We must embrace excellence in tourism - Stephenson Dalley
COORDINATOR OF Spruce Up Jamaica, Marline Stephenson Dalley has urged workers in the tourism industry to embrace three pillars of excellence as they strive to improve the level of service being offered to the island's visitors.
Stephenson Dalley, who was addressing the closing luncheon of the fourth cohort of participants in the Tourism Product Development Company's Protocol and Professional Etiquette training session at the Hilton Rose Hall Resort and Spa, St James, said excellence was not an act, but a habit.
She listed professionalism, consistency and cultural sensitivity as the three pillars which are considered vital to maintaining excellent service in the hospitality industry, hingeing this to the increasing number of visitors which have been gracing Jamaica's shores over the last three years.
"Lest us understand why it is important to be professionally consistent and culturally sensitive as we strive for service excellence. The Jamaica Tourist Board provisional statistics indicate that in 2010 we welcomed over 2.8 million visitors and in 2011 just over three million visitors to our shores - this included both stopover visitors and cruise passengers," said Stephenson-Dalley.
$2 billion in earnings
The industry, she indicated, also raked in over $2 billion in earnings, which represents some seven per cent of gross domestic product through direct earnings.
She said with the industry employing one in every four persons it was not difficult to understand why it was so important to the nation.
The Spruce Up Jamaica coordinator, in highlighting the three pillars of excellence, said the first - professionalism - incorporated skills competence and good conduct.
"We cannot speak about professionalism without speaking about respect as this must inform our conduct, requisite training and job knowledge, must include the softer skills of empathy, social graces and decorum and, of course, modern-day etiquette. It is not what we do, but always how we do it."
She listed consistency as the second pillar, noting that it was the ability to maintain a particular standard or repeat a particular task with minimal variation.
"It, therefore, speaks to constancy, so it is not enough for us to offer professional service in spurts; it must occur throughout the entire guest experience."
The third and final pillar, Stephenson Dalley said, was cultural sensitivity, which points to knowing the guests whom we welcome to our shores and are willing to serve.
"It is important that we have an understanding of who really are the people that we serve. Who are they? What are their likes and dislikes? What are the norms that govern their behaviour? Having this knowledge, we will not offend unknowingly."
Twenty-six participants were presented with certificates of achievement after successfully completing the three-day programme.