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Workforce: Staff help to design new hotel call centre.

Staff at a new multi-million reservations centre in the West Midlands

have helped to design the building.

They have had a hand in everything from the colour of the walls to car park security at Travelodge's new centre at Dudley's Castle Gate development. The 225 advisers drew up a wish list and then each of them had the chance to vote for their preferences. The result is a spacious, light and airy environment that is businesslike but relaxing with plenty of break-out areas and meeting spaces.

There is an Internet cafe for staff to use during their breaks and the premises are close to a health centre, cinema and fast food restaurants.

Staff also had their say in desk design and the development of a hot desking system which gives everyone personal storage space in smart, easily portable but secure caddy boxes.

They were also involved in the choice of technology for the state-of-the-art centre, including the selection of workstations and monitors and the advanced automatic call distributor system. Alistair McMillan, the centre's general manager, said: 'Our former reservations centre in Brierley Hill had served us well for 12 years but we had outgrown it and there were a few problems associated with it - there were never enough car parking spaces available.

'So we decided to involve the people who had to exist closest to these problems which is our staff.

'They have done a fantastic job and everybody is really enthusiastic about the new place. It really means a lot to them to be able to work in a place where there is room to move, plenty of natural light and where they do not have a problem getting in and out.

'The sense of ownership and pride in belonging is incredible and I am sure it is directly attributable to everyone being involved in the design and decision-making process.'

Travelodge takes 75 per cent of its telephone bookings through its reservations centre.

Mr McMillan said: 'We have got people who have worked here since we opened 12 years ago and they know the Travelodge estate backwards. We have staff who know the individual booking codes for every one of our 225 hotels off the top of their head.

'You cannot put a price on that sort of knowledge and skill and that is one of the reasons why we decided to stay in this part of the Midlands.'

An additional 50 jobs have been created by the move to Dudley where more than 3.5 million calls a year will be handled with an increased level of service.
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Title Annotation:Business
Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Aug 22, 2002
Words:430
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