Tourists find customer service at London’s hotels below average in run-up to London 2012 Olympics

By Emma Eversham

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Customer service, London

With less than a month to go before the start of the London 2012 Olympics, a survey reveals customer service at London's hotels is not as highly rated as in other places
With less than a month to go before the start of the London 2012 Olympics, a survey reveals customer service at London's hotels is not as highly rated as in other places
London’s hotels have been given a lower customer service score than the capital’s tourist attractions, shops, pubs and restaurants by a sample of overseas visitors who came to the city earlier this year.

According to the results of the London International Visitor Survey, overseas visitors on holiday in the capital between January and May gave their accommodation an average score of 8.1 per cent for quality of service compared with 8.7 for that received at visitor attractions and 8.2 at shops.

The news may come as a disappointment to the capital’s hoteliers who will be hoping to impress the increasing number of international guests arriving in the UK at the end of the month for the start of the London 2012 Olympics.

However, the 2,755 people surveyed were impressed with the cleanliness of the capital’s hotels and the friendliness of staff, although were less so with value for money, particularly those staying in budget hotels.

Work to be done

Commenting on the findings, People 1st chief executive Brian Wisdom said it was evident that work still needed to be done to improve customer service eithin the sector, both for the Olympics and beyond, although there were some positive signs.

He said: “While there are a number of positives to take from the London International Visitor Survey​ – namely the improvement in London’s accommodation ratings, and high customer service scores for visitor attractions and tourist information centres - the findings reflect what we have found in our own research; that there is still work to be done in improving customer service standards across the hospitality industry.

"Our latest State of the Nation report found that 65 percent of hospitality, leisure, travel and tourism employers feel that the customer service skills within their workforce could be improved.

“Despite below average low customer service scores, the friendliness of staff in London’s accommodation providers was actually rated above average in the Visitor Survey​. This indicates that training may be required to help ensure that staff are meeting their guests’ expectations, as well as offering a friendly welcome. 

“We have an unprecedented opportunity to change the perception of the UK’s visitor welcome, and there is still time for businesses to boost the skills of their workforce in the lead-up to the Games. It’s also important to remember that the opportunities don’t stop with the Olympics – customer service is essential to the success of hospitality establishments, and should form the cornerstone of any business strategy.”

Tourist trends

The survey, carried out by LJ Research, also looked at the habits of overseas visitors during the period and is hoped it will help the industry compare habits before and after the London 2012 Olympics.

“At this exciting time for the city with the London 2012 Olympics now less than one month away, the survey will help measure the overall impact and reveal how the profile of international visitors coming to the city and their expenditure patterns shift during and following the sports event,” said a spokesperson for LJ Research.

Hotel trends

When it came to hotels, the majority of guests stay in 3-star hotels (32 per cent) while 27 per cent stayed in 4-star hotels, 8 per cent in budget hotels and just 6 per cent in 5-star hotels, the majority of them from North America.

The Hilton was the most popular hotel chain overall and particularly popular with North Americans – 12 per cent of them chose the chain. Europeans were most likely to favour the Novotel and Ibis brands with the French and Germans also opting for budget hotels.

Tourist spend

On average, tourists spent £106.16 per day, a drop of 0.6 per cent on the same period the previous year, with accommodation spend dropping the most at an average of 2.3 per cent.

However, accommodation still took the biggest chunk of spend per day – an average of £44.10 while spend on food and drink averaged £22.68 per day. North Americans spend above the average in both of these areas.

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