On Friday, my family and I went on a short trip to London (I know the picture is of Chester Train station – bear with the blog and you will understand why!). An overnight stay arranged at the last minute. Now those of you with families might agree, sorting out the logistics at the last minute for any trip is pretty challenging, especially if you are not the bog standard ‘2+2’! In a world where the family structure has changed significantly over the last twenty years, more and more families have more than two children. Unfortunately, the tourism industry (largely) has failed to notice.

If you have ever tried to book a room for a family of five (or more) at short notice in London, you will be able to validate that it is extremely difficult, nigh on impossible. Many hotels will allow 3 people in a room, some will allow 4, but 5 – that is just asking too much.

Hotel accommodation in my mind is one where the industry finds it very difficult to cater for the needs of all types of customer – there is surely a gap in the market!

At this point I have realised I am ranting – this is not the main topic of this blog. Throughout our 48 hour stay in London, we had some pretty ‘normal’ customer experiences:

  • Virgin Trains – pretty normal – no issues, but nothing spectacular – did what it said on the tin (as expected)
  • Premier Inn – pretty normal – friendly staff, ok room, overpriced – nothing spectacular (considering we had to smuggle Jack into the room unnoticed – he slept on an airbed we brought with us)
  • Strada (Italian restaurant) – friendlyish (if not particularly knowledgeable) staff, ok food – nothing spectacular

With every (normal) experience, we met nice people, just doing their job. BUT…. I would argue that none of our experiences will live in my memory for very long. In fact if it were not for writing this blog, I would have forgotten about them already. Will I tell all my friends that they must stay in the Premier Inn in Euston when they next visit London – almost certainly not – there was nothing memorable enough about any of the experiences……..that is until we returned to Chester (hence the picture at the top of this blog).


The gentleman in this picture (with Ciara, Caitie and Jack) works for Arriva Trains Wales at Chester station. I regret not asking him what his name is – because he is a real hero of the brand that he represents. ATW Man (as I shall call him for the purposes of the blog) absolutely loves his job……at least he must do to display so much genuine pride and passion as he did on Saturday afternoon.

ATW man noticed that my three children were looking at two trains being decoupled – probably not an unusual sight. But ATW man, noticed it – and he wanted to make sure that they understood what was going on, that they could see what was going on, and that they had a bit of fun. ATW man, put a huge smile on their faces, as well as my wife, Naomi, and I. ATW man displayed the kind of positive proactive attitude that I am sure we would all like to experience on a daily basis. ATW man had the right ATTITUDE, PASSION and PRIDE and was a real credit to his organisation.

He told us that it was important for Children who showed an interest in something to understand what is going on, he told us that if ‘you explain it to them when they are little, they may show an interest when they are older’. This was a man who understands people.

ATW man’s behaviour will not make it any more or less likely that I will buy train tickets to and from his station. What ATW man’s behaviour has done is make it extremely likely that I will tell everyone I know what he did. I will tell everyone I know that Arriva Trains Wales seem to be recruiting some very special people. What ATW man has done is increase the credibility of the Arriva Train Wales brand.

How many of us can say that we have people like ATW man in our organisations? How important is it to have role models like him? For a Customer Experience to be great and consistently great, all organisations need people like him.

So if you are ever at Chester train station – look out for the chap with grey hair in my photo – I am sure he would love to have a chat!

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