There was no blog yesterday because I was in the heart of Cornwall, the jewel in Britain’s tourism crown, talking PR with a group of Cornish business people in Rick Stein’s fabulous Fish and Chip shop in Falmouth. The last time I spent this much time in a chippy was with an elephant and the Beverley Sisters.
One thing came to light, however; no matter how much business development and PR front one puts on something, that thing is only as good as the people who work for it. It’s as true of Cornwall as it is of any other sort of brand. If the staff in the many sections of the tourism industry don’t give a damn, you may as well try herding fish uphill as get a good reputation for the county as a whole.
Take the hotel I stayed in for example. I arrived, knackered after a long journey and went to the reception. There was one woman on the desk and she spent 20 minutes ignoring me whilst taking a phone booking and didn’t even apologise afterwards. No help was offered with my bags and, when I finally got to it, my room was freezing. It was almost as bad as the time at Bristol Airport when I waited for a drink in a queue of 50 people whilst one man tried desperately to serve everyone.
The same holds true of the restaurant I ate in, where the waiter couldn’t open the wine unaided and I waited nearly half an hour before receiving acknowledgement, let alone a drink.
No matter how much promotion given to the county as a whole, if places like these continue to operate without due care or attention to the customer, the underlying conversation about Cornwall will be laced with negativity.
I’m not advocating the introduction of an American-style rictus grin and insincere chant of ‘Have a NICE day!’ for all staff of hotels and restaurants, but it is a serious PR issue. I would find it much easier to big up the county if there had been more due care of attention from the people working in the hotel and the restaurant.