Free online training tourism tool now available – SMARTOUR

Thinking about going into the tourism industry ? Or maybe you work there already but have never had training?

We have a free online tool to help you develop. It was developed by and with the tourism industry – here is the list of topics available:

  • Accessibility – what is the scope and potential of this growing market for those with access needs?
  • Sustainable Supply Chains – what are the actions needed to get the most from your local supply chain?
  • Sustainable Food and drink tourism – how important is food and drink for the tourist offer? and what simple low cost actions can you take
  • Social media and marketing – developing your markets and guidance on social media
  • Seasonality – developing a plan for seasonality
  • Quality – what is service quality and how does it link to the visitor experience?
  • Training – planning and thinking about training for staff
  • EU Quality Principles – a simple and practical guide to EU Quality principles
  • Energy Controls – why you need to control energy
  • Interpreting Energy Bills – looking at energy bills and saving money
  • Indoor Air Quality – what affects customer comfort in rooms?

Each unit last between 30 mins and 1 hour – a simple test is available at the end of each module.

The tool can be found here smartour.dcnet.eu

and here is some guidance on the registration process to get started. Fill this out correctly and the tool will generate a certificate you can print out (depending on your results).

SMARTOUR Online Training Tool ppt 

Useful links

Project website – http://www.smartourproject.eu/

Twitter @tourismsu   #SMARTOUR

Facebook page -Sustainable Tourism in Europe https://www.facebook.com/smartourproject 

SMARTOUR logo

Key visitor information and recommended markets

If you are studying or living in Stoke on Trent  here are the key information sources for whats on and where to visit

Our twitter feed for all things tourism and events @tourismsu 

Visit Stoke and on twitter @VisitStoke

Visit Newcastle under Lyme on twitter @NewcastleTC they also have an app

Enjoy Staffordshire on twitter @EnjoyStaffs

Visit Peak District on twitter @Visit Peak District and has an app available

Visit Cheshire on twitter @Visit Cheshire 

There’s lots of farmers and artisan markets in the region – here’s four of the best

Stone – first Saturday of every month – very popular and great food, plus great places in the town to eat as well . You can get the train from Stoke in 5 mins or cycle/walk along the canal there.

Nantwich – last Saturday of every month in the town square – again good produce, nice independent shops in the town

Leek – Sunday supplement in the town centre– arts and crafts and food, first Sunday of every month

Rode Hall – first Saturday of every month

Details of our Tourism and Events courses here

Esports. Is it a game changer for UK education?

Staffordshire University Business School has become the first British University to launch an esports degree. The course focuses on the business and culture of esports from developing teams, communities and a fan base to hosting esports events.

Staffordshire University has invested heavily in new facilities as part of a £40m transformation of its Stoke-on-Trent campus and academics feel the University is well placed to plug into rapidly growing sectors like esports which is the practice of playing video games competitively over the internet or via networked computers in venues and stadiums.

Already Staffordshire University has responded to the Association for UK Interactive Entertainment’s (Ukie) white paper on esports by introducing a module on esports in their Games Degree.

Back in January, Dr Fletcher, Head of the Games and Visual Effects at Staffordshire University said:

“The module which is available to students on our Games Studies course is a fascinating branch of cultural studies. It looks at the national, and international market for esports, and the cultural aspects that drive it as well as the darker side of cheating and doping by esports players. Games designers are growing up and that brings with it new trends in gaming which comes with its own set of ethical dilemmas.”

Other countries around the world have recognised esports as part of the curriculum for some years.  In South Korea, where the first esports association was set up 17 years ago, they have been accepting esports players onto their sports programmes for four years. At the Asia Pacific University in Malaysia, students can complete certificates in League of Legends, DOTA 2 and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. In Norway,  the Garnes Vidaregaande high school pupils can opt for esports and can study for up to five hours per week, they focus not just on game play but also combine physical exercise in the mix.

One thing all these esports educators have in common is an agreement that esports provides a vast amount of transferable skills to the participants.

