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City Cruises York case study

City Cruises blue boat sails in York

The sight of City Cruises' distinctive blue and white boats sailing up and down the Ouse will be a familiar one to York's residents and visitors. As well as being one of the city's most recognisable brands, City Cruises is a pioneering member of York's Good Business Charter movement.

We caught up with Chris Pegg, Head of Commercial, Sales & Marketing at City Cruises York, to find out more about their Good Business Charter story.

Chris recalls becoming aware of the Good Business Charter accreditation scheme when the city became the world's first Good Business Charter City back in 2021, saying:

It struck me at that point that we'd be silly not to sign up. The Charter aligned with our brand values of fair customer service, good relationships with local suppliers and a commitment to reducing our carbon footprint, and, most importantly, gave us the framework to achieve these goals.

Reaching GBC accreditation standards hasn't always been plain sailing for the cruise operator, but has brought significant long-term benefits.

One of the biggest challenges for City Cruises in becoming accredited was guaranteeing prompt payment to suppliers, one of the ten criteria for GBC accreditation. Chris told us that as a subsidiary of a larger company with accounts handled centrally from a London office, it was sometimes difficult to get invoices paid as promptly as the Good Business Charter scheme suggests.

Chris said:

Aiming to become GBC-accredited provided us with the catalyst we needed to invest the effort to change our practices for the better. We knew this was one of the areas where our business was weakest, and through challenging us to be accountable against these commitments, the GBC has helped us change payment practices within our wider organisation, leading to improved relationships with suppliers.

The Good Business Charter has also helped City Cruises to support York's wider economy through their procurement processes.

“We were already committed to shopping local for products and services like drinks and catering aboard our cruises - it is important to give visitors to York an authentic view of the city - but fulfilling the GBC's commitment to ethical sourcing was a real driving force in ensuring we incorporated this as a key part of our business model. Now, we're working with partners from across the city - one of our most popular partnerships has been with a local fish and chip shop, offering our guests the chance to enjoy a proper York chippy tea while promoting local, independent restaurants.”

The Good Business Charter also requires its accredited businesses to demonstrate that they are committed to reducing their impact on the environment.

Chris is open about the challenges this presents for a business that consumes fuel to run their boats and would have a higher carbon footprint than others. However, he says that holding themselves to account through their GBC commitments is helping City Cruises York reduce their environmental impact - with additional help from the council's City Development team.

“We're very conscious of the impact our boats can have on the environment and we're working with the council's Business Growth Managers to improve this locally. We're currently working, through the council, to explore what business activities we can make greener which we're very excited about.”

Chris paid tribute to the team at GBC, whom he says have been helpful and flexible at every stage of City Cruises York's journey towards accreditation, which they achieved in 2022.

“The team at the GBC have been great - they're really approachable and help you find ways to fulfil the Charter's ten core commitments through peer support, events and tailored support.”

While recognising the challenges faced by tourism and hospitality businesses as the sector weathers challenging economic conditions, Chris called on other York businesses to join the city's Good Business Charter movement:

“To any hospitality or tourism business wondering whether the Good Business Charter is worth it, I'd say that it will undoubtedly help your business to develop in a world where customers and investors increasingly expect ethical practices to be incorporated into everything you do.

“The benefits of GBC accreditation have far outweighed any costs to our business, and has boosted our reputation as a caring, responsible member of the York community.

“This is how we should all be aiming to run our businesses in order to make our city, economy and the wider world a better place.”

Also see

Economic Growth Team

West Offices, Station Rise, York, YO1 6GA