A week after my gamesmaker orientation event in Wembley I had to be back in Hackney for Module 2 in my role-specific training. This time I had to be there so early that I actually woke up at 6am on a Sunday morning to be able to get there on time… but yet again public transport let me down. A combination of points and signals failure meant that once more I had to race through the streets of Hackney to get to the venue for my training.
I hate being late for things, grrr.
Anyway, this last module was the most practical one to date. No more introductions, no more generalizations or broad strategic views. This was it – a very clear view of what our role would entail as well as an in-depth view at the concept of ‘hosting’.
This I found particularly interesting, the whole hosting thing. It is basically a term that means that as gamesmakers, we are the hosts for the games and as such, we have some guidelines to follow to ensure that we are being good hosts. There even is a clever little mnemonic to remember them all: I DO ACT.
I am of course immediately reminded of something I learned from Disney, about the guidelines for good customer service or “good show”:
- Make eye contact and smile
- Greet and welcome each and every guest
- Seek out guest contact
- Provide immediate service recovery
- Display appropriate body language at all times
- Preserve the ‘magical’ guest experience
- Thank each and every guest
The Olympic version isn’t much different:
- Be Inspiring
- Be Distinctive
- Be Open
- Be Alert
- Be Consistent
- Be part of a Team
The principles are familiar, almost obvious, but I do have to remember that this is the UK and it is not a country famed for its good customer service. The challenge, therefore, for LOCOG is to turn thousands of ‘normal’ volunteers into customer service champions. They are trying their best and I really do hope they pull it off. I have always been amazed at the way Disney takes people (from all over the world!) and in basically two days turn them into Disney cast members. So it can be done and I am hoping that the enthusiasm is infectious.
After learning all about hosting (and a break) we moved on to some very practical aspects of our roles as NOC/NPC assistants, mainly what would the first 24/48 hours be like? We had an overview of what our “clients” (as the NOCs and NPCs are known in our world) go through as they arrive in the UK, what procedures need to be done, what happens to them, what happens to luggage, how do they get to their destination, what meetings happen, and a myriad other little details. It was very, very interesting, mainly because it gave me a better idea not only of my role but of the scale of the whole operation. It is HUGE. There are so, so many details that all need to be taken into account when organizing an event such as this and it appears that the team have left no stone unturned. It is awesome and even a little overwhelming.
We had a few quizzes and games also, to change the pace, and I thoroughly enjoyed the day. I now have a very clear idea of what I’ll be expected to do, what my responsibilities are and also what they are NOT. I have also started to meet some lovely people from all around the world that are just as excited as I am to be a part of this, one of the greatest shows on Earth.
As I left Hackney and headed back home (with no public transport issues this time, thankfully) I reflected on what this opportunity meant and what an experience this would be. As I looked at the clumps of snow on the streets I thought that soon enough the snow would melt, the trees and flowers would be green again, the weather would warm up a bit and before too long it would be the summer and I would get my chance to do what I was being trained to do.
And I can’t wait.