Top skills for esports:

  1. Teamworking
  2. Resilience
  3. Stamina
  4. Problem Solving
  5. Communication
  6. Endurance
  7. Decision Making
  8. Leadership
  9. Critical thinking
  10. Analytical

The students on Staffordshire University Business School’s BA (Hons) esports will also have classes in event management, digital marketing, the legal side of esports and streaming techniques. This will make sure that when they leave university they’ll have all the right skills to prepare them for a great career. With huge growth predicted in this area there are lots of job opportunities.  Many recruitment agencies, like Odgers Berndston have set up separate divisions to deal with esports careers and there are even some new sites that have sprung up like ‘esports Careers’ who are currently listing almost 500 vacancies.  The British esports Association lists over 12 career paths on its website, here are a few:

  1. Shoutcaster/host
  2. Coach/analyst
  3. Journalist/content creator
  4. PR/Marketing executive
  5. Community/social media manager
  6. Broadcast/production crew
  7. Event manager

To find out more about esports at Staffordshire University Business School visit the website staffs.ac.uk.

Rachel Gowers MBA
Associate Dean
Staffordshire University Business School

 

So you’ve graduated – now what?

5 top tips for new graduates from Senior Lecturer Angela Lawrence

Three years of study have come to an end, exams are over, the university board has sat, results announced and graduation is looming. It can be a worrying and scary time for many graduates as the intensity of those final assessments has been all-consuming for weeks and months. All of a sudden everything is over. There’s quite a gap in your life that you need to fill and you may be floundering and wondering what’s next. If you were smart, you began applying for graduate jobs at the beginning of the year, but even so, you may not yet have bagged the job of your dreams.

Here are a few tips to help you to stay focused on securing the graduate employment that you deserve:

  1. It’s a numbers game

Statistics suggest that 39 graduates apply for every advertised graduate position. So you are up against around 38 ex-students who are applying for the same jobs as you. Don’t be too hard on yourself if it takes a while and you feel like you spend half of every week filling in applications – it’s a numbers game, the more jobs you apply for the better chance you will have of securing the role that’s right for you. Keep believing in yourself and keep on searching through the jobs sites; sooner or later your time will come.

  1. Perseverance is key

Don’t give up – NEVER give up! You have worked hard to earn your degree and you deserve to get a graduate position. Okay, you may have to accept a job that is less than what you want in the first instance, to make ends meet, but do not stop seeking out and applying for graduate positions.  It took three years to get your degree so it may take three months or more to secure that job that you are after.

  1. Keep in work

Work, work, work…and keep working! You may only be working part-time, working to help out a family member’s business or working as a volunteer, but you must keep working. Having that evidence on your CV that you have a strong working ethic speaks volumes to potential employers. Furthermore, you are probably practising a multitude of transferable skills, whatever the role. Skills that employers want to hear about, such as good timekeeping, the ability to work independently or as part of a team, the ability to be trusted, accuracy and attention to detail.

  1. Ask for feedback

If you have applied for a job and had no response within indicated timescales, then ring the company up and ask them if they have shortlisted applications yet. If they have and you are not on the list, ask them if they would mind telling you what the criteria for shortlisting was, so that you know for next time. If you actually got to an assessment board or had an interview, but were not successful in being offered the job, you must ask for feedback. It may simply be that another candidate had more relevant experience, or it may be that you find out it was something that you were lacking, that you could work on before your next interview. It may be the way you interviewed, possibly nerves were showing. So practise makes perfect and you now have that knowledge to help you to prepare yourself better for your next interview.

  1. Network

The saying goes “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know”. This is never more true than in the game of job hunting. It is stated that ninety-three percent of recruiters use LinkedIn for recruitment. So if you haven’t got a professional LinkedIn profile, you’re missing a trick. Join your alumni LinkedIn group and network with alumni who know only too well how hard it is to find that all-important break in the job hunting market. But offline networking can be equally important. Check out the local networking opportunities with your local Chamber of Commerce, and seek out recruitment fairs in your local area or in the region in which you would like to work.

A final tip for Staffordshire University graduates – don’t forget that you have access to our online careers portal, eCoach following graduation. Our Careers Network services are available to you for as long as you need them. Your lecturers and personal tutors will be happy to provide you with references, so good luck and we know you’ll do us proud!

Tourism: large scale funding opportunities

“To travel is to discover that everyone is wrong about other countries.” Aldous Huxley

In my opinion Aldous Huxley is correct when he said that tourism is a way to learn and get about other countries. In fact, tourism is a major economic activity in the European Union with wide-ranging impact on economic growth, employment, and social development. A demonstration that in Europe there is a lot to learn!!

