- The Tourism Product Development Company (TPDCo) has been raising the standards of customer service within the industry by identifying, promoting and rewarding excellence in this area.
- This thrust is being implemented through the National Tourism Service Excellence Programme (NTSEP) which aims to recognise and reward individuals and organisations exemplifying service excellence in the sector.
- The programme’s objectives include: encouraging training and a faster rate of skill upgrading within the industry; evaluating the service being provided within the industry; and serving as a mechanism to encourage tourism entities to improve customer service delivery.
The Tourism Product Development Company (TPDCo) has been raising the standards of customer service within the industry by identifying, promoting and rewarding excellence in this area.
This thrust is being implemented through the National Tourism Service Excellence Programme (NTSEP) which aims to recognise and reward individuals and organisations exemplifying service excellence in the sector.
The NTSEP, which was established in 2009 and relaunched in 2016, has a strategic focus of ‘winning’ every day in the marketplace with high performing and ethical workers and businesses.
Acting Executive Director of the TPDCo, Joy Roberts, tells JIS News that an important component of the visitor experience is the quality of the interface with tourism workers.
She adds that quality customer service from every entity and individual is integral to the sector’s continued growth, hence the need for the NTSEP to encourage and motivate those exemplifying these attributes.
“Research has shown that one of the greatest assets for Jamaica is our people and this relates to the service they give…that smile they give and that extra touch that they give. We believe that can propel more visitors to our island. And so, we want to emphasise how important service is by rewarding those persons who offer exemplary service,” Mrs. Roberts says.
The programme’s objectives include: encouraging training and a faster rate of skill upgrading within the industry; evaluating the service being provided within the industry; and serving as a mechanism to encourage tourism entities to improve customer service delivery.
It also serves to recognise individual workers who continue to surpass normal customer service delivery standards; select, showcase and award the best in service excellence in order to establish internal benchmarks for the categories of businesses in the tourism industry, and ignite a spirit of competitiveness while positioning the NTSEP awards as fair, transparent, well recognised and highly coveted within the tourism industry.
A major highlight of the programme is the conferring of the NTSEP Award on an overall national champion in the individual and organisation categories.
Mrs. Roberts points out that the persons or entities nominated for the award may range from room service operators to major companies in Jamaica.
“There is no barrier to entry; everybody can enter as long as you are in the tourism industry. You can be nominated by your employer, human resource personnel, somebody in your company or maybe even a visitor, guest or client,” she outlines.
Mrs. Roberts adds that nominations are, therefore, accepted from the accommodation sector, attractions and places of interest, ground transportation and tour operations, craft markets and craft vendors, customs officers, immigration officers, red cap porters and airport staff. Organisations are also allowed to submit self-nominations.
The criteria outline that nominations should be based on the individual’s career in the industry; nominees must interface directly with visitors; organisations must demonstrate interaction with visitors in their operations; and must be licensed tourist entities.
Nominations for this year’s NTSEP awards closed on February 3. The semi-finalists will be announced on Tuesday, February 21 and on March 4, the winners for both the individual and organisation categories will be announced and awarded.
“So now that the nominations are in, our audit department will go through them and ensure that certain criteria have been met. There are judges who are external to the tourism industry, but people who have been known for service excellence. They will sit and go through the judging process which may sometimes include going to the properties or going to see the persons in operation, speaking to the human resource managers, the supervisors and even the persons who nominated them,” the Acting Executive Director highlights.
Previous NTSEP awards ceremonies were held in 2009 and 2012.
In 2012, General Manager of Couples San Souci Hotel, in Ocho Rios, St. Ann, Pierre Battaglia, and the Mystic Mountain Rain Forrest attraction, won in the individual and organisation categories, respectively.
Room Attendant at the Beaches Boscobel Resort and Golf Club, in St. Mary, Fiona Hartley, and Island Car Rentals copped the awards in 2009.
“My job is to ensure that my guests have a comfortable room. I welcome them and see to it that they have a wonderful stay. I make it my point of duty to know their names, and I call them by their names and ensure that everything is going well for them,” Ms. Hartley told JIS News back then, after getting her award.
“I like to be creative for them. I use flowers to write messages, such as congratulations for, maybe, a couple who just got married; happy birthday; happy anniversary; or create my ‘welcome hearts’ on the beds,” the room attendant said.
She added that the guests feel extra special because “I add that extra touch.”
“The millennial traveller is looking for that personal service, that extra touch. They want to feel Jamaica, they want to experience the culture, they want to do what we do, eat what we eat…they want to see what we know (and) see where we live. So it is important for that person in the industry to, not just offer them the service, but go that extra mile,” Mrs. Roberts points out.
She argues that “the advantage Jamaica has always had over our Caribbean partners is the service that we offer; and the more we improve our service, then the better our numbers and earnings will be.”