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Archive for May, 2016

CTO Sec. Gen. Remarks at 2016 Tourism HR Conference in Antigua

Remarks by CTO’s Secretary General Hugh Riley at the official opening of the CTO’s 8th Tourism Human Resources Conference Jolly Beach Resort, Antigua, May 11, 2016

Hon. Samantha Marshall, Minister of Social Transformation and Human Resource Development
Mrs. Paula Frederick-Hunte, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Tourism, Economic Development, Investment and Energy
Mr. Colin James, Chief Executive Officer, Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority
Mrs. Vanessa Ledesma, Chief Operating Officer, Caribbean Hotel & Tourism Association
Dr. Lorraine Nicholas, tourism specialist at the OECS Commission
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,

RileyHRConf2016

It is a pleasure and an honor to be with you today to share a few opening thoughts as we tackle the business of Making Excellence a Habit.

My comments are just the appetizer because the experts whom Bonita Morgan and her team have assembled to speak to us over the next few days, will certainly serve up the main course.

Before we even begin, please join me in thanking The Honourable Asot Michael, Minister of Tourism for Antigua and Barbuda and his team of professionals for their gracious hospitality and their warm welcome to Antigua.

The person who met us and drove us here from the airport is certainly one of finest first impressions of a destination that I have ever had the pleasure to encounter. Cleo Henry’s knowledge, pride in her country and sheer eloquence, should be used as an industry best-practice.

Our gratitude too, must go to the Management and Staff at Jolly Beach Resort for their attentiveness and their obvious focus on satisfying the needs of their guests.

There is no denying that when we speak of customer satisfaction, we often tend to focus a disproportionate amount of attention on front line employees. Why? Because they are critically important to the delivery of the tourism product to the end user, and are therefore an essential source of immediate feedback on how we’re doing.

But in addition to the frontline, there are the legions of team members who are involved in every aspect of creating, selling, marketing, designing, building, defending, testing, researching and communicating the experience we ultimately deliver. Because we are tourism destinations, we naturally focus on visitors but the basic formula for winning the satisfaction and approval of our customers, works in virtually any field of endeavor.

So what is it that we really aim to achieve in our interaction with customers?

Imagine for a moment how our day would begin – and end – if we truly focused on making every customer a repeat customer. So regardless of what you do, you go to work tomorrow and decide that each interaction is going to be aimed at getting this person to come back to your restaurant, or hotel, watersports facility or country.

So automatically, you are now in the mode of doing such an excellent job to get them back, time and again, that you are spontaneously guaranteeing that their current experience is special. You are effectively making that process a habit.

When I was putting these few thoughts together about Making Excellence a Habit, I was curious to see how Webster, Oxford, Encarta and even the American Journal of Psychology defined a habit.  Generally speaking, they sort of agree that a habit is a regular tendency or practice. An automatic reaction to a specific situation.

So we effectively need to be making excellence automatic.

And why does it even matter if we’re excellent? Who cares? We all must care.

Because we are the world’s most tourism-dependent region, we must care more than anyone else. No one should pay more attention to delivering a superb experience, than we in the Caribbean.

Over the years I’ve discovered that not everyone is comfortable with the fact that we are so tourism-dependent.  To some it sounds like we are stuck there; like we are saying that somehow we should not develop other areas of our economies. We should not try to diversify. Of course we should. Countries all over the world that were overly dependent on one sector or another, have sought to diversify their economies; and interestingly, all of the world’s developed countries, rich in various natural and other resources, have turned serious attention to developing their tourism sectors!

There are reasons why the Caribbean is the most tourism-dependent region.

The number one reason is that we have a huge competitive advantage. Where else in the world is there the combination of Dutch, English, French, Spanish, African and Asian cultures in one destination?

The Caribbean’s natural and built-heritage, its food, visual and performing arts, history and infectious hospitality are all attractive magnets for foreigners seeking a new narrative.

Stunning colonial architecture and pockets of indigenous peoples also provide rich experiences waiting to captivate curious discoverers.