Tourism has been recognised as a powerful tool in fighting economic decline and unemployment. Nevertheless the tourism sector faces a series of challenges. These are due not only to the classic economic issues Europe faces nowadays. The fact is that tourism is a very diversified economic activity and it encompasses a great variety of sectors and sub-sectors.

Culture, Sport, Food and Beverage, Industry, Agriculture, Arts&Crafts, Blue economy are just a few topics which can be collected under tourism umbrella. What about the opportunities in this sector?

What is out there for tourism businesses and services providers?

The European Union sets a series of funding scheme which can help tourism and its sub-sector to develop and growth.

Here we will analyse some of them which might be interesting. For a full information you can check this publication: EU FUNDING FOR THE TOURISM SECTOR 2014-2020

 

EUROPEAN FUND FOR STRATEGIC INVESTMENTS

Any type of useful transaction or investment for the development of legitimate (SMEs) activities. Everywhere in the EU, including cross-border projects (no geographic quotas).

 

EUROPEAN REGIONAL DEVELOPMENT FUND

These programmes may for instance support:
– Tourism-related research, technological development and innovation, including service
innovation and clusters (tourism service incubators, living labs, demonstration projects)

– The development of tourism-related ICT products (apps, data mining)

– The development of innovative tourism services, in particular in less favoured and peripheral regions with underdeveloped industrial structures and strongly dependent on tourism (new business models, exploitation of new ideas)

– The development of high value added products and services in niche markets (health tourism, tourism for seniors, cultural and ecotourism, gastronomy tourism, sports tourism, etc.) by mobilising specific local resources and therefore contributing to smart regional specialisation

– Clustering activities among different tourism industries as well as with creative industries, to diversify regional tourism products and extend the tourism season (e.g. in the nautical and boating tourism industry, as well as for the cruise industry).

– Activities connecting the coastal regions to the hinterland for more integrated regional
development

– Measures to improve energy efficiency and renewable energy use among tourism SMEs

– The protection, promotion and development of natural and cultural tourism assets and related services

– Small-scale cultural and sustainable tourism infrastructure

– Measures in favour of entrepreneurship, self-employment and business creation as well as the internationalisation of tourism SMEs and clusters

– Vocational training, skills upgrading

 

EUROPEAN SOCIAL FUND

ESF is providing grants. All projects have to be co-financed, with a maximum EU contribution of 50% to 85% (95% in exceptional cases) of the total project costs depending on the relative wealth of the region (“More developed regions”, “Transitions regions” or “Less developed regions”). The level of funding varies widely, depending of the project and the Operational Programme. Examples listed below range from EUR 50.000 to EUR 3 million.

EUROPEAN AGRICULTURE FUND FOR RURAL DEVELOPMENT

– Vocational training and skills acquisition actions (courses, workshops, coaching for instance on how to develop rural tourism), demonstration activities and information actions

– Advisory services to help farmers, forest holders, other land managers and SMEs in rural areas to improve their economic performance

– Business start-up aid as well as investments for non-agricultural activities in rural areas (rural accommodation, shops, restaurants, guided tours)

– Drawing up and updating of plans for the development of municipalities and villages in rural areas

– Investments for public use in recreational infrastructure, tourist information and small scale tourism infrastructure

– Studies and investments associated with the maintenance, restoration and upgrading of the cultural and natural heritage of villages, rural landscapes and high nature value sites, including

– Related socio-economic aspects, as well as environmental awareness actions
co-operation involving at least two entities (creation of clusters and networks; co-operation
among small operators in organising joint work processes and sharing facilities and resources and for the development and/or marketing of tourism services relating to rural tourism)

 

EUROPEAN MARITIME AND FISHERIES FUND

– Studies
– Projects, including test projects and cooperation projects
– Conferences, seminars, fora and workshops

Public information and sharing best practice, awareness raising campaigns and associated communication and dissemination activities such as publicity campaigns, events, the development and maintenance of websites, stakeholder platforms;

– Professional training, life-long learning and the acquisition of new professional skills enabling professionals of the fisheries sector or their life partners to enter into tourism activities or to carry out complementary activities in the field of tourism.

