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UK hospitality industry ‘won’t be ready’ for 2012 Olympics

By Luke Nicholls , 26-Oct-2011
Last updated on 26-Oct-2011 at 16:41 GMT2011-10-26T16:41:45Z

With the London 2012 Olympics just around the corner, 59 per cent of consumers do not think the UK will be ready to deliver a world-class visitor experience

With the London 2012 Olympics just around the corner, 59 per cent of consumers do not think the UK will be ready to deliver a world-class visitor experience

The majority of consumers believe the UK hospitality industry ‘won’t be ready’ to welcome visitors for the London 2012 Olympics.

This is the revelation of a survey by customer experience group Sidona. It found that 59 per cent of customers do not think hospitality businesses will be able to deliver a world-class experience during the 2012 Olympic Games, while 25 per cent believe hospitality businesses in general only deliver ‘acceptable’ experiences.

“We are obviously not quite there yet when it comes to making sure front line leisure and tourism businesses deliver the sort of experience our visitors expect,” said Anne Blackburn, customer experience director of Sidona Group.

“With Visit Britain estimating that tourism outside London is set to benefit by £0.62bn as a result of the Olympics, it is critical that we get the experience right if we are to benefit long-term.

“Our survey shows that getting products and processes right is just a small part of the picture. With over 50 per cent of an experience coming from the emotions staff evoke when interacting with visitors, and this could be negative - frustrated, neglected, disappointed - or positive – valued, cared for, pleased – it is vital the experience generates the positive emotions that leave lasting memories visitors will treasure and, most importantly, share.”

Poor customer service

Sidona’s survey was conducted on 200 consumers from the South West of England. They were also polled on the areas hospitality businesses need to improve upon in order to deliver better customer experiences. The overwhelming response was to enhance customer management skills, with 57 per cent stating staff skills need improving.

“To make the leap from good to excellent, all staff must be shown how to make better emotional connections with customers and to understand why this is important,” added Blackburn. “Businesses must start to question how and what they are delivering to their customers and if they are going to benefit from summer 2012 they need to do so now.”

Last month, BigHospitality revealed that half of hospitality, travel and leisure businesses claim staff availability for the Olympics is a ‘major challenge’. We have also published a practical four-part special feature entitled Planning for the 2012 Olympics , which aims to provide businesses with everything they need to know to be a winner during London 2012.

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