Checking in at Heathrow with a Sheriff of Nottingham was always going to be interesting, but it was made more so by the reaction of the press at home and perhaps more importantly, the reaction of the readers of the local press, expressed through their comments. Some of these have been less than favourable, some have been silly and some have been positive, but for me, if Nottingham is to become a world class city, with a world class Robin Hood offer, we have to go and learn from the best in the world. Being insular and assuming we can do it all ourselves is a sure fire way to achieve exceptional mediocrity. Look at Sheffield and their Centre for Popular Music and look at what we mustn’t do. This cost taxpayers a small fortune and closed after six appalling months to become a publicly funded nightclub.
I don’t really intend to address those criticisms here, because I have paid for this trip myself through Purple Circle, in order to completely understand the market for visitor attractions across the US. As a business, Purple Circle already work for BeWILDerwood (rated by its own industry body the Themed Entertainment Association) TEA as a world class attraction and recent winner of a DBA Design Effectiveness award for ourselves) and Go Ape, who have won hundreds of business awards themselves.
If we’re going to advise them how to behave in a branding and innovations sense, how better to do it than to look to the best there is to offer in the worlds biggest market for visitor attractions? So I’m here under my own steam and fully intend to fill my days and nights with opportunities to see everything that the US has to throw at us. I have specific issues I need to address and questions I want answering by the best in the business.
But back to Virgin Atlantic. I’m not allowed to show you pictures of the Sheriff checking in at Heathrow, as we’re not allowed to take pictures at check in, so here’s one of him boarding the plane and turning right towards economy.
But it was smooth and efficient and remarkably short of drama. The first hint of a problem was when I boarded the plane and was given the wrong end of a boarding pass with which to board.
On normal plane with a normal company, this could be a problem, but not so Virgin. Rather than cause any fuss or bother, they had the brilliant solution of sitting me at the bar in the Upper Class section until they could sort it out. excellent plan. I spent the next ten minutes with my feet up and a glass of chilled Champagne. Oh to have problems dealt with like this every day.
The rest of the flight was completely uneventful other than to say that Richard had obviously listened to the voice of the passenger who wrote the world’s best complaint letter as the food en-route was gorgeous.
Our Cabin Crew Becky was full of personality and couldn’t have done more to make her passengers feel at home. I made a comment to her about how lovely the Gü pudding was and a few minutes later she turned up and sneaked another into my hand. This may be in the manual or it may not, but it certainly made me feel like I was a valued customer. This way of working simply has to be completely natural and far and away above mere training. You can teach someone to do a job, but I don’t think you can ever teach someone to smile and enjoy themselves whilst they’re working. This natural friendly openness is one of the reasons, that for me, Virgin has remained a remarkable Lovemark brand.
For the cabin crew, the LA flight must be quite a nice one as they get two night layover in the City of Angels before they have to fly home again.. I asked Becky what they did with their time and it seems like they swim, shop and party. Maybe that’s why Virgin have such happy staff, they have actually planned it so their staff have a life outside of work.
Anyway, LA tonight, no visits other than to a hotel and bed, so I’ll add more tomorrow. Night night.