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CORNWALL - Training

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For some reason best known to few, there are those that believe providing a tourism product or service is a complete doddle - something that can be done almost as a part-time hobby. At Sphinx we hate this attitude. When we produce a travel feature for a newspaper or magazine, uppermost in our minds is the fact that many readers might spend the whole year working hard to save for this one off experience. They dream of having fun, being pampered, laughing, partaking in new experiences and enjoying a feel-good factor for 168 hours per week. We never ever want our readers to come back feeling disappointed in any way and it is for that reason we try to be as accurate and honest as possible in order not to give our false expectations. Not getting what we expect and what we have paid for is often as a result of the poor training given to those we interact with.

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Everyone is willing to learn - given the chance!

As stupid as it may sound, it is easier to attend a course in training aircraft cabin crew in Cornwall than it is to attend a course in operation a small hotel or B&B. Cornwall has 45,000 guest beds and remarkably few international passenger hubs. Equally, it can be as difficult to get training in customer care, food hygiene, front of house, catering skills, professional cleaning, time management, tourism management, health & safety... Sphinx is looking at working with the Further Education (FE) sector in establishing meaningful courses to meet the current needs of the tourism industry. Further, we seek to increase awareness in school children as to the impact tourism has on their lives and their environment in order to help create future generations of professionals rather than hobbyists.

Tourism attracts the 'second career brigade', people who have taken retirement, or redundancy and are seeking this opportunity to establish themselves in a career that will provide comfort and security in their senior years. Most often they come with enthusiasm, a high level of commitment, some level of energy, some income and no experience or prior knowledge. God bless them, they work hard, especially in the early months and years, but all too often it fails to reach expectations. It is demanding on their time and energy, demand for their product or service is not quite what they were hoping for, everything costs a lot more that they were given to believe and no one really shows gratitude at the end of the day. Before you know it, standards start to slide a little, eggs go from large to medium and then medium to small, bed linen is changed a little less often, that flower bed gets less of a priority and ultimately forgotten and the soup of the day takes 15 minutes to arrive as opposed to the 10 minutes this time last year. Owners are unhappy, guests are left feeling dissatisfied, repeat business evaporates and the cost of occupying beds goes up a lot.

Sphinx is looking at assisting in the development of 'on the job' training schemes involving local champions that will continue to act as 'mentors' as new entrants come to the area.

The Sphinx take on: CUSTOMER CARE, ENVIRONMENTAL CONCERNS, LOCAL PRODUCE, MARKETING, STANDARDS, VALUE FOR MONEY.