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Published on October 14th, 2014 | by Daniel Cheeseman

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City win VisitFootball Club of the Year and Warmest Welcome!

Manchester City do the double in providing the best Premier League fan experience

VisitFootball Club of the Year – Manchester City

VisitFootball Warmest Welcome – Manchester City

Manchester City Football Club is to receive two awards for the quality of their customer care to Premier League fans last season.  The VisitFootball Awards are part of a national scheme that is improving standards of fan experience at football stadia.

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The area around the Etihad Stadium has gone through several re-developments over the years

A panel of industry experts from the football and customer service industries decided the award winners. For being “the gold standard in providing fans with the best matchday experience”, Manchester City have become the first club to win both the VisitFootball Club of the Year and Warmest Welcome awards.

VisitFootball, a joint venture between the Premier League and the national tourism board VisitEngland, has been assessing the care that customers receive at football grounds since August 2010 and gives out annual awards for those who deliver outstanding customer service.

The awards encourage best practice as Premier League clubs work harder to make more fans feel welcome.

Last season was a record breaking campaign for the Premier League in terms of supporter numbers. There were more seats sold than ever before with 95.9% utilisation, a 3% increase in season ticket sales to 491,263, and a 2.8% rise in average away attendance.

VisitFootball has adapted VisitEngland’s ‘Visitor Attraction Quality Assurance Scheme’, which is used to assess other tourist attractions such as theatres and museums, specifically for football stadia. All 20 clubs in the Barclays Premier League were judged by a professional assessor across eight areas of the supporter match experience, such as ticketing, stewarding, catering, toilets and the club shop.

For the Awards the panel brought together the marks and comments of the assessors from Live Tourism to determine which clubs and personnel offered the highest quality for Premier League football fans.

Commenting on the awards for VisitFootball Club of the Year and VisitFootball Warmest Welcome, the organisers said:

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A DJ entertains the crowd in CitySquare before the game

“What we look for in a VisitFootball assessment are people skills and outstanding levels of customer service. Put simply, Manchester City are the gold standard in providing fans with the best matchday experience.

“Manchester City has created a strong sense of identity around the Etihad, they make it a destination that both home and away fans enjoy visiting. The vibrant stadium hub, CitySquare, with its excellent pre-match entertainment for supporters of all ages, is now established as a focal point for fans.

“Service in the Club Shop was exceptional, with helpful, friendly staff. Catering facilities were very good, with an interesting range of quality food, including ‘Fan Fare’ kiosks by Jamie Oliver, Grab and Go kiosks, new hot dog carts and beer buggies. The club has invested in new catering equipment, fan facilities and digital menu boards throughout the stadium concourses. 

“What we like about Manchester City is that they demonstrate a strong fan centric ethos. Staff are committed to providing a warm welcome and consistently deliver an exceptional service. The City Playmakers at Joe Mercer Way are pro-active, friendly and enthusiastic – they offer a great welcome from the club. All stewards had a warm approach, but at the same time there was a very good sense of safety and security around the stadium. From start to finish Manchester City get it right.”

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Thousands of City fans gather around CitySquare for pre-match entertainment before every home game

The VisitFootball scheme covers eight areas of the match experience for the 13.9 million fans that come through Premier League turnstiles during the 2013/14 season.

  1. Pre-arrival – telephone and email enquiries, website content and ticket purchasing
  2. Arrival – signage, approach to stadium, parking, stadium appearance
  3. Pre-match experience – stadium layout, stewarding, pre-match entertainment, programme content
  4. Match experience – quality of seating, information, stewarding, atmosphere, half-time entertainment
  5. Catering – appearance, food quality, service, food range, cleanliness
  6. Toilets – layout and numbers, maintenance, fixtures and fittings, ventilation, cleanliness
  7. Post-match – ease of exit, signage, crowd control
  8. Club shop – layout, range of merchandise, presentation, cleanliness.

For the VisitFootball initiative every club received two home visits during the 2013/14 season. Additionally there were schemes looking at away support, accessibility for disabled people and hospitality.

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