Christopher Rodrigues CBE, Chairman of VisitBritain, visited Bournemouth University to deliver a guest lecture on the UK’s tourism market.
BU students, predominantly from the Faculty of Management, packed into the Lees Lecture Theatre to hear from the prominent tourism expert about the role that VisitBritain plays in marketing Britain as a tourism destination both in the UK and abroad.
Rodrigues was keen to point to areas like Bournemouth as key selling points for British tourism and championed the idea of ‘joined up tourism’ suggesting that the “fragmentation of our industry is its biggest weakness”, before telling the packed audience that the UK should be thinking more holistically about the way we market the UK. Going a step further Christopher Rodrigues spoke about attracting people to Britain for education, and the role that universities have to play in the marketing of Britain and, therefore, tourism.
Following his presentation, Christopher Rodrigues took questions from the floor on topics as wide ranging as the UK’s plans for airport expansion and the upcoming EU referendum.
Giving advice to students on how to carve out a career in the tourism industry, Christopher Rodrigues said, “When I started out I started out in sales, I had an old car full of dog food and flour and I went up and down selling dog food out of my car as a Cambridge graduate. But that was one of the best experiences I had – so don’t be proud, because a lot of employers will look for real life experience.
“Make sure somewhere early in your career you get hands-on customer service experience, because it is so valuable, it is the North Star, it is why people come back and it’s why people come in the first place. Being on the supply side is important, but being on the supply side without an understanding of the customer’s needs is dangerous.
Concluding his talk Rodrigues addressed students in the room saying, “You’ve decided you would like a career in this industry, an industry that employs 1 in 12 people in the UK, it gives you responsibility. You can make mistakes, and mistakes are how we learn. This is a great industry for young people to get responsibility in. You get real hands-on experience quickly! To succeed in this industry you wear practical experience on your shoulder. This is a great industry to be in, you’ll have fun!”