Why one of Wales’ top tourism businesses ensures the wellbeing of its employees supports positive guest experiences
Understanding your customers and staff is essential to ensure a successful business. For one of Wales’ top tourist resorts, guest experience, employee training and wellbeing are at the heart of its business model.
Bluestone National Park Resort near Narberth, Pembrokeshire, attracts thousands of guests to its 500 acre resort each year. Ensuring every guest has the best possible experience is its number one priority.
From accommodation to food and beverage, outdoor activities to its Blue Lagoon water park, each area of the business has its own unique needs and requirements from guests and staff.
“You cannot underestimate how much work goes into ensuring we provide the best possible short break holiday experience for our guests,” explains Claire Lewis, Head of Guest Experience at Bluestone.
“Crucially, we strive to make sure that every guest that leaves Bluestone not only wants to return but tells their friends and family about what a great time they had. The slightest upset during their stay could impact on that. Therefore, we have to stay one step ahead at all times, and we do this by making our team a central part on the guests journey.”
Bluestone has been working with one of the UK’s leading customer experience insight providers to support this. Insight6 South Wales director, Mel Evans, works closely with Claire and the senior management team to track the guests’ journey, gauging their experience and ensuring employees are trained in providing the best.
From mapping the journey of a guest’s experience within all parts of the business to understand each and every eventuality, undertaking reviews of their stays, to advising on improvements and training.
“We work very closely with the team at all levels as every member of staff is an integral part of the Guests experience one way or another. It’s not just the front of house team or the F&B members, it’s also the support staff, such as HR and finance. They all have an important part to play,” said Mel.
“With Bluestone we undertook a deep survey among its employees. One of the areas raised by many was internal communications. Many felt they didn’t know what was happening within the business. This resulted in a positive change with the implementation of an employee app, providing live and regular information from all departments. It’s made a huge difference.”
Mel added: “We also worked with the People Services team using our employee feedback portal, which during the pandemic allowed the business to gather feedback from all its employees, measuring how they were feeling and allowing the team a safe place to express any concerns or stresses. People Services could then quickly react to anyone who needed help or support.
“The wellbeing of employees can impact on the way they interact with a guest, therefore ensuring they are able to talk and receive support if they have concerns, maybe stressed or just need someone to talk to is vital
“Good internal communications and positive wellbeing among employees will provide a positive impact on or guests to enable them to enjoy their experience at the resort.”
Mystery shopping has played another key role. A technique used for many years and in Bluestone’s case the guest experience is measured from the point of booking to the point of leaving the resort. It remains a crucial way to understand where and how a business is doing well or not so good.
Customer researchers are sent in regularly to gauge what guests are experiencing. This is then fed back for review, allowing changes to be implemented where they need to be.
“On an ongoing basis we also measure guest experience across the resort with QR codes asking for feedback "in the moment" in areas such as Blue Lagoon, Well Spa, restaurants, venues and other locations. Our feedback portal then flags if there has been any feedback that requires action and staff are able to respond to the issue immediately – the same day,” said Mel.
Claire points out how the feedback from one venue stated that guests would like more seating for busy periods. “As soon as that feedback came through, we immediately made more chairs available. It was as quick as that.”
Claire added: “Unfortunately, many businesses might understand their customer journey, but they only take a snapshot. That’s a moment in time and things can change, quickly. Our method is embedded into what we do, day-to-day and there are constant measurements we use to monitor our guest experience from end to end.
“Working with Mel and Insight6 we have developed a robust and successful guest experience tracking system. It ensures we are constantly looking at how we can improve our services and is one reason we hope why our guests leave happy, relaxed and want to return.”