Over 100 local tourism workers were exposed to the skills necessary to deliver world-class service to a swiftly changing global tourism market at an 18-month training series that ended today.
With tourism the nation’s single-largest employer of people and provider of more than half of its foreign exchange, the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA) teamed up with Virgin Holidays to organise the training programme.
The series is a response to the industry’s often-expressed need for frontline workers to be better trained and equipped to deal with the changing needs of guests, and amid frequent public criticism of lax service standards in the island’s bread-and-butter industry.
During the awards ceremony for the Heartfelt Guest Care to Welcome the World training series, Minister of Labour Colin Jordan praised the initiative as critical to national development.
“When you live and serve in a region where people are the most valuable or important resource, then the training and development of those people is absolutely critical to the sustainable development of this region.
“We ought to invest in the resource that will drive economic growth and development and so it is critical that there is training and development for our people,”
Director of External Affairs and Sustainability for Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Holidays, Nathan Stower, revealed that the programme, which started about 18 months ago, was intended to educate frontline staff members, who interact directly with guests on a daily basis.
“So we started thinking about how we could make a more direct impact, to more people, particularly those who work as frontline staff and interact with our guests,” he said.
The discussion led to talks with the CHTA about piloting a programme focused on delivering customer service to different types of customers as a the country seeks to expand its market.
“That fits in very well with the CHTA’s initiatives in terms of overall training and people development but also embracing diversity,” said CHTA President, Patricia Affonso-Dass.
“Persons that couldn’t travel previously because of certain types of physical disabilities, single parents and integrated families, everyone is our visitor and the opportunity to expose our team members to the various types of persons that are travelling and encourage them to give the absolute best service they can across the board and we’re lucky in Barbados that we do that anyway,” she said. (KS)