Police take on Blackpool's tourism beat
by Nick Webster. As published www.clicklancashire.com
Friday 01 May 2009 15:55 Last updated 1 May 2009
Lancashire Police officers are joining the tourism frontline as the whole town comes together to provide better service to visitors and boost the local economy.
Workers in customer-facing jobs across the entire seaside destination are taking up the unique Welcome to Blackpool training course, delivered by Lancashire and Blackpool Tourist Board in partnership with Blackpool Council.
The initiative aims to help ensure the town's 10 million plus visitors have the very best experience of their stay. After a bumper start to the season, the resort is enjoying the benefits of the revival of interest in the great British traditional seaside holiday.
The 500th person to complete the Welcome to Blackpool course was PC Mark Mulholland, a Community Beat Manager (CBM). In total, some 170 PCSOs and CBMs from Lancashire Constabulary will undergo the training.
Chief Superintendent Russ Weaver said: "We share the same goal of making Blackpool a welcoming and thriving destination for tourism. Along with many partners, we are committed to making a real difference to the town's economy. Our officers meet thousands of visitors face-to-face throughout the year and through this initiative we can make a real difference to their stay."
Welcome to Blackpool is a unique one-day course developed as part of Welcome to Excellence, the UK's leading customer service training programme. Improving customer service and civic pride is key to the town's tourism strategy, supporting the long-term £500m+ regeneration masterplan. Staff from major retailers, the train station, visitor attractions and hotels, Police Community Support Officers and even students have also already taken the course.
Some 3000 people are set to complete the course over the next two years from organisations including Northern Rail, Marks and Spencer, Debenhams, Blackpool Hilton, Sandcastle Waterpark, Blackpool International Airport, Pontin's, Leisure Parcs and Blackpool Leisure Beach, plus many more hotels, B&Bs, restaurants, pubs, retail and leisure attractions' owners and staff.
Mike Wilkinson, Chief Executive of Lancashire and Blackpool Tourist Board, said: "Acquiring good customer service skills is key to the successful revival of our resorts, as increasingly discerning and demanding customers look closer to home for their annual holiday or short break. Great customer care will distinguish one resort from the next and this pioneering programme is equipping local people with the knowledge and experience to take full advantage of the rise in 'staycations', helping maintain Blackpool's reputation as the UK's most popular seaside destination."
The course gives customer-facing staff wide-ranging product knowledge on what to see and do, how to travel around, where to eat and drink, and where to shop. Training incorporates core customer service skills so people can communicate effectively with domestic and overseas visitors, understand their needs, and provide advice and information in an inspiring way. Course participants learn about:
- the history and heritage of Blackpool
- identifying transport routes to and within the resort
- key visitor attractions, sport and active leisure facilities, parks and open spaces
- entertainment options and shopping facilities and what they offer
- major annual events
- the wide range of hospitality services in the resort
- key destinations and attractions along the Fylde Coast
- plans for Blackpool's future
They receive a 56-page handbook covering information as varied as when Frank Sinatra played in town to where to hire deckchairs. It covers all types of outdoor and indoor attractions, events, transport information, accommodation, eating and drinking options, shopping and much more.
Cllr Maxine Callow, Cabinet Member for Tourism & Regeneration for Blackpool Council, said: "It's great that so many organisations have come together to improve the welcome and customer service we offer visitors. We need to back up our major infrastructure investment and aim to offer world-class customer service too. By improving people's knowledge of the town and what we have to offer, they can pass this on to visitors, encouraging them to spend more, stay longer, return - and recommend us. In today's competitive tourism market, outstanding customer service can make the difference and we're proud that Blackpool is leading the way nationally with this course."
Welcome to Blackpool forms part of the Welcome to Excellence suite of courses, established as the UK's most popular customer service training, and undertaken by more than 300,000 staff throughout the tourism, hospitality, leisure and retail sectors.