 

LIFE

– Pilot projects assess the effectiveness of a method/approach that is new or has been used in a different (geographical, ecological, socio-economic) context; they compare its results with those produced by best practices, in order to determine if the method should be tested on a larger scale (i.e. in a demonstration project) and inform stakeholders

– Demonstration projects test and evaluate a method/approach that is new or has been used in a different context; they inform other stakeholders of the results and, where appropriate, encourage them to apply these methods/approaches

– Best practice projects apply appropriate, cost-effective and state-of-the-art techniques,
methods and approaches taking into account the specific context of the project

– Information, awareness and dissemination projects related to one of the priority areas.

 

HORIZON 2020

LEIT & REFLECTIVE. For “Research & Innovation Actions”, grants for projects typically lasting 36 to 48 months, with an average EU contribution of € 2 to 5 million over that period. The grant may cover 100% of the total eligible costs. For “Innovation Actions”, grants for projects typically lasting 30 to 36 months, with an average EU contribution of € 2 to 5 million over that period. The grant may cover 100% of the total eligible costs for non-profit organisations and 70% maximum for profit-making entities (companies …). For “Coordination and Support Actions”, grants for projects typically lasting 12 to 30 months and an average EU contribution of € 500.000 to 2 million over that period. The grant covers 100% of the total eligible costs.

SME INSTRUMENT. For feasibility assessment, grants of € 50.000 (lump sum) with a typical duration of 6 months, covering maximum 70 % of total cost of the project. For innovation development & demonstration projects, grants of € 500.000 to 2,5 million (indicative range), with a typical duration of 1 to 2 years, covering 70 % of total cost of the project as a general rule). As for risk finance, this instrument allows financial intermediaries to offer SMEs better loans, guarantees or counter-guarantees as well as hybrid, mezzanine or equity finance.

 

COSME

TOURISM ACTION PLAN

Some of the Tourism Action Plan’s objectives are pursued through calls for Proposals and calls for tenders open to the tourism sector. These may concern, among other things:

– The development and/or promotion of sustainable transnational thematic tourism products (linked, for instance, European routes dedicated to specific aspects of our cultural and industrial heritage, cycling trails, eco-tourism, maritime and sub-aquatic areas, etc.).

– The development and/or promotion of niche products exploiting synergies between tourism and creative industries at European level (e.g. European Route around high-end products)

– Transnational public and private partnerships developing tourism products targeting specific age groups (e.g. seniors and youth) to increase tourism flows between European countries during the low and medium seasons

– Capacity building schemes for “accessible tourism” (i.e. to all, regardless of their physical limitations, disabilities or age) whereby destination managers, entrepreneurs, can learn from experienced and successful ‘accessible’ operators, create synergies with other operators along the supply chain, explore new market opportunities and way to make business.

 

CREATIVE EUROPE PROGRAMME

TRANSNATIONAL COOPERATION PROJECTS
The “Culture sub-programme” funds transnational activities within and outside of the EU, aimed at developing, creating, producing, disseminating and preserving goods and services which embody cultural, artistic or other creative expressions. This encompasses activities to develop skills, competences and know-how, including how to adapt to digital technologies; to test new business and management models; to organise international cultural activities, such as touring events, exhibitions, exchanges and festivals; as well as to stimulate interest in, and improve access to, European cultural and creative works. The programme will not support projects including pornographic or racist material or advocating violence.

EUROPEAN NETWORKS
The “Culture sub-programme” supports European networks (i.e. structured groups of organisations) that strengthen the capacity of the cultural and creative sectors to operate transnationally and internationally, adapt to change and promote innovation. A limited number of networks with broad coverage will be supported across a balanced range of sectors. Greater synergies between existing networks are welcomed in order to reinforce their organisational and financial structure and avoid duplication of efforts.

EUROPEAN CAPITALS OF CULTURE
The title of “European Capital of Culture” is awarded each year to one city in two Member States, according to a chronological list of eligible Member States set for 2020-2033 (Croatia and Ireland in 2020; Romania and Greece in 2021 …). These cities have to create a cultural programme specifically for that year. The “Culture sub-programme” supports the implementation of this programme which has to highlight the richness and diversity of European cultures and the features they share, as well as to promote greater understanding between European citizens.

