In the last 18 months, we’ve gone from working 100% in offices to making the huge shift to remote working. Of course, for many there was no impact at all, they didn’t have the protection of working from home, to these frontline workers, who tirelessly maintained their status quo, we must thank you. Now, as restrictions gradually ease up and we reached the revised ‘Freedom Day’ on 19th July 2021, we’re facing another new norm of hybrid working.
In June 2015 I wrote an article for the Tourism Society Journal entitled Customer Service: Britain's Tourism Iceberg, in which I reflected on the sad reality that, while Britain's image overseas then ranked three in the world as a "nation brand" (behind Germany and the USA), for "quality of welcome" we were limping in 13th place. As I wrote at the time, “Whilst London 2012 unsurprisingly boosted our ranking, we have now fallen back to where we were in those dark, pessimistic, pre-Olympics days.” I argued that our failure to provide a world-class welcome threatened our long-term competitiveness as a major tourism destination - hence, the iceberg analogy.
The mythunderstanding that’s probably been corrected 10,000 times is still being perpetuated, even in some quite learned works.
As our frustrations of the pandemic finally start to lift there is a sense of excitement and panic as restaurants find themselves fully booked for the next year, holiday apartments sold out, people booking flights to foreign countries… and business leaders scrabble to “hit the ground running.”
And I fear we have learned nothing.