're treated by staff
  • 75% of customers admitted to wanting to, or had actually changed their allegiance.
  • Of the growing numbers that complain, many receive standardised responses, often with apologies – even when they've actually written in praise of good service.

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