 

ERASMUS+

– Learning opportunities for individuals through Mobility Projects for Higher Education Students and Staff, a loan guarantee scheme to help Master’s degree students financing their studies abroad and Mobility Projects for VET Learners and Staff (Vocational Education and Training)

– Cooperation between educational institutions, businesses, local and regional authorities and NGOs, mainly through Joint Master Degrees (i.e. high-level integrated international study programmes of 60, 90 or 120 ECTS); Strategic Partnerships (allowing organisations from different socio-economic sectors to develop and disseminate, among other things, innovative practices leading to high quality teaching, – training, learning and youth work); Knowledge Alliances (a/ to develop innovative and multidisciplinary approaches to teaching and learning; b/ to stimulate entrepreneurship and entrepreneurial skills among teaching staff and workers; c/ to facilitate the exchange, flow and co-creation of knowledge between higher education and enterprises); and Sector Skills Alliances (to design and deliver joint vocational training programmes and teaching / training methodologies, with particular focus on work-based learning, providing learners with the skills required by the labour market);

– Not-for profit European sport events encouraging participation in sport and physical activity.

 

Antonella Tozzi, Project Manager at Eurocrea Merchant SRL

About me: https://www.linkedin.com/in/antonella-tozzi-7ab49645

 

Useful links

Project website – http://www.smartourproject.eu/ includes links to our online training tool and events in England and Italy

Twitter @tourismsu   #SMARTOUR

Facebook page – https://www.facebook.com/smartourproject/

SMARTOUR logo

Seasonality pressures and the tourism industry

During the high season, service inconsistency and reduced levels of customer satisfaction can be experienced.

Getting the right products in the right place at the right time is crucial in the holiday season. Holiday stress can be felt by the accommodation industry as the holiday season places pressure on getting it right where a large proportion of revenue is earned in a very short time.

The tourism industry is characterised by tight capacity in the high season, affected by competition from favourable commissions and loyalty discounts offered to customers by the large chains, rising fuel prices, rising import prices in general, a shortage of quality seasonal workers and currently inflation rising above earnings growth. All of these factors place pressure on profitability and sustainability.

During the seasons, the industry is impacted by competition from favourable commissions and loyalty discounts offered to customers by the large quality standardised chains such as Marriott, Starwood and Intercontinental.  These large scale providers agree commissions with popular travel websites such as Expedia to favourably promote their services. In addition, the large scale accommodation providers retain customers by the use of attractive loyalty schemes across the world. This competition can make it difficult for Small and Medium size Enterprises (SMEs) to survive.

However, it is believed that SMEs have better scope for creativity and have a special identity where there is no need for standardisation of brand guidelines that lack local relevance. Customers are savvy and are often willing to shop around for a unique experience.  Knowledge of and adoption of the role of points of local interest in tourism can provide a personal experience. Additional extras that do not focus on price such as local excursions, local food and drink, complimentary services such as spa facilities and free wi fi can help to satisfy customers and retain them.  In order to combat fierce competition from the large scale accommodation providers, a number of SMEs have joined forces with consortiums like for example the Leading Hotels of the World and the Small Luxury Hotels of the World groups to benefit from marketing economies of scale where search engine optimisation plays a role in sustainability of bookings.

Brexit has heightened the problem of obtaining quality seasonal workers as the number of people entering employment in the UK faces decline. This in turn puts pressure on the demand for higher wages and sinks into profit margins. The fall in the value of the pound following the announcement of Brexit is a factor which has led to inflationary pressures due to increased import prices and we now face a situation where price rises are above earnings growth; thus resulting in a turbulent business environment.

So, how can capacity challenges be met during the holiday season and during such an uneasy economic period?

  • Forecast key events and seasonal events and how to resource them.
  • Start online promotions early as this will attract customers in advance, create positive cash flow, enable the business to invest and enable the business to accurately anticipate demand.
  • Recruit staff with the ability to multi task as this will lower overall staff costs and enable customer needs to be more effectively met during the peak season.
  • Invest in staff by training them so waste is keep to a minimum, cost savings are made and customers remain satisfied. Encourage staff to take holiday during the low season.
  • Invest in facilities so that customers are not disappointed by out of date or poorly maintained provision. Refurbish in the low season when there is less demand on resources and during the low season take idle accommodation out of use to conserve.
  • Make use of lean production management principles to include developing long term strategies with suppliers. Just In Time (JIT) techniques gained momentum in businesses over the past decade based on having close relationships with suppliers where supplies are delivered at the moment they are needed, reducing waste and adding value.  Reducing the levels of stock can prevent waste if items are not needed or if tastes change. It also helps cash flow and limits the cost of warehousing and insurance.

