Monday 7 February 2011

The Personal Touch - A High Altitude Example

Tourism Matters...

For those of us involved in a day to day basis with hospitality and tourism we almost accept that "Tourism Matters" as a given but it still never fails to impress me when I encounter examples of others going that extra mile for no personal gain nor financial reward other than the pleasure of sharing the wonders of a destination, their place, with the visitor.

Perhaps we don't share those experiences often enough.

I encountered, first hand, just what a difference a positive visitor attitude can make whilst skiing last week in the French Alpine resort of Courcheval.

Through a chance meeting we were introduced to a chalet owner who proceeded over the subsequent days to advise us on snow conditions, restaurants to avoid, apres ski not to miss, why you should buy black coffees and not cafe au lait and even trying very hard to fix the traditional (okay ancient) parallel skiing technique of the author and replace it with something that made at least some minimal use of the carver skis I'd hired.

This is not one of those "this is what Scotland needs to do to catch up" monologues. On reflection I could think of a couple of dozen operators and perhaps hundreds of individuals who do go that extra mile for their guests every day but sometimes, even the best intentioned of us, can forget that the best thing you can do with knowledge is share it. And that was driven home to me by the efforts of a single individual in the past seven days.

How much value was added to our trip by the friendliness and passion of that one person? Almost incalculable - from the informal ski tips, the honing of off piste skills, the recommendations of social highlights and the (literal) mountain high points - the time of one individual really made a massive difference to the overall experience.

We were lucky? Yeah probably but for all of the ski tour operators out their with gap year chalet maids and resort reps, with transfer drivers and meet and greeters this was an example of best practice that we should all be trying to replicate and not just for the sake of it either but because it makes bloody good business sense.

There were three of us on that trip and each one of us will return to the Trois Vallees area more often and sooner than we would have before because of the experience. We will talk about the area more knowledgeably and by sharing those experiences others we know will consider Le Praz instead of La Tania or 1550 or 1650.

In Scottish tourism terms, over the years I have experienced, particularly in the golf tourism market, the value of customer service, and repeat business and referrals based on what an individual driver or guide or caddy can give to the visiting golfer.

I still take providing customer service for granted (and as a result perhaps don't do it as well as I should?); it's perhaps only more eye opening when you are the receiver, and you can personally understand the difference individuals can make to the guest experience.

Anyway, in spite of the grey, rain laden clouds of an Ayrshire February morning it is still good to be positive and to be reminded about the differences each of us can make in every phone call, email and conversation.

It may even inspire someone far away to write about you!

PS. If you are looking for a catered chalet in Les Trois Vallees you could do worse than clicking on the link!

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