Service with a smile 21 February 2020 Tom Kemble of the Pass at South Lodge cooks up a pumpkin masterclass and shares why it’s important for chefs to meet their customers
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From zero to hero: a London landmark

11 March 2010 by
From zero to hero: a London landmark

There's no more surefire way of making a magazine sub-editor wince than by casually aggrandising someone or something by applying the word "iconic". Overuse has cheapened the currency of the word to the extent that a Google search reveals iconic status being conferred upon Katie Price, Bernard Manning's World Famous Embassy Club and even the Countdown TV theme.

In the case of the London Eye, though, the term is surely applicable. In 10 years, the ferris wheel on London's South Bank has morphed from zero to hero.

Ridiculed during construction for problems hoisting it into place ("British Airways can't get it up" was Virgin Atlantic's gleeful dig at the London Eye's original sponsor), it was then hit by technical problems that delayed its public opening for many weeks after its official launch by Prime Minister Tony Blair.

But these teething problems were quickly forgotten once the public experienced the wonders of the wheel. Today, the London Eye is the UK's most popular paid-for visitor attraction and its 32 capsules treat more than 3.5 million people a year to a bird's eye view of the capital. This extraordinary success won managing director David Sharpe the Leisure and Tourism award at the 2008 Cateys.

If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, the London Eye must struggle to keep from blushing. The Singapore Flyer, the Wheel of Perth, the Great Dubai Wheel and the Beijing Wheel are all striving to replicate the magic of our London landmark.

The London Eye stands as an emblem of the power of innovation. In 10 years it has woven itself into the fabric of London life, and is now closely linked with the international image of London.

Can your business boast its own equivalent of the London Eye? Have you conjured a new and game-changing asset with the power to transform your customer offering? With the rush of visitors to the London Olympics just two years away, now's the time to set your creative powers to the challenge.

Mark Lewis, Editor, Caterer and Hotelkeeper

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