Unneeded staff, unneeded processing steps, non-value adding activity should be removed to ensure maximum efficiency. In advocating lean production principles, a focus on quality and continuous improvement is needed; increased responsibility in employee roles in involving staff in decision making is integral.  If products are quality assured before reaching the customer by dedicated employees, then customer satisfaction should be fulfilled. Employees can also be encouraged to take a full part in evaluating the need for improvement whilst tasks are completed.

  • Be energy efficient – see energy training module: www.smartourproject.eu
  • Make use of market segmentation with identification of niche markets including markets with local relevance to maximise revenue where concentration on the needs of such a market can bring competitive gains. Promoting the benefits of low season which include promotional pricing, reduced congestion and quieter relaxation to target markets such as the older generation or empty nesters that are not limited to taking a break during school holidays can be beneficial in controlling demand.
  • Concentration on customer relationship marketing by actively listening to customers, closely meeting their needs and taking action where there is customer dissatisfaction should lead to repeat business.

Coping with seasonal fluctuations in demand presents challenging decision making. Smartour has been developed to provide an insight into these challenges with training modules and an opportunity to share in developing sustainable tourism:  www.smartourproject.eu

By Vicki Disley, Newcastle under Lyme College

UPDATE – The SMARTOUR Tool is now online and covers this topic if you want to learn more 

Useful links

Project website – http://www.smartourproject.eu/ and links to our online training tool and events across England and Italy

Twitter @tourismsu   #SMARTOUR

Facebook page – https://www.facebook.com/smartourproject/

SMARTOUR logo

Teaching and Learning: International Cooperation

The Business School has been working with a number of international partners to support their efforts to upgrade the curricula and enhance the teaching and learning experience of their students for many years now. We have had partners in most Central and South East European countries as well as the Middle East. The Teaching and Learning Conference on 20 June provides an opportunity to invite some of our current partners to join us for a day of activities to consolidate the work we have been doing over the year.

Teaching and Learning has always been the focus of attention of our partners mainly because of the contrast between the traditional ‘talk and chalk’ approach, which had been common in almost all our partner universities, and the modern student centred learning or other alternative approaches. The idea of having students sit on different tables in one classroom, doing different activities baffled some of our visiting colleagues (I am sure it still baffles some colleagues in this country). Assessment in any form other than oral exams was dismissed as not sufficiently rigorous and not appropriate at university level.  Group work, presentation, poster making and other methods of assessing students’ work was treated as not serious.

However, over the years, as the relationship with Western universities developed and EU funded programmes aimed at reforming, restructuring and upgrading the higher education systems and studies were implemented, the university environment and attitudes changed too. The change agents were the younger, Western educated lecturers who gradually entered the higher education sector and began to use methods which they had been exposed to during their time at Western universities. In the meantime, the student numbers had soared too. Students had become very choosy and, being technologically more savvy than their teachers, they could access advanced knowledge and information easier than their professors.  Professors, therefore, had to change their attitudes and raise their games to meet the challenges of a larger number of demanding students and modern technology.

Staffordshire University played an important part in the transformation of the teaching and learning approaches in many partner universities, especially in Albania, Croatia, Kosovo and Macedonia. While working with universities in these countries to upgrade their study programmes and enhance the capabilities of their teaching staff, we also trained a large number of their younger staff on our MBA and MSc/PhD in Economics. Almost all of these young graduates have returned to their universities and are contributing to the training of the next generation of economics and business students. Over the years, around 150 young scholars completed Masters and PhDs at SU, constituting a critical mass of knowledge and skill in the region and in some universities. They have been instrumental in bringing new teaching and learning methods to their universities, something that has been particularly appreciated by students.

Currently we have two EU-funded projects working with 11 universities in Kosovo and Albania. Both projects involve supporting their teaching and learning practices and improving their curricula with the aim of embedding employability skills in the syllabi of different courses. We have hosted a range of staff (from Rectors and Deans to senior professors and new lecturers) and introduced them to the Staffordshire Graduate programme and how it is evolving in different schools – and they are very interested in this programme particularly because they face high levels of graduate unemployment in their countries. Some of our colleagues have also participated in either teaching or running seminars for staff on curriculum development activities. Dr Jana Fiserova from the School of Business, Leadership and Economics, Dr Mohammad Hasan from the School of Computing and Digital Technologies, and myself, for example, were recently engaged in these activities in Kosovo.