Where else is there a combination of excellent weather, all year-round, alluring beaches and infectious rhythms?

The Caribbean is proud to possess 25 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, located in 14 countries. Some of the Caribbean’s sites were inscribed on the list as early as 1982, placing us on the list before prominent countries like China, India, Spain and the UK.

So those are some of the competitive advantages that make us proud of our tourism prominence.

But as important as it is to have all of that, the adhesive that must bind it all together is service excellence.

Our competitors around the world can always have deeper pockets and taller buildings; but no one should have better people than the Caribbean. Nowhere in the world should there be a population that is more dedicated to acquiring the tools and using the resources available to constantly assess and improve our performance. In other words, as a region we must pay close attention to customer response mechanisms, so that we always know how our guests are defining excellence.

That feedback is essential. Grab every realistic opportunity to communicate with your guests and find out how they really feel. Only by knowing how we are doing, can we constantly improve.

At the Caribbean Tourism Organization we feel so strongly about this that we created a monitoring mechanism for destinations. Guestpitality – Total Visitor Satisfaction asks visitors to assess their destination experience in seven critical sectors. This is on-the-ground feedback on how a country is doing in the most vital areas of a visitor’s experience. Just as high scores are validation of what you are doing right, Guestpitality also points out the sectors that need attention. If we want to be excellent, we must make collecting feedback a habit!

We all know that there are good habits and bad habits; and as we also know, habits are hard to break. So let’s choose good ones, and then make them impossible to break!

Posted in: 2016 News, Blog, HR Conference

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SLJAF 2016 records a number of firsts

Castries – (May 09, 2016) – Early indicators are telling a story of a number of successes achieved from the staging of the 25th anniversary celebration of the Saint Lucia Jazz & Arts Festival. Among these are record attendance on each night of the mainstage events, sold-out venues well before gates opened, the vision for the infusion of the Arts being more fully realized and unprecedented levels of accommodation occupancy in the north of the island.

Deputy Director of the Saint Lucia Tourist Board (SLTB), Tracey Warner-Arnold, reports that ahead of the analysis from event surveys and the Festival’s exit survey which will give a more comprehensive assessment of the various operational aspects, lineup satisfaction, visitor arrivals and patronage, a number of clear indicators have emerged which validate some of the choices and decisions made for the Festival this year.

“Well ahead of the opening of the gates for each mainstage event, we exceeded ticket sales from our best prior years,” Mrs. Arnold said. Numbers to date show at least 1,000 more patrons consecutively at Pigeon Island Mainstage Saturday and Sunday in 2016 over the year 2010, which until this year, recorded the highest level of patronage ever. According to the SLTB Deputy Director, this kind of success is gratifying and encouraging and highlights the attractiveness of the lineup and the effectiveness of the festival marketing.

In his analysis of these numbers, Director of Tourism Louis Lewis said it validated the line-up as one that could achieve three essentials, namely commemorate a world class journey, bring the sing-along dynamic for Mother’s Day, and cater to a range of tastes while also remaining true to the foundational jazz roots of the Saint Lucia Jazz & Arts Festival.

On the strength of public opinion recorded via social media and event patronage, the 2016 Arts Component is described as having exceeded expectations.

“The Arts component for us has been the crowning glory of the Festival because in three short years we were able to demonstrate the vision we had for a Festival that is authentic to the destination in all its cultural and creative dimensions, and not one that resembles or patterns itself from any other,” explained Director of Tourism, Louis Lewis. In his assessment, the close SLTB and Cultural Development Foundation (CDF) partnership adds a value to the Festival which will be felt for years to come as an ideal model where a credible, colourful and compelling Saint Lucian aesthetic is infused into the Festival. According to Mr. Lewis, the visibility and educational value which the CDF/ SLTB collaboration achieved with respect to three national heroes – Sir Derek Walcott, Virginia Alexander and Sir Dunstan St. Omer – are significant because the Festival must also be evaluated in the context of sectoral development, and growth opportunities for Saint Lucian Artists and Artisans.

