June 2009 - Posts
Do you or should you have full access to the Internet at work?
I pose this question because we are organising a digital marketing campaign for National School Meals Week. This week has been run by the Local Authority Caterers Association (LACA) since 1993 as a paper based healthy eating promotion for schools. It is now moving into the digital era with an online campaign driven by www.iloveschoolmealsweek.co.uk. Digital marketing is the way forward and the usage of these tools has seen a dramatic increase. The week will include an online vote to find Britain's most popular school meals, video casts about cooking in school and exercising at home plus user generated content, social networking and much more. As a result local authority caterers will need full access to the Internet so they don't have to follow progress or work from home. Unfortunately some local authgorities do not allow full Internet access. I realise this was introduced to stop people surfing when they should have been working. But the time has come to change that. Every manager needs to communicate effectively with all its customers and the Internet is now a key tool in this process. Local authority caterers should not be limited in this way and the situation needs to be changed quickly.
Mystified by Wembley Stadium
I am mystified by the catering service at Wembley Stadium. As a regular visitor it strikes me that the catering requirements were greatly under estimated when it was built as new satellite service points open up on such a regular basis.
Also the beer service is inefficient and they need to go to somewhere like Twickenham to see how quickly beer can be served. Supporters have very little time during and before a match so they need quick service.
The good news is they were undertaking market research at the Cup Final so hopefully further improvements are on the way. One great development is the quality of the stewards and they way they welcome people with disabilities. Congratulations and thanks to them.
Meeting the needs of vegetarians
Over the last twenty years there has been a dramatic growth in the number of dishes that are marked on the menu to show they will meet the needs of vegetarians. I have no problem with that. I am concerned that we don't mark other dishes that are suitable for diabetics and coeliacs. These are medical conditions and the person's diet is crucial to their condition and well being. In other words they don't have a choice. Shouldn't we be helping these customers? Staff should be trained to give advice and help. It would make such a difference and will increase your sales.
Build wet rooms not bathrooms - please
I stayed in the new Premier Inn in Cambridge this week. I am delighted to say that the manager was very keen to gain feedback about how well the hotel was dealing with people with disabilities. We had an interesting discussion about wheelchair accessible showers. The hotel had only built one of these but had four low sided baths. This to my mind is the wrong way round. Many older able bodied people I know have installed wet rooms in their house. They are more useful for a wider range of people and I am very surprised that Premier Inn are continuing to adopt this policy, especially when they have so few wet rooms across the country.
I pointed out that I founded out by chance that the hotel even had a wet room following a question to reception staff. When I booked I was only given the chance to book an accessible room. There was no differentiation between wet room and bathroom. So if you do invest in wet rooms promote them online. It is one of my purchasing criteria as it will be for any other wheelchair user and an ever increasing number of other people.
I commented to the hotel manager that she had excellent staff. They were polite, efficient and very helpful. She replied "We employ nice people". It is really that simple. Nice people that are well trained and keen to help. This was reinforced by the manager who was genuinely interested in my comments. I shall definitely be staying again. Well done to them but perhaps more work needed by the architect and head office.
What does it do?
I have seen it in 2 hotels recently. This is a blue and white wheelchair button by a lift call button. I have asked hotels what it is for and they did not know. I have pressed and nothing different happened. Does anyone know what it does?
One of the best hotels I have stayed in recently
Congratulations to the Express by Holiday Inn in Redditch. It was one of the best hotels I have stayed in recently. Brilliant and caring staff, easy to park in non abused disabled parking area, one of the nicest accessible rooms I have stayed in and an excellent accessible bathroom. So it can be done, hopefully many more will follow as they realise the business benefits of welcoming people with disabilities.
Fellowship really says something about you
I was delighted to hear that I am now a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Marketing. My certificate arrived in the post yesterday. It made me think just how important Fellowship of a professional body is. How many people reading TableTalk could apply for Fellowship of the Institute of Hospitality. I suspect many hundreds and perhaps even thousands. I would urge everyone to consider Fellowship because it shows you are committed to achieving the highest standards in your chosen industry. It shows you are a leader and that your opinion is respected. So why not investigate and see if you qualify for Fellowship of the IoH. It is worth both the time and effort.
An invitation to Fellowship
The day before I went on holiday I received a letter from a professional body that I am a member of to upgrade to Fellowship.
It was not the Institute of Hospitality I hasten to add, it was in the area of marketing. Needless to say I was delighted especially as I am working towards Chartered Marketer Status.
It reminded me just how important CPD is not just to a consultant but to anyone in business. It took me too long to understand this and is a situation I regret. I may or may not become a Fellow of this organisation but I will continue with CPD.
I will not forget the phrase - no more learning may mean no more earning.
Two simple ideas
I stayed at hotel in France last week in an accessible room and saw two good ideas.
The first was a shaving plug socket built into the side of the head board. This is a good idea because I believe that as bathrooms are upgraded we will no longer be able to put in a shaving point into a bathroom. I was told I could not have one when we recently changed our bathroom to a wet room at home and I also came across the issue when staying in a hotel that had recently upgraded in a similar way.
The receptionist was fed up of purchasing and then giving out shaver adaptors. I suspect it is another Health and Safety issue.
The other idea was to have two single duvets on a double bed. This is ideal for a person with a disability as there is no conflict with the covers and your partner. I had not seen this in the UK and an idea I will consider for the home as well.