By SHANNON KELLY
Just 73 days from the start of the London Olympics, the rush is on for hoteliers and other tourism-minded businesses in and around London to cash in on the Games. Savvy business owners are using the time to ramp up their customer service skills, using a program developed in Canada.
The British Columbia–based WorldHost program, which was developed to train employees for the Vancouver Winter Games in 2010, has been licensed in the UK to train British volunteers and tourism-industry employees to be a little more…Canadian in providing customer service.
WorldHost training includes basic skills such as effective listening and making first impressions and sessions for serving people with disabilities. Thus far, hotels, transportation companies and ticket agents are among the clients to have used the program.
Why are tourism industry folks leaping at the chance to adopt a Canadian-grown hospitality style? Well, as Ricky Francis, owner of B&B in Wales and a told Canada’s Globe & Mail, “You do service so well in Canada. Americans are okay, but a tad insincere. People are arrogant in Britain—we think we do service well, but we really don’t.” A BBC News article cites snobbery and lack of basic common courtesy as the UK’s primary failings in this regard.
Surveys support Canada’s friendly image—and the UK’s, ahem, room to grow. Canada was ranked #1 in the Country Brand Index study conducted by brand research and analysis company FutureBrand in both 2010 and 2011. The UK, on the other hand, ranked ninth in 2010 and fell to 13th in 2011. And despite increases in visitors and tourism spending, it didn’t even make the study’s top 25 in the Tourism category for 2011.