Road Town, Tortola, British Virgin Islands, March 22, 2018…Assuring that guests to the British Virgin Islands have an excellent guest service experience is a high priority of the British Virgin Islands Tourist Board & Film Commission (BVITB). As a demonstration of that commitment, the Board has ensured that four of its employees were trained under the Hospitality Assured (HA) Programme; two as advisors and two as assessors.
Managing Consultant, Small Properties, Trefor Grant and Standards Manager, Vionie Pickering were certified as HA Advisors in 2016 and Annette B. Dalmida-Scatliffe, Executive Assistant to the Director of Tourism and Clive McCoy, Film Commissioner and Tourism Liaison Officer for Recovery, were certified as HA Assessors on March 16, 2018.
The Hospitality Assured Certification Programme was created by the Institute of Hospitality (U.K.) specifically for the tourism and hospitality sector to improve service quality. The Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) owns the license to operate the programme in the region. The programme’s overall objectives are to promote a culture of quality, service excellence and continuous improvement in the Caribbean, which are driven by international standards and certification, to strengthen the business performance and overall competitiveness of tourism enterprises in the region.
“The Board wants to have our properties, particularly the small ones, raise their standards of operations and service. We found it fitting to invest in the training of officers in the Hospitality Assured as it is an internationally recognized programme and certifiable within the region,” said Director of Tourism, Mrs. Sharon Flax Brutus. The Director further stated, “The training of these officers is in fulfillment of our objective to develop our staff, promote career growth and create a more dynamic and sustainable organization through succession planning.”
Mrs. Flax Brutus indicated that the next step in the process is to build awareness of the programme and its benefits, and the Board will be publicizing the programme and providing hospitality businesses with pertinent information on it to encourage them to be a part of same. “Hospitality Assured looks at the entire operational system of a business and assures its efficient operation,” she added.
Hospitality Assured Certification promises customers that service excellence is guaranteed by the company offering the service. The Hospitality Assured framework helps to improve quality standards on a continuous basis thereby improving overall business performance and competitiveness. The HA standards enhances the business’ marketability, thus generating great Public Relations; and instills confidence in important travel intermediaries including travel agents and tour operators.
Any hospitality, leisure or tourism related organization is eligible for HA, regardless of size or composition. They only need to hold a desire to improve service to customers and to achieve operational and business excellence.
The role of Mr. Grant and Mrs. Pickering as Business Advisors is to offer impartial and objective guidance and support to meet the minimum requirements of the 9 steps within the Hospitality Assured framework. Their role is one of facilitation and coaching to help the business recognize its own strengths and areas for improvement. Grant and Pickering have been actively encouraging businesses in the tourism industry, in particular the smaller indigenous properties to raise their operational and physical standards as part of the Board’s Standard Inspection and Training Programme.
As HA Assessors, Dalmida-Scatliffe and McCoy will be required to review the company’s performance with respect to meeting the requirements of the 9 steps and 44 criteria within the Hospitality Assured certification.
The Assessor, as a sole assessor or as part of a team of assessors provides an independent, unbiased evaluation of a business at the time of the visit and prepares a report, which is reviewed and approved by the CTO and CROSQ before forwarding to the client. McCoy and Dalmida-Scatliffe are eager to get into action once local hospitality industry businesses decide to embark on the Hospitality Assured Programme.
Other programmes of the BVITB aimed at enhancing the visitor experience include the Standards Training and Inspections programme and the Guest Services Experience Training. The former was piloted with select small properties with the aim of achieving minimum service standards as well as physical improvements to properties that can enhance the guest experience. The Guest Service Experience Training is being done in collaboration with the Disney Institute under the One BVI Tourism Awareness Programme which has as its mantra, “Tourism is Everybody’s Business”.