“I have questioned many times in the past, that it is totally unreasonable to expect our tourism workers to deliver a level of service that they have never been exposed to.”
I have just returned from spending ten days in the United States, eight of which were spent in the state of New Hampshire at a two property resort hotel in the White Mountains.
The standard of accommodation was very high. What stood out was the number of nationalities involved in service delivery. In fact management and staff were from thirteen different countries excluding the host. Fourteen of those employees came from the state of Moldova, and I would not blame you for a second if you are scratching your head and thinking ‘where on earth is that?’
Before you leap to GOOGLE, Moldova is a small land-locked state in Eastern Europe, formerly part of and now bordering Romania with the Ukraine. For part of its history, it was a Soviet satellite. Shortly it will be celebrating two decades of independence. Nearly a quarter of their entire population (4.5 million) earn a living abroad and one third of the country’s GDP consists of remittances.
Moldova is often described as the poorest country in Europe, but offers tremendous tourism potential in years to come, with over 140 cultural heritage sites, outstanding natural attractions, an important health and beauty niche, together with a thriving wine industry, which ranks it as the twenty-second largest producer in the world.
And this is why it is so critical that emerging nation’s have inspired and visionary leaders that fully comprehend the realities of modern day tourism: leaders who speedily draft and implement a medium to long term Master Plans that all the players can follow and use as a benchmark for achieving excellence.
Long before substantive overseas investors or locals build world-class hotels, the Government of Moldova is ensuring that the workforce receives all the necessary training to ensure their nationals meet the service standards expected in a global marketplace.
Yes! I know some will say that Barbados has a programme that allows some of its citizens to gain work experience in North American hotels, but are we really doing enough? Varying service levels are often the subject of negative comment on travel reference websites like TripAdvisor. I have questioned many times in the past, that it is totally unreasonable to expect our tourism workers to deliver a level of service that they have never been exposed to.
Within hours of returning to Barbados, both hotels where we stayed had contacted me personally, inviting comments to gauge the quality and satisfaction of our lodging experience. It is difficult not to be impressed and would surely influence most people returning to the same locations or another hotel in the same chain.
This is the level of customer service we are competing with, worldwide.
Not surprisingly, this is standard practice for most of the more successful individual or chain properties, because for the simple reason that if you keep the guests happy, they will come back. Frequent user programmes are also increasingly used to maintain that loyalty and are getting more creative year after year. As in our case, tea or coffee delivered to your room, a late check-out, room upgrade and even free nights, once you have met the minimum requirements.
Downward trend at home?
Sadly, while the authorities have not yet informed all of the private sector tourism partners, I understand we are about to lose further airlift. This, after Philadelphia, then Atlanta and now Dallas/Fort Worth. Questions must be asked and reasons given for Barbados not being able to sustain a single tiny Boeing 737 per week out of one of the world’s busiest airports.