“These three icons epitomize the excellence of Saint Lucia’s literary, artistic and dance product. They are the bar, and creating a space within the Festival to tell their stories, showcase their journeys and celebrate their achievements does much for education and national pride.’

This year, the Arts infusion included a two night run of Sir Derek Walcott’s Omeros by Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, the Cultural Icon Series tribute to dance legend Virginia Alexander and the erection of an Arts Village which, according to the SLTB Director, served the aim of making the Arts a core part of the Festival programme, a model which will continue for the years to come.

Posted in: 2016 News, Blog, Destination News

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Bahamas to Test Undersea Weddings Record

FREEPORT, Grand Bahama – A wedding campaign geared towards breaking the Guiness Book of World Records in undersea weddings was officially launched on Wednesday, May 4, 2016, at a press conference at the Grand Lucayan resort, the proposed site for the event next year.

In Deep Love Bahamas Limited, a Bahamian destination events management company, has scheduled the event to take place on February 14, 2017, Valentine’s Day, in Grand Bahama. Organizers hope to break the standard in the Guiness Book of World Records for undersea weddings, which is currently set at 34, by having 50 couples participate.

Alfred Collie Jr., creator and organizer of the campaign, notes the event will not only foster destination weddings, scuba diving and ecotourism in The Bahamas, but showcase the waters while bringing focus to their conservation.

“We are working to achieve a number of objectives by bringing couples from around the world to marry in the turquoise, crystal clear waters of The Bahamas. We also hope to unite the Bahamian people and the world behind a novel concept that brings immense international attention to ocean conservation while at the same time creating the ultimate wedding photo ops and memories.”

Director of Romance for the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism, Freda Malcolm, said “The Bahamas Ministry of Tourism is very excited about the ‘In Deep Love’ wedding promotion and fully endorses it. We have already received a huge amount of media interest from around the world, on the coverage of this great event, including news organizations from the United Kingdom, Brazil, France, Canada, and the United States of America.

“The Bahamas Ministry of Tourism has been aggressive, deliberate and innovative in its marketing initiatives to promote the Islands of The Bahamas as the premier wedding destination in the world.”

Betty Bethel, Director of Tourism for Grand Bahama, added that they were pleased Grand Bahama was chosen for this event. With the island being a ‘nature-based destination,’ it is the ideal location.

The Caribbean Tourism Organization has declared 2016 the ‘Year of Romance for the Caribbean’ and in November 2015, the Islands of The Bahamas were named the “Leading Wedding Destination” at the World Travel Awards in Morocco.

Posted in: 2016 News, Blog, Destination News

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His Imperial Highness Prince Selassie enjoys Jamaica’s culture

Selassie 2MONTEGO BAY, JAMAICA – May 4, 2016 – HIS IMPERIAL HIGHNESS PRINCE SELASSIE  ENJOYS JAMAICA’S CULTURE -His Imperial Highness (HIH) Prince Ermias Sahle-Selassie, Haile Selassie’s grandson, of Ethiopia and his spouse, Princess Saba Kebede were recently in Jamaica to participate in 50th anniversary celebrations of his grandfather’s Emperor Selassie’s visit. During his visit, HIH Prince Selassie enjoyed aspects of Destination Jamaica’s multifaceted tourism product. Above HIH Selassie (second left) and Princess Saba Kebede (second right), with Maracas in hand, enjoy the cultural presentation of the Hatfield Cultural Group at Meliá Braco Village. The couple also toured the Rose Hall Great House.

Selassie

His Imperial Highness (HIH) Prince Ermias Sahle-Selassie of Ethiopia (left), also met Dmitri Kosvogiannis (right), General Manager, Melia Braco Village with the ‘Star of David’ gesture. The gesture is a symbol of Rastafarianism, a religious movement that began in Jamaica, which honours Emperor Haile Selassie as its leader. HIH Prince Selassie, is the grandson of Emperor Haile Selassie and was in Jamaica for the commemoration for the 50th anniversary of his grandfather’s visit to the island.

Posted in: 2016 News, Blog, Destination News

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