Steven Wood: An expert lesson in motivation

 

Say your young daughter is struggling to take her cycling to the next level, sobbing when you suggest removing the stabilisers from her bike. What do you do? Given that nothing is too good for your little girl, you call in Sir Bradley Wiggins to give her lessons.

Likewise, when your son's "dives" – he poses on the poolside with his arms outstretched but still enters the water feet-first – are causing embarrassment at the leisure centre, the go-to guy is obviously Tom Daley. Why not? When my six-year-old, Stanley, showed no interest in going skiing this winter, I called in Britain's fastest skier; and he solved the problem within an hour.

Stan has only skied once before, during a short family trip to Vermont. Winters in New England can be cruelly cold, and he didn't get much pleasure from his first freezing day at ski school. The après-ski – hot chocolate and an outdoor swimming pool that steamed like a geyser – was more to his taste. The morning after their lessons, my wife asked if he and his sister would prefer to go on the slopes or into the pool. They both started undressing.

Taking small children skiing is extremely hard work. On a first trip with Lily, our eight-year-old, we discovered that the time taken to kit her out for skiing exceeded her attention span: once she was ready to ski, she no longer wanted to. With Stan resistant to the whole project, I figured that the planned ski trip for myself and the children was a non-starter.

But then I got a call from the indoor Snow Centre at Hemel Hempstead. I was asked whether I would like to go there to meet Ed Drake, this country's leading downhill racer. Perhaps I would also do a few turns on the slopes with him? I had a better idea: the children would get on the snow with Drake, a tall, good-looking 26-year-old with long blond hair. And, with luck, skiing would become a more attractive prospect for both Lily and Stan.

It takes great dedication to become a World Cup and Olympic skier, especially if you're British (thanks to ski racing's low profile in the UK). By the time he was 12, Drake was already spending winter in the Alps, skiing six days a week. At the beginning of this season, he was rated the 46th best in the world.

In view of his total commitment to the sport, I did wonder whether Drake was the right person to enthuse a recalcitrant six-year-old. But he is used to working with children of that age at race camps, and confidently grappled with Stan, getting him up the Snow Centre's lifts and down its nursery slopes.

The exercise was a complete success. Stan decided he did like skiing after all and Lily, who got in a few relatively good descents, took her signed photograph of Drake to school with her the following day. I booked a late-season holiday in St Anton for the three of us with Esprit, the tour operator chosen by the Drake family for its regular trips to the Alps when Ed was a young child.

Faster feedback is better for everyone

At the end of the holiday we will do our duty and complete Esprit's customer satisfaction questionnaire. Known in the trade simply as a "CSQ", the document indicates what a tour operator is doing wrong, and right. Traditionally CSQs are sent directly to the tour operator, to be collated and sent for analysis in the spring so that any deficiencies revealed can be rectified for the season that follows. But Neilson is now breaking with tradition by having local managers collect and scan CSQs in-resort on a weekly basis. The result, says Simon Davies, Neilson's ski operations manager, is that "we don't have to wait until the following season to implement improvements".

Already adopted for the company's 2012 summer programme, the system has had an immediate impact this winter. Davies says, in the first week of the season, it revealed a glitch in the baggage handling airside at Grenoble airport and a problem at some accommodation in Les Deux Alpes. But for Davies, the new reporting system still isn't fast enough. "If there's a problem," he says, "we'd prefer guests to tell the local reps straight way rather than waiting to report it in the CSQ."

Snow Centre: 0845 258 9000; thesnowcentre.com Neilson: 0844 879 8155; neilson.co.uk

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Recruitment Genius: Car Sales Executive - Franchised Main Dealer

    £30000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity for...

    Recruitment Genius: Group Sales Manager - Field Based

    £21000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Located on the stunning Sandban...

    Guru Careers: Email Marketing Specialist

    £26 - 35k (DOE): Guru Careers: An Email Marketing Specialist is needed to join...

    Recruitment Genius: Tour Drivers - UK & European

    Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity to join a is a...

    Day In a Page

    Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

    Isis hostage crisis

    The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
    Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

    The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

    Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
    Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

    Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

    Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
    Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

    Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

    This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
    Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

    Cabbage is king again

    Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
    11 best winter skin treats

    Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

    Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
    Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

    Paul Scholes column

    The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
    Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

    Frank Warren's Ringside

    No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
    Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

    Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

    The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
    Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

    Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

    Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
    Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
    Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

    Comedians share stories of depression

    The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
    Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

    Has The Archers lost the plot?

    A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
    English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

    14 office buildings added to protected lists

    Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
    Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

    Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

    Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee