Businesses in Portsoy, Braemar and Aberdeen amongst those focusing on improving the customer experienceAberdeen and Aberdeenshire are leading Scotland with more tourism professionals achieving WorldHost accreditation that any other area in the country. Over 1,300 people working in the tourism industry – from taxi drivers to visitor attraction managers – have now completed the training, which promotes world-class customer service.
In addition, 73 businesses of all sizes in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire have attained WorldHost Recognised Business status, including Aberdeen Taxis, Braemar Highland Safaris, the Aberdeen Marriott Hotel and The Spotty Bag Shop. This means over 50% of staff have undertaken WorldHost training, and owners have signed a commitment to delivering excellent customer service.
While traditionally this kind of training has been aimed squarely at accommodation providers, WorldHost – a renowned customer service training scheme popularised by the London Olympics and Glasgow Commonwealth Games – brings together all those working in the tourism industry. From transport providers to restauranteurs, the course aims to focus operators’ attention on the entire customer journey and experience. With the support of Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire Councils, all libraries and visitor attractions are now working on gaining accreditation, alongside VisitScotland Information Centres, the National Trust for Scotland and Historic Scotland.
Elaine Booth, business engagement manager at VisitAberdeenshire, says, “While business travel levels have been lower in the last 12 months, the leisure market has remained constant. Historically leisure travellers saw Aberdeen as a weekend destination, with high midweek room rates pricing them out of the market. The last year, however, has seen this shift somewhat, and now is the perfect time for tourism operators to ensure that all their staff are providing excellent service to all visitors.
“WorldHost allows tourism businesses the chance to really focus in on the customer journey, and ensure that they are thinking of their guests at every stage of the process. Trainees will learn valuable skills including how to build a rapport with guests, how to empathise with and listen to customers’ concerns, and how to go the extra mile.
“It is so important that everyone working in the tourism industry – from taxi drivers to hotel managers – is well-versed in providing exceptional customer service, and is thinking about every step of a customer’s visit to the region.”
Those business that have gained WorldHost Recognised Business accreditation are already reaping the benefits, with an increase in solid customer satisfaction feedback. Two such businesses are the Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Centre, who achieved the status in March this year, and the Station Hotel in Portsoy which has been accredited for a number of months.
Anna MacKenzie, senior sales manager at the Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Centre (AECC), says that although she feels the venue has always offered good quality service, taking part in WorldHost training has ensured that everyone is working together.
She explains, “There is now a high level of understanding across all departments of where the customer comes in the whole process – we’re all singing from the same hymn sheet. Everyone has a role to play in service delivery, from the person greeting them on arrival at the front desk to the event planning team, and this joined up thinking allows us to present an even better service to our customers.
“We as an organisation often have to sell Aberdeen and the north east as a destination before we can sell the AECC as a venue. It’s in the best interests of everyone working in the tourism and hospitality industries across the region to provide the best customer service possible – we are all ambassadors for Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire and contribute to a visitor’s enjoyment of their time here.”
Susan Cameron, owner of the Station Hotel in Portsoy, agrees that widespread WorldHost accreditation is the route to a boost in the tourism industry in the north east of Scotland.
She says, “Through programmes like WorldHost, customer care in the north east of Scotland – and across the country – has really improved. The more businesses across the region that complete the training, the better. If everyone is operating at the same level and to the same high standards, there is more likelihood for visitors to return in the future or extend their stay.
“Whether a guest is visiting from Canada or down the road in Elgin, it’s important for everyone to remember the customer journey and ensure that they have the best experience possible.
“Prior to the WorldHost training, some of our staff had been through external training courses and some had been trained in-house. By putting everyone through the same training, it allowed us to ensure that we were delivering a consistent level of service across the business. It also allows a rare opportunity for the whole team to get together and really think about the service they deliver, and refresh their core customer care skills.”
Those completing their WorldHost training in the north east of Scotland are also entitled to an added bonus: access to Discover Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire, a dedicated training course that educates tourism operators in the intricacies of the north east tourism industry. Complementing the joined-up thinking promoted by WorldHost, the online course will allow tourism organisations a greater understanding of their place in the local industry and how they can work to improve the service they provide.