In the week beginning 19 June, we will be hosting young lecturers from three universities in Kosovo (University of Prishtina, Riinvest College, University of Business and Technology) and two universities in Albania (University of Tirana and Agricultural University of Tirana). Among other activities, they will be participating in the Teaching and Learning Conference on 20 June. They will be interested to learn about our efforts to improve students’ learning experience by using innovative methods, new technology and a variety of assessment methods that encourage student engagement with the subject and with the graduate attributes. They will also share with us their experience of a different group of students and different teaching environment. In some of these universities, staff have to deal with hundreds of students on their modules and, therefore, are eager to find out how we deal with large classes and how they can adopt some of these methods in their settings. At the same time, their experience of working in universities (and countries) with greater resource constraints would also be of interest to our colleagues.

We look forward to the exchange of ideas on 20 June.

Professor Iraj Hashi

School of Business, Leadership and Economics

Join our new Staffordshire University Business School LinkedIn page!

 

EU Tourism Quality principles

Unhappy customers that are not listened to, untrained staff that are unable to complete tasks, poor cleanliness, poorly maintained accommodation, staff that lack knowledge of the local area, inability to communicate with the accommodation provider in a common language……

The EU Tourism Quality principles are a much needed approach in promoting consistent standards in tourism for accommodation providers across the EU and for them to be sustainable as a result.  The standards  should be of particular benefit to the sustainability of Small and Medium size Enterprises (SMEs)where frequently the larger accommodation chains  have standardised a quality that has become acceptable to customers.

However the standards are only voluntary and were introduced  in 2014 when the EU Commission proposed a set of European Tourism Quality Principles to ensure tourists travelling within the EU get value for money.

The principles, if acted upon and promoted should provide a confidence to customers when booking accommodation in terms of customers being listened to with actions enthusiastically taken to improve the customer experience, helping language barriers to be removed, training of staff in maintaining standards of service, ensuring standards of cleanliness and maintenance.

Providing information and making use of local amenities and points of special interest that the larger conglomerates often lack in their aspiration for a standard corporate look should give SMEs a competitive edge.

To find out more about how to implement these standards and share in developing sustainable tourism see www.smartourproject.eu

By Vicki Disley Newcastle under Lyme College

UPDATE – The SMARTOUR Tool is now online and covers this topic if you want to learn more 

If you are interested in service quality  issues as a manager or want some service quality training yourself then sign up to our FREE half day event on 17th May at Staffordshire University

Useful links

Project website – http://www.smartourproject.eu/

Twitter @tourismsu   #SMARTOUR

Facebook page – https://www.facebook.com/smartourproject/

SMARTOUR logo

School of Business, Leadership and Economics Pride Awards Night

On the 30th March, final year Events Management students Josh Lonsdale, Tom Gater and Lorna Wilde organised and hosted the first (and hopefully not the last) Business, Leadership and Economics Pride Awards evening. Staff and students in the School were asked to vote for nominations in various categories and the event was part of their final year project module.

The evening started with a buffet and bucks fizz and Lorna performing a wonderful selection of songs. We were all blown away with her brilliant singing voice and professional delivery. Isabelle Clarke was master of ceremonies and Lorna, Josh and Tom presented the awards.

The event was for both staff and students celebrating their contribution and impact they have on the School and University. It was held in one of the School’s rooms in Ashley
decorated by the students. As Josh said “it was great to see staff and student support each other hand in hand about the great achievements we had within the school” and It has been a pleasure as final year Event Management students to put on an event that gets to showcase how many talented staff and students are in the school. We hope that this event will be continued by the school and we hope that the other schools may take the initiative to host a similar awards ceremony.”

The evening ended with Lorna again singing, this time ‘Somewhere over the Rainbow’ and ‘On My Own’ from Les Miserables especially for Carol and Angela. There was not a dry eye in the house – at least from Carol, Angela and me!

  

The winners of the awards were:

Exceeding Expectations Award

Given to a student who has gone above and beyond during their time here at the Staffordshire university Business School.

Dee  Rahmat

Commitment to Excellence Award

Awarded to a staff member who consistently and proactively help raise the reputation of not only the Business school but also Staffordshire University.

