Cliff Richard got up and sang to the Centre Court the first time I went to Wimbledon. Good for him I reckoned, since no-one else seemed to have thought about how to look after thousands of people on a rainy day.
They still can’t control the weather, obviously, but they have made giant strides in presentation and customer care to judge from my trip to the (sunny) home of lawn tennis this week.
It can’t be easy to run an international visitor attraction for just 2 weeks a year, and it set me thinking about the challenges. What have they got right?
1. Everyone is brilliantly trained to do their job – even though most of them must be temps. From ball boys to security staff everyone knew what they were doing, and mostly did it with a smile.
2. The place looks great – even to the colour coordinated floral displays; every detail is right.
3. There’s a roof on Centre Court (OK, mostly to keep up the lucrative TV coverage) but there are also plenty of undercover eateries, live musicians, and the Wimbledon Museum for the aficionados.
4. Information is plentiful – from clear maps and signage to streaming updates on the scores.
5. Food choices are wide – from smoked salmon and champagne to English sausages in a bun – but all palatable enough – and the strawberries and cream were not quite as expensive as I remember.
6. The grass courts are works of art. And oh, and the tennis is pretty good too.