By Paul Cunningham, Managing Director, Belfast City Sightseeing
City Sightseeing Belfast was recently represented at the City Sightseeing Worldwide Conference in Amsterdam. At these yearly conferences held in different locations throughout the world City Sightseeing Belfast gets the opportunity to interact with the other cities that hold the City Sightseeing brand and share what innovations are occurring throughout the world. This year it was great to meet the new operator of City Sightseeing Galway and we will soon be offering Galway as part of our multi city ticket which already includes Belfast, Dublin and Derry.
This year the conference focused on the customer experience and how much good customer care and technology can improve this experience. In discussions with other city operators it is clear that City Sightseeing Belfast has made many improvements with regard to customer care. We are currently a 4 star accredited company from Tourism NI and we have a TripAdvisor rating of 4.5.
City Sightseeing Belfast has also introduced new technology in 2017 with the introduction of two new buses with multi lingual systems to our service. This now means that the multi lingual service is available every hour on our service.
The conference was held over four days and during this time we had the opportunity to go on the Amsterdam bus tour and canal boat tour as well as many of the great attractions and museums that Amsterdam has to offer. My favourite being the boat canal tour and a walk through the district of Haarlem where a short stop for some apple cake was required to replenish the batteries.
The conference always includes a gala dinner with a prize giving ceremony. The ceremony was held in the Heineken Experience which was amazing and a big thank you must go to Jur van den Heuvel and the City Sightseeing Amsterdam team for their amazing hospitality Jur is the one in red!
This year our own George Grimley was nominated for the Brand Ambassador of the year, narrowly losing out to Sergei Lavrentyev from Moscow, who invited us all to the World Cup being held in Moscow next year so maybe not a bad choice.
It was a great achievement for George and for City Sightseeing Belfast to be in the shortlist of 4 cities from a total of 118! It demonstrates the improvements that City Sightseeing Belfast has made since our first tour in 2010 and we will have more to come as we continue to grow and expand our service with the Russian language being added to our multi lingual system, the introduction of our Castle Tour and the expansion of our city tour which now includes C.S. Lewis Square and Freedom Corner.
The most memorable presentations of the conference for me was from Kian Farhadi City Sightseeing Hollywood/LA. Kian shared with us a short video clip of a recent bus tour of Hollywood showing some of their customers getting to mingle with the stars at the 2017 Oscar ceremony.
I don’t think we could entice Denzel Washington to Belfast (unless he gets a part in the Fall or the Game of Thrones) but sometimes the stars do get on our bus.
The conference was brought to an end by our global president Enrique Ybarra in which he reinforced that City Sightseeing is a global family and is now recognised throughout the world as the leaders in their field.