Karl McCormack

Outstanding Leadership Award

Awarded to staff members who lead students and or staff to achieve improved results across the Business school but also Staffordshire University.

Alison Maguire

Student Honours List

Awarded to students who have had a positive impact on Staffordshire University and the Business School throughout their studies.

The Hult Team, Daniel Griffiths, Danielle Nugent , George Balshaw and Sarah Wright

Future Leader Award

Awarded to a student who encompasses of the Staffordshire Graduate Attributes.

Henry Greentree.

Community Partnership Award 

Awarded to a member of staff who with the community while maintaining a positive image of the Business School at Staffordshire University.

Carol Southall

Exceptional Contribution Award

Awarded to a member of staff who has contributed to not just the business school but Staffordshire university for several amount years

Anni Hollins

Future Leader Award

Awarded to a member of staff who has developed an original and contemporary assessment with positive feedback

Angela Lawerence

Written by Anne Harbisher

Service Quality in Tourism – The Road Less Travelled?

BY Carol Southall – Award Leader for Tourism Management 

It is often purported that customer service is common sense. After all we know how to look after people; we know how to deliver good customer service. There are however two questions here, if we ‘know’ then how do organisations get it so wrong, and if it is common sense, why isn’t everybody delivering? In 2009 only 19% of visitors to Britain felt extremely welcome and whilst perceptions have improved significantly since 2009, Britain still ranks only 12th out of 50 Nations for welcome (Anholt Nations Brand Index in Visit Britain, 2017). Making visitors feel welcome however, is fundamental to customer service and enhances perceptions of service quality.

In an increasingly competitive marketplace, the pursuit of quality is an organisational imperative, regardless of industry sector, and yet the attainment of quality is increasingly difficult, not least because of the difficulties in reconciling different perceptions of quality. Organisations offering similar products and services are increasingly forced to review their quality of service, as it is often the only differentiating factor between organisations. Thus, the challenge for organisations is to enhance the overall experience to such an extent that customers, both prospective and current, will become and remain loyal.

Happy customers are more likely to be loyal and generate repeat business

Within the service sector and more specifically the tourism industry there is the additional problem of the temporal, spatial and fragmented nature of the industry. It is also characterised by inseparability, in that customers are part of the product, and further complicated by the nature of the intercultural encounter in tourism. Tourism organisations that realise the benefits of enhancing the cultural awareness of both their staff and customers in order to facilitate the service exchange, are more likely to retain the loyal custom so essential for businesses to survive. Additionally organisations that take into account cultural differences when gleaning feedback from customers are most likely to have a strategic advantage over those organisations that do not.

service

Customers of tourism services now require a range of services at times and in places convenient to themselves. The challenge for tourism organisations today, of providing a flexible, convenient and appropriate service, has never been greater. In today’s highly competitive tourism market, those organisations that fail to continuously meet and exceed customer expectations will be unlikely to survive in an industry highly dependent on repeat business and loyal customers. It is impossible to meet customer expectations without firstly ascertaining those expectations (Zeithaml, Parasuraman and Berry, 1990) and customer feedback has become a vital tool in the identification of customer needs, satisfaction and expectations (Crotts and Erdmann, 2000; Zeithaml, Parasuraman and Berry, 1990). Knowing what customers want makes it far easier to meet and even exceed their expectations.

The tourism industry, by its very nature, involves a very high degree of employee-customer interaction and consequently facilitating that interaction in order to enable as smooth a process as possible must be the prerogative of every tourism organisation. The opportunities for service failures to occur within such an interactive context are high and dissatisfied customers frequently switch between service providers in order to gain satisfaction. The highly competitive marketplace within which tourism organisations operate makes it very easy for customers to change allegiance very quickly if they feel dissatisfied. The tourism industry may be considered as the sum of its interactive and interdependent parts, and thus consistency in quality is even more difficult to attain.

UPDATE – The SMARTOUR Tool is now online and covers this topic if you want to learn more 

If you are interested in service quality  issues as a manager or want some service quality training yourself then sign up to our FREE half day event on 17th May at Staffordshire University

Useful links

Project website – http://www.smartourproject.eu/

Twitter @tourismsu   #SMARTOUR

Facebook page – https://www.facebook.com/smartourproject/

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