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People 1st urges employers to improve customer service skills in preparation for London 2012


Today (Friday 27 January) marks six months until London hosts the 2012 Olympic Games (27th July - 12th August) and almost three quarters of business leaders believe the UK needs to improve its customer service methods.

In a survey by the People 1st Training Company, 73% agreed Britain needs to improve customer service ahead of the Olympics and just 14% think Britain's hospitality and how we welcome guests, is the aspect that will most ensure we are a good host during the Games.

People 1st's State of the Nation 2011 report revealed 86% of businesses have taken no steps to plan for the Games. And while 90% of businesses say the Games will be a good thing for the sector as a whole, preparation is key to ensuring they are a success, both for businesses and the reputation of the UK.

WorldHost, a customer service training programme developed in Canada and used at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics, has been adapted for use in Britain by People 1st, the sector skills council for hospitality, travel, tourism and passenger transport is set to help businesses make the most of the Games.

The training has been awarded the London 2012 Inspire Mark as recognition of its objective in supporting the legacy themes of the Games, and is being used to train companies up and down the country. It has the support of the Institute of Directors and businesses including McDonald's, and Merlin Entertainments. .

Organisation of all shapes and sizes are urged to prepare and the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead is leading by example, using WorldHost to train around 500 volunteers who will be ambassadors for Dorney Lakes, a host venue for the rowing, kayak and Paralympic rowing events during London 2012. These events are due to attract up to 30,000 spectators per day and there will be 3,500 staff and volunteers assisting the venue. The borough is also home to Windsor Castle, the oldest and largest occupied castle in the world, the picturesque 4,800 acre Windsor Great Park and Legoland Windsor, which are expected to attract extra visitors around the Games.

Julia White, visitor manager at the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead said: "With the borough hosting an Olympic event, it is our responsibility to be at our best as we will be on the frontline and the face of the UK for some visitors. It is also hoped that those who have been trained with WorldHost will be deployed at other local Olympic events such as the torch relay, and therefore have more opportunities to put their training to good use."

It's not just London Borough's that are benefiting from the training; international visitors are expected across the UK. Early last year North

Sharon Glancy, director of the People 1st Training Company, said: "The London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games presents a superb business opportunity, so it's essential businesses prepare. Half a million people are expected to arrive in the UK for the Games and they are predicted to generate £2 billion in tourism during and after the Games. With only six months to go and the challenge clear businesses need to ask themselves if they are ready for a surge is international guests in the short term and a steady increase in local tourism for the period immediately after the Games."