Caribbean tourism ‘ASSURED’ of success
Over 24 million people visited the Caribbean region in 2010.
BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Friday August 26, 2011 - Over 24 million people visited the Caribbean region in 2010. Many came to enjoy the sun, sea and sand, and a large number are repeat visitors to the region because they favour the total Caribbean ambience, including its warm, friendly people and its diversity in terms of product offerings. Holding onto these repeat tourists and attracting news ones are essential for tourism because if the people are the heartbeat of the Caribbean, tourism is its lifeblood.
Over the past year forty six tourism/hospitality companies in eight countries in the Caribbean have chosen to participate in a pilot programme called Hospitality Assured, which is designed to allow them to be more responsive to the needs of their customers, create greater customer satisfaction and loyalty and improve their overall business performance and profitability.
Any organisation that receives the Hospitality Assured certification is perceived as being among the ‘best of the best’ and a leader in its field, as the certification recognises excellence in the service environment from companies that consistently meet the expectations of a range of customers.
The Hospitality Assured certification is owned by the Institute of Hospitality in the U.K. and managed by the Caribbean Tourism Organisation (CTO), along with supporting organizations, the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus, Barbados and the Caricom Regional Organisation for Standards and Quality (CROSQ). The standard is widely recognized in the U.K. and benchmarked against the European Foundation for Quality Management Excellence model. It is being promoted as the standard for service and business excellence for tourism/hospitality businesses in the Caribbean region.
Since the programme’s introduction in Antigua, Bahamas, Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica and Trinidad &Tobago there has been positive feedback from the companies that have implemented the programme and engaged in the process of becoming Hospitality Assured certified. The Caribbean companies that have already achieved certification include, Accra Beach Hotel and Spa, Barbados; The Orchard Garden Hotel, The Corner Hotel, Sammy T’s Beach Resort, Fernandez Bay Village, Small Hope Bay Lodge, Andros Island Bone Fish Club, and Ocean Pearl Resort, Bahamas.
One hotelier commented that, "The Hospitality Assured programme gave us the tools we needed to coordinate and unify our operational procedures. With the use of their informative manuals, worksheets, staff training and personal care we were able to create a business plan that will serve as a platform for the future management of the hotel. By integrating marketing strategies, financial outlooks, on-going staff education, meaningful SOP's, and manager/supervisor profiles we gained the confidence and skills needed to compete in a global hospitality environment. It was a great experience." Pam Armbrister, Fernanadez Bay Village, Bahamas.
Director of Human Resources at the CTO, Bonita Morgan recently visited Grenada to present the programme to the key tourism stakeholders and as a result there are currently five businesses that have signed on to the programme. Response to the programme has been exceptional in Barbados as a result of intensive promotion on the ground, and further propelled by the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the CTO, the Barbados Hotel & Tourism Association (BHTA) and the National Initiative for Service Excellence (NISE) which have endorsed the programme and help to promote its benefits. A total of fourteen Barbadian businesses are part of the programme. Several tourism-related companies in Guyana have also expressed a keen interest in becoming involved as they move to take advantage of a scheme that is widely-recognised and held in high esteem.
Ms Morgan says: “We now have a footprint in eight countries and the programme is really growing as its reputation spreads. We even have enquiries from countries, outside of the pilot countries, which are keen to come on board as they recognize the long term value that the Hospitality Assured certification brings to the individual business and by extension to the country as a whole.
The true benefits of the Hospitality Assured programme lie in a framework which helps organisations to review their key processes and procedures in the areas of The Customer Promise, Business Planning, Operational Planning, Standards of Performance, Resources, Training & Development, Service Delivery, Service Recovery, Customer Satisfaction Improvement and Customer Research, looking at them from the perspective of the Organization, the Customer and the Employees.
The European Union/PRO€INVEST project is providing funding for the implementation phase of Hospitality Assured and the Organization of American States is also providing funding support for small and medium-sized tourism operators. Caribbean companies are encouraged to take advantage of subsidized costs for the assessment before the project comes to an end on September 30th 2011.