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University’s innovative tourism module tutors next generation of customer service advisors

Dr Andy Clegg

A UNIVERSITY lecturer who has embedded his expertise in customer service training into an undergraduate module to increase the chances of his students landing a job after graduation has spoken of his delight after it was named as an example of sector best practice.

Dr Andy Clegg is the national master trainer for the Welcome Management course, which is usually aimed at managers already working in the service sector, and introduced it into the institution’s undergraduate business degrees to teach the students of the importance of delivering service excellence.

Dr Clegg, Principal Lecturer for Learning and Teaching at the University of Chichester’s Business School, said: “Designed around small-group interactive workshops, the programme provides a basis from which students are encouraged to develop and implement effective customer service strategies.

“The module, which has been introduced into our sustainable tourism management, event management, business studies, and marketing degrees, also covers additional areas such as managing staff for service excellence, online service quality, and service point mapping.”

To date more than 250 students have taken part in the module, entitled Managing Customer Service, which was recently commended by Tourism South East as an example of best practice.

Welcome Management 1

As Stephanie Pook, Training Manager at Tourism South East, explained: “Embedding Welcome Management into an undergraduate degree programme demonstrates Andy’s commitment to delivering industry-relevant and vocational education - his students are the only ones in the UK qualifying for Welcome Management - it is a unique approach with great merit that should be adopted by other universities.”

As part of the assessment, the students assume the role of Visitor Attraction Quality Assurance Scheme Assessors (VAQAS) for Visit England to evaluate the overall quality of specific tourist attractions.

The students are also given access to specialist resources to conduct audits and asked to prepare a marketing pitch, aimed at enhancing the experience of a farm-based tourist attraction, which put the principles of the course into practice.

Dr Clegg added: “The key customer service themes within the programme have been integrated into a module which is delivered around workshop-based activities.

“This encourages critical assessment of service excellence as it would be when delivered externally, while industry-recognised training and qualifications are essential to any students looking to progress within a tourism and event-based career.”

The course has already benefitted a number of the course graduates by improving their skills and confidence in securing jobs after university.

Welcome Management 2

Student feedback highlights the value of the approach: “Integrating an industry certification is an effective way of making students more qualified and prepared when looking for jobs within the industry.

“It is very worthwhile, looks good on the CV, and is a valuable qualification which will help my knowledge and appeal to a future employer.”

For more about studying a BA (Hons) in Sustainable Tourism Management and other business-related courses at the University of Chichester visit www.chi.ac.uk/semal.