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Sports events market scores for excellence

Matchday hospitality provision is helping to drive up standards in customer service

A Cliffden Hotel in Teignmouth is one of the operator's properties

Not-for-profit operator launched Vision Hotels designed to provide "accessible breaks"

By Pete Hayman National sight loss charity Action for Blind People has announced the launch of a new not-for-profit hotel operator to offer accessible breaks for disabled people. Vision Hotels currently

manages four hotels across England, which have been adjusted to incorporate wet rooms and textured surfaces and including facilities such as talking alarm clocks, large button phones and dog areas. The four properties operated by the group are located in

Teignmouth in Devon; Aldwick, near Bognor Regis, West Sussex; Lake Windemere, Cumbria; and Weston-super- Mare in Somerset. Vision Hotels head Paul

Morrison said: "Accessibility is continually ignored within the sector and we can prove that simple adaptations can make a big difference and in turn, increase guest numbers. "We have the same aims as

anyone else in the catering and hospitality sector: to provide an excellent level of service that makes our customers re-book time and time again."

Accessibility boosts sector returns

Tourism and hospitality businesses that improve their accessibility could see healthy returns on their investments. Figures from VisitEngland

show that overnight trips made by people who either have, or are accompanied by someone with, a health condition contributed almost £2bn to the English domestic visitor economy during 2009. More than 11 million trips were made last year, equat-

© Cybertrek 2010

ing to 11 per cent of the total volume of domestic overnight tourism in England. Trips by this group tend to be longer than average and as a result their spend per trip is higher. VisitEngland chief execu- tive James Berresford said:

"Tourism businesses should view accessibility in its broadest sense, as fundamen- tally it is about understanding and catering for the individu- al needs of all visitors."

ccording to a recent report, sport and leisure continues to be a key growth industry, with nearly 50

per cent of adults playing sport at least once a week, while the fitness and leisure market is worth around £3.8bn. At the same time, sport attracts large numbers of spectators, especially major events such as the Grand National, Henley Regatta and the FA Cup Final. The provision of food and beverage

at all these events has long been an integral activity. Indeed, the word

'hospitality' can have two quite different meanings when related to sport. It can, of course, mean the catering support provided for teams and spectators, but it also has connotations of something altogether more glamorous; the hospitality tent or box, where clients and guests are entertained in considerable style as if they were dining in a Michelin star restaurant. Indeed, the high standards achieved by event caterers often match the excellence of the sports personalities engaged on the pitch, the track or the court. This close relationship of excellence has resulted in some

PHILIPPE ROSSITER is chief executive of the Institute of Hospitality (IoH). Leisure Opportuni- ties is a member benefit of the IoH, for your free copy call 01462 471913

quite interesting developments, where hospitality and sport have worked closely together. One example is the Lilleshall National Sports Centre in Shropshire. In addition to its role in providing training facilities for more than 20 different sports and specialist facilities for elite athletes, Lilleshall is also home to a number of sporting governing bodies, as well as a community centre hosting more than 80 local sports clubs. Keen to reflect the levels of sporting excellence achieved at

its premises, the centre decided that it was essential for all its hospitality facilities to be of the highest possible standard. To help drive the process, the management team employed the Institute of Hospitality's Hospitality Assured Standard for Service and Business Excellence. The Hospitality Assured process encourages businesses to

look at their own operation from the customer's perspective and to see where improvements should be made to benefit the business. Using the standard and reviewing how they do business using the 10 steps allows businesses to see how well they are doing in relation to their own aspirations. In addition, being assessed and scored allows them to compare their performance with others operating in their sector and with other Hospitality Assured businesses in general.

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