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YHA Business Coaching case study


YHA is a charitable organisation operating 200 hostels throughout the UK. They employ up to 1350 staff in total, including approximately 600 who are seasonally employed, 500 employed all year round at Youth Hostels and 150 in the National Office at Matlock in Derbyshire.

It is is one of Britain’s top 50 charities and aims to reach out and enhance the lives of all young people especially those of limited means under the age of 26. They receive visitors from 80 different nations each year, accounting for 500,000 overnight stays.

The details and intricacy of the organisation are massive and like any other organisation they pride themselves on looking after their many varied customers, hence the challenge of change are immense. Historically management turnover within the network was very low, whilst this was excellent for their organisation, this sometimes presented other challenges surrounding the business, and thus it meant it was difficult to introduce new ways of thinking.

In 2008 they introduced a new online feedback process for customers, this brought up many new areas to explore. In the same year they introduced a new Operations Director, Mick Horan who was extremely conscious that in order to compete with other organisations they needed to clearly review their customer service standards. He was also faced with the issue of not having a training team to support the needs of their business.

YHA approached Million Training to help them review their service and sales culture across the network. In addition to this they wanted to demonstrate a renewed commitment to investing in their people and their commitment to improving customer service standards.

What did Million do

Million held mystery visits at a selection of hostels and also held focus groups with key people from YHA’s National Office and also a selection of Hostel Managers, to understand the needs and culture of the business.

As a result of this Million developed a one day pilot customer service programme for staff and managers to attend across the network. The busiest part of their business operated from April to October, so 30 sessions were held between February and April to ensure that the participants were inspired for the season ahead. Overall 361 employees were developed from the estate.

The key aim of the programme was to really focus on the needs of the customers, but also to treat approaching internal customers in the same way as external customers. The day concluded with understanding the importance of being part of a customer focused winning team.

The Outcome


We found Million Training to be professional, business focused and committed to helping the YHA, as a result of this they are one of our approved training suppliers and have had the opportunity to work with some of our other departments

Lawrence Crammer, Head of Learning & Development

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