Hospitality operators have been urged to learn from their Canadian counterparts and invest in training ahead of the 2012 Olympics to ensure they make the most of the £2b that could be generated by visitors to the Games.
Sector skills council People 1st issued the call in the wake of the UK being ranked just 14th in the international customer service rankings and 13th for its perceived ‘welcome' by the annual Nation Brand Index Survey.
The research followed People 1st's own State of the Nation 2010 research report, which revealed around two-thirds of hospitality operators had staff who lacked necessary customer service skills.
Brian Wisdom, chief executive of People 1st, said: "There is a lot of focus on developing the infrastructure for the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games but not enough on ensuring we have the softer skills needed to welcome the world to Britain.
"It's anticipated that up to half a million visitors will arrive for the Games and we need to ensure their experience of Britain is a very positive one."
To tackle this, People 1st last year launched a campaign to train 200,000 hospitality and tourism staff ahead of the Olympics](http://www.caterersearch.com/Articles/2010/11/15/335912/People-1st-campaign-to-train-200000-staff-for-London.htm) and other events being hosted in the UK including the 2014 Ryder Cup and Commonwealth Games, and the 2015 Rugby World Cup.
A programme thathas already been used successfully at the Vancouver Winter Olympics, where it was used to train 39,000 volunteers and tourism staff earlier this year, has been developed for the UK by People 1st, with the support of VisitEngland.
The WorldHost training programme has the backing of the Institute of Directors and businesses including McDonald's, which will be embedding the WorldHost customer service training in its employee development programme.
Miles Templeman, director general of the Institute of Directors, said: "To make sure Britain is at its best, the standard of our customer service needs attention. It is imperative for businesses to invest in the people who will be on the front line, hosting our visitors and acting as ambassadors for the rest of the country."
[How catering is gearing up for the 2012 Olympics >>](http://www.caterersearch.com/Articles/2010/09/22/335156/how-catering-is-gearing-up-for-the-2012-olympics.htm)
[Could 2012 Olympics keep visitors away from London? >>](http://www.caterersearch.com/Articles/2010/09/22/335164/could-2012-olympics-keep-visitors-away-from-london.htm)
[The Caterer Interview: John Penrose >>](http://www.caterersearch.com/Articles/2010/12/01/336134/The-Caterer-Interview-John-Penrose.htm)
By Daniel Thomas
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