A nostalgia for the concept of good service

It’s a cliche that Ireland would be the best country in the world if the sun just kept shining a bit more, but there’s no denying that there’s nothing like some rays to bring out the best side of us.

It has been a bloody long winter...and we are entitled to go mad when the sun arrives. This week there is a sense of summer about it... and I suppose the sight of sunburned heads on Monday morning from the fun and games at Pearse Stadium on Sunday added to the illusion.

Next week, the Galway International Arts Festival will unveil its programme for this July. Already, the course at Ballybrit is being readied for that week when the eyes of the country fall upon us.

Galway is the biggest city on the Wild Atlantic Way and it embodies all that is good about that unique route which marked its tenth birthday recently.

It is heartening to see the city streets and eateries getting full again; reminding us that we have an awesome tourism offering if we mind it. It is a joy to hear the hum of accents and enjoyment; the scent of good food, the infectious atmosphere created by smiles and happiness.

It is good to see the weather fine enough to have the grass in the Square covered with happy people; the Prom packed, creating a sense that Galway is back and open for business again after some years when we felt that life would never be the same.

However I am reminded of the need for the concept of service at the heart of all we offer visitors and locals alike.

I have a friend who at the moment is in the business of teaching and advising good service. Like many, she is appalled at the lack of training in the service industries. She has worked a lifetime in it and her new role sees her being hired by businesses to determine how they can up their game in terms of how they greet and treat their customers. It is not just hospitality, it is across the board.

If we are to maintain our reputation as a destination of choice, it is important that we embody these characteristics and gain a name for being a place where you will get good value and good service. How often do you arrive at a cafe an hour before closing and hear that the staff have decided to shut the doors. Since Covid time, businesses have been playing it fast and easy with opening hours. Chairs are piled on tables well before the closing time. Kitchens are shut down and the overall greeting is engineered to drive you away more than invite you in. I remember as a kid working with my Dad on the visiting bank that visited Clonbur and Cornamona once a month when the livestock fair was held. There was a big brass sign that read “Bank of Ireland - Open on Fair Days.” Americans loved it and took many photos thinking it referred to the influence of the weather on the opening hours.

Here in the eye of the tourism euro, we are at the forefront of critical perception. The sun will shine for the summer season, but we must be ready to offer the best service we can so that we can prolong the Galway year and strengthen our position in the league table of places to be.


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