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Why ensuring the wellbeing of its employees supports positive guest experiences



UNDERSTANDING your customers and staff is essential to ensure a successful business. For one of West 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 of 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.”

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Council wants to increase social housing stock by buying private properties. Are you selling?



PEMBROKESHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL says that it is continuing efforts to increase its social housing stock in response to the current housing challenges faced in the county.

As of the end of March, there were 5545 people on the housing register, the council said. With an increased demand to provide urgent temporary housing following changes to Welsh Government policy, the Council is now using its own stock as well as B&B and other private hostel arrangements.

The Council has been and continues to proactively acquire properties, including ex-council ‘buy backs’ to add to its housing stock by using its own as well as Welsh Government funding.

This funding has been allocated to the Council in recognition of the housing pressures being faced through lack of affordable accommodation and the demands on social housing stock.

Therefore the Council is urging anyone considering selling their property to get in touch.

Last year, the Council purchased 57 properties when presented with a unique opportunity.

Cllr Michelle Bateman, the Cabinet Member for Housing, said: “Given the large numbers of people on the housing register I’m pleased to see that the Council is pushing on with efforts to increase the number of properties that are available.

“Each property we acquire is another home for people and families on the housing register in Pembrokeshire and makes such a positive impact on their lives.

“We are keen to acquire affordable housing that meet our needs across the County and therefore invite anyone considering selling their property to contact the Housing department on 01437 764551.”

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Milford Haven Town Council recommends new McDonald’s restaurant 



How the Milford Haven Branch will look

MILFORD HAVEN Town Council have no objections to the application for a new McDonald’s restaurant to be built in town. 

The decision to recommend the application was made at the latest Milford Haven Town Council Planning, Policy and Community Committee meeting, following confirmation at the Full Council meeting held on Monday, June 27. 

The planning application focuses on the demolition of the former Paul Sartori Home Furnishings store at Havens Head Retail Park. 

If approved by Pembrokeshire County Council, the retail park would see a new 24-hour restaurant with a drive-through. 

Location for the proposed McDonald’s Drive Thru (Google Streetview)

All councillors at a meeting held in mid-June supported the recommendation. This came after a letter from Mr R Pugh, account director at Built Environment Communications Group, was read aloud on behalf of McDonald’s. 

The letter stated: “Job creation is particularly important in the post-Covid-19 climate, with significant challenges for young people entering the job market.

“McDonald’s will result in the creation of between 100-120 full- and part-time jobs, with a clear career path to management for employees who seek this opportunity.

“McDonald’s are committed to keeping the areas around their restaurants clean and tidy. All their restaurants are equipped with recycling facilities for customer dining inside and waste bins around the restaurant for those heading to the car park.

Plans for new McDonald’s are on the PCC website

“McDonald’s will also conduct a minimum of three daily litter picks for all litter within the vicinity of our restaurant.

“The Local Highway Authority has raised no objections to our proposals and the Transport Assessment submitted as part of our application concludes that the development proposals would not result in a material change in conditions on the local highway, with a co-ordinated parking strategy utilising spare capacity in neighbouring car parks.

“McDonald’s understands that Pembrokeshire County Council has declared a climate emergency and have a number of initiatives to reduce not only our impact on the environment, but accommodate others who also wish to do so.

“As such, our proposals include 100 per cent of power for our restaurants coming from renewable sources.”

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Asda rolls out loyalty programme to all stores in Wales



ASDA has announced it will begin a roll-out of its ‘Asda Rewards’ loyalty app to customers across Wales following a successful eight-month trial.

The roll-out will mean that customers will be able use the Asda Rewards app in any of the supermarket’s 39 stores throughout Wales.

The expansion into Wales comes after a successful trial period across 48 Asda stores in the UK, which have seen over 300,000 customers sign up to the new loyalty programme and earn a total of £2.5m worth of rewards in their personal ‘cash pot’, which they can spend in store.

Shoppers can earn Asda Rewards in three easy ways:

· By completing in-app missions, such as:

o The ‘Heinz Hero’ mission, where customers receive £2 in their Cashpot for buying 5 canned Heinz products in their shop.

o Or the ‘Back to School’ mission, which puts £5 into users Cashpots when they spend £25 on George school uniform.

· By completing ‘milestone missions’, customers rewards will build higher the more the spend over a certain period.

o Up to 10th August, customers will receive cashback for every milestone they meet, starting from spending £50 to get a 50p reward, earning as much as £25 in to their Cashpot when they hit each spend milestone.

· By buying ‘star products’ which are highlighted throughout the store.

o There are over 400 ‘Star Products’ currently available, from Asda’s Butcher’s Selection pork chops to Asda’s Extra Special cheese selection, or even Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream tubs – customers will receive 10% back into their Cashpot when they add any of these products to their basket.

Customers will see their Cashpot build in the Asda Rewards app as they shop, and they can redeem their cash whenever they choose by creating a voucher in their rewards app with the money they have saved.

The supermarket is also trialling Asda Rewards online, so customers are rewarded for home deliveries and click and collect orders too – linking their Asda Rewards app to their account. The trial is in selected stores across the UK, with Wales being the first full region to offer Rewards both in store and online.

Mark Baxter, Senior Director for Loyalty at Asda, said: “We are really excited to be able to bring Asda Rewards to our customers in Wales. We know that customers in our other trial stores love the savvy feeling they get from using Asda rewards to earn cash for tomorrow on the products they buy today – and we’ve been making improvements to the app based on their feedback. We’re looking forward to seeing how much our customers can save by shopping with Asda rewards in Wales and hearing what they think of it before we roll it out into even more stores across the UK.”

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