Oh, I do like to be beside the seaside …

Isle of Wight


As my lazy sun-filled holiday on the Isle of Wight comes to an end I’ve decided it’s time for me to pick up my beach mat and respond to the rallying cry to join the SAS.  For those of you not in tune with current (sorry for the pun) quality issues at the seaside – ‘SAS’ stands for ‘Surfers Against Sewage.’

The opportunity for building a competitive industry in seaside holidays is being taken very seriously indeed – the Government has recently issued a “Strategy for Seaside Success”, urging partnerships and volunteers to engage in joint ventures such as the one mentioned above led by an Environmental Charity. Indeed David Cameron was seen to be visibly moved by the demise of Eastbourne pier, Eastbourne being one of the towns cited for growth. With continuing pressure on Local Authority funding and threats to reduce beach cleaning, we (volunteers) are increasingly asked to get involved in such activities.

A report recently published by Sheffield Hallam University “Seaside towns in the Age of Austerity” finds that “staycations” are on the rise.  The seaside tourist industry remains a large employer bigger than the motor industry, aerospace or pharmaceuticals; accounting for those indirectly employed in the supply chain, the figure could be as high as 600,000. The report concludes that the challenge for this industry to survive is to ensure that it delivers its full potential in the coming years.

The Quality of hotels and British hospitality is in the spotlight and in need of improving. The importance of consumer spending is highlighted noting the difficulty with measuring customer satisfaction within the overall holiday experience. This caused me to reflect on my own holiday experience: customer service was patchy.  I can’t remember the last time I purchased a gift which was carefully wrapped in tissue paper and the bag adorned with ribbons, as is the custom elsewhere in the world. Unfortunately my experience was more akin to juggling a number of unwrapped items out of a shop whilst delving into my cavernous bag for a nylon bag.  The only communication having been “do you want a bag?” delivered with a ‘have one if you dare’ expression. Have we forgotten the importance of the customer experience?  Remember the expression and ultimate test “did I feel valued as a customer?”

As a body of quality professionals struggling with the application of standards within our organisations, it is easy to lose sight of the wider impact of poor quality on our society.  Many are doing some great things but perhaps we should do more to publicise the good that we are doing. For example the Isle of Wight Council has produced a video on YouTube showing their focus on recycling tonnes of materials that are collected during cleaning. Okay, perhaps not the most watched YouTube clip but – as we keep saying – we need to be better at promoting the good work we are doing.

Anyway, must go because I’m off to watch the Punch and Judy show at Osborne House.  It’s a chance to go back in time and reflect on all the great things about a British seaside holiday. Oh, I do like to be beside the seaside.

Marilyn Dyason has over 30 years’ experience as a senior manager, consultant and researcher in the field